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Waco Police Chief talks root of gun violence epidemic

As of May, Waco had 11 murders which is up 57 percent from the same time last year, that's according to data provided by Waco Police Department.

WACO, Texas — Waco Police Chief Sherly Victorian has been on the job just over a year and with violent crime on the rise recently -- she's taking action.

"It's very sad to me that we can't think of other ways to solve all our problems," she said.

Victorian is concerned about the growing murders on her streets. According to data provided by Waco Police Department, as of May, Waco had 11 murders which is up 57 percent from the same time last year. She does say overall crime rates in Waco are relatively the same compared to last year.

"Murders that we've had have been interpersonal relationship conflicts," she explained.

Victorian says interpersonal relationships, domestic violence and poor gun safety are some driving reasons for uptick in murders.

RELATED: Victorian talks with the community after a full year as Waco Police Chief

"Access to guns is an issue," she said. "I think that's an issue again, all over the state of texas and so we're asking people to practice responsible gun ownership."

After two toddlers were shot in the last year, Victorian is begging firearms owners to lock up their guns and secure them safely.

RELATED: Waco Police: Father didn't get daughter to the hospital quickly enough to save her after she was shot

"Make sure that they stay out of the hands of children," Victorian added. "Guns should not be readily accessible to children, they should not be readily accessible to people with mental illnesses, they should not be readily accessible to people who can violate you and steal them."

So far in 2022, Waco Police has had 149 firearms reported stolen. The department has also recovered 288, not necessarily counting some that were reported stolen, that's according to data provided by the department.

Victorian told 6 News that gang activity in the city is considered more of a result of interpersonal relationship conflicts.

"We do have gang-related crime, or what we believe to be gang-related crime and when I say that, it just means that the persons that are involved have identified themselves as a gang member at some point or by associated with gang members," she explained.

Victorian says the community has stepped up in helping the department solve crime since she's been in the role.

"It doesn't do us good to only respond to crime -- we are needing our community to help us with prevention and intervention as well," she explained. "We need our community support when crime does happen."

She's asking everyone to keep up the pace to stop the gun violence epidemic.

"We are hoping to be able to solve some of these societal issues using our community resources to where we reduce that or even have no murders," Victorian added. "I would love to see no one lose their life."

Chief Victorian says we need more youth and young adult programs, better mentorships, more resources for domestic violence victims and survivors and once again better gun safety for all.

The Waco Police Department, and several others around Central Texas, do give out free gun locks -- which can keep your firearm out of the wrong hands.

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