BPD: Gang violence up in 2016

Posted at 6:53 PM, Oct 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-14 21:53:30-04


That's the number of gang-related shootings in Bakersfield so far this year. Police and community organizations are working to find ways to curb the problem. 

"I think our violent crime is up probably about 7%," Bakersfield Police Chief Greg Williamson said Thursday during a Safe Neighborhoods Committee.

He released new numbers, saying so far this year, there's been 67 gang-related shootings.

That's a 59 percent increase from last year.

One-third of those happening between Chester Avenue and Washington Street and California Avenue and Brundage Lane.

"It's kind of always been that way. Probably poverty is playing a role. People lose hope and just get into gangs," said Wesley Davis, a local advocate.

For 10 years, he's worked to battle street violence.

"Let's keep locking them up, locking them up, locking them up, and that hasn't worked."

Davis said it's not easy getting members out of gangs...

"The guys that are already active, the guys who are in high school and up, he said, it's almost next to impossible. Now that came from gang members themselves," he said.

He works with the community to break the cycle of violence.

"Prevention is the key. We're going to have to start much earlier, when these kids are probably in 4th or 5th grade."

Davis said, kids within the two- mile radius of gang-related shootings are affected most.

"That's who they look up to , these are their role models for these kids."

He hopes constant community efforts will help make a difference.

"We're going to have to continue to come to the table and talk about this thing and figure out the best angle, the best plan of attack."

Police said they're looking for grants to get more officers to patrol the central Bakersfield area.