A few weeks after taking a step back from an effort to honor Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer for his time as the city’s Chief of Police, the Fresno City Council voted Thursday to move ahead with the recognition and rename the Fresno Police Department Regional Training Center after him.
The council approved the renaming on a 6-1 vote, with Councilman Miguel Arias casting the only opposing vote with concerns that the renaming is exempt from review by the Historic Preservation Commission.
The backstory: Earlier in June Councilmembers Tyler Maxwell, Garry Bredefeld and Mike Karbassi proposed the renaming of the southwest Fresno police facility after Dyer, who led the Police Department for 18 years.
- But Arias spearheaded the move to table the item and was backed by the rest of the council.
- In a similar matter, last week the council unanimously voted to urge the State Center Community College District to name the future regional fire training center after former Fire Chief Kerri Donis, honoring her for her nine years as chief before retiring in March.
Driving the news: A key point for previous hesitancy to support the renaming is that the resolution states that it is exempt from review by the Historic Preservation Commission.
- That dates back to a 2020 resolution proposed by former City Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria to ensure that the city does not have any buildings named after a “cultural or historic figure known to be racist or bigoted.”
What they’re saying: Arias said his opposition was threefold: the resolution is exempt from review by the commission, there are still pending lawsuits from Dyer’s time as police chief and Dyer’s tenure as mayor is only a quarter of the way through, assuming he is reelected next year.
- “I believe there are other officers that are equally if not more worthy of having a police training facility named after them,” Arias said. “That includes officers who’ve lost their life in the line of duty.”
- Arias also said that renaming the facility after Dyer is an ethical conflict for the city council, given Dyer’s active role in the city government.
- “For me that is an ethical conflict of interest that we should be very conscious with, because it could be suggested that for those of us who do not vote to approve this name recognition, that we see our projects delayed, our projects defunded, our projects reprioritized,” Arias said. “It leads for a lot of claims to be made because the current person still wields quite a bit of active authority over city business.”
- Maxwell responded in defense of the proposal, noting that Arias has voted for similar name changes four times since the 2020 resolution was passed. He added that the Historic Preservation Commission comes into play to research the legacies people long past, not those who are currently serving in the city government.
- “When it comes to a contemporary figure that we have all known and worked with for many many years and has served this community, I think we know that person’s legacy pretty well…” Maxwell said. “I think if we ourselves can’t come to a conclusion on this and we have to outsource the decision to a volunteer group, I think that says a lot about this council.”