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Law Enforcement

Kern County Sheriff's Department

Kern County's sheriff announced Wednesday the department’s gang unit is shutting down, and one of the driving factors is limited funds.  

 

“We’re running out of people and we’re unable to recruit and retain more than we’re losing,” Sheriff Donny Youngblood says. “So we’re getting smaller and smaller and this is probably just the beginning of more cuts to come.”

 

Alex Emslie/KQED

A new police transparency law, SB1421, requires police departments to make public internal investigation records regarding officer misconduct and use of force. Now more than 30 news agencies statewide, including Valley Public Radio, are collaborating to request and report on these records. I spoke with Alex Emslie, a criminal justice reporter at KQED who helped spearhead the project.  

 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

These days, Crystal Giles negotiates dinner options for her two kids alone. There’s Talon, her four-year-old son, and Riley, her eight-year-old daughter.

 

Giles moves a plate of burritos out of the microwave for Talon, and eventually settles on pizza rolls for Riley.

 

“That is way too many pizza rolls, little girl,” Giles tells her as Riley pours them out of a bag from the freezer.

Riley responds, “That’s how much daddy would eat.”

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Recent arrests of undocumented immigrants by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials inside Central Valley courthouses from Fresno to Sacramento have sparked controversy. But as Valley Public Radio's Monica Velez reports, such arrests aren't new.

State lawmakers announced legislation Tuesday that they say will change the legal standard allowing officers to use deadly force on the job, but one valley sheriff is concerned this will make it harder for officers to do their job safely.

 

Fresno County Sheriff's Office

Last year California lawmakers passed legislation that limits communication between local law enforcement agencies and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials. Recently, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department made national headlines by attempting to bypass that law by publicly posting the release date of inmates online. It’s a practice that Fresno County has been using for years.

 

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Last week we brought you an investigative story about a secretive building in downtown Fresno that’s being used to process individuals coming into custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. There’s no sign on the building, its address is not listed on the agency’s website, and immigration attorneys are concerned about the detainees’ access to due process.

Kern DA: Serna Shooting Was Justified

Feb 2, 2018

Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green has determined that Bakersfield Police officer Reagan Selman acted reasonably when he shot and killed 73 year-old Francisco Serna in December 2016. Serna was unarmed, and suffering from dementia. Police later discovered the item he was holding in his pocket was a crucifix.

 

A new report from the Southern California American Civil Liberties Union claims that the Bakersfield Police Department and the Kern County Sheriff’s Office have - in the ACLU’s words – "engaged in patterns and practices that violate civil rights" including the excessive use of force.

Aleksandra Appleton / The Fresno Bee

A new reporting project from the Fresno Bee seeks to shine a light on a story that is too often in the shadows all around us – human trafficking. The multi-media project "Slaves of the Sex Trade" launched last week, and underscores not only the extent of the problem but the ways in which many young women are lured into a life of modern day slavery, usually beginning online.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Police officers across the country and in the Central Valley have been under increasing scrutiny and pressure for how they deal with civilians in the field. At the same time, some departments are acknowledging that their role is morphing into one that is just as concerned with identifying and helping people who might be suffering from a mental illness as it is enforcing the law. Fresno’s Police Chief Jerry Dyer says he is making changes within his force in an attempt to separate committed criminals from people who need a softer form of help.

NAACP Facebook

Late last year the California Department of Justice launched a "patterns and practices" investigation into the Bakersfield Police Department, after a series of incidents and officer involved shootings that drew national attention. New police chief Lyle Martin has been on the job for about as long, and now he has another issue to deal with: an encounter a few weeks ago between his officers and 19-year-old Tatyana Hargrove. It left the African-American woman with injuries from punches and a police K-9.

Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood and Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims were among the law enforcement officials who met with President Trump today as part of the Major County Sheriff’s Association conference. 

Mims: “He pledged his support for law enforcement saying that we’re going to work together to keep our communities and nation safe.”

Mims says Trump also repeated his calls to step up deportations of individuals suspected or convicted of crimes who are in the country illegally.

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we hear how law enforcement agencies are helping their officers and deputies cope with the mental strain of the job. We also learn why activity tracking software is helping elephants at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo and across the country attain better health and welfare. Later in the show we talk local political races in Fresno and Bakersfield with Nicole Parra and Jim Verros; plus learn about a new book on the history of Kerman from Paul Betancourt.

In the first part of a series on the health impacts of violence in the community, Valley Public Radio introduced you to the family of a mentally ill man fatally shot by police. His case is an extreme example but the mental and physical health impacts of violence can be seen in more subtle ways too. Now some people are now comparing violence in the valley with a well-known condition often connected to war.

Joey Williams has spent nearly his entire life living in east Bakersfield.

Fresno Police Department

Community violence and a visit to the doctor might seem like two totally unrelated topics. But for people living in violent communities, and the police who patrol them, it might be more closely related than you think. In the first report in a multi-part series on the links between health care and violence in the San Joaquin Valley, we learn what happened when one man’s health care interventions became law enforcement interventions. 

Roger and Freddy Centeno were brothers and part of a big family living in Southeast Fresno. In all, there were nine kids, six girls and three boys.

Steven Mayer / The Bakersfield Californian

Bakersfield Police have their hands full, as do most law enforcement agencies in the valley. But one neighborhood in the center of town is an especially troubling place. A 2 square-mile stretch of the city, bordered by California Avenue, Chester Ave, Brundage and Washington is home to 36 percent of the city’s gun homicides, 30 percent of the city’s shooting victims and one-quarter of all weapon firings.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Visalia City Council is set to take up debate tonight whether to send a sales tax increase to voters this November. The half-cent tax on retail sales would bring in about $10 million a year to help fund public safety, road and facilities maintenance.

It would be in addition to Measure T, an existing voter-approved sales tax that funds law enforcement in the city. Because the new tax would not be dedicated for any one specific use, it only requires a simple majority to pass.

City of Bakersfield

A drug and corruption scandal has rocked the Bakersfield Police Department. Former narcotics detective Damacio Diaz has accepted a plea deal in connection with federal charges that could send him to prison for life. Now that he’s cooperating with authorities, he has allegedly implicated others in the department, including his former partner on the force, Patrick Mara, who has also reportedly accepted a plea deal.

Chain Cohn & Stiles

Attorneys for the family of a Bakersfield man who died in custody of the Kern County Sheriff’s office three years ago have settled their wrongful death lawsuit with the county for $3.4 million. FM89’s Joe Moore reports.

David Silva was arrested in May 2013 after he was found intoxicated, sleeping outside Kern Medical Center. He allegedly resisted arrest, was beaten by deputies, and was then handcuffed and restrained before he died.

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