New Fresno police chief focused on community trust and safety

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- "In my experience the higher you go, the smaller you feel. You feel this small because you feel the pressure of the responsibility and the people's lives affected by your decision, and that's something I take very seriously."

Fresno's incoming police chief, Paco Balderrama, says he is focused on two things: Community trust and community safety.

"Violent crime is up," he said. "There's obviously been a lack of trust and confidence in law enforcement in general mainly because of things that have happened in other parts of the country, but they affect us here as well, so we have to deal with that."

Former Police Chief and mayor-elect Jerry Dyer says Balderrama has what it takes to lead during these turbulent times.

"Paco knows what it takes to earn the trust of the community as well as department members," he said. "In today's environment of social unrest and police scrutiny and criticism, that is a quality that is much needed."

Balderrama was the highest-ranking Latino on the Oklahoma City police force. He is leaving a city where Latinos make up 18% of the population. In Fresno, that number is about 50%.

"Chief Balderrama will officially be sworn in on January 11 and become the first Hispanic police chief in Fresno's history," says Fresno Mayor Lee Brand.

In Oklahoma City, Balderrama was promoted to Deputy Chief last year. The city's mayor gave the departing department leader high praise.

"He's a good police officer but he's especially talented at community building, community policing and building relationships," says Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt.

Chief Balderrama will now be counted on to do the same in Fresno.

Balderrama is also looking forward to moving his wife Kyla and three kids to the Valley.

The current police chief, Andy Hall, is about to retire. He's held the position for a little over a year, after Jerry Dyer retired.
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