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New Program Aims To Lower Homicide Rate In Stockton

STOCKTON (CBS13) – Leaders with the City of Stockton are continuing to examine existing strategies as police investigate the community's 52nd homicide of the year.

In the year 2000, Sophia Ulloa, a young Stockton mother with a bright future, was stabbed to death in her front yard.  It was Christmas Eve, a holiday her family hardly acknowledges now.

"I have to live with this for the rest of my life.  I'm not the same person I was then," said Tina Montoya, Sophia's mother.

Almost 20 years later, Sophia's case has gone cold and with the number of homicides reaching more than 50 so far this year, loved ones say the violence just doesn't seem to end.

"Something needs to be done, because, you know, what I am going through. I am not the only one, there are a lot of us parents and now that it's 52. Can you imagine? These parents are all heartbroken and their lives are completely changed," she said.

Mayor Michael Tubbs said in the New Year he will continue reviewing and adding to the city's current strategy for fighting crime. His plan is to bring Advance Peace to Stockton.

"It's something that fits in well with our existing strategy of number one, focusing and targeting those most likely to be victims and perpetrators of violent crime. So, I don't think there is anyone more upset, more frustrated and angry than me," said Tubbs.

Advance Peace is a program that originated in Richmond, California and was recently approved by the Sacramento City Council.  It targets people who are most likely to commit gun violence. It also provides cash stipends for each participant.

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"Of course, there is an issue with saying our solution to solving violence in Stockton is paying people. That sounds dumb because it is dumb. This is not what this program is. This program is really about intense case management, support, relationship and trust building," he said.

Over the last six months, Tubbs has been raising over $1 million for the program. He's also been working hard to help community members like Montoya understand its importance.

"I don't think they should pay anybody. Are they going to pay me for my daughter being six feet in the ground? I don't think that is right," she said.

Montoya plans to hold a vigil for her daughter next weekend. The Stockton City Council is expected to discuss Advance Peace in January.

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