STOCKTON, CA - A scene with police cars and yellow tape is becoming a notoriously common image in Stockton.
That sad reality has residents in the Sierra Vista neighborhood fed up and seeking change. A large group of concerned citizens came together on Saturday to talk about how to fight Stockton's surge of violence.
"It's for the community to get to know each other and that way you can communicate together, and we can reach out that way, by communicating," Sierra Vista Council President Georgia Brownlee said.
There were 58 homicides in Stockton last year; the most in city history. But in 2012, Stockton has already recorded 48 homicides, putting the city on pace to easily eclipse last year's record. The grim statistics have motivated the Sierra Vista group to meet.
Morgan Maloney, 18, plans to work in law enforcement in Stockton after college.
"I want to help and better the community, that's why I want to be a cop," Maloney said. "Preferably K9, but I mean anything."
But the prospective Stockton police officer admits she thinks twice about where she goes.
"With a lot of the violence you just don't want to go outside anymore," Maloney explained.
Even a local high school football game is not a haven from deadly violence. Edison High School's game on Friday night was locked down when gunfire erupted across the street from the stadium
Edison High cornerback, Carlnelius McGee, was on the field when the shots rang out.
"I just saw everybody in the stands running and people were saying they are shooting," McGee said. "It's scary it's not safe nowhere out here."
But at the Sierra Vista meeting, citizens attempted to replace fear with communication.
"What we talked about [Saturday] is breaking that cycle, and getting the community involved to realize where their children are," City of Stockton Operation Peacekeepers Ralph Womack said.
Several community organizations also handed out forms for services offering drug rehabilitation programs, youth activities and behavioral health programs.
The effort may not be a quick fix for Stockton's problems, but it is a positive step toward tackling a wave of crime plaguing a city in crisis.