Police Chief Jerry Dyer’s monthly Crime View news conferences are an excellent way to dig into the amazing world of law-breaking and police work in Fresno.
For example, the Chief at his July 11 news conference noted that a car thief (or group of thieves) was targeting Chevy Astros from the 1990s-early 2000s model years. About 10 Astros fitting that description had been stolen recently, most belonging to people living in Southeast Fresno.
Why anyone would risk jail to steal a bunch of 20-year-old Chevy Astros is beyond me. But it’s certainly a fascinating glimpse of life in the big city.
I give you three other examples from the same news conference:
- There were 65 shootings in Fresno during the 56-day period from May 16 to July 11. Most were gang-related.
- There also were 31 stabbings in that same 56-day period. There were 19 in the first 28 days of that period, 12 in the final 28 days.
To a layman like me, that seems like a lot of stabbings. It’s one thing to do violence against another person with a gun; the action can occur at considerable distance. It would seem to take an entirely different mindset to stab another person with, say, a knife; that’s up-close-and-personal action.
I asked the Chief about Fresno and stabbings.
“Often times, people out there are carrying knives, especially individuals who are out there on the street. Homeless folks,” Dyer said. “We come across those on a frequent basis where there’s some type of inter-personal disturbance between those people that are staying out on the street, and someone pulls out a knife and stabs someone.
“Or, there will be a neighborhood disturbance; a fight occurs. Someone is getting the worst end of the fight. They pull out a knife and stab the other person. That’s what we see most often.
“And it’s not just gang members carrying knives and homeless people carrying knives. There are a lot of people out there that are carrying them. And if they’re getting the worst of a fight – a beating – they pull out their knife and they stab them.”
The 2017-18 fiscal year ended on June 30. The adopted FY 2018 budget called for 815 sworn police officers. I asked Dyer where his roster count now stands.
Dyer said the department has 815 sworn officers, with another 15 people in the Police Academy.
“We’re full,” Dyer said. “But even though we’re full, we’re below where we were nine years ago when we had 849 officers in our department. And the call volume has risen dramatically. We’re still way behind in terms of officers. But I can tell you that every officer that we have we’re utilizing to fight crime and answer calls for service.”
I asked the Chief about domestic violence. There had been 288 domestic violence incidents in 2018 as of mid-July. There had been 284 domestic violence incidents at the same point in 2017. In other words, the trend line is essentially flat.
“However, we’re at a peak in terms of emergency housing for domestic violence victims,” Dyer said. “We’re very close to running out of emergency shelter. We need emergency shelter in the worst way for domestic violence victims because for those individuals – that’s their escape. They get out of that environment. If there isn’t emergency housing available, they’re forced to remain in that environment and be subjected to continued abuse.”
The Chief is a member of the Marjoree Mason Center’s board of directors.
Stealing old Astros vans is easy and free compared to riding the bus. Plus the consequences are minimal.