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Fresno City Hall Ends Funding for Advance Peace Program



Fresno City Manager Georgeanne White says Fresno is ending its support of the Advance Peace program. (GV Wire Composite/Randy Reed)
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Saying it could no longer trust a program designed to reduce gun violence, the city of Fresno said it is cutting off Advance Peace and allocating nearly $1 million elsewhere.

The Fresno City Council agreed last December to spend $950,000 on the program using federal relief dollars. Advance Peace is administered through the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission.

Advance Peace’s goal is to reduce shootings by providing transformational opportunities to young men — typically gang members — involved in gun violence. It was founded by DeVone Boggan, a former neighborhood safety director in Richmond, California. Advance Peace has chapters in Sacramento, Stockton, and Oakland.

Threat Made Against City Councilmember

In April, several law enforcement agencies announced dozens of Fresno arrests in a statewide gang takedown operation known as Operation No Fly Zone. One of those arrested was Leonard Smith, who worked for Advance Peace in Fresno. He was charged with conspiracy to commit murder.

“Shortly thereafter, Chief (Paco) Balderrama, who had been a strong supporter of Advance Peace, informed me that the Fresno Police Department would no longer be able to work in partnership with Advance Peace, or share information with them due to several concerning issues coming to light during the investigation. These details extend beyond the arrest of an Advance Peace employee,” Fresno City Manager Georgeanne White said in a Wednesday statement.

White’s statement said Balderamma’s concerns included “threats made to at least one city council member, and the misuse of sensitive information provided to Advance Peace.”

White’s statement did not elaborate on the threat or identify the city councilmember.

After the announcement of Smith’s arrest, Fresno EOC announced an additional $300,000 in federal funding for Advance Peace secured by Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno.

“This will not detract from our important mission to reduce gun violence in the City of Fresno,” Fresno EOC spokeswoman Claudia Solis said at the time of Smith’s arrest.

Fresno EOC Responds

After the initial publication of this story, Fresno EOC defended the program, “disappointed” in the city pulling its funding.

“Advance Peace is a national program that has demonstrated results of reducing gun violence in multiple cities,” CEO Emilia Reyes said. “To date, we have found no data that shows any other violence intervention program funded by the City is more effective than Advance Peace Fresno.”

“Fresno EOC stands firmly behind Advance Peace Fresno and will continue to advocate, raise funds, and generate community support for this important program, which has made great strides in reducing gun violence and promoting healing in our most vulnerable neighborhoods,” Reyes said.

Money to Be Used for Another Program

The city said it will now use the money for gang prevention and intervention programs.

“On this public safety matter, I must trust the judgment of my Police Chief when he conveys serious concerns regarding Advance Peace and that the trust and partnership have been compromised. Not only do I trust Chief Balderrama, but I firmly stand by his decision,” White said.

Supporters of Advance Peace lobby the Fresno City Council for support in June 2019. (City of Fresno Screengrab)

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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