Fresno City Council will only partially fund new police weapons

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- There were angry exchanges at City Hall on Thursday after the Fresno City Council decided to not fully fund new police weapons.

The aging service weapons were being refurbished to try to save money, but they were coming back from the manufacturer defective.

The meeting became heated after several confrontational questions were asked of the police chief.

The council decided to fund one-third of the cost for new guns. Chief Andy Hall will have to come up with the rest of the money in his budget.

Hall explained his message to the Fresno City Council as simply and easily as he could.

"A gun that may fire today may not fire tomorrow. And that's the concern, it'd be like driving a car that may not have brakes tomorrow," he said.

One councilmember asked all the questions.

"Is there currently an emergency? What's the current reality when it comes to service weapons? Do officers have service weapons that don't work on the field now?" asked Fresno City Council President Miguel Arias.

"We have weapons that are beginning to malfunction and they have malfunctioned during range qualifications," Hall answered.

Hall said the police department tried to save money by refurbishing about 900 guns that are at the end of the manufacturer's recommended shelf life. But after several hundred were returned, they had other problems - including firing.

Arias said the city has invested in the police department more than any other city department, shelling out over half of the city's general fund for police staffing, services, and equipment.

"Here we're still trying to get light bulbs replaced after ten years. It's a fair point to say you need more resources and so does everyone else," he said.

The chief was asked everything, from how many new police cars have arrived since the city added $5 million to their budget, to the cost of recent police officer raises.

"With that, I'd like to point out that I'm supportive of - thank you police chief," said Arias during one exchange.
Hall responded: "Council, can I respond to that?"
"No but thank you," replied Arias.

Arias' comments and cutting off the police chief had Fresno Police Officer's Association President Todd Fraizer fuming.

"I stormed out of there, I was so mad," Frazier said.

But Chief Hall didn't sit down. He told the council the police department is reminded every day that money is tight.

"We have carpet that's over 40 years old. We have cars that have hundreds of thousands of miles. We fly 15-year-old helicopters," he said.

Fraizer said the message the council is ultimately sending to officers is that their safety isn't that important.

"We got a problem here and this doesn't sit well or bode well for recruiting and retaining more officers if they know they can't depend on their city to take care of them when they need them."

The total cost of the guns is over $300,000, so city staff must find an additional $217,000 somewhere within the police department's budget.
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