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Fresno Police Department Proposes Nearly $1 Million For Additional Officers And Staff

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Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama presents the department's proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The Fresno Police Department proposed Tuesday a $206 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year during a six-hour budget hearing before the city council. 

Police Chief Paco Balderrama said if the budget is approved, nearly $1 million  would go towards funding 12 new police officers and 19 additional professional staff during the 2021-2022 fiscal year. That would increase the police department’s ranks to 850 sworn positions and 320 professional staff, he said. 

District 1 Councilmember Esmeralda Soria said she was uncomfortable allocating money for additional police officers when many are out on medical leave or workers’ compensation claims. 

“If we were demonstrating that people are going back to work and that we don’t have as many long-term absences as we have in the books, I’d be like, ‘OK, I’m willing to pay a little bit more to make sure we are staffed up,’” she said. But, she said, that isn’t the case. 

In response, city manager Thomas Esqueda said the department recently initiated a task force dedicated to investigating workers’ comp claims.

District 3 council member Miguel Arias said he’s skeptical the department would actually use the money to fill vacancies.  

“For me, it’s a trend with this department,” he said. “They bring forward a recommendation, an action, a contract; sell it to us on the basis of ‘A’. Then ‘A’ doesn’t come to fruition; then they say, ‘we still need it for ‘B’ reason.’” 

Council member Tyler Maxwell suggested an external review of the workers comp claims.    

The city will vote on the final budget on June 24. 

Madi Bolanos covered immigration and underserved communities for KVPR from 2020-2022. Before joining the station, she interned for POLITCO in Washington D.C. where she reported on US trade and agriculture as well as indigenous women’s issues during the Canadian election. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in anthropology from San Francisco State University. Madi spent a semester studying at the Danish Media and Journalism School where she covered EU policies in Brussels and alleged police brutality at the Croatian-Serbian border.
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