An announcement about Fresno’s next police chief could be made as soon as Tuesday, sources with first-hand knowledge tell GV Wire℠. However, those same sources would not confirm other media reports that the new chief will be Paco Balderrama.
Balderrama, 44, is currently deputy chief in Oklahoma City. According to the city’s webpage, he is a 21-year veteran who has moved up the ranks from patrol officer to captain until his most recent promotion to deputy chief in 2019. He became the first Latino deputy chief in that city’s history.
GV Wire℠ has learned that Balderrama was house hunting in Fresno three weeks ago. He is one of two finalists, with current Fresno police deputy chief Mark Salazar as the other.
Serves With Twin Brother
According to a story last year from The Oklahoman newspaper, Balderrama serves in the department with twin brother Beto, who is a captain.
Both men were born and raised in El Paso, Texas before moving to Oklahoma City in 1993. After high school graduation, both Balderramas joined the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Department as detention officers, before moving to the city’s police department in 1999.
“My brother and I really wanted to give back to our community and we really thought that law enforcement was the best way to do that,” Paco Balderrama told the Oklahoman. “Our ultimate goal was to become Oklahoma City police officers.”
This Year’s Chief Search
The new chief will succeed Chief Andrew Hall, who is scheduled to retire next year.
Hall was the surprise selection as chief last year to replace the retiring Jerry Dyer. Despite a nationwide search, Mayor Lee Brand chose Hall even though he did not apply for the job. At the time, Hall was deputy chief, nearing the end of his 40-year career with Fresno police.
Brand vowed to select another new chief. Dyer, who won a March 2020 election for mayor — he takes office in January — is also involved in picking the new chief.
When Brand selected Hall last year, it was understood it would be a short-time selection. Like his predecessor Dyer, Hall faced a mandatory retirement by April.
Hall has said he will stay if requested, to help with the transition.
While the city engaged with the public in several meetings in 2019 in what qualities they sought in a chief, the 2020 selection was not public.
According to GV Wire℠ sources who could not speak publicly because of personnel policies, the city interviewed seven semifinalists.
Other candidates included:
— 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.
An eighth candidate was scheduled for an interview but withdrew from the process.