The Fresno City College task force that’s reviewing the Police Academy curriculum will look at how future officers are instructed on the use of force when they next meet, said Robert Pimentel, Fresno City College vice president of Educational Services & Institutional Effectiveness and the task force chairman.
— Task force chairman Robert Pimentel
At its second meeting Tuesday, the 23-member task force heard how the college trains law enforcement officers in community policing and on issues such as microaggressions, Pimentel said.
Microaggressions can be verbal or behavioral, hostile or derogatory, and can be aimed at a specific group such as people who have been marginalized.
The task force was formed in the wake of protests and calls locally, statewide, and nationally for policing reforms, starting with how officers are trained, after George Floyd died at the hands of Minneapolis police on Memorial Day.
Chancellor Says Training Needs Review
In June Eloy Oakley, chancellor of the California Community Colleges, called for a review of police training curriculum for racial bias and to make sure it reflects the experiences of people of color.
The Fresno City College task force includes officials from area police departments, churches, Fresno City faculty representatives and administrators, and social justice advocates.
Several of the members — State Center Community College District trustee Annalisa Perea, Pastor DJ Criner, Barrios Unidos executive director Ashley Rojas, retired Selma Police Chief Greg Garner, and Fresno Housing Authority board chairwoman Adrian Jones — also are serving on the city of Fresno’s Commission on Police Reform headed by former councilman and police officer Oliver Baines.
After the State Center trustees on Tuesday approved a resolution backing the task force, Perea released the following comment: “Serving on both the City’s Police Reform Commission and the FCC Police Academy Review Task Force makes sense when you consider as trustees, we oversee the entry point of the funnel that begins the training process for future police officers.
“Our review of the Academy will be the philosophy and methods used by our instructors to not only ensure that cadets are trained to POST (California Peace Officer Standards and Training) standards but as importantly that they are trained to handle and de-escalate situations that they are faced with.”
Community Colleges Train Most Officers
Most of the state’s police officers receive their training through a community college.
Fresno City College’s Police Academy, located for now on the central Fresno campus, trains cadets who are hired for departments throughout the Central Valley, from Sacramento to Bakersfield, Pimentel said.
Each year Fresno City graduates about 160 cadets, he said. Currently, there are three classes ongoing with about 97 cadets.
Once the task force finishes its review, its report will go to college president Carole Goldsmith and be shared with academy officials, who will review the recommendations and make changes. The academy next spring will respond to the task force with a report on what has been implemented.
If the changes are small they may be put into effect as early as the fall semester, but proposed curriculum changes will need faculty review, Pimentel said.
First Responders Campus Work Continues
In the meantime, work continues on designing the new $46.1 million First Responders campus at Willow and North avenues southeast of Fresno. The campus will provide training for police, fire, and emergency medical technicians.
State Center spokeswoman Lucy Ruiz said the COVID-19 pandemic has not delayed the work, which she said Wednesday is “actually a little ahead of schedule.” Classes are scheduled to start there in the spring 2024 semester.
Police Academy Task Force Members
Robert Pimentel, task force chairman
Ashley Rojas, executive director, Barrios Unidos
Greg Garner, retired Selma police chief
Brendan Rhames, Fresno Police Department
Chief John Golden, Kerman Police Department
Chief Joe Gomez, Selma Police Department
Capt. Joe Alvarez, Fresno Police Department
Jeff Dunn, Police Officer Standards and Training
Whitney Conover, Fresno City Police Academy faculty
Anna Carrillo, Fresno City Police Academy faculty
Francine Oputa, Fresno State
Pastor DJ Criner, Saint Rest Baptist Church
Artie Padilla, Every Neighborhood
Adrian Jones, Fresno Housing Authority/North Star Family
Becky Barabe, Fresno City College
Gary Fief, Police Academy director
Ray Ramirez, director of student equity, Fresno City
Paul Gilmore, Fresno City faculty
Carol Rains-Heisdorf, Fresno City institutional research
Paul Calvo, Fresno City student
Karla Kirk, Fresno City faculty
Annalisa Perea, State Center trustee
Chief Jose Flores, State Center Police Department