Fresno has a new, full-time police chief. For the next year, anyway

Fresno Police Chief Andy Hall, who has been in the acting position for two months, officially took the permanent job on Wednesday though he’ll only be in there for a little more than a year.

He was sworn in at City Hall during a ceremony that praised him while saying goodbye to former Chief Jerry Dyer.

The search for a replacement for Dyer led to a short-term solution in August, when then-Deputy Chief Hall was named for the department’s top position until he’ll be forced by department policy to retire in spring 2021.

Hall was lauded Wednesday for his 40 years with the department, where he’s held a number of roles. He was credited with a number of medals and accomplishments, including creating the department’s mobile field unit and orchestrating plans to fund adding officers in the traffic unit.

Now with some time under his belt, Hall said he wanted to share some of his vision for the department, which includes increasing programs that can prevent young people from getting into gang life.

“First off, I believe in community policing. I’m a big believer. It’s something we do every day,” he said. “We must continue to develop programs and opportunities to work with our youth. I do know one thing: we cannot arrest our way out of this problem.”

Hall praised the department’s staff. “The job of a police officer has never been more difficult. We ask more and more of our officers all with body cameras on their shoulders,” he said.

Search for chief

The search for a chief was pared down to five candidates out of about two dozen, according to Mayor Lee Brand’s administration. Hall did not apply for the job.

Fresno hired a company to do a nationwide chief search, which included months of community meetings. More than 1,200 people participated in those and submitted comments online, according to city staffers.

Hall had been deputy chief since October 2016, heading the support division which oversees communications, information technology and crime scene investigations. Before that, he was a traffic supervisor.

The new chief was awarded the department’s Medal of Valor and the state Attorney General’s award for his actions on the bomb squad following the 1990 bombing of the Internal Revenue Service processing center in Fresno.

He is the 22nd person to run the department. Hall said he applied to be a police cadet at 18, right out of high school, and was sworn in as an officer on his 21st birthday.

Dyer signs off

Also during Wednesday’s ceremony, Dyer held back tears as he signed off for the last time over the radio. He said he’d worn his uniform at Hall’s request despite retiring the previous day.

He said he was proud to have retired completing his No. 1 goal, “to never lose a police officer in the line of duty.”

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Reporter Thaddeus Miller has covered cities in the central San Joaquin Valley since 2010, writing about everything from breaking news to government and police accountability. A native of Fresno, he joined The Fresno Bee in 2019 after time in Merced and Los Banos.