Fresno Residents Support Independent Police Auditor Idea

July 22, 2008 8:10:27 PM PDT
Armed with a city survey showing 59-percent of Fresno supports the idea of an Independent Police Auditor, Mayor Autry announced he now wants voters to decide.Fresno Mayor Alan Autry said: "This police auditor is not out to get officers. It's to get the truth and maintain trust in the community." Four times while in office Autry asked has city council to hire a civilian who would monitor the actions of Fresno police. All four times, Council said no. Now Autry is hoping council will clear the way for a ballot issue that would change the city charter to include a civilian police auditor.

Fresno Council President Blong Xiong said: "When we turned it down in the past this is something that was discussed. Is this something that people don't need, or don't want well. Let's see what people say."

Ellie Bluestein said: "Eight years and we're the only city that doesn't have it." Bluestein's Central California Justice Committee has been fighting for nearly a decade to create a third set of eyes to watch police and investigate complaints. Bluestein said:" There's a lot of distrust and hostility towards the police department in Fresno. If you go door to door, people will tell you, which we did."

Under the Mayor's plan, the Independent Police Auditor would report to the City Manager. Chief Jerry Dyer says he supports the idea. Dyer said: "I think that system could be beneficial to the police department and the community. It just depends on the type of procedure and the type of person selected."

So, it's now up to city council to decide whether voters will have their say. If the answer is yes, the issue will be on the ballot in November.

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