Police Chief Jerry Dyer says he’ll take a leave of absence from his law enforcement to focus on his campaign for Fresno mayor.
Dyer announced his candidacy Wednesday at Manchester Center. He had announced months ago his intention to retire as chief, effective Oct. 15.
He said he would step aside “to separate the perception of conflict of interest between being a police chief and a mayoral candidate. I do not want anyone in this city to think I am campaigning on department time or city time,” he said.
Dyer noted he used vacation time today to make his announcement. He said he won’t campaign in uniform. He even drove his son’s car to the event, not his department-issued vehicle.
He didn’t offer a specific date for when the leave of absence would begin, but said it would happen “some point in the near future.”
“I will be working on a transition plan to make that happen. It will not be during the month of June. However, I will be taking some vacation time during the month of June when I do campaign business,” Dyer said.
According to the Fresno police manual, in the chief’s absence, the assistant chief or a deputy chief assumes command.
Assistant Chief Pat Farmer took the helm earlier this year when Dyer went on medical leave following back surgery. Dyer returned to work in about two months.
Arias Say Dyer Should Resign Immediately
“Given the official launch of his campaign for mayor, it is in our city’s best interest that he immediately resign his position as our chief law enforcement officer.” — Councilman Miguel Arias
Miguel Arias, Fresno City Council vice president, said Dyer should retire as chief much sooner October.
“Given the official launch of his campaign for mayor, it is in our city’s best interest that he immediately resign his position as our chief law enforcement officer,” Arias said in a news release.
Arias noted the upcoming city budget process, along with a to-be-released city audit of police department staff working other jobs while on city time.
“Our city business cannot be compromised by real or perceived inappropriate influence by a political candidate and police chief. This city cannot risk further legal and financial liability given our history of excessive legal payouts,” Arias said.
Arias did not make a similar demand for Dyer’s mayoral opponents — Fresno County Deputy District Attorney Andrew Janz and Fresno Councilman Luis Chavez.
“Janz doesn’t determine who gets investigated or the release of personnel records or police audits,” Arias said.
Bredefeld Expresses ‘Complete Faith’ in Dyer
Arias also noted the conflict Dyer might face if campaign-related crimes were alleged, such as stolen campaign signs or disorderly protesters.
“There are too many conflicts of interest if the chief of police is running for mayor. Neither Janz nor Chavez has that authority.”
Arias said he would agree to Dyer recusing himself from such potential investigations.
Another councilman, Garry Bredefeld, said a leave of absence and October retirement for Dyer work fine.
“I have complete faith,” Bredefeld said. “I reject Arias’ call for Police Chief Dyer to resign.”
Bredfeld questioned Arias’ motivation. “It is well known that Arias wanted Chief Dyer fired as soon as he took office in January,” he said. “This is just more of Mr. Arias’ political campaign against Dyer.”
To which Arias replied, “I’m not the mayor.”
Asked whether Mayor Lee Brand, who is not running for a second term, should pause the search for Dyer’s replacement as chief, Dyer said it was up to the current administration.
“If there is a decision made that we have an interim police chief until I can make that decision (as mayor), then I would certainly make that decision that is best for Fresno,” he said. “I don’t have a preference. I respect the current city manager and mayor. The decision they make is the decision they make.”
Janz called for a halt to the search when he announced his run for mayor earlier this month.