PARLIER, Calif. (KGPE) – The City of Parlier is now without a police chief after officials decided to not renew his contract.
Mayor Alma Beltran and the city council said the decision was because the city does not have enough money in the budget.
“I know it is not a good situation and people have mixed emotions,” said Beltran.
He said the main issue was the department was way over budget.
“We approved the police department’s budget at $2.2 million, which overspent to $3.3 million,” said Beltran.
Mayor Beltran said the other issue was Measure P not passing. The measure would be a continuation of Measure Q, which raised taxes to help fund the police department. It needed a supermajority and failed by less than one percent of votes.
Beltran said if the city officials did not cut the chief position, several other officers would be laid off.
“We have to do what’s best for the city, we can’t rely our decision on one person,” she said.
Chief Jose Garza had been with the department for 3.5 years and was with the Fresno Police Department for 36 years prior.
Several community members spoke in opposition to him leaving at the city council meeting on Thursday. They credit him with reviving the department by reducing crime rates, doubling the number of officers, and creating community trust.
Parlier Police employee Esther Jimenez believes that the department will crumble without Chief Garza.
“Various officers are in the process of getting out or they are in the process of getting hired somewhere else,” said Jimenez.
Jimenez considering leaving herself.
“I am still hanging on there, but I don’t think I can make it with everything that is going on,” said Jimenez.
Garza would not go on camera because he is still on the city’s payroll. However, he told our station that the decision was not made because of money but because he was not “the Mayor’s yes man”.
While the chief and mayor are at odds, they both worry that if the department doesn’t find more funding soon, there will no longer be a department and instead Parlier will be under the jurisdiction of the Fresno Sheriff’s office.
“The seriousness of this situation is critical,” said Beltran.
Beltran said the measure will be on a special election ballot once again in June.