FRESNO, California. (KSEE) – A decreased police department budget but an increase in officers: that’s what police chief Paco Balderrama proposed today at the city council’s budget meeting for the 2022 fiscal year.
The proposed budget comes in at $206,209,500. $193,725,000 comes from the city’s general fund.
It’s 2.4% less than last year.
“2.5% is significant. We heard the community’s call to reallocate resources,” said city councilmember Tyler Maxwell.
Maxwell says the increase in staffing would be made possible because the department’s budget reduction had nothing to do with personnel, so the money for hires did not go down.
Chief Balderrama says hiring more officers will be the department’s main focus.
“I think having adequate police staffing is going to reduce the amount of time people have to wait to get their call answered,” he said.
Some of the money to pay for the additional staffing will come from a proposed increase of $991,000 from the general fund. The increases will be phased in overtime.
Some of the additions the police department is hoping to make include 12 sworn police officers, 19 professional staff members, and 64 police vehicles.
Currently, the department has 779 sworn officers, with 80 on long-term-absence. The goal is to hire 120 officers in the next 15 months.
“Having additional officers creates the potential to do more community engagement and proactive policing. If you have bare staffing levels for your police department, you’re going from call to call, you don’t have the chance to be proactive,” Maxwell said.
More negotiations and budget meetings will be taking place before the council must decide on a budget by June 30.