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Small town police departments across Valley hoping for much-needed funding

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Assemblyman Dr. Joaquin Arambula went before the assembly budget subcommittee Monday, asking for nearly $10 million to help improve the police departments of Firebaugh, Parlier, Selma, and Orange Cove. (KFSN)

Four police departments in the Central Valley are one step closer to getting money to improve their agencies.

Assemblyman Dr. Joaquin Arambula went before the assembly budget subcommittee Monday, asking for nearly $10 million to help improve local police departments.

Cities like Firebaugh, Parlier, Selma, and Orange Cove were on his list, and Orange Cove Police Chief Marty Rivera says his department desperately needs it.

Rivera says his officers and staff of about 20 people work out of a building they share with the city's fire department, and they only get about 1,200 square feet of space.

And that's why when it comes to evidence and record keeping, small storage units and sheds located behind the station are the department's only option.

"And very often, boxes and reports get knocked over, and we have to come in there and find things in order and put them back up but that's just one of the headaches for that," Rivera said.

And the chief says it gets worse. Inside the building, the officer's break room serves as a locker room, women's restroom and booking room for inmates.

"The same table is where we'll eat and where they also put the inmate's property and fill out arrest tags and that kind of stuff, so it's a hassle," Rivera said.

Sgt. Javier Pena says the officers just want the space to do their jobs without disturbing each other.

"When the officers are coming in, and he knows one of his fellow coworkers is taking a breather, he's going to have to boot him out just so he can conduct his business," he said. "So, sometimes they feel I'm inconveniencing the other person for what I have to do."

Parlier and Orange Cove both are asking for $4 million for new police departments. While Firebaugh is in need of about $740,000 to purchase the old Fresno County Superior Courthouse and turn it into a new police station. Selma though is only requesting $500,000 to update its 911 communication system.

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