Fresno has had nearly as many murders so far this year as it recorded in all of last year or in 2015, police Chief Jerry Dyer said, . explaining a surge in gang violence is a key reason.
In a Wednesday press briefing, Dyer outlined strategies the department hopes will halt the shootings.
There have been 38 slayings in Fresno this year, compared to 39 in all of both 2016 and 2015. During a review of crime numbers for the media Wednesday, the chief identified gang activity, domestic violence, homeless-related violence and mental illness as the main causes for this year’s surge, adding that the factors are often intermixed.
The chief said Wednesday that gang-involved slayings are the main force behind the city’s homicides this year, with 24 so far, compared to 20 for all of 2016. He vowed to continue putting the pressure on gangs with patrol and special units.
Dyer said he would target violence in the city’s homes with Domestic Violence Apprehension Teams. He said police see a common thread in domestic abuse: An initial assault on the victim, followed by a police response, the issuance of a restraining order and then retaliation by the abuser, who returns to the home. The teams will hunt abusers seven days a week to prevent an additional assault.
Dyer said there have been six homeless-related murders this year, and said his officers would attempt to weed out criminals hiding among and sometimes preying on those who are simply down-and-out.
“We will take away their anonymity,” Dyer vowed.
Lastly, the chief said the department has longer-term plans to partner with the Fresno County behavioral unit to form Crisis Response Teams to help prevent mental health-related violence. In a murder-suicide in June, a woman and her son died from stab wounds at an apartment near Marks and Clinton avenues. And in April, a man believed to be mentally ill killed four people, three of them within minutes during a shooting spree near downtown.