Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones says there is "really no one thing" when it comes to his city's drop in the homicide rate last year over the year before.
"It's a combination of a lot we believe," said Jones, speaking from his office in Downtown Stockton.
In 2018, there were 33 homicides in the Port City, which has a reputation for violent crime. In 2017, there were 55 homicides.
Jones says a big reason for the downward trend is community involvement. He says the department has given the community "tools" they can use to help curb the violence.
"We're actually giving them things to do which is to engage, mobilize within the communities, work with us," Jones explained. "The other part is just a good, working relationship with the community."
Jones says trust is also a big factor in helping to reverse the homicide count from a year earlier.
"And that has been such a large component of our strategic plan, at Stockton Police Department, is to improve trust the community [has] within their police department," said Jones. "And, I think that is beginning to have, pay some dividends in reducing violent crime in our community."
Jones says trust has improved with the day-to-day interactions between his officers and people on the street. Jones also attributes the homicide drop to his gun violence intervention programs through the city's Office of Violence Prevention. The city's Peacekeepers, made up of clergy, gang outreach, public and community service providers and more.
"Those are our gang intervention street workers who are out there everyday. interacting with these guys who are at most risk of being shot or shooting someone," said Jones. "And it feels that all of these things are coming together in ways that are really beginning to make a change in Stockton."
Operation Ceasefire, which targets the same types of individuals most vulnerable to gun violence by using community intervention and strong enforcement, is also something the chief points to as successful.
Jones says another component to his department's success comes with the largest number of officers on the streets ever in the city. He says there are over 470 sworn officers. The department is budgeted for 485.
Jones says his department had its lowest number officers at 318 in 2012. That was the year the city declared bankruptcy.
He said adding a new helicopter to the department in the spring of this year will put another set of "eyes in the sky" to help fight crime.
Stockton PD added drones or an "Unmanned Aerial Support" program in the fall of 2017.
So far as of this writing, there have been no murders in Stockton in 2019. Jones hopes to keep homicides down even more this year.
"We're not resting on our laurels. We know we have a lot of work to do," said Jones. "What's critical is we need to continue to keep laser-focused intensity on our strategies on gun violence in our community."
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