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'The violence is getting younger' | Stockton activists say enough is enough amid rise in crime

This time last year, Stockton had 26 homicides. Currently for 2022, the number of homicides is at 34.

STOCKTON, Calif. — As Stockton sees a rise in violent crime this summer, community activists have a stern message: enough is enough.

Stockton has seen 34 homicides this year compared to the 26 it saw this time last year. Recently, a beloved son was shot and killed outside a Stockton credit union, another man was killed along West Lane and one person was killed at South Side Market.  

Beyond that, there were three people shot at a softball game at Louis Park and a ghost gun confiscated by a police resource officer at Lincoln High School.

Community activists say that now more than ever Stockton's youth are in need of more help.

"Of course every aspect needs some attention, but our younger people are the focus in this particular area. The violence is getting younger and younger," said Pastor Leon Scoggins, a community activist.

Also, Toni McNeil, another community activist, said some of the violence seems unavoidable, but she feels for the first time as an activist in the city that all of the so-called "key players" - like non-profits, city leaders and police - are working together as one.

"I've never seen more summer events and activities to engage our youth and young adults," McNeil said. "We're targeting the hot spots in the community or the at-risk community spots."

At the same time, the Stockton Police Officers Association (SPOA) says there is a direct correlation between the rising crime and fewer uniformed officers on the streets.

"With a shortage of over 100 officers, almost 20% of our staffing not here any longer and leaving more by the day, it's emboldened the criminal element because they don't see those uniform patrol officers on the street. They don't see as many police officers out there," said Patrick High, president of the SPOA. 

While Scoggins believes having officers on the streets is a positive, he adds that something more is needed to tackle the spike in violence. On the other hand, McNeil says policing does not solve this issue.

"All it does is imprison the problem, right? And, so what we're trying to do is resolve the problem. We're trying to get to the pressure point," McNeil said.

SPOA said the the department loses more than 15 officers a month to other departments with better pay. The association said officers have been working without a contract since July 1, but negotiations are ongoing.


Stockton, California | A history of gun violence. How can leaders bring peace?

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