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Fresno Police Department News: Crime Decreased In 2018 & New SWAT Vehicle For 267k Purchased

I give you three more reasons why news from the Fresno Police Department makes for such compelling reading:

1.) Crime in Fresno during the calendar year 2018 compared to 2017 fell in almost all categories. This is according to statistics from Wednesday’s Crime View news conference.

Perhaps the most dramatic drop was in homicides. There were 32 in 2018, compared to 56 in 2017.

FPD says 21 of the 32 homicides in 2018 were gang related; 4 were drug related; 3 were domestic violence related; 2 were related to marijuana-specific robbery; 1 was mental health related; 1 was homeless related.

There were 353 shootings in 2018 vs. 517 in 2017. That’s a 32% decrease.

There were 180 gang shootings in 2018 vs. 262 in 2017. That’s a 31% decrease.

Violent crime was down 1.3% in 2018 (aggravated assaults were up slightly). Property crime was down 14%. There were 7,516 felony arrests in 2018, compared to 6,825 in 2017.

Fresno has about 530,000 people. It will always be a public safety challenge. That’s the way it is for most big cities. For example, law enforcement recovered off the streets of Fresno in 2018 a total of 1,479 guns – an average of more than 4 per day. And it seems that police departments not just in Fresno but throughout America are constantly seeing the scope of their mission expand due to demand from politicians and the public. Mayor Lee Brand’s goal of a building a force of 1,000 sworn officers (up from 800-plus now) remains vital for Fresno’s future.

Still, the 2018 Crime View numbers point to a Fresno Police Department doing its job, and doing it well.

2.) The City Council last month amended the FPD policy for records retention.

According to a staff report issued through City Attorney Doug Sloan, FPD’s policy is to retain for a minimum of five years reports involving use of force incidents, collision reviews, Internal Affairs reports and reports of great bodily injury. However, it had been FPD’s policy to retain records of investigations involving officer-involved shootings from closure date plus 25 years.

“There is no statutory basis for this twenty-five year requirement,” the staff report says.

The new policy requires FPD to retain records of officer-involved shooting investigations from closure date plus five years. This policy, the staff report says, conforms to California law.

3.) The City Council last month gave the Department of Transportation the green light to buy a new SWAT command vehicle. It will be a North Star 234-5 Type V SWAT command vehicle built by a company in the state of Washington. Cost: $267,753.

Says the staff report: “The Fresno Police Department SWAT command vehicle is an essential piece of equipment used during critical incidents. The command vehicle serves as the communications hub for public safety police operations and as the incident command post during tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving events. In addition, the command vehicle houses all of the specialized equipment, which falls under certain legal requirements, for the SWAT team. When not deployed for active events, the vehicle is used as a public demonstration and education unit.”

The current SWAT command vehicle is a 1977 affair that has simply given up the ghost.

All three items on my list would be worthy items for discussion by the Mayor’s Citizens Public Safety Advisory Board. I’m not suggesting that the board would – or should – have something critical to say about any or all of the items. I am saying all three impact how FPD does its job.

Maybe the Citizens Public Safety Advisory Board has already discussed the three items on my list. I don’t know. The board’s meetings aren’t subject to the state Open Meeting Law.

George Hostetter
George Hostetter is The Sun’s Fresno Civic contributor – covering the City of Fresno, County of Fresno, and Fresno Council of Governments.

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