Fresno City Councilmember Miguel Arias won a close vote to remove a proposal to rename the Fresno Police Department Regional Training Center to the “Jerry P. Dyer Regional Police Training Center” from the agenda at Thursday’s meeting.
Council President Tyler Maxwell, a sponsor of the resolution, motioned to keep the item honoring Fresno’s mayor and former longtime police chief. But a vote on Maxwell’s proposal failed 4-3.
Voting to keep the item removed: Arias, Annalisa Perea, Luis Chavez, Nelson Esparza;
Voting to return the item to the agenda: Maxwell, Mike Karbassi, Garry Bredefeld.
There was no discussion.
Some Fresno city councilmembers are proposing to honor Mayor Jerry Dyer while sidestepping a law requiring a review before renaming city buildings.
Three city councilmen want to rename the Fresno Police Department Regional Training Center to the “Jerry P. Dyer Regional Police Training Center.”
The “state-of-the-art” center — at 6375 W. Central Ave. — offers firearm ranges, a sniper tower, and a vehicle course among other training elements.
Dyer served in the Fresno Police Department for 40 years, the last 18 as chief before his 2019 retirement. Fresno voters elected him mayor in 2020.
“Mayor Dyer’s life and work is well known and appreciated throughout our community,” City Council President Tyler Maxwell said. “I know Jerry Dyer to be a good man and deserving of this honor.
Maxwell and Dyer appear in public as allies, often using terms of endearment to address each other.
Joining Maxwell in proposing the resolution are city councilmen Garry Bredefeld and Mike Karbassi. The item is scheduled to be heard Thursday.
Dyer Says He Would Be Honored to Have Name on Facility
Dyer said he appreciates the gesture.
“We’re training not only Fresno officers, but officers from throughout the state. And, as a result, we’ll never know how many lives have been saved as a result of that training center. So to have it named after me is an honor — should that make its way through council,” Dyer said Monday.
Any naming of a city facility requires review from the city Historic Preservation Commission — the result of a 2020 law in the wake of the George Floyd police killing. The Dyer renaming resolution specifically exempts that law.
Dyer is running for re-election next year. He’s had his share of law enforcement critics, especially from the social justice community.
Councilmen Justify Overriding Law
Responding to the George Floyd death at the hands of Minneapolis police and the civic introspection that came with it, the Fresno City Council passed a resolution in October 2020 to require any naming of facilities to “be reviewed by the Historic Preservation Commission.”
“No City asset shall be named after a cultural or historic figure known to be racist or bigoted,” the resolution states.
Bredefeld was the lone dissent in the 4-1 approval; Karbassi did not register a vote.
The sponsors of the Dyer Regional Training Center believe the resolution does not apply.
Maxwell, who joined the city council in 2021, said the ordinance was for reviewing “historic figures … (who) are not always well known”
“I believe a vetting process is unnecessary when considering an individual you know well and have personally worked with,” Maxwell said.
Bredefeld agreed that a review wasn’t needed.
“I’m not interested in cancel culture. Mayor Dyer is worthy of recognition,” Bredefeld said. Going through the review process, he said, “is a waste of time.”
“No one is perfect except for Jesus Christ,” Bredefeld said.
Karbassi, at a Monday news conference on street racing, said the intention of the HPC review was not meant for people like Dyer.
“The Historical Preservation Commission review is for people that have been deceased, not people that were just elected a couple of years ago in a public process to become mayor of this town,” Karbassi said.
Other Councilmembers Say Vetting Should Remain
Councilman Miguel Arias disagreed with his colleagues on the intent of the 2020 review requirement. He said he applies to all buildings, not just those honoring names of the past.
Luis Chavez agreed.
“Naming public facilities after individuals includes a process for vetting, analyzing, scrutinizing, and determining the proper venue, location, and historical significance. When the council voted in 2020, the intent was to formally codify a process for all naming, including historic figures. I look forward to the conversation and dialogue,” Chavez said.
Arias and Chavez voted in favor of the 2020 resolution. Both are running for the same Fresno County supervisor seat next year.
HPC Chairman Speaks
Jason Hatwig, chairman of the seven-member Historic Preservation Commission, says the city should follow established rules.
“I think for us on HPC, we really take our Mayoral-appointed positions serious and desire to fulfill our duties that are driven by City regulations, ordinances and code….defined process. For any related HPC item, if run through the process…Council has the authority to agree, disagree, approve or deny any of those actions that end up needing their final determination. Bypassing a defined process is rather frustrating for us who devote our time to the public on matters we are appointed to review,” Hatwig said.