4/4/08 Air Traffic Trouble?
2/14/2008 Explosions Caught Local Pilots Off-Guard
The first punishment has been handed down tonight. A Fresno Police Sergeant, who was there while the K-9 officers set off the explosives, is out of the unit.
Action News has learned the sergeant's job description is changing as a result of the internal affairs investigation.
Chief Jerry Dyer says he can't comment on personnel issues, but sources tell us the sergeant will no longer lead the K-9 unit; all because of a videotape.
An airplane flies overhead as several Fresno Police officers on the ground light up illegal fireworks. K-9 officers taking in the sights and sounds seem to be having a good time.
The spectacle continues for several minutes. Then random fireworks are tossed into a burning fire pit, even scaring the officer shooting the video.
Action News has learned this wasn't an isolated incident. The night this video was taken, a bottle rocket came close to a passing plane.
This video was actually taken weeks before the night pilots radioed in their concerns to air traffic controllers after explosions caught their attention while taking off.
Traffic controller: "In fact, I just saw another one. Eagle 550 did you see that?"
Pilot: "Oh yeah, totally we got a fireworks show here about 100 feet above the cockpit."
An Action News investigation in February sparked a new rule at the police department, no more aerial fireworks at the training facility near the airport.
Now, the K-9 sergeant, Carlos Frausto, is being moved out of the unit. Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer says he can't get specific about punishment, but he has seen the video.
"But, I can say that there was clearly fireworks that were used as part of training but there was also fireworks that were utilized outside of training and when the fireworks were utilized outside of training what the investigation has shown and the video has shown it was associated with horseplay and a lot of laughter on the part of the officers," said Dyer.