Swearengin Proposes Police Auditor

March 10, 2009 6:51:16 PM PDT
After 10 years of city debates over the issue of an independent police auditor, Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin said she's taking the controversial issue one step closer to reality. In a news conference Tuesday she said, "Past opponents of this proposal have nothing to fear. I see the IPA as a way to help protect our officers as well as safeguard the community's trust in its law enforcement."                          |   Download the Complete Proposal   |

This 17 page proposal lays out specifics. The office would include 3 people at a cost of $360,000 a year. But under Swearengin's proposal, the money would come from cuts to other city programs.

The auditor would be responsible for reviewing all internal affairs investigations specifically, officer involved shootings or other uses of force, deaths that occur while a suspect in custody, and racial discrimination complaints. However, the auditor will not have investigative or subpoena powers.

Chief Jerry Dyer said, "I believe when that occurs you are going to have conflict, misinformation, witnesses and people that change their stories." Under this plan the auditor will only be able to monitor an internal affairs investigation.

Bill Trollinger with the Fresno Police Officer's Association believes that would make the job useless, created just to appease certain people in the city. He said "This is someone that is just to review the Internal Affairs investigation or possibly sit outside the investigation and almost anybody in the city attorney's office can do that now."

Council Members Cynthia Sterling and Blong Xiong told Action News they'll vote to approve the proposal. Paul Caprioglio and Henry T. Perea couldn't be reached for comment, but Perea has voted against the auditor in the past. Andreas Borgeas, Mike Dages, and Lee Brand all said they're undecided. Brand said, "If we spend $360,000 for this position would it reduce some excessive force complaints, will it reduce the number of lawsuits filed against the city?"

The Mayor knows she does not have the city council votes she needs to create these new positions but she's working on it. She'll officially present the council with her proposal on March 24th.

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