Saturday, July 1, 2017

[Fresno County] Grand Jury Report on FPD “Use of Force Training”

Report: training meets standards, but staffing and practicing training a concern

Fresno, Calif. - Eyewitness news investigates is digging deeper into a grand jury report about "use of force" training at the Fresno Police Department. The report was released late Wednesday and city officials are still reviewing it. The investigation started after a complaint over officer involved shootings and possible insufficient training in de-escalation techniques versus use of a weapon.
The grand jury found the training provided by the Fresno Police Department meets all professional
standards, but there are some concerns about how often officers are practicing their training and the department's ability to hire and retain officers.   
"The grand jury is one of the few agencies that have the ability to come into a department and access every document you have including the officer involved shooting investigations and can review them in its entirety," said Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer.
And there was plenty of material to comb through. The Fresno County Grand Jury Report it shows in the last 17 years there have been 153 officer involved shootings with 209 officers firing their weapons in those incidents. That's an average of about nine a year. Half way through this year, Fresno Police have only been involved in 3 officer involved shootings. Chief Dyer says recent mental health and crisis intervention training that includes aspects of de-escalation training, not mentioned in the grand jury report has been key.
"I think that would've been important to have in the grand jury report because I don't know of any other law enforcement agency in the nation that has made the commitment to train 100 percent of their patrol force with that training," said Chief Dyer.
In the 17 page grand jury report citizens would like to see officers practice their training more often. Also, concerns were raised about staffing levels and a lack of competitive pay for officers, but overall the report praised the department's dedication to training standards and Chief Dyer says officers know what's at stake.
"There is a potential that they are going to be either losing their job, or losing their freedom and I hate to say it, but I do believe officers out there in the field, not just in our agency, but across the nation are hesitating a little bit in terms of if they use any force, or deadly force. That's the reality," said Chief Dyer.
City council members just voted to approve a raise for Fresno Police officers and city leaders are in the process of adding more to the force. During the recession, cuts were made to almost every policing unit at the department, but Chief Dyer says he refused to make cuts on training and it remains a top priority today.
June 29, 2017
By Patrick Nelson

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