Homicide rates in U.S., Bakersfield on rise

Posted at 5:19 PM, May 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-18 20:19:37-04
The alarming rise in homicides throughout the U.S. is also being felt in Bakersfield.
Since January, there have been more than 40 murders across Kern County.
Of those, 18 are in the Bakersfield Police Department's jurisdiction. That number is just a few shy of their total number of murders in all of 2015 (21).
"Unfortunately, Bakersfield is not immune to this spike in crime but we really can't assign a cause to it," said Sgt. Gary Carruesco of the Bakersfield Police Department.
FBI director James Comey may know a cause. In an interview last week with the Washington Post, Comey suggested that greater scrutiny of police has possibly changed the way officers and communities interact. In turn, this strained relationship could potentially playing a role in the uptick of homicides.
BPD says community relations is a major focus for the department.
"For the most part we've done a good job in maintaining trust in our community, building and maintaining relationships with our community members," said Carruesco.
Events like Coffee with a Cop are giving residents the chance to establish a connection with law enforcement.
"As an example, we've had some homicides where we've made arrests and it's 100% because community members came forward and provided information.," said Carruesco. 
BPD says they will continue to strive for strong community ties.
"We have to make them understand that we live here as well, we're invested in this community," Carruesco said.
"We care about it. That's why we take so much pride in our enforcement in the community."