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Panel Vets 7 Fresno Police Chief Hopefuls as Selection Nears



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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.

The Candidates

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.

They include:

— 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.

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.

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.

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.

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email