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Two-Thirds of California Agency's Officers Suffering from Low Morale

January 29, 2016  | 

Fresno (CA) Police Department's rank and file is dominated by discontent and cynicism that police Chief Jerry Dyer and his administrative staff will do little to fix problems that have damaged the reputation of the force, according to an internal report obtained by the Fresno Bee.

"Low morale pervades the entire culture of FPD but is particularly intense in patrol division and civilian units," the report says. "Two-thirds of sworn officers (68 percent) and more than half of civilian employees (52 percent) believe the morale problem presents a serious or severe threat to the ability of the FPD to perform its mission."

The report adds that comments made during a survey of the department "revealed a common conviction that the leaders of FPD already know all they need to know, but are unwilling to make the changes necessary to restore trust and morale."

In separate interviews, however, Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin and Dyer said change is already in the air as a result of the report. They both blamed fallout from the Great Recession, where unfilled job openings resulted in longer hours for officers, promotions were frozen and equipment purchases such as new vehicles delayed. Dyer singled out the department's patrol unit, where many days more than 50 officers were called in on an off day to ensure minimum staffing levels were maintained. It was a practice that went on for years.

"Frankly, I can understand where people are coming from, reading the results of the survey," Swearengin said. "We definitely tried to protect the Police Department. In fact it was the least impacted department through all of the budget cuts because obviously it’s a top priority. But I completely understand people feeling they don’t get time off, they don’t have opportunities to promote. All of those things absolutely had been put on hold because of the recession."

Comments (5)

Displaying 1 - 5 of 5

Jason @ 1/30/2016 1:27 PM

It's not just CA agencies. More than half the dept is eligible for retirement. in 2.5 years when the city gives the 3% increase to officers retirement there will be a mass retirement. Morale is low in Texas too.

Tom Ret @ 1/30/2016 5:57 PM

Don't know if this pertains to Fresno but I suspect that instead of patrol being considered the backbone of the dept. it ends up being the step child. Certain
chiefs love their specialty units while patrol is neglected and as a result officers get burned out.

John retired IA PD @ 1/30/2016 7:12 PM

As a former administrator, I know that the morale, attitude, and performance of a department is a direct reflection of their leadership.

Richard @ 1/31/2016 11:55 AM

It's not just happening in Fresno, I'm in Long Beach and I work 6 days a week because of staff shortages. I'm frustrated and burnt out. Departments need to remember who's the front runners of the department and need to assure morale and safety for both officers and public. The statistics are out there, they need to Google it.

HowBoutYa @ 1/31/2016 7:04 PM

I believe Police morale is at an all time low from coast to coast my brothers and sisters. Look at the world we live in. Most kids 16 to 20 think being a thug is cool. Look at the BS we face / deal with every day. Respect for the law, and the officers that are sworn to uphold it, has deteriorated. The front line "street cop" is no longer supported from the POTUS, judges, all the way down to the citizens we serve and protect. The good we do does not sell newspapers so, the media has chosen to focus on ANYTHING bad. Let's face it "we are damned if we do or damned if we don't." The draw for the good young people of the United States to become a police officer has faded and numbers are beginning to dwindle. Money to support police agencies is either being voted down by the public or held by the state. In any other career field / company, people would say screw it and move on to the next company. However, we are a special type of person, we take the BS and keep coming back for more. That's why the people we protect Will continue to stay safe in the near future. Unfortunately, I am a little worried about the future of policing if things continue down the same path.

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