STOCKTON, Calif. - The city of Stockton and its law enforcement agencies can rejoice, as the recently crime-plagued city emerged from January without recording a single homicide.
January, 2013, is the first month without a murder in Stockton since April, 2011. The uplifting news follows a year in which the city recorded a record 71 murders.
Chief of Police Chief Eric Jones, who has been living and fighting crime in Stockton for 20 years, says he's pleased with his department for their hard work, but is especially proud of the Stockton community.
"We've really reached out to the community and they to us in ways we haven't seen in years because they realize we're in financial distress, we have a high crime rate and now more than ever, everybody is coming together," said Jones.
Budget cuts in Stockton have hit the city's police department hard. There are currently 330 police officers tasked with protecting the city, compared to 441 in 2008. As a result, Jones says his department has made violent crime a priority over lesser crimes like car theft and burglary.
In addition, Gov. Brown directed the California Highway Patrol to help local law enforcement with patrols and enforcement in high-crime areas. That joint effort began Nov. 1, 2012, and Friday, Stockton's mayor said the governor approved the continued CHP assistance for another 30 days.
Jones said his department has been working hard to build bridges with the community in order to help solve and prevent violent crimes. He added incorporating new technology has been a big part of their recent success.
"Social media, text tipping and what we found is we're really reaching out to entire new segment of the community that we haven't reached out to before and we're getting new tips on homicides, we're getting information on narcotics houses," Jones said.
Fewer crime scenes mean homicide detectives can spend more time chasing down leads and solving crimes.
"With our recent reduction in violent crime I'm very proud, definitely of my staff, they've been working hard, they've been working tirelessly and so it's a nice break for them," said Jones.
Jones was hopeful that with continued community support, Stockton's violent crime stats will continue to drop.
"I'm proud of our community for coming together and working so hard and I'm looking forward to them continuing that in 2013," he said.