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Dyer's monthly briefing gets tweaked

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I was supposed to spend Wednesday morning preparing for the big mayoral debate.

It’s Lee Brand vs. Henry R. Perea vs. H. Spees, 4 to 6 p.m. today (Thursday), broadcast live by Power Talk 96.7. The tough questions will come from Granville Homes President Darius Assemi and Fresno Police Officers Association President Jacky Parks.

I think I’m in charge of all questions about the City Charter.

Anyway, I chose not to study on Wednesday. Instead, I attended Chief Jerry Dyer’s monthly CrimeView meeting at police headquarters.

Six quick thoughts:

1.) The Chief said this is the last CrimeView session under the old format.

We’re talking a 90- to 105-minute meeting. The reporters are off to one side of the second-floor conference room. Dyer has the seat of honor at the conference table. About 15 cops fill the remaining seats around the table. Another 15 cops and data experts sit in chairs along various walls.

There’s a podium in one corner. District commanders and other top cops go to the podium to give oral reports. The Chief and Deputy Chiefs Pat Farmer and Robert Nevarez ask questions or make comments.

Statistics are the name of the game. It’s all quite fascinating.

Even more compelling to me is the interaction of the lieutenants and captains with Dyer.

Let’s just say district commanders had better know all about crime trends in their districts, and have had the initiative to deploy scarce resources in a bold manner.

It’s clear from CrimeView that some commanders handle this fundamental responsibility better than others.

Anyway, the old style CrimeView sessions are now history. Dyer on Wednesday said future CrimeView sessions will be cops-only. When a session is over, Dyer will meet with reporters to review the previous month’s statistics.

Dyer said the new format would allow officers to speak more frankly.

I told the crew from Channel 30 that this change sounds more like message control, something relished by the administration of Mayor Ashley Swearengin.

2.) Lt. Mark Salazar, commander in the Southwest District, said there’s a new gang in town. It’s called the “Goers.”

There are 25 to 30 of them. Many are 12, 13 or 14 years old – middle-schoolers or freshman in high school. The police have sent a half dozen or so to juvenile hall.

The Goers like to steal. They also like to travel in packs, find an isolated victim, then beat the tar out of the guy.

I remember this being called “wilding” back in the 1980s.

Salazar said his Southeast officers are pushing hard against the Goers.

3.) Violent crime citywide in the first 10 weeks of 2016 is up nearly 40% compared to the same period in 2015.

Robbery is up 45.7% and aggravated assault is up 46.9%. Domestic violence (part of the aggravated assault statistic) is up 47.5%.

Homicide: 8 at this point in 2015, 8 at this point in 2016.

Property crime is down a modest 1.6% this year compared to the same period in 2015. Burglary is down 21.8%, but auto thefts are up 35.1%.

Dyer said Fresno saw spikes in violent and property crimes in January. He said most crimes were trending down in February and early March.

4.) There were 22 shootings in the past 28-day period.

Dyer said Fresno suffered through 11 shootings in a two-day period, most of them gang-related. He said the department did a fast redeployment of officers, with the emphasis on curtailing gang feuds.

The result: No shootings for the next nine days.

The lesson: Fresno needs more cops.

5.) District commanders said they’re constantly reminding Fresnans to take crime-fighting precautions.

In a nutshell, keep doors locked and windows closed (home and vehicle) if you’re not around. Don’t leave stuff unattended in plain site.

The bad guys are constantly watching you, the commanders said. For example, thieves keep their eyes on women as they walk from their car to a store in a shopping mall.

If the woman isn’t carrying a purse, the commanders said, the thieves head right to the car. All too often, she left the purse there.

Easy pickings.

6.) Huge apartment complexes continue to pose big challenges to Fresno’s crime fighters.

Take Southeast Fresno, for example.

Salazar identified three complexes: Ranchwoods (422 units), The Landing (476 units), Stoney Brook (390 units). That’s a total of 1,288 units.

Fresno police over the past 14 months have had 2,964 calls for service from just those three complexes.

On average, Fresno police respond seven times a day to an emergency in these three apartment complexes.

Salarzar said the department is meeting the problem head-on. Officers are talking to on-site managers about investing in things like security cameras. The cops are also helping residents in the complexes start Neighborhood Watch programs.

I listened to all this and thought of the 2035 general plan’s infatuation with high-density living.

Somebody tell me again why packing lots of people into small spaces is the best thing ever for civilization.

George Hostetter
George Hostetter is The Sun’s Fresno Civic contributor – covering the City of Fresno, County of Fresno, and Fresno Council of Governments.

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