BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Crime continues to be on the rise in the City of Bakersfield and Tuesday city officials met during their special Safe Neighborhoods meeting to discuss the increase in crime, and what can be done to prevent it.
The Bakersfield Police Department gave an update on public safety Tuesday revealing that so far 2021 has seen 500 more crimes than in the first part of 2020 and they also added that homicides, in particular, have significantly increased.
“We went through a period of a week and a half where there was a tremendous amount of group and gang violence that was going back and forth," said Assistant Chief of Police Brent Stratton. "As far as what it’s contributed to - we don’t know exactly what’s led to it. But we are working actively to identify those that are responsible and be able to make an arrest.”
According to the BPD, there has been a total of 11,351 crimes from January to August this year compared to 10,784 crimes during the same time in 2020. And when it comes to homicides BPD says there were 22 homicides in the first part of 2020 and 34 homicides from January to July this year. But these numbers do not include August bringing the total to more than 40 homicides.
“We had a very bad August, where at one point we had 9 homicides in 9 days. So to look at these numbers now to be at 43. 43 tells a huge story as well,” added Stratton.
While BPD cannot say for sure they do suspect that gang violence plays a role in the shootings.
“We’ve seen an increase specifically over the last several months in gang-related shootings that are occurring here within the city of Bakersfield,” said Stratton.
However, Assistant Chief Stratton also added that over the past week he believes they’ve seen a decrease.
“In particular we’ve seen an increase in homicides while that has continued off in the month of August as well, we are working with our cease-fire and CalVIP partners for a community-based approach as well as with investigators and officers on the streets to work to see a corresponding decrease that we’ve believe we’ve seen over the last week or two.”
And the work with community partners will continue to help combat the violence.
“It’s our hope that we can work with the community-based partners and our cease-fire model to see a corresponding decrease but we would attribute a lot of the violence that we’ve seen specifically as it relates to homicides and shootings to gang-related violence,” continued Stratton.
While BPD has increased its staffing, Stratton says fulfilling its other vacancies will continue helping prevent crimes.
“With an increase in staffing, I believe it also gives us the ability to be able to not just respond to these things but work on some of the proactive things that we can do to prevent things from occurring in the first place.”
Stratton says with the public safety and vital services measure he believes by next summer they should be able to have all their roles filled.