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."