City officials Wednesday unveiled a planned Central Policing District, based at Manchester Center, which they say will help restore a gap torn in policing effectiveness by the Great Recession.
A citywide belt-tightening in 2010 forced the Fresno Police Department to close its Central District, which had stood at Broadway and Elizabeth streets since 1984. Bringing back a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week facility in central Fresno will cut police response times and also allow officers to be closer to the areas they protect, officials say. The Fresno City Council will be asked to formally approve the lease agreement at its session Thursday. Mayor Ashley Swearengin said Ominet Capital is providing base rent for the facility at no cost to the city.
Swearengin said the 8,000-square-foot Manchester facility will be home to about 100 police personnel. She called it a “perfect choice” for a location and said she sees neighboring Blackstone Avenue as the “spine of the city.” The location is also close to the Manchester Transit Center, which is intended to provide bus rapid transit services.
“For the last seven years, police officers have been asked to do more with less,” she said. “But there is good news coming to the Fresno Police Department.”
Chief Jerry Dyer has been on record about the need for a fifth policing district and in particular has noted difficulties caused by the large size of the Northwest Policing District, which ranges from McKinley Avenue in the south to north of Herndon Avenue and from Blackstone on the east to areas west of Highway 99. He called the Manchester site a “perfect location.”
The chief also acknowledged that some residents of Fresno’s Tower District may be disappointed that the new Central Division is not located closer to Olive and Wishon avenues.
“Just because we’re not locating in the Tower doesn’t mean we won’t have officers in the Tower,” he said, adding that the department is looking at the possibility of a substation in the neighborhood.
Dyer said plans are for the Central District to be in operation by August, which would coincide with a restructuring of the entire department, including the addition of 55 patrol officers.