In its latest audit, the city’s Office of Independent Review praised the Fresno Police Department for handling a number of sensitive issues well during a period of national scrutiny of law enforcement.
Police auditor Richard Rasmussen made no specific recommendations for improvement in the report released on Jan. 25.
Instead, he applauded the department’s handling of “investigative detentions” – temporary detainments during traffic stops or on the street.
“The FPD documents these instances, which is crucial as the potential for a lawsuit is always present when a person is stopped, detained and in most cases, restrained until such a time that the facts can be sorted out,” Rasmussen said.
This area is a prickly issue throughout the country, Rasmussen added, but his investigation indicated that Fresno police are acting within the law and recent court decisions.
Rasmussen also praised the department’s narcotics unit, which he said is working under a “complete, detailed and professional” operations manual. Department policy requires all members of the unit to undergo credit and drug screenings each year – a policy commended in the report.
32The number of unreasonable use-of-force complaints in 2015. The police auditor says this figure is lower than other large departments throughout the country.
The department has had recent problems in this area.
Last year, a former narcotics detective, Derik Kumagai, was sentenced to two years in federal prison for taking a $20,000 bribe from a suspected drug dealer in 2013.
Former Deputy Chief Keith Foster – once on a possible track to succeed Chief Jerry Dyer – also was indicted in 2015 on a variety of federal drug trafficking charges. Those charges remain pending in federal court.
The audit also shared the positive results of the department’s beefed up customer service unit, which handles low-level calls for things like vehicle burglaries and disorderly conduct. The previous report recommended Fresno police do a better job in this area.
Rasmussen noted that on Nov. 10, 2015, the unit – which consists of one sergeant, three officers, one light-duty officer and seven cadets – handled 133 calls and took 51 reports. It also responded to 14 calls regarding issues with homeless people.
The Police Department has been “extremely responsive” to requests made during the auditing process over the last year, Rasmussen said.