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In the wake of calls for police reform, Fresno Black Lives Matter supporters and police leaders agree that the formation of a Commission on Police Reform is a good idea.

I feel confident that we will produce a document that this community will be proud of.” — commission chair Oliver Baines

After the Fresno State chapter of the NAACP presented a workshop at Thursday’s city council meeting, council president Miguel Arias announced the formation of the commission.

Oliver Baines, who served two terms on the city council (2011-2019) and is a former policeman, is the chairman. He and the commission have been asked to produce their report in 90 days.

Exact details of who else will be on the commission, meeting information, and what they will discuss will be released next week.

“We will have a number of community meetings to make sure that we get feedback from the public and … I feel confident that we will produce a document that this community will be proud of,” Baines said.

Baines: Enact Community-Based Policing

Baines said his charge is to introduce a long-discussed concept into Fresno law-enforcement — community-based policing.

“That concept, Baines said, isn’t just about cops playing basketball with kids or holding barbecues. It’s about the culture of the police department.

“Everything (police) do is meant to enhance the relationship between the public and the police. It’s everything from the way you evaluate police officers to the special units that you have or don’t have and how you deploy those units. It doesn’t have a lot to do with programs,” Baines said.

“Community-based policing has everything to do with the culture of a police department. That culture is dictated by what the mission statement is. That culture is dictated by what the policies are. That’s what we’re going to be going after,” Baines said.

Mayor-elect Jerry Dyer said he looks forward to what the commission will say about community policing “that focuses on problem-solving, enhancing community trust, and keeping residents and police officers safe.”

Support from Police Union and Activist

“I think it’s a very good intention, stepping in the right direction.”Joshua Slack, Black Lives Matter activist and Fresno State NAACP associate

Todd Frazier, president of the Fresno Police Officers’ Association, is “enthusiastic” about participating.

“It’s about building communication, which will build trust,” Frazier said.

He feels the work Fresno police have already engaged in has led to peaceful protests in Fresno.

“There’s always room for improvement. If we close our eyes to change, then we don’t grow as a person, individual, or as a profession,” Frazier said. “I’m a true believer that we are peacekeepers and not occupiers.”

Joshua Slack, a Black Lives Matter activist and Fresno State NAACP associate who helped present a list of police reform demands to the council Thursday, is optimistic, too.

“I think it’s a very good intention, stepping in the right direction,” Slack said.

For Slack, he hopes the commission focuses on the relationship between police and the black community.

“It’s not being taught enough and not being learned enough by law enforcement in order to solve the thing going on in the country and our community as well,” Slack said.

Goals of the Commission

Baines said the commission will not examine individual incidents, such as officer-involved shootings.

“What we are charged to do is, really bringing back a set of reforms for the policing, the overall policing philosophy, and tactics inside of the city of Fresno,” Baines said.

Baines said it is premature to talk about any specific recommendations the commission may make.

I suspect that there will be changes in the expectations of the ways that officers interact with the public,” Baines said.

He does expect to talk about certain tactics like the chokehold (also known as carotid restraint) and de-escalation techniques.

On Wednesday, The Fresno Bee reported that Fresno Police Chief Andy Hall had issued a temporary ban on carotid restraints.

Portrait of Fresno Mayor-elect Jerry Dyer

Mayor-elect Jerry Dyer wants the commission to take a comprehensive look at policing, from hiring, training, and “calls that should no longer be handled by police officers.”

Slack hopes there are discussions of racial bias training.

I would like to see exactly what this operationalized training is really about, and who’s holding it,” Slack said.

He said it should be done by a third party instead of other police.

Dyer Also Supports

Dyer, who served 18 years as Fresno police chief before retiring last year, supports the commission.

“We have a unique opportunity to recreate a policing model in Fresno that will serve the desires and needs of our residents,” Dyer said.

Dyer wants the commission to take a comprehensive look at policing, from hiring, training, and “calls that should no longer be handled by police officers.”

“I would like to see the commission provide what resources and costs would be needed to allow this model to become successful,” Dyer said. “I am optimistic that good will come from this commission as long as we all approach this from a perspective of bettering our police department, enhancing relationships with members of our community, and not getting caught up in fault-finding or placing blame.”

“People need to understand what our officers are dealing with on a daily basis. They’re dealing with trauma. They’re dealing with human depravity that really would boggle the mind of somebody who’s just going about their normal day.” — Todd Frazier, president, Fresno Police Officers Association

Difficulties of the Job

Frazier, the police union head, hopes the commission also discusses the stresses and difficulties of being a police officer.

“People need to understand what our officers are dealing with on a daily basis. They’re dealing with trauma. They’re dealing with human depravity that really would boggle the mind of somebody who’s just going about their normal day,” Frazier said.

Frazier gave examples of responding to dog maulings, suicides, and domestic violence incidents.

“We also need to focus in on officer and firefighter mental health, because PTSD is a problem,” Frazier said.

The FPOA offers peer support programs to help officers in need.

 

 

 

4 Responses

  1. mgomez

    Well thank goodness the Fresno State naacp chapter is pleased.

    I mean, it’s not like any students are attending classes or learning anything.

    Reply
    • Bill Thacker

      J. Slack is a good kid and upcoming talented actor who hails from Lemoore, went to CSU Fresno but resides in Los Angeles, CA
      Sad that local black leaders from West Fresno are not taking more of a central role than these out of town people who really haven’t a clue what Fresno Blacks have been through and how far they have come or the important part they played in establishing local legislature on Fresno City Council where they always had representation until Arias pushed them out of their seat (Kimber, Baines, Sterling)
      Slack is nice enough but he is making “Demands” without understanding Fresno’s deep local black history and community.

      Reply
    • Bernard Rieux

      Frazier’s description of the daily life of a police officer being racked with PTSD and trauma is a great argument for why the people serving felony warrants shouldn’t be the same people responding to mental health and homelessness calls.

      Why not unbundle these types of calls onto medical experts and save money from reduced incarceration, trauma center costs, and civil settlement payouts in the meantime?

      Reply
  2. Bill

    Bernard …most 5150 cases are taken to community mental health center in Cedar & Fir and cannot be held longer than a 48 hour observation. Sadly most are released on their own and have no one or any means to fall back on the sadest cases are elderly who have dementia. They can be seen wandering the neighborhood with discharge bags still in hand. This was located downtown at CRMC but moved when the neo natal ICU took its location. Officers have been great come get them and take them for a meal and help identify family or resources.
    Most not from the area have to rely on local resources. Transitional housing is needed for the mental health patients that need to be separated and identified from the severe drug and meth users that cross over into mental health. Which makes helping mental health patients challenging as they are on a case by case basis. You can bet that Meth, heroin use is causing more neuro and mental disabilities which will strap the system.
    There is an old farm about 4 miles south if downtown Fresno that was used as a boot camp for juveniles. It could easily be turned into housing and full fledged farm self sustainable for those housed in a positive environment for resources to rehabilitation and counseling if they are interested. Many are non compliant with treatment.

    Reply

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