FRESNO, California (KGPE) – In the middle of the City of Fresno’s budget hearing, the Chief of Police made a startling comment about the frustration level of officers amid calls to defund the police department.
“I think a lot of officers see a vehicle that may be full of gang members and turn around because it is easier and they get paid the exact same,” said Chief Andy Hall.
Chief Hall made the claim that officers do not feel supported by the community – leading to over 40 position vacancies and a rise in crime.
“Like most other places in the county, we have seen a sharp increase in violent crime.”
It was a clash of beliefs in the Fresno City Council Chambers about a path forward for the funding of the Police Department.
The new proposal would allocate $210 million for police – a $10 million increase from the previous budget.
But inside Fresno City Council’s chambers, there was disagreement between whether to put more money into the department – or use it for the city’s disadvantaged neighborhoods.
“It is like a war, so what side are you funding?” said D’Aungilique Jackson, President of Fresno State’s NAACP chapter and member of the Fresno Commission for Police Reform.
Chief Hall argued the department is understaffed and overwhelmed by the increase in crime. He blames $0 bail and said the city will deal with repercussions for years to come.
Jackson argued that some citizens do not trust the police to protect them, citing a survey of residents.
“We found that over 35% of residents rated their performance as bad or extremely bad,” said Jackson. “We found that 60% of residents don’t trust the police department.”
Councilmember Mike Karbassi stands with Hall.
“We back up our PD,” said Karbassi. “That is the bottom line.”
Councilmember Esmerelda Soria wore a mask with the words “stop the violence.” She wants money to go to neighborhoods for affordable housing and parks.
“So we can throw money at our police department but at the end of the day there is a crisis that our broader community is experiencing,” said Soria.
The hearing was only for recommendations. The final recommendation will be at the end of the month.