FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --The Fresno Police Department is moving back to the center of town. But not everybody is happy with the plans to relocate the central policing district in Manchester Center.
The Manchester Center is in the center of the city, and in an area that would benefit from a stronger police presence. The plan is to put it close to 100 police personnel in a sub station that will be open 24 hours a day.
The plan calls for putting the new central policing district on the second floor of the mall. The city cut the district five years ago to save money, but now that city finances have improved, the district and more officers are coming.
"This is a great step forward, not only did we add more police officers in last year's budget, we are looking to add more police officers in this budget. It's long overdue to go back to five policing districts. It means better response times citywide," said Ashley Swearengin, Fresno Mayor.
The city closed its former Central Policing District station in the Tower District five years ago. While Tower District residents wanted to see it reopened, Police Chief Jerry Dyer said this center, just two and a half miles away, will better serve the Tower District.
"The creation of the central district, the Tower District will be in the very center of that. So they will see an increased level of service," said Dyer.
Dyer said the old police building near the Tower District is not suitable because it has water damage and asbestos problems, but he said the department is looking for a storefront location in the Tower District.
The move to Manchester Center is welcomed by the mall's owner and merchants who've had to fight the perception the Mall is a dangerous place.
"I think the police department being here will help overcome that perception," said Ben Nazarian, mall owner.
The mall owner, Omni Capital, will cover the costs of renovation and rent. The city will pay about 3,400 a month to cover utility costs for an 8,000 square foot space, that will house 100 police officers and staff.
The city council will be asked to approve the lease arrangement at Thursday's meeting.
The Fresno Police Officers Association has expressed reservations about the location, citing potential safety concerns for officers and their vehicles, but Chief Dyer says those issues are being addressed.
If approved the police district will open here on August 1st.