Fresno Police Chief says no taxpayer money to reform gang members

Supporters of the Advance Peace plan came to city hall expecting the city council to endorse their anti-gang efforts by guiding gang members into school or work.

They found support from Council Member Luis Chavez who said, "nothing stops a bullet like a job."

But they also faced opposition from Council Member Garry Bredefeld.

"This program is the wrong message to people who are involved in criminal behavior," Bredefeld said.

Advanced Peace is operating in Sacramento, Stockton and Richmond. The basic program involves getting gang members who are suspected of criminal behavior (but not convicted of crimes) to straighten up, go to school or work and then after six months receive a payment of up to $1,000 a month to continue.

Earlier this week Police Chief Jerry Dyer told Action News he supports the concept of helping gang members quit, but made it clear today he doesn't want to pay them to behave.

"Unfortunately I believe my views regarding the Advanced Peace program have been misrepresented. I am philosophically opposed to giving money to any gang member," Chief Dyer said.

Dyer is running for Mayor of Fresno and faced criticism for what some perceived as an endorsement of Advance Peace. City Council Member Nelson Esparza suggested Dyer changed his mind, saying, "not even in office yet and you are ready to flip flop on us. "

"I have never supported giving money to gang members," Dyer said.

Despite the dispute, Council Member Miguel Arias pushed a plan to consider Advance Peace or some other program.

"My motion is to direct the administration to work with local leaders to assess Advance Peace and other options to reduce gun violence in Fresno, and bring back to this council a proposal within 90 days. It also sets aside $200,000 to advance that proposal," he said.

Dyer suggested a Fresno-based plan could be developed based on previous anti-gang efforts.

"We can come up with a plan and bring it back, and whether the council decides to set aside money to do that, that's totally up to the council. But, we will come up with a plan. And hopefully, we get it funded through grants and private dollars."

That proposal was approved on a 3 to 2 vote of the council.
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