STOCKTON (CBS13) — It was a violent summer for the City of Stockton, where crime comparison numbers show the community experienced more aggravated assault, robbery and homicide cases in August compared to July.
Stockton police say improving public safety and building stronger relationships with the community remains a top priority as it continues to hire new officers.
Overall, violent crime in Stockton has slightly gone up compared to this time last year, but overall property crime is down – and the reason for that, police say, is more witnesses are coming forward and cooperating with police.
Edgar Rodriguez is part of the Stockton Police Department's strategic operations team and works closely with neighborhoods and businesses to help keep the community safe.
"It's absolutely important, that's our main goal that is job No. 1. If we don't keep the community safe, or if we don't keep the community safe, we can lose the trust of the community," he said.
The department continues to work on improving public safety by adding more police to the force. So, far it has 435 officers and is in the process of hiring eight more.
"The more officers we have out on the streets, the more visibility we have out there, the better for us so we can work with the community on fighting crime," said Rosie Calderon of the Stockton Police Department.
Stockton police report 33 homicides so far this year, compared to 32 last year around this time. Robbery is also up from 805 to 830, and motor vehicle theft is also up from 1,128 to 1,365.
"We have people coming in daily, suffering from gunshot wounds, domestic violence, just a lot of things that involve guns, gun violence," said Raymond Aguilar, youth counselor at Father's and Families of San Joaquin.
Aguilar and Calvin Jones are on the frontlines working with crime victims in Stockton. They say advocacy and more partnerships among community members will help deal with the crime around the community.
"If they start participating more in their own care, coming out and taking back their own neighborhoods," said Calvin Jones, outreach worker, Stockton Trauma Center.
Although aggravated assault went up between July and August of this year, compared to 2016, it's gone down from 2,100 cases to 2,075. Larceny, theft, burglary and overall property crime are also down compared to this time last year.
"I feel like it's a dying need for our people to be more lifted and more civic engaged," said Sokha Kaz Lek, outreach worker, Stockton Trauma Center.
To help community members understand how to create change that increases public safety -- Fathers and Families of San Joaquin is organizing an "End Gun Violence" summit to be held next month at the civic auditorium.
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