Fresno Police Chief asks churches help in gang cease fire

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Another night in Fresno, and another shooting. There have been 30 in the past month. The latest, a drive by in which one man was shot in the ankle as he dived for cover in his driveway. He was hit by only one of five shots fired from a passing car. Police don't know if this shooting involved gang members but it came Wednesday night just as Fresno's Police Chief was holding a meeting, promoting "Operation Cease Fire." A program aimed at bringing the community together, to stop gang violence.

Chief Jerry Dyer explained, "The purpose is for us to collectively come together, law enforcement and the community to send the message to these gang leaders, gang members, we are fed up."

Dyer found a receptive audience at the West Side Church of God, in Southwest Fresno. He Hopes churches and community groups can help police reach gang members and persuade them to leave the gang life behind. Dyer says police are now teaming with federal prosecutors to put as many arrested gang members as possible into the federal criminal system, where prison terms are much longer than in the California state system. But former gang member Darrick Hill attended Wednesday's meeting. He says gang members won't respond to threats and adds, they won't give up gangs unless they see a way out like the chance of a real job.

"So if we say, okay I got ten gang members who want to put down their guns and I say okay put down your guns they gonna say well what you got for me after I put down my guns. And if you don't have anything for them after they put down their guns guess what they're gonna do, they're gonna go right back out there," said Hill.

Dyer is hoping community groups will come up with alternatives. "We need a new strategy and that's what Fresno Cease Fire is."

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crimetracker, fresno, bulldog gang, gang, fresno police department, jerry dyer, local, gene haagenson
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