- Video shows patrol pursuit of a man with a gun, gun violence statistics, and officers analyzing a field for evidence
- Assistant Chief of Police Brent Stratton says the department looked at other cities to begin implementing a ceasefire model to prevent gun violence in 2021, and he says that model has helped reduce homicides by more than 30%.
The Bakersfield Police Department reports a more than 30% drop in homicides from 2022 to 2023, and Assistant Chief Stratton credits their new crime reduction strategy with this significant drop.
As Bakersfield grows, Assistant Chief Stratton with BPD says so does the crime.
“As 2021 closed, we were seeing a record number of shootings and homicides.”
With 136 homicides in 2021 according to 23ABC’s count, Assistant Chief Stratton says he knew something needed to change to reduce that number.
“As we became more data driven and more evidence based in our approach, we began seeing that there is a lot of commonality in our homicides and our nonfatal shootings,” he explained.
Under the direction of the city manager, Stratton says they began studying other cities like Chicago, Baltimore, and Oakland and researching a ceasefire model.
Sergeant Christina Abshire leads the special enforcement unit.
“We basically go where the data and intel takes us,” she tells 23ABC.
Abshire leads the Special Enforcement Unit that focuses on reducing and responding to gun violence related incidents.
With the Public Safety and Vital Services measure, $58,000,000 were granted to the city of Bakersfield with part of that funding going to BPD to restore staffing to the special enforcement unit.
“If one of the crimes that patrol is responding to is something that would fall under our mission or assignments then we obviously would respond with patrol,” she said.
This is where we see the strategy implemented.
“I need to turn on my sirens,” she told me while we were out on a ride along with her.
Officers made contact with a man who ran from police while in possession of a gun.
“Give me just a second," she told me. "Because I don’t know where this guy is running around and he has a gun.”
Abshire helped secure a perimeter where officers caught the man in a nearby field.
“He went through that apartment complex right there and then was jumping through the field and the fences," she pointed out.
While officers went back to check for evidence in the field, she says preservation of life is her team’s priority and as they enforce the law, they plan to offer resources to prevent future crimes.
“We may reach out and say ‘hey, there’s resources available to help you, from today forward to move a different way,” she said.
The department works with community organizations and partners to help offer education, job training or even meals to give people other options instead of resorting to crime.
“If you’re going to just go and talk to somebody about being able to change their life, you have to have something to be able to offer them,” Stratton said.
According to the model, BPD says 10% of the population holds responsibility for 90% of the violent crime, and as they head into the third year of implementation, Stratton hopes to make residents feel more comfortable living in Bakersfield.
“We’re really seeing some big decreases and continuing to make this a place that people can feel safe where they live.”
If you have any information that can help stop gun violence in your area, you can contact the Bakersfield Police Department at 327-7111.
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