Fresno city leaders want to reduce gang violence through monetary incentives

While gang violence continues to be a problem in Fresno, one local leader believes a possible solution is to pay the gang members. 

Organizations like 'Advance Peace,' work to break the cycle and provide incentive-based opportunities and stipends to young men in hopes of motivating them to abandon the gang lifestyle, KSEE24 reports. 

“The way the program works is a community organization and community leaders identified these individuals, sign them up for mentorship programs for job programs, monitor them make sure they stay out of trouble,” said District 3 council member Miguel Arias.

Cities like Stockton and Sacramento have implemented similar programs. 

In Stockton, the program is fully funded by private dollars and in Sacramento, both city and private funding is used, according to KSEE24.

Arias believes Advance Peace would reduce gang violence in Fresno and feels the city should help pay for it. 

“If they can reduce losing one child to a drive-by in the community, it’s worth the investment,” Arias said.

He says the program will target the gang members known for drive-by shootings.

“Personally, I’m tired of having to set up scholarship funds for the victims of drive-by shootings,” he says.

But not everyone is on board. 

District 6 Fresno City Council member Garry Bredefeld, doesn't think city dollars should be used to fund the program. He added that there is a need for more police officers and 911 dispatchers in Fresno.

“I don’t think this is a good idea to use City general fund taxpayer money for this kind of program,” Bredefeld said.

Bredefeld says there are already programs in Fresno to help the at-risk youth.

“I think you can expose people to doing things other than being involved in gangs without paying them money, so I don’t support that, there’s a lot of things we can do to help people who are at risk," he expressed.

The city will vote on the motion Thursday and if it passes, they have 90 days to come up with a 5-year plan for the program.