BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Finally, a piece of long-awaited good news when it comes to homicides in Kern County. We’re half way through 2022, and data shows local homicides are down compared to last year. But our community continues to suffer from violence.

17 News data shows a small relief for our community, historically plagued by violence. At least 54 people have been killed so far this year in Kern County. At this time last year, that total was 63. Killings within Bakersfield city limits dropped by 35%.

“We’re at 20 homicides. At this same time last year we were at 31,” said Bakersfield Police Chief Greg Terry. “After two consecutive years of record homicides in our community, to have some downward trends, is really some good news.”

Bakersfield police say homicide totals may be going down because of efforts to stop gang violence. These crimes account for 30% of murders in Kern.

“We’ve developed community partnerships around gang violence and those types of homicides,” said Terry. “Community members alongside the police department, on the streets to try to make a difference.”

Pastor Manuel Carrizales founded Stay Focused Ministries to curb gang violence. He says the solution starts with steering young people away from dangerous lifestyles.

“We’ve got kids going through our program that were traumatized because their mom or their dad was killed,” said Carrizales. “Walking with them through it, it’s a process. To make them realize they’re valuable. They were never made to be a gang member or a drug addict.”

If you want to learn more about Stay Focused Ministries, you can visit their website.