The Fresno Police Department needs 900 new guns. And, the city council and the mayor’s office tentatively have agreed to pay for them.

But, the path to “yes” included a testy exchange between council president Miguel Arias and police chief Andy Hall at Thursday’s meeting.

Police Gun Request

Hall told the council last month about the department’s gun situation. He said the current stock, which is many years old, was a safety hazard. And, he wanted to replace the old .40 caliber handguns with 9 mm models. The new sidearms, he said, would use cheaper ammunition.

He again addressed those concerns Thursday, saying “a gun that may fire today, may not fire tomorrow. … It would be like driving a car that may not have brakes tomorrow.”

And that led to an uneasy conversation.

Arias asked Hall why he didn’t budget for new firearms last year — the same year the department converted temporary employees into permanent staff.

Arias also quizzed Hall about raises for police employees and replacing vehicles.

“It’s fair to say that you need more resources, and so does everyone else,” Arias said.

Arias went on to say that the police department gets the lion’s share of the city’s budget every year.

Hall asked to respond, but Arias denied the request. Hall continued, anyway, noting how outdated the department’s buildings and equipment were.

Photo of Mike Karbassi

Councilman Mike Karbassi proposed sharing the cost of funding new police weapons with the Mayor’s office. His motion was approved.

“We have to go to the community to beg for donations to purchase food to feed our dogs and horses,” Hall said. “The fact is, guns are not negotiable.”

Arias responded, “What’s also not negotiable, Chief, is that something as basic as service guns are not planned in your operational budget.”

Upset Over Leak

Hall threatened that officers may get laid off to afford the new guns if the council wasn’t willing to foot the bill. He also expressed disappointment that a letter he wrote asking council support for the new guns was leaked to the media.

“That’s shameful,” Hall said.

Karbassi Comes up With a Solution

Ultimately, councilman Mike Karbassi made sure the department’s gun needs were at least partially met.

The council allocated $113,500 for the guns, with Mayor Lee Brand’s administration responsible for the rest of the $273,600 request.

Brand has since said that his staff is working to find the remaining funding.

Karbassi made it work on the council’s side with a proposal to shift $50,000 of $100,000 designated for City Hall interns and $63,500 designated for building a police memorial.

Karbassi said it was better to spend money to prevent the names of more officers going on the memorial.

 

6 Responses

  1. Carolyn Taylor

    What is Fresno County or Hanford specially County need guns for when they don’t do anything for the people who they’re supposed to be protecting I’ve asked many of times from Hanford Police Department Hanford Sheriff Department for help on a matter and they just ignore me they don’t care so good good is the police and Sheriff Department they don’t care about the citizens the people they only care about what they can the ear income is or what they can do to publicity that’s all they care about I don’t know what this world is coming to that used to be officers used to help people in need or help people who needed their help but they don’t do that anymore it’s a game the only time you can get any help is when you die or when you go to kill somebody because that’s the only time they do anything when you need them to help you they’re not there it’s sorry

    Reply
  2. Dan

    Arias has a point. It isn’t like these aging weapons were a surprise to the PD brass. And why did PD switch from 9mm to .40 caliber anyway? When PD went to semiautomatics in the late 1970s they chose the 9mm. There was really no reason to switch from 9mm except for status.

    Reply
  3. Bill Thacker

    Budgetary concerns are legitimate. However it’s no secret Arias was unhappy with the appointment of Hall by Dyer and Mayor Brand as a temp until a new Mayor is elected. Even humorously starting vicious rumors that his section (“behind close door” Arias words) must have had something to do with an affair that City Manager Mary Quan was having with a police lieutenant. These accusations from Arias resulted in Quan threatening to sue Fresno City Hall.
    Once again, Miguel Arias is a liability waiting to happen. Unexpected budgets happen, it’s not wrong that Arias question this but his tone of smug, self-righteous indignation is what is concerning to majority of City leaders.
    The first concern for the property taxpayers of Fresno is health and safety.
    Arias should think about that when he asks for millions of redevelopment funds for meth vagrancy and low cost housing . It’s fair to say that Arias district has the most calls for violent crimes, theft and assaults …Arias should budget money for his district on crime control and drug prevention. Here is a novel idea for Arias since he worked at Fresno Unified School District get work as partners to budget a comprehensive anti drug problem. Even though Ar iui as left a trail of hostile environment he has 2 other school districts to work with in his district besides Fresno Unifued where he may not be received too warmly considering his hasty retreat to run for city council.
    Arias has to learn diplomacy and that he will get much further with honey than creating divides and hostility . Think about that the next time Arias may need emergency services.

    Reply
  4. Kim

    Arias is an embarrassment. Hope he doesn’t have to be defended by that cop with the faulty weapon. He is more worried about someone’s personal life than the Council position he was elected to.

    Reply
  5. Alan Scott

    The other part of this story is as old as history. The what-if factor!!!

    In government, timing is always suspect! However, the ‘if’ factor is vital when an action goes awry with law enforcement. The natives rise up with those million-dollar questions that most times revert back to attempts in previous years got dumped or whatever?

    Technology changes requiring change accordingly. Furthermore, there are storage and degrading issues with weapons et al.

    Failure to have a reliable inventory program created some nasty situations yesterday. Yes, it will occur if an inventory checks and balances paradigm is not enforced!

    Reply

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