Dyer Suspends Operations of the Major Narcotics Unit

February 5, 2009 12:39:36 AM PST
Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer apologized to the community, and said he wanted to set the record straight over the arrests of two members of the Police Departments Major Narcotics Unit."I think there were some initial reports that our narcotics officers were luring drug dealers to Fresno for the purpose of stealing their cars. That is not true." Dyer said at a Wednesday afternoon news conference.

Two officers, Paul Cervantes, and Hector Becerra were arrested and charged with auto theft by the Highway Patrol on Monday. They are accused of stealing a car taken from a suspect in a drug bust.

"We are not investigating the Fresno Police Department. We are investigating just a couple individuals," said Dan Abrams of the California Highway Patrol. Abrams joined Dyer at the news conference.

A third Fresno officer, Robert Eddings also faces charges and a fourth is the subject of an internal investigation. Dyer has decided to reassign the other 9 members of the unit while an outside investigation is conducted.

"I temporarily suspend the current operations of the major narcotics unit until such time as we can have these investigations completed or at least close to completion," said Dyer.

Dyer says an audit of the operation will be conducted by an outside agency, but Dyer has not decided which agency that would be. Through her Press Secretary Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin released a statement saying she "Believes this was an isolated incident." And said she "supports the Chief's actions in suspending the operation of the major narcotics unit, and seeking an outside audit. "

But others aren't sure it's enough. Ellie Bluestein of the Central Valley Criminal Justice Committee believes the department's reputation in the community is at an all time low. "The attitude of Fresnan's toward the police is terrible. On the one hand it's fear, on the other it's complete mistrust."

But Dyer is urging citizens not to pass judgment yet, and wanted to reassure the community he is not taking this lightly. "I am deeply concerned over the allegations made in this investigation," said Dyer.

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