Fresno looks at merging Police & Sheriff's Departments

October 5, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
The idea of merging the Fresno Police Department and the Fresno County Sheriff's Office is not new. The Chamber of Commerce studied the idea six years ago, and Chamber President Al Smith encouraged the city to study it again.

Smith told the city council, "This is well worthwhile pursuing again, the payoff can be tremendous if we succeed."

Six of the seven council members agreed and hired consultant Jerry Newfarmer for $50 thousand to study consolidation. "The goal is to save money." He told the council.

One council member who's seen this all before is Sal Quintero. He was the only vote against the study. He questioned Police Chief Jerry Dyer on the need to pay for another study.

"What about the idea of maybe you sitting down with Sheriff Mims and seeing what kind of services you two could come up with and integrate without having to spend $50 thousand?" He asked.

Police Chief Jerry Dyer said such discussions have gone on, but noted neither he or the sheriff can make the necessary budget decisions. He noted past consolidation efforts fell short because of the upfront costs of new buildings and equipment. He also feared this study could be divisive.

Chief Dyer explained, "We've gone through some difficult times over the last few years in city government and county government and what I have found is there is a lot of finger pointing that's occurring there's a lot of blame and we're not working as close together as we used to."

Sheriff Mims told the City Council she already has agreements with every other city in the county to share services, and questioned the need for the city to hire a consultant. But said she would do what she could.

Mims added, "I don't have a lot of staff time to give to this but I will give you whatever time I possibly can."

The chairman of the Fresno County Board of Supervisors, Debbie Poochigian told Action News she has no problem with another study, as long as the city pays for it.