FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – The Fresno Police Chief announced on Friday that the department has implemented 16 of the 73 recommendations from the Fresno Commission on Police Reform.
“We have done everything we could to implement the ones that were in our area of control,” said Chief Paco Balderrama.
The changes come more than a year and a half after protesters gathered outside of Fresno City Hall demanding reform of the police department.
The changes include updates to the use of force policies, having other professionals instead of officers respond to mental health and homeless calls, and making the process easier for the public to report a discrimination complaint and revamping the application process with the emphasis on encouraging women to join.
Police will still provide security to those responding to mental health and homeless calls, but officers will only step in if things escalate.
Chief Balderrama said while he is happy with the progress, the recommendation he will not implement is taking officers off of school campuses.
“It was requested by the school district, by the students, from the parents who love their kids,” said Balderrama. “That they would rather have a police presence in our high schools at Fresno Unified School District. So after speaking to the administration, we opted not to do that.”
Balderrama said other recommendations from the commission are either out of his hands, take additional funding or require law changes.
Mayor Jerry Dyer plans on providing funds in the next budget.
“We will do everything we can,” said Dyer. “And I will, as the mayor, make sure there is a budget to support not only to trail police officers but to keep people safe. That is the primary focus.”
The city council members approved all 73 recommendations but support the chief in the progress and are supportive of the process so far.
“What I would tell the residents of Fresno is their time that they have invested in the Police Department for reform was not wasted,” said Councilmember Miguel Arias. “We are still implementing the recommendations.”
“We have put it in the hands of Chief Balderrama, who has the experience to know what will work and what won’t,” said Councilmember Mike Karbassi. “My biggest concern is that when a resident calls 911 there is an officer out there that can help save their life. That is my biggest concern.”