Law Enforcement

Marion County Sheriff's Office in Florida, via FOIA

A year ago, Tulare County native Jose Manuel Martinez was facing 10 life terms in prison before a trial in Florida that could have resulted in the death penalty. But after testimony from his family, painting Martinez as nothing but a loving father, uncle, and brother, he was spared, and given another life sentence. 

 

The Kern County Sheriff’s Department has agreed to collaborate with a community-led advisory council, officials announced on Tuesday. It will be the first of its kind for the county.

Arleana Waller, the founder of MLK CommUNITY, led the initiative to create the advisory council. She said the main goal is to have a diverse panel of community members to review policies within the department. 

 

Christian Viscarra

Protesters demanded justice Tuesday for a 16-year-old boy who was shot by Fresno police in 2017. More than 50 people gathered at City Hall chanting “Say His Name” and “Don’t Shoot.”  

The protest was in honor of Isiah Murrietta-Golding who was shot in the back of the head by Fresno Police Sgt. Ray Villalvazo. A surveillance video of the incident from a nearby daycare was released in 2019. Protester Dez Martinez says she saw the video.

Kern County Library Facebook

The Kern County Library hosted a conversation between the Sheriff’s Office and local African American leaders Wednesday afternoon. 

During the livestream meeting, a series of panelists asked Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood about different incidents and practices in the department. 

This week on Valley Edition: January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. We talk to people on the front lines tackling this complex problem. 

Plus, elections are changing in Fresno County as it adopts the Voters Choice Model. Madera County is also using that model, so ahead of this year’s primary, we ask the county clerks what local voters need to know.

And later, we hear from one of the nation’s leading researchers on chronic absence in schools.  

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above.

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.

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