FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Law enforcement officials reacted on Wednesday to the removal of the zero-dollar bail rule in Fresno County, following the arrest and subsequent release on the zero-dollar bail policy of a man from Los Angeles found with 11 pounds of pure Fentanyl, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Fresno County Sheriff John Zanoni says that he “absolutely” supports the removal of the zero-dollar bail rule saying that this could have an impact on drug and violent crime as individuals won’t just get a free pass.

Sheriff Zanoni says that the decision by the courts came as a surprise to him and other law enforcement leadership on Wednesday afternoon – including Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp. But he appreciated the fact that it was going to help them do their job and make Fresno County streets safer.

Sheriff Zanoni did use the example of the arrest and release of Pedro Miranda-Muro as the reason why this decision is so important for Fresno County.

“A lot of local law enforcement leaders from Chief Balderrama to D.A. Smitcamp to myself have been to townhouse meetings and events trying to get the word out about the dangers of fentanyl. The shock was there is an individual that is transporting 11 pounds of pure fentanyl which we know is deadly in Fresno County. He’s arrested, we got the fentanyl off the street and now he is released 16 hours later without even having to post bail,” said Zanoni

“I find that unacceptable, especially in cases like this where if this fentanyl were to get on the streets who knows who gets into the hands of and it’s potentially deadly.”

Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama released this statement regarding the removal of zero-dollar bail, adding that the department is looking forward to further reductions in violent crime with the elimination of the practice of zero-dollar bail.

“I am pleased to hear the Fresno County Superior Court has rescinded Rule 3.1.14 regarding emergency zero-dollar bail for the Fresno County 2023 jail bail schedule. It was reasonable to institute this temporary order during the peak of COVID-19 to reduce the spread the virus. As this threat has significantly diminished for some time, it is appropriate to return to pre-COVID
operations. The spike in violent crime experienced in 2020 and 2021 can be partially attributed to the pandemic and the early release (in many cases within hours) of arrestees who were then subsequently involved in more crime. A lack of consequences and accountability do not foster a practice of non-violence for those who do not respect the law or a peaceful society.”

Overall, Sheriff Zanoni feels this is a huge win for law enforcement and that the move could reduce drug and violent crimes, as well as a reduction in people failing to appear in court.