The Fresno police department saw a big drop in officer-involved shootings and use-of-force complaints in 2014, the city's police auditor reported Monday.
Rick Rasmussen, who heads the Office of Independent Review, said there were eight officer-involved shootings last year compared to 11 in 2013. That's a drop of 27%.
Complaints about excessive use-of-force fell from 41 in 2013 to 29 in 2014, a drop of 29%, Rasmussen reported.
Overall complaints of a serious nature fell from 140 in 2013 to 118 in 2014, a drop of 16%, Rasmussen reported.
These numbers were part of Rasmussen's fourth quarter 2014 report covering Oct. 1 through Dec. 31. The report included a year-long review of complaints and officer-involved shootings.
"The emphasis placed on training is notable and most likely is the central factor" in the police department's strong performance in 2014, Rasmussen wrote.
Mayor Ashley Swearengin in a written statement said the numbers reflect the police department's willingness to constantly pursue best practices.
"Our police department deserves credit for its continued pro-active approach," Swearengin said.
Added Rasmussen in a written statement: "To my knowledge, Fresno is the only city in America that has seen this level of success in the reduction of police incidents and complaints. Even more impressive is the fact that the numbers are improving for the right reasons."
Rasmussen said these reasons include the department's emphasis on continuous improvement, a strategy shown to resolve issues before they reach the level of a formal complaint.
Rasmussen in his report reminded officers to record demographic data during traffic stops.
Rasmussen also reviewed occasions in which an officer issues a citation to an apparently homeless person. Rasmussen asked officers to make sure they ask if the homeless person has a valid address to receive mail. He said failure to do so could lead "to an undue number of cases" of failure to appear in court.