Fresno PD Chief Paco Balderrama resigns amid investigation into inappropriate off-duty relationship

Thursday, June 27, 2024
Fresno PD Chief Paco Balderrama resigns amid investigation into inappropriate off-duty relationship
Paco Balderrama has resigned from his position as the Fresno Police Chief following an investigation into an inappropriate off-duty relationship with the wife of a Fresno Police of

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Paco Balderrama has resigned from his position as the Fresno Police Chief following an investigation into an inappropriate off-duty relationship with the wife of a Fresno Police officer.

Balderrama's resignation will be effective July 25.

Search for new police chief underway after Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama resigns.

Deputy Chief Mindy Casto has been named the interim police chief until a national search is completed. Balderrama will stay with the Police Department in an advisory role to Casto.

The city of Fresno said they first became aware of the allegation from Balderrama himself in February.

It wasn't until the beginning of June the city would launch an investigation into Balderrama.

His decision to step down comes nearly three weeks after the city announced it's investigation into an inappropriate off-duty relationship, and less than two weeks after he was put on paid administrative leave by the city.

On Tuesday, the city acknowledged for the first time that the relationship was with an officer's wife.

However, their investigation found no abuse of power.

"As I've stated before there was a finding of 'not sustained' in abuse of authority. I will tell you that I do believe that Chief Balderrama used poor discretion in his decision to get into an innappropriate relationship," said Fresno City Manager Georgeanne White.

The city revealed the investigation into the relationship was conducted by the law firm Atkinson Andelson.

The investigation was lead by attorney Andrew Aller, who specializes in labor and employment law and was a former prosecutor at Fresno County District Attorney's Office.

City Attorney Andrew Janz says as of May 31, the firm had billed the city $25,000 for the investigation.

Dyer, who was the mayor to swear Balderrama in as police chief, called the resignation the right decision.

"Having served as police chief for 18 years I know how difficult it is to maintain trust of police department - in this particular case it would have been even more difficult for Chief Balderrama to maintain the trust of his officers and the community," Dyer said.

Dyer says he has not spoken to the officer since the investigation began, but says the officer will remain serving the city.


Officials announce resignation of Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama

Balderrama had been on paid administrative leave since June 13, the first day he spoke publicly since the news of his scandal came to light. The city of Fresno said the move to put him on paid leave was due to "intense public scrutiny surrounding the administrative investigation."

Balderrama was initially expected to stay in his role pending the outcome of the investigation.

Action News also confirmed that Balderrama applied to be the police chief in Austin, Texas after the allegations were first reported.

Balderrama served as the city's police chief for three-and-a-half years. His appointment made city history, with Balderrama being the first Latino police chief.

In a statement, Balderrama said the following:

"Serving as Chief of Police for the City of Fresno over the last three and one-half years has truly been the privilege of a lifetime. I want to thank the administration for giving me this opportunity. The men and women of the Fresno Police Department are second to none.

During this period, we have been able to grow the department to an allotted 926 positions, reduced violent and property crime by double digits, and leveraged communication and technology to become a more effective police department. Perhaps most importantly, all members have embraced our community engagement efforts which have significantly increased trust with those we serve.

The people of Fresno are beautiful, diverse and very supportive of their police department. Even through my most difficult trials, you have been king, forgiving, and uplifting. Thank you for being there for me. The rewarding part of the job has not been the huge responsibility, job stress, or intense work. It has always been the people. I will miss both the Fresno community and every member of the Fresno Police Department. I have no doubt that this group of hard-working and compassionate police officers and professional staff will continue to thrive and do great things. This is the right time for me to step away and focus on my faith and family. I love you."

Councilmember Mike Karbassi told Action News on Tuesday that the relationship was irresponsible.

"It's not that he had the affair, that's bad enough. It's that it was an officer's wife. And it's so hard to get over that. And I think that really made his position untenable," said Karbassi.

Attorney Brian Whelan is representing, who is representing the officer, released a statement on behalf of his client, saying in part, quote:

"The reality is clear: Paco Balderrama's own unethical behavior is the reason for his departure. It is deeply regrettable that it took media scrutiny, rather than decisive action and a commitment to police ethics and moral clarity, to spur the city's decision-makers into action... Although the city's investigation-funded by the city-did not officially uphold the allegation that Balderrama abused his authority to assign this position to another officer, his resignation stands as undeniable evidence of his misconduct and breach of public trust."

Balderrama's exit comes as welcome news to the Fresno Police Officers Association.

Leadership saying it's, quote, "best for all parties involved."

Fresno officials are now focusing on the search for Balderrama's replacement.

"I know they're doing a national search, but I think right now we need someone who is trusted and stable. And I think you get that with an internal candidate," Karbassi said.

The mayor and city manager say the national search will begin immediately.

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