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Kern County sees a rise in gang activity

Posted at 10:20 AM, Jul 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-07 13:20:31-04

As homicide rates have doubled this year the Kern County Sheriff's Office is saying there is a correlation to gang-related activity. 23ABC's Kylie Walker spoke with local law enforcement to find out how they are working to combat this issue.

With 35 homicides to date, the Kern County Sheriffs Office suspects about half of those are tied to gang-related activity and while some of these homicides are still under investigation Lieutenant Joel Swanson of the KCSO said there is a very strong gang presence in Bakersfield and they need the community's help.

"In potentially gang-infested neighborhoods a lot of people don't like to talk to law enforcement which is too bad because I think the public knows a lot more that's going on in the community related to the shootings than we do. So any help would be greatly appreciated," said Swanson.

And following the shooting that led to the deaths of two young girls last Thursday the Delano Police Department is now in the process of forming a Delano-McFarland Regional Gang Suppression Unit.

"In this case, two very innocent little girls were caught up in it and their lives tragically ended, and its completely senseless and we cannot sit back and watch this happen without some significant change in how we do business," said Delano Police Chief Robert Nevarez.

The new team announced Monday will consist of ten members from the Delano Police Department with additional personnel from the McFarland Police Department. Nevarez said police officers are aware of who in the community is involved in gang activity.

"We know who they are. We know the vehicles that they drive so we will be focused on them. We will use traffic stops, detentions, search warrants, street operations. Whatever it takes."

This new gang suppression unity will also be a collaborative effort with the Kern County District Attorneys Office.