Fresno Independent Police Auditor Debate

March 23, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Fresno city council members decide if the city needs an independent police auditor Tuesday. Some key issues are still holding up several council members votes. Those city leaders are on the fence.April 16, 2008. 17-year old sophomore Jesse Carizales attacked a high school campus police officer, was shot and died at Fresno's Roosevelt high.

February 9, 2009. Two Fresno police officers are video taped hitting a homeless man.

March 24. Fresno city council members will vote 'Yea' or 'Nay' to an independent police auditor....someone to police the police.

"At the end of the day it's a really difficult decision," said councilmember Lee Brand. Brand is undecided and wants to make sure an auditor can restore public trust in a balanced way. "Transparency in government, while at the same time protecting the rights of police officers and not making their jobs any more difficult," he said.

Two council members have already come out in favor of an office of independent review. Blong Xiong and Cynthia Sterling.

Henry T. Perea would not comment Monday but in the past has been opposed.

Councilmembers Paul Caprioglio, Mike Dages, Lee Brand and Andreas Borgeas are still on the fence. So only a couple Councilmembers support the idea of an independent police auditor while most are undecided. Now the police officers union has gone on record before saying they do not support an auditor because they say it will be too costly and add another level of beauracracy.

Councilmember Borgeas agrees with the union and adds there must be a board to review the auditor after 4 years.

"That's why the sunset clause is also important so that we have an opportunity if this does pass to examine it with an up or down vote," said Borgeas.

Outside city hall Gloria Hernandez and the Central California Criminal Justice Committee (CCCJC) made one last plea to council members. The group feels an auditor would benefit all citizens by providing transparency.

"Trust and confidence in the police department. It's going to be an independent voice for the people and the police officers," said Hernandez.

If a Fresno police auditor position is created it will need at least four 'Yes' votes to pass.

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