Clovis Police Chief Addresses Citizen’s Advisory Committee

“There’s things that go on in our city, everyday, that a lot of us don’t realize.”

This was a direct quote from Clovis Police Chief Curt Fleming when he spoke on the current state of the Clovis Police Department at the Citizen’s Advisory Committee meeting on Wednesday evening, Feb. 9.

Fleming, while giving his second public presentation on the state of the police department in a span of three months, noted that on December 18th alone there were four major crimes throughout Clovis that merely went unreported by news outlets.

Fleming states that because of the severity of these crimes, the police department as a whole had to stretch their outnumbered officers to multiple locations.

Fleming then went on to show a video of a shooting that same December night that he could only describe as a “war zone” simply because of the number of shots that were fired.

The problems that Fleming contemplates are strictly connected to the small number of officers working for Clovis PD, in addition to the competition with other police forces in the area to both remain “the safest city in the Valley”, and to retain police officers in his dispatch.

The police department’s contract with the city is set to expire in July, and Fleming contemplates that this will “set us back a good year” in terms of recruitment and retention of officers.

According to Fleming, in the time that the city of Clovis expanded from a population of 86,000 to 123,000, the positions of sworn officers at the police department had decreased by 12. This is not to mention the number of programs “eliminated” simply in order to reallocate resources into basic patrol units.

And this is why one of the biggest concerns Fleming has is for his command, and the amount of overtime his officers are having to fulfill. Fleming claims that the department is on pace to reach 161% of their overtime budget by the end of the year.

“That is not sustainable. That’s holding people over on day shift to cover swing shift. That’s bringing swing shift in early to cover with day shift until graveyards. That’s ordering people in from home on their days off because somebody called in sick, someone’s injured.”

One final thought brought to light by Chief Fleming was on the California Crime Index. The CCI compares cities’ rates of violent crimes across the Valley and rates them per capita. This is in order to determine that vaunted and most safely guarded title of statistics “the safest city in the Valley”.

However, Chief Fleming observes that because of Proposition 47 that passed in California in 2014, the ratings of many major crimes, including property crimes, were decriminalized from felonies to misdemeanors.

This simply meant that many crimes were being unreported as felonies, therefore skewing the results of the CCI and not telling the entire story when it comes to rate and intensity of crime in a specific city.

A few members of the committee mentioned their thoughts were with the officers and their overbearing work schedules that has an influence on both their mental and physical health. Other members asked questions about budgeting and future designation of officer involvement as proportionate with the growing size of the city of Clovis.

Nonetheless, the question remains, with the looming deal between the city and its police department, will there be enough officers to cover the city by this summer?

Chief Fleming ended his presentation by encouraging the committee to embark on ride alongs with fellow officers in order to see how Clovis is really doing these days.

“I think it’d be valuable if you guys had the time, to take the opportunity to take a ride with an officer. I think it’d be valuable to see the city of Clovis from our side, our eyes.”

To watch Citizen’s Advisory Committee’s February 9 meeting, https://cityofclovis.com/government/city-council/citizens-advisory-committee/.

JT is a recent college grad with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. He is mainly interested in sports and entertainment but covers a wide array of subjects. He currently writes for the Fresno State Baseball Dugout Club. JT looks forward to continuing his career at the Clovis Roundup and is excited to be working closely with a community that is very proud of its people.