SACRAMENTO, CA (KOVR/CNN) - Police officers and city officials in Sacramento, CA, are praising community outreach efforts, which they say contributed to the lowest number of child murders in the city in at least 35 years.
Investigating the murder of a child is one of the toughest cases police officers can get, but last year, that didn’t happen in Sacramento. It’s something that hasn’t happened in the city in 35 years.
“Isn’t it amazing what good investments can do?” said Kindra Montgomery-Block with the Sierra Health Foundation, which helps organize youth activities designed to keep kids from causing trouble. “This 2018 and no child deaths, juvenile deaths, in the city of Sacramento is absolutely the blessing on top.”
City leaders have been working to curb juvenile crime by reaching out to those at risk and committing millions of dollars to the effort.
"I don't think kids grow up saying, ‘I want to be a gang member.’ I think they grow up saying, ‘This is what I need to be successful,’ and that's what our responsibility is,” Councilmember Jay Schenirer said.
The community outreach efforts range from “Shop with a Cop” events and neighborhood peace marches to the recently added Friday night pop-up events started after a large-scale fight by teenagers at a local mall.
“We saw a need, created a strategy, put that strategy in order, and not one thing happened that weekend,” Montgomery-Block said.
Police say having no child homicides shows the outreach is having an impact.
"What we're doing matters, and we take that as a success,” said Officer Marcus Basquez with the Sacramento Police Department.
Police say the overall number of homicides also fell in the city in 2018, which is the third straight year of declines.
On average, 12 children are murdered per year in all of Sacramento County.