Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer Wednesday forecast a rise in drug-related crime in the city with the advent of legalized marijuana in the new year.
The chief, speaking after a monthly review of crime statistics with his command staff, said more marijuana and more cash flowing from the sale of the weed will lead directly to ripoffs of both.
“We are going to see increasing crime related to marijuana – we already have,” said Dyer, referring to the shooting in northeast Fresno of a man and woman on Friday, which he said was related to the theft of marijuana.
“Any time you have narcotics – whether marijuana, heroin or methamphetamine – there is going to be violence associated with it. We are going to have follow-home robberies.
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“Just because you legalize marijuana doesn’t mean the black market goes away, because the demand grows.”
In other remarks, Dyer pledged to reduce shootings by 20 percent in 2018 after the city experienced a rise in the gun violence from 475 in 2016 to 516 in 2017. He said the department is going after the shooters by putting special response teams in each of the city’s five policing districts. At the same time, the chief conceded that the year began with 14 shootings in the first week.
“We’re starting a little rough,” he said, adding that the three top areas for crime reduction for the new year will be gangs, domestic violence and crime involving the homeless, either as victims or perpetrators.
However, the chief also touted positives for his department last year. Overall violent crime dropped from the previous year, including robberies and rape, which were down 15 percent. The exception involved murder, which jumped from 39 in 2016 to 56 in 2017.
Property crime also dipped, with auto theft down 15 percent. Dyer noted that in the 1990s, thieves stole 13,000 cars one year, compared to 2,780 in 2017. He said 60 percent of criminals who steal cars are involved in violent crimes as well.
Dyer also said detectives expect to make an arrest soon in the Sunday night fatal shooting of a 17-year-old boy at Elm and California Avenues, and that officers have a “person of interest” in connection with five shootings on New Year’s Day.