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Fresno Police Union: Members Feel Betrayed, Trust Lost in Chief Balderrama
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By Bill McEwen, News Director
Published 2 days ago on
June 10, 2024

While City Hall conducts a probe of Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama for an alleged extra-marital affair involving a subordinate's spouse, the police officers union says its members have lost trust in him and feel betrayed. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)

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The leader of the Fresno Police Officers Association says that the union’s executive board “has received countless communications from members of all ranks … that they feel betrayed and trust has been lost” in police chief Paco Balderrama.

Sources with knowledge about the options for the Dyer administration in handling the police chief’s situation say any decision will be complicated by the fact City Hall has for years ignored extra-marital affairs involving high-ranking department officials and their subordinates as well as city employees in other departments.

FPOA President Brandon Wiemiller made the comment in an email sent to members, a copy of which was obtained by GV Wire. FPOA has scheduled an emergency meeting of its governing board for Wednesday, the email stated.

“The meeting will be held under Executive Session, and therefore will not be open to the general members themselves,” Wiemiller wrote. “I strongly encourage any members who wish to voice their sentiments to attend our regular monthly meeting of the Board of Directors for June 19th. It is important for the Board to hear the voice of its membership. Your voice, opinion and feelings matter greatly.”

Last Thursday, Mayor Jerry Dyer issued a news release stating that Balderrama was under City Hall investigation for an alleged “inappropriate off-duty relationship he was involved in with a non-city employee” but would remain on the job. Neither Dyer nor Balderrama has shed further light on the allegation or the investigation.

Wiemiller stated in the email to FPOA members: “While the statement is true, it omits the most critical component of the investigation, and that is the nature of the relationship itself. The FPOA has confirmed information beyond what has been released in (the city’s) public statement, but not are at liberty to divulge that information at this time.

“There also has been a prevalent narrative surrounding this situation that no policy violations (by Balderrama) have been established. This is an incredible offense to every member of the agency, who is held to account for policy violations surrounding ‘discretion’ and ‘conduct unbecoming’ every day, both on and off duty.”

Report: Balderrama Had Two-Year Affair With Police Officer’s Spouse

KMJ radio talk show host Ray Appleton and the San Joaquin Valley Sun have reported that Balderrama had an affair with the wife of a Fresno police officer.

“Balderrama, multiple law enforcement sources confirmed to The Sun, is under investigation for engaging in a two-plus-year extramarital affair with the spouse of one of his own officers and leveraged his position to undermine the officer’s career moves that would have brought an end to the affair,” The Sun reported.

Balderrama and Dyer started their respective jobs in January 2021. Although Dyer did not hire Balderrama — the administration of previous Mayor Lee Brand did months earlier —Dyer has continuously supported his chief in public. Dyer retired as police chief in 2019, with Andy Hall serving in the interim.

Sources with knowledge about the potential options for the Dyer administration in handling the police chief’s situation say any decision will be complicated by the fact City Hall has for years  ignored extra-marital affairs involving high-ranking department officials and their subordinates as well as city employees in other departments.

In addition, Balderrama’s strong performance as chief — reducing violent crime, recruiting new young officers since coming from Oklahoma City — has garnered accolades from Dyer and city councilmembers.

 

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Bill McEwen,
News Director
Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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