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‘We’re in the Middle of a Crime Wave.’ Fresno Leaders Voice Concerns.

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Fresno City Council Member Luiz Chavez says 600 criminals have been released back into the city since April.

“We’re in the middle of a crime wave, and that is not a term that I use loosely because that’s how it’s being described here in our city. And we need to really step up and prioritize public safety,” said Chavez during Thursday’s city council meeting. Chavez says many merchants on the Kings Canyon/Ventura corridor have been targeted.

His council colleague, Garry Bredefeld, echoed the concerns as he called for providing Fresno police with support and resources to address the increase in crime.

“In our community I believe we’ve had 38 murders to date. We are far surpassing what occurred last year all across our city,” said Bredefeld. “I understand there’s been an 80 percent increase in shootings since April, and a 70 percent increase in stabbings.”

“I mean, there is gunfire all over the place and we need to make our citizens safe. We need to continue to give the police the resources to deal with this,” Bredefeld said.

Community Town Hall Friday

Chavez blames the state for criminal justice reform promises he says haven’t been kept. Bredefeld also blamed the state by pointing to $0 bail releases during COVID-19.

“We’re in the middle of a crime wave, and that is not a term that I use loosely because that’s how it’s being described here in our city.”Fresno City Council Member Luiz Chavez

The discussion was sparked after Fresno Police Chief Andy Hall posted a social media message Wednesday night after two Louisville, Kentucky police officers were shot during a protest over the killing of Breonna Taylor. The state’s attorney general announced Wednesday that the actions of police that let to the shooting death of Taylor during a raid on her apartment were justified.

“We will respond to calls for help and will risk our very lives regardless of race or income. I’m not sure how police officers became the bad guys and gals but I can tell you my heart is heavy,” wrote Hall.

Local pastors will hold a Community Town Hall meeting from 6-7 p.m. Friday night at the Hinton Community Center in Southwest Fresno to address the uptick in violence. The Fresno police department is sending Deputy Chief Mark Salazar and Captain Joey Alvarez to answer questions from residents. Anyone is invited to attend, but people are being asked to stay in their cars to socially distance.

Kings Canyon/Ventura Corridor

Chavez said Thursday that many Latino-owned business along the Kings Canyon/Ventura corridor have been hit by burglaries over the last several months. Chavez says at least 45% of the break ins were not reported, based on what his staff learned from the merchants.

He said merchants he’s talked with have also been dealing with the COVID-19-related health regulations and had to lay off employees and cut back on hours.

“Now we have criminals taking advantage of the situation,” said Chavez.

“Part of this problem has been the false promise of Prop. 47,” explained Chavez. “The rehabilitation part of this conversation never happened, and that’s a failure on the state’s part.”

He says locally the city has to come up with solutions as to what law enforcement will look like moving forward. “The conversation that we’re going to have is what do we expect from our police officers?,” asked Chavez. “Do we want them to be proactive and go out there or do we want them to wait for calls for service?”

Fresno police say their records do not reflect a significant increase in break-ins in the area, but said some may go unreported.

“We investigated the reports of an increase of burglaries along Kings Canyon and didn’t find a major spike,” said Southeast District Commander Capt. Anthony Martinez. “But, what we found were a couple of businesses not reporting burglaries done by homeless people.”

He said his officers are encouraging the businesses to report all burglaries.

Bredefeld Points to Violent Crime Increase

“I understand there’s been an 80 percent increase in shootings since April, and a 70 percent increase in stabbings.”Fresno City Council Member Garry Bredefeld

Crime statistics GV Wire℠ received from the police department via email back up Bredefeld’s comments. In September the city recorded 10 homicides — the most of any other month this year. August saw 97 shootings, the highest of any month, with 77 shootings in September to date.

Police Chief Andy Hall’s Social Media Message

“Do not lose your faith or allow yourself to be hardened by calls for defunding police departments, your community supports and needs you,” Hall’s message said.  “I continually tell the public to not judge our department and our officers by the actions of officers 3000 miles away.”

Hall says he had just met with community and religious leaders from neighborhoods most impacted by the recent spike of crime in Fresno. Hall writes, “They are witnessing the dramatic increase of violence and are ready to work hand in hand with our department to make our community stronger. They do not support defunding their police department and we can no longer afford to allow their voices to be drowned out by the radical few.”

View this post on Instagram

A message to our officers and the community from Chief Hall This evening I watched in horror as a major US city erupted in violence directed at its police department over the death of a young woman. As the violence escalated, two police officers were tragically injured by gunfire and I pray for their recovery. Just like you, I have dedicated my life to the service of this community. We will respond to calls for help and will risk our very lives regardless of race or income. I’m not sure how police officers became the bad guys and gals but I can tell you my heart is heavy. Do not lose your faith or allow yourself to be hardened by calls for defunding police departments, your community supports and needs you. Just yesterday I met with community and religious leaders from neighborhoods most impacted by the recent spike of crime in our city. They made it very clear that they support you and need you in their neighborhoods. They are witnessing the dramatic increase of violence and are ready to work hand in hand with our department to make our community stronger. They do not support defunding their police department and we can no longer afford to allow their voices to be drowned out by the radical few. I continually tell the public to not judge our department and our officers by the actions of officers 3000 miles away. Similarly, we cannot judge our community by the actions of communities across the country. Now is not this time to circle our wagons and distance ourselves from the very people we swore to protect. We need to get out of our cars and engage with our community. Treat everyone with dignity and respect. Let them know that we are still here to serve and we will never abandon them. We are Fresno and this is our family. Andrew J. Hall Chief of Police

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