FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – The Fresno Police Officers Association announced a new policy to address a critical staffing shortage Tuesday.
The department implemented a mandatory overtime program.
The police department has 69 vacancies.
The FPOA sent a letter to members which said “patrol is drowning” and they worked with Chief Paco Balderrama to implement the new program.
“We’ve been running below — operating below, minimum staffing for quite some time now,” Brandon Wiemiller the FPOA president said.
Patrol officers had been the only ones tasked with taking on overtime shifts and last-minute callbacks. Now additional officers from other units will be required to as well. Overtime will also be scheduled ahead of time not handed out last minute.
Wiemiller said what the department really needs is more funding to attract new officers. The FPOA announced they feel unsupported by city officials. He said with the crime rate in Fresno being so high, the department needs to be able to offer incentives to attract staff.
“When you’re not willing to offer any more pay and benefits than a place where they can go to with half or a third of the workload be exposed to less danger, what do you expect is going to happen?” Wiemiller said.
Councilmember Miguel Arias argued more money is not the answer. He said Fresno Police have some of the best salaries and benefits in the Central Valley.
“They are the only group we gave a raise to during the pandemic. No other group has had a raise for two years,” Arias said.
Arias also said he has discussed eliminating “moonlighting,” meaning not allowing officers to work secondary employment as armed security guards in their uniforms. He said it’s hard to tell citizens the department is understaffed when they see officers working additional jobs at restaurants and other businesses.
Wiemiller said the recruiting process is 12 to 15 months, so even if they can get people it’s going to be a while before they’re ready.