FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – The Fresno Police Department made a plea to the Fresno City Council on Thursday, saying they need more officers.
The Fresno department typically loses three to four officers per month, but numbers from October show that they lost about 10 officers this past month.
Police Chief Paco Balderrama was asked to address the council on a number of issues, including lack of staff, the crime rate and illegal street racing.
The number 69 was placed prominently over councilmember Mike Karbassi’s place card, signifying the number of homicides so far this year in Fresno.
Chief Paco Balderrama sounding the alarm, said the Fresno Police Department is dramatically understaffed.
“If people want a safer city, we need more police officers to suppress the violent crime that we’re seeing,” Chief Balderrama said.
The number of shootings in Fresno is currently on track to double the total for last year.
City leaders say this shows the need for officers and public safety resources has never been greater.
“This year we’re on pace, as we were last year to exceed 750 shootings, so if that number doesn’t alarm us, then I don’t know what will,” Mayor Jerry Dyer said.
Officers are currently working huge amounts of overtime to keep the entire city covered. This extra time on the job has also started taking a personal toll on officers.
“There comes a point where it’s not worth the money,” Balderrama said.
The Fresno Police Department is the largest police department in the Central Valley and while Balderrama says endless policing opportunities exist, there just aren’t enough candidates.
“We want to attract high-quality candidates,” he said. “But we got to do so by building a strong police department by offering that pay and those extra benefits that other people don’t.”
As Mayor of Fresno, Dyer said his priority for next year is to have a police department properly staffed to meet the challenges facing the city. He plans on coming up with solutions, like offering housing incentives, to attract and retain personnel.
“The way that we’re going to do that is making sure that they have the sufficient resources, police officers and equipment to be able to do that.”