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Fresno police chief apologizes to officers amid relationship scandal

Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama
City of Fresno
Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama

FRESNO, Calif. — Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama has apologized for an off-duty relationship that has drawn public attention and sparked a city investigation.

In a one-page letter sent Monday to members of the police department, Balderrama didn’t detail his actions, but said he did not meet standards he set for himself "as a man of faith, a husband or a father."

"It is so very true that there are two sides to every story, but I do not intend to justify or defend myself regardless of any unknown circumstances," Balderrama wrote. "I own my mistakes, they are mine and mine alone to bear, and I will pay for those mistakes for the rest of my life."

The City of Fresno publicly revealed last week it is investigating what it called an “inappropriate relationship” between Balderrama, who is married and has three children, and a non-city employee.

Balderrama reportedly came to the city with the news himself back in February. The letter to the police department is the first public statement from the chief to directly address the matter.

Officials are revealing few details, and the initial statement by the city itself was vague in nature. It is unclear why the city would be the one to investigate a relationship occurring during off-duty hours and with someone employed elsewhere. But other news outlets have quoted sources who allege that Balderrama engaged in an affair that may have potentially influenced the chief’s personnel decisions. KVPR has not independently verified those reports.

A representative of the Fresno Police Officers’ Association — the union representing police officers — said its Board of Directors plans to meet on Wednesday to discuss the matter. The union also sent a letter to officers.

After the city's statement last Thursday, Balderrama posted a bible verse and a caption saying "We will be okay" on his X.com account that evening.

In his Monday letter, Balderrama also said he privately met with police department staff shortly before the city released its statement announcing the investigation.

In his letter, Balderrama also asked his officers to focus on accomplishments within the department, which he says has outperformed others in the country.

Balderrama, 47, is Fresno’s first Latino police chief, and the 23rd chief in its history.He was previously a deputy police chief and officer with the Oklahoma City Police Department.

Cresencio Rodriguez-Delgado is KVPR's News Director. Prior to joining the station's news department in 2022, he was a reporter for PBS NewsHour and The Fresno Bee.