By Carlos Correa

STOCKTON (CBS13) — Homicides in Stockton have dropped by nearly 40 percent compared to a year ago.

While that drop is strong, it leaves families to mourn the loss of 23 loved ones who died in the City of Stockton over the last nine months. After memorials, funerals and intense investigations by police, arrests have been made in several of the 2018 homicides.

Mike Donaghy, Juan Dominguez, and the Lor family – these are just some of the victims killed by what Stockton police call senseless gun violence.

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“Every day, we’re taking guns off the street, and we often average between 600 and 800 guns per year, annually that we are taking guns off the street. That’s good news and bad news. The good news is we’re getting those guns off the street. The bad news is there are a lot of firearms out there,” said Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones.

In the last nine months, officers have investigated 23 homicides in various parts of the community. The number is actually lower compared to last year when Stockton had 36 homicides around this time.

“We do not know the single answer, the magical answer as to why homicides and other shootings might be down this year, but we strongly believe is a combination of many factors,” he said.

The department now has 470 officers, the most in its history. Police continue to work closely with community members, building trust and keeping their relationship with neighbors strong.

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“I think that’s pretty good for the community that they are actually coming out to actually go in and actually get to know the community, see who’s around, and that is something I believe has helped reduced some of the crime,” said Joseph Keith who lives in Stockton.

Although, not a city-funded program Advance Peace is already recruiting its first set of fellows. It’s just one of the handful of programs in Stockton aimed at reducing gun violence.

“A lot of people are working right now, a lot of people are on alert trying to do something in the community. We have programs that are working, and working in collaboration,” said Brian Mohammad, program manager, Advance Peace.

Mohammad hopes by this time next year, the number of homicides will down even more.

Like the family members of each homicide victim, police depend on the community to bring any type of information forward so loved ones can eventually get justice and begin to heal.

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