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Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer's retirement reversal

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fresno's Police chief accepts an offer to stay on the job, instead of retiring.

Four months after announcing his retirement, Jerry Dyer says he's had a change of heart and wants to keep working.

The city administration asked Chief Dyer to reconsider his retirement plans, and he agreed. He plans to re-organize his administration, and will soon be dealing with a federal civil rights suit over his department's use of deadly force.

Fresno city manager Mark Scott says he started the process of looking for a new chief, then, "It occurred to me at a certain point that the best chief for the city of Fresno was the chief I already had."

Chief Dyer initially said he was retiring to take advantage of changes in the retirement system, and then became interim chief. But said he's had second thoughts about leaving. He said, "As I have served in this interim role the outpouring of love and support from this community and department employees has been overwhelming."

Chief Dyer says he has a renewed enthusiasm for the job, and plans to make some changes in the way he runs things. He explained, "I'm truly going to let go of the day to day operations to some of my senior management team."

One challenge the department faces is a federal civil rights suit. It's filed by the family of Steven Vargas. He was shot to death by a Fresno Police Officer two years ago. The family's attorney Arturo Gonzalez of San Francisco told Action News by phone Chief Dyer's apparent tolerance of police officers shooting unarmed people will be on trial.

Gonzalez said, "We simply can't live in a society where in my view where all an officer has to do is say, gee, I thought I saw something and you can shoot someone."

Gonzalez will argue that 19 of the 51 officer involved shootings in the last five years of Dyers administration amounted to an unreasonable use of force.

Chief Dyer says he's confident the city will prevail. "All of this will one day be decided in the courts and I am confident our attorneys will present the facts and we will prevail," said Chief Dyer. "In the meantime we will have to endure the things being said in the media."

The trial starts in federal court in Fresno on December 6th. Chief Dyer resumes his duties as chief immediately.

When Chief Dyer became interim chief he took a fifty percent pay cut. His new contract gives him a ten-thousand dollar a year raise over his old salary. He will make $179 thousand a year.

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Tags:
fresno, jerry dyer, fresno police department, local, gene haagenson
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