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Fresno releases long-awaited police auditor's report

Monday, December 12, 2011

Fresno's Police Chief goes on the defense, after city officials release the much-anticipated independent police auditor report. The report comes after months of pressure, including a federal judge's request to release it.

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It could be used during his case, involving the Fresno Police Department and the family of Steven Vargas, who was shot and killed by an officer two years ago.

The 74-page document looks at the overall performance of the department. In this case, an independent auditor focused primarily on officer involved shootings, and the department's "early alert system" which tracks an officer's performance history.

In this unedited report, former city auditor, Eddie Aubrey looked specifically at three officer involved shootings, which were "closed" by the department in 2010.

He noted in all three cases, officers were justified in using deadly force. Still, he came up with 28 recommendations from those shootings related to training methods and having staff examine past cases, in order to learn from any mistakes made.

Outside Federal Court Monday, Chief Jerry Dyer would not comment directly on the report, but did defend his department.

Dyer said, "We implement training, we modify policy, we have done that through critical incident reviews over the years and I stand by those reviews we have done and the changes we have made in our policy."

The lengthy document could be used as evidence in the federal case, involving a 2009 officer involved shooting. Steven Vargas' family is suing the city, claiming he was unarmed and the officer who shot him was never disciplined. Vargas' family attorney says the report backs everything he's said since the trial began.

Arturo Gonzalez said, "You know the report talks about how officers should not put themselves out in a vulnerable position, and then shoots somebody because you thought he had a gun. I mean, that's not what you should do, that's exactly what our experts said in court last week."

The report also looked at information collected through a computer database, called the "Early Alert System". It tracks incidents officers are involved in, like traffic accidents, or use of force issues. The report found there was a lack of follow up and accountability with the "Early Alert System". The audit was designed to create transparency within the department. Some city leaders are anxious to see what happens next.

Clint Olivier said, "But I'm looking forward to seeing how this is received by the public, I'm looking to see how it's received by the administration and I'm really looking forward to see how the organization reacts to what's been brought out."

Jerry Dyer said, "Every time we have an incident, a critical incident, we take an opportunity to learn."

The judge presiding over the Vargas case will decide Tuesday if the report can be used. Meanwhile, Action News left messages for the report's author, Eddie Aubrey. He did not return our phone calls.

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Tags:
officer involved shooting, fresno, fresno county, fresno police department, jerry dyer, court, local
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