Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer said his officers are walking with “a little extra pep in their steps” this week following a reorganization of the department that reflects the first restoration in staffing since the Great Recession of 2007.
The massive economic downturn that hit Fresno like a bombshell forced the elimination of the Central District and put a freeze on most promotions for nearly a decade. It also forced civilian layoffs and slowed new officer hiring to a trickle. No deputy chiefs or captains were promoted during the interim and lieutenants were used to fill the breach, including supervising the four remaining police districts.
“Many of those being promoted … as well as those promoted over the last year, are the future of the department. … That’s what’s most important to me,” Dyer said.
He added that the staffing cuts put big strains on his officers, who often were forced to pick up the slack left by attrition.
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Heading the promotions announced this week are longtime traffic supervisor Andrew Hall, who is now deputy chief in charge of the support division, which oversees communications, information technology and crime scene investigations; and Lydia Carrasco, who is now deputy chief in charge of the patrol division. Pat Farmer, in charge of investigations, and Robert Nevarez, in charge of the administration division, remain as deputy chiefs.
The closing of the Central District caused an outcry in central Fresno, particularly among residents of the Tower District, many of whom felt, whether justifiably or not, that shutting the doors of the substation at Broadway and Elizabeth Street was at the root of a spike in crime and violent behavior in their neighborhoods.
The Central Division is up and operational again in Fresno’s Manchester Center at Shields and Blackstone avenues. It is being overseen by newly appointed Capt. Phil Cooley. Other new captains are Mark Salazar, in charge of southwest Fresno; Anthony Martinez, southeast Fresno; Dennis Bridges, northeast Fresno; and Burke Farrah, northwest Fresno. Don Gross, also promoted to captain, will be in charge of the Communications and Data Analysis Bureau.
Five sergeants were promoted to lieutenant. They are: Carl McKnight, Steve Card, David Ramsey, Stephen Viveros and Mark Hudson.
The highest civilian appointment announced was that of Scott West, to bureau manager of the Crime Scene Investigations unit.