Still nearly a year until Advance Peace becomes a reality in Fresno

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A community organizer helping bring the gun violence prevention program to Fresno describes what still needs to be done

FRESNO, California (KSEE) — Since Wednesday, Fresno Police have gotten their hands busy with four shooting investigations involving nine victims.

A gun violence prevention program that recently got city funding is looking to curb this violence — but it’s got a bit to go before it can make a dent.

The latest shooting happened Saturday night around 10:40 p.m. in the area of Fairmont and Holt avenues. Lt. Stephen Viveros said three victims suffered gunshots to their lower bodies, but fortunately they’re not life threatening.

Right now, no suspects have been identified and it’s believed to be gang-related, according to Viveros.

The city’s violence is why community organizer Aaron Foster wanted to bring Advance Peace here. The program aims to change the mindsets of the city’s most likely shooters and shooting victims — getting them on a path away from gun violence.

“We want to eradicate that whole belief system, that the only way we can solve problems is through gun violence,” Foster said.

In June, Fresno City Council approved giving the program $300,000 over the next three years. But, the program is still nearly a year out from implementation.

“We have to build it from the ground up,” Foster said. “We probably won’t be even implementing the program for like eight-to-ten months, so that we can have people actively involved successfully.”

The program was controversial when first pitched in 2019 because of the stipends participants can get. Foster stresses, however, those stipends are earned.

“If you fall short of the benchmarks you set for yourself in this life map, you don’t receive a stipend. Not all of the participants receive stipends either, just the ones in most need,” he said.

The program is slated to reduce gun violence by 50% within five years. Foster, who has lost two children to gun violence, just wants a safer Fresno.

“That’s the culture I’m trying to create because right now it’s normal to hear gunshots. We want that to be a thing of the past,” he said.

Advance Peace has had success in a number of other California cities, like Richmond, Oakland and Stockton.

If you know anything about any of the recent shootings that have taken place in the city, you can always give Fresno Police a call at 559-621-7000.

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