Balderrama highlights police reform progress. Former commissioners aren’t sold.

Thursday, Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama detailed a litany of proposals laid out by Fresno’s Commission on Police Reform that have been implemented.

Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama revealed around half of the recommended reforms from the Fresno Commission for Police Reform have been implemented. 

Balderrama addressed the Fresno City Council during the meeting Thursday, which comes just days after the department had an officer-involved-shooting that has drawn interest from California’s Attorney General.


The backstory: The Commission for Police Reform formed in June 2020 in the wake of the death of George Floyd.

  • The commission came up with 73 recommendations to reform the police department on the basis of preventing tragic incidents from happening in the future. Former Fresno City Councilman Oliver Baines served as the committee chair. 

The big picture: So far 32 of the recommendations have been implemented by the department, Balderrama reported to the council. The city has implemented six recommendations on its end, and another 13 recommendations are either partially implemented or in the process of being implemented by the department. Another 10 recommendations have been referred to the Police Reform Implementation Team for further work.

  • Seven of the recommendations have been declined, including one which would require the police department to not contract with school districts. 
  • Some of the implemented recommendations include that officers will not respond to low-risk calls, the revision of the use of force policy, having investigations completed within six months and keeping reprimands in employee files for three years, among many others. 

What they’re saying: Part of Thursday’s discussion at Fresno City Hall turned to activist Sandra Celedon, the President and CEO of Fresno Building Healthy Communities who was a member of the reform commission. In 2020 she retweeted a video of a Minneapolis Police Precinct on fire in the wake of Floyd’s death and said “burn it down.” 

  • Councilman Garry Bredefeld asked Balderrama about another Tweet that Celedon wrote Thursday that accused the city of lying about its implementation of the reforms. 
  • “I don’t think I need their approval or their permission to implement good policies in my police department,” Balderrama said in response. “And, by the way, on a weekly basis I implement good policies that are national best practices and recommendations, and I don’t ask anybody. That’s why I’m the Chief of Police.”
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