Crime

Greater enforcement to stem gang war means taking guns off streets, chief says

Police chief speaks about Fresno gang shootings

Jerry Dyer, Fresno police chief, talks Wednesday, Feb. 1, 4, 2018, about efforts to contain a recent series of gang-related shootings.
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Jerry Dyer, Fresno police chief, talks Wednesday, Feb. 1, 4, 2018, about efforts to contain a recent series of gang-related shootings.

Violent crime continues to trend downward in Fresno in 2018, despite last week’s spike in gang-on-gang shootings, police Chief Jerry Dyer said Wednesday in his monthly meeting with the news media on crime trends.

The overall drop is 13.9 percent so far in 2018 compared to the same time frame in 2017, Dyer said, with homicides down by 37.5 percent, rape down 14 percent, robbery by 15 percent and aggravated assault by 12 percent. The statistics show shootings dropping by 30 percent.

Still, the chief said special response units continue to work overtime to keep a lid on a series of retaliatory shootings involving southwest Fresno gangs that began on Thursday and left one man dead and six others wounded.

“We don’t believe the feud is over,” said Dyer, who credited an intensive effort by officers to take guns out of the hands of gang members, largely through traffic stops.

“These individuals are laying low for now,” he added.

Police and federal agents from the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have made several high-profile gun seizures this year, one of which involved the arrest of James Bowen of Fresno, who was taken into custody along with 221 firearms in his possession.

Dyer said police and District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp are intent on keeping gang members caught with firearms in jail.

“Our officers are arresting gang members in high numbers and recovering guns,” he said. “We have assurances that the district attorney will file” charges in the cases.

He said officers are focused on making sure enforcement efforts are within the law.

“They will be justified traffic stops and we are going to treat people with respect,” he said.

In other statistics broken down during the session, Dyer said non-violent crime is down as well, with burglary down 36 percent, larceny dropping by 10 percent, vehicle burglary down by 19 percent and auto theft 38 percent below this time compared to last year.

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