First it was a splash pad at Vinland Park.
“Cap” kept his promise earlier this summer. The splash pad is here.
Then it was a satellite police station in the El Dorado Park-Fresno State area.
This one took a while, but “Cap” has once again kept his promise.
No wonder Council Member Paul Caprioglio was all smiles on Tuesday.
District 4’s representative and dozens of supporters needed only 15 minutes in the late morning to unveil Fresno’s newest police substation. This one is located on first floor of the Starpoint Towers office complex near the intersection of Shaw Avenue and Sixth Street in Northeast Fresno.
The historic El Dorado Park neighborhood is a short walk to the north. Bulldog Stadium is just a bit farther away, to the northeast. Beyond the stadium is the Fresno State campus.
This area back in the day was home to a busy police substation. The station was lost years ago to a budget crunch. Caprioglio convinced his City Hall colleagues to restore the station during the June 2016 budget hearings.
Fourteen months later, Caprioglio joined Mayor Lee Brand and university leaders in cutting the ribbon on the new station.
“With the opening of this satellite station, we are sending out a clear, strong message that we want our residents and our students to feel safe,” Caprioglio said. “This area truly is safe and thriving. Our focus is to build strong partnerships, to build closer relationships with the nearby residents – the neighbors, the businesses, the students. This is all a critical part of why this station is here today.
“At the same time, we ask that the residents and the students be the eyes and the ears of our crime fighters who are standing behind me. Whenever you see something or hear something as a resident or a neighbor, please report it to the Police Department. We must work together, we must continue to collaborate to keep this area safe and prosperous for all of Fresno.”
Brand said he worked on some of the El Dorado Park apartments 50 years ago as an apprentice electrician. He said the new substation is indicative of key themes in his administration – collaborative effort and public safety. He said the substation’s presence sends a strong message about City Hall’s willingness to build relationships with students and the community.
This effort, Brand said, “is moving in the right direction.”
The El Dorado Park substation is the second such facility opened this summer in Fresno. City officials recently held a similar ceremony for the Tower District substation on Wishon Avenue. (That station is in Council Member Esmeralda Soria’s district; Soria attended Tuesday’s event.)
The thinking behind both stations is the same: A bricks-and-mortar presence of the Police Department supports neighborhood safety. There’s something about the constant coming-and-going of uniformed cops that tells the bad guys to try somewhere else. But City Hall can’t put a full-blown district-sized station in every neighborhood. Smaller stations – sometimes called “report-writing” stations – are an alternative.
Of course, a neighborhood seeking such a substation is wise to first have some political clout. The Tower District is viewed at City Hall as a regional entertainment center. Fresno State is the top university in the San Joaquin Valley.
Police Chief Jerry Dyer said the El Dorado Park substation will spur his department’s move toward more community policing.
“We want to be here for a very long time,” Dyer said. “We will make sure our presence is felt within this area.”
Fresno State was represented by university Police Chief David Huerta and Student Body President Blake Zante.
“I’m really proud to be a Bulldog right now, seeing this new police station come in,” Zante said. “It not only benefits our community and the El Dorado Park community, but it’s also a huge benefit to Fresno State students.”
Policy-makers blow hot and cold on the wisdom of “report writing” stations. After all, patrol officers by definition are mobile. If they’re in an office, then they’re not on the streets keeping an eye on things and meeting the public.
In the end, though, people like the stations. Time and pressure often overcome budgetary resistance.
Summing up things on Tuesday, Caprioglio said skeptics were sure there would never be another El Dorado Park substation.
“Guess what?” Caprioglio said. “We’re here.”
The idea of restoring a police presence in the neighborhood was first talked about five years ago over lunch during a Revitalization Summit on campus. Cap then talked about it at the 2013 summit. Ever since then, he’s worked on getting it done. He made sure to put money in the budget for it the last three years. Early on, he ran into opposition from Keith Foster, but was able to keep the ball moving. Yesterday was an exciting day for me, to finally see the results from my lunch discussion in 2012.