Panel Vets 7 Fresno Police Chief Hopefuls as Selection Nears
Seven candidates vying to become Fresno’s next police chief have been interviewed over the last two days, GV Wire℠ has learned.
One internal candidate — newly promoted Deputy Chief Mark Salazar — is being considered. Five of the others are high ranking police officials from across the country. One is a former police chief in another California city.
A panel of City Hall officials and community representatives conducted the interviews via video teleconferencing.
Second Police Chief Search in Two Years
Salazar has been public about his interest in leading the Fresno Police Department. He was one of at least five applicants under consideration in a 2019 search process that ultimately led to the selection of current chief Andy Hall by Mayor Lee Brand’s administration.
Last year’s search was prompted by the mandatory retirement of now Fresno mayor-elect Jerry Dyer, who led the department for 18 years. Hall is facing mandatory retirement in the early months of 2021.
The search for Hall’s replacement started in July. It is unclear if the city will be making its selection based on this week’s interviews or if another round will be scheduled.
Multiple sources confirmed the names of the current candidates to GV Wire℠, but could not speak publicly because of city personnel policies. Interview panelists were required to sign non-disclosure agreements with the city.
Five of the candidates are from out of state. All are male.
— Mark Salazar, Fresno Police Department deputy chief.
— Larry Esquivel, former police chief of San Jose and Tracy.
— Larry Satterwhite, Houston Police Department assistant chief.
— Chris Davis, Portland Police Bureau deputy chief.
— Malik Aziz, Dallas Police Department major.
— Jason Lando, Pittsburgh Bureau of Police commander.
A seventh candidate asked GV Wire℠ not to reveal his name because he has not notified his superiors of his interest in the position. An eighth candidate was scheduled for an interview but withdrew from the process.
Salazar Recently Promoted
Salazar held the rank of captain when he was selected as a finalist in last year’s search process. Last month, he was promoted to deputy chief.
Related Story: Who Wants to Be Fresno Police Chief? Salazar Applies Again
Esquivel served as Tracy’s chief from 2016-2018 before being terminated under unexplained circumstances. Prior to his Tracy tenure, Esquivel worked 30 years with the San Jose Police Department. He was SJPD’s chief from 2013-2015 before he retired from that post.
Satterwhite commands the homeland security unit in Houston, where he is responsible for terrorism prevention for the city’s high profile events, including the recent World Series. On a lighter note, a video of Satterwhite marching ducks to safety at a Houston park went viral earlier this year.
Davis has worked 22 years in Portland, including the last 10 months as deputy chief. Portland PD has had its hands full this summer, after weeks of protest following the death of George Floyd. Unrest in Portland has become fodder for President Donald Trump.
Why can’t police just make arrests and why do police puncture car tires? Deputy Chief Chris Davis explains police tactics and why vehicles and crowds are a dangerous combination.
Full video with captions: https://t.co/StTnNO6W4n pic.twitter.com/vpUkOiMbKb
— Portland Police (@PortlandPolice) August 19, 2020
Lando is a 14-year veteran of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, serving the last six years as commander, currently working in the narcotics division. He also formed a company, DBA Training Schools, to engage in implicit bias training. He was also one of the first responders to the 2018 Tree of Life synagogue shooting. Lando’s grandfather was among the congregants that tragic day, but was not harmed.
Aziz has spent nearly 30 years with the Dallas Police Department. He also served seven years as the executive director for the National Black Police Association. During his tenure, Aziz has held several leadership roles, including deputy chief and currently a major. He was demoted in a leadership shake-up in 2017 under a new chief — a position which he was also a candidate for. He has been a candidate for several top positions around the nation over the years.
Fox 6 in Milwaukee reports Aziz, Lando and Davis are finalists for that city’s top police job, also.
Panel Consists of City and Community Leaders
Similar to last year’s police search, the city is using panels to interview the candidates. Because of the COVID pandemic, the interviews are taking place by video teleconferencing. Each candidate had multiple interviews scheduled with the various panelist.
Unlike last year, the city did not hold any public meetings to gather input on what qualities they wanted in a chief.
New to the panel this year are three members of the Fresno City Council: Miguel Arias, Nelson Esparza and Mike Karbassi.
Related Story: Fresno Police Chief Search Team Will Include 3 Councilmen
Other panelists include:
— City Manager Wilma Quan, chief of staff Tim Orman and director of strategic initiatives H Spees from Mayor Lee Brand’s office; Gregory Barfield, transportation director.
— Labor leaders such as city employee union president Sam Frank; Todd Frazier, president of the police union; and Chuck Riojas, secretary-treasurer of the Building and Construction Trades Council.
— From the faith community DJ Criner, Eli Loera, Reza Nekumanesh, and Larry Powell (also the former county superintendent of schools).
— Clovis Police Chief Curt Fleming.
— Community advocates Artie Padilla, executive director with Every Neighborhood Partnership; Joseph Velasco with Fresno Barrios Unidos; and Pao Yang with the Fresno Center.
Others include community member Leroy Chandler; businesswoman Lorraine Salazar; and Tommy Esqueda, former city public utilities director and current Associate Vice President for Water and Sustainability at Fresno State; and former judge Robert Oliver.