Surge in gang violence has army of law enforcement descending on Kern County Fair

Surge in gang violence has officers on high alert


The Kern county fair is where you'll find tasty treats, thrilling rides and army of law enforcement.


"There's the Bakersfield police department, California Highway Patrol, probation department, Arvin police department, Taft police department, you've got a conglomeration of law enforcement officers from all over the county that come together to make the fair a safe place to come," said Sheriffs office Sergeant and head of fair security Tim Melanson.


On any given night, you can find about 100 officers patrolling the fair.


"I think it's awesome because wherever you turn there's somebody from security walking by you," said fair visitor Marsha Finlay.


"We also have our gang suppression unit. Those are gang experts that address all the gang related crime. They're all trained in identifying suspicious behavior related to gangs," said Melanson.


The officers are on high alert considering the recent surge in gang violence.


"Gangs in Kern county are as active as they've ever been, the number of gang members is as high as its ever been," said Melanson.


Police are investigating Wednesday shooting at the Camino Real Restaurant as possibly gang related, on Tuesday a mob, consisting of gang members armed with bats and a gun went to a house on Irene street, beat up two people and kidnapped a toddler. 


Last week, two gang members went on a shooting and robbery crime spree killing two people.  


Investigators say possibly for gang retaliation. 


So why the apparent surge in gang violence?


"It could have something to do with the current AB 109 prison realignment. And it could be the result of several years of being in a recession and having to endure cutbacks in resources in the department and now that's starting to catch up to us and we're seeing the effects of that," said Sheriffs office gang unit sergeant Dustin Downey.


But whatever happens outside of the fair, law enforcement is making sure no problems arise inside. 


"I feel safe," said Finlay.


"It seems pretty safe. There's nobody getting hurt," said fair visitor Ryan Poole.


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