Fleming stated several categories he would be discussing to ensure that all matters of concern and needs were brought to the council’s attention.
Before beginning his presentation, Chief Fleming made it clear that the department he leads is one of the best he’s been with.
“I worked at different departments, worked with other agencies, but this is a unique place that we work with,” Fleming said. “Our department is a proactive department. We like to go out and prevent crimes before they happen instead of just responding to crimes.”
The first item discussed in his presentation was a staffing report that was conducted in 2006 by former Clovis Police Chief Jim Zulim. This report was to discover overall what each department needed based on research and data. The results at that time showed that the patrol division needed 18 additional officers. Chief Fleming revisited the study in hopes it can provide some insights that can benefit the department’s current situation.
“I thought it was a valuable study back then, it would be a valuable study today.” Fleming said. “What this looked at was specifically our patrol division. We wanted to compare apples to apples to how they did in 2006.”
The study showed that the Clovis PD was understaffed and needed more officers in the patrol division. This issue was proved by a research case known as a 30-30 split. This split is based on what officers do within an hour and how it should be split even between proactive and reactive times.
According to the study, Clovis PD patrol division was at a 42 reactive time and an 18 proactive time. In order to find the even 30-30 split, research showed that at least 18-22 officers need to be brought into the patrol division to balance this out for Clovis PD.
After, Chief Fleming discussed the conflict of the latest population growth to the reduction of officers due to budget cuts in the police department. In the span of 15 years, the population of Clovis has grown 43% while the officers budget has decreased by four percent.
As Fleming put it, “We’ve had to reallocate resources to staff patrol since patrol is the core function of our department.”
Along with population growth and new businesses, the police department has been affected. With the city’s rise in popularity, more people are visiting Clovis. In the last few years, newly built hotels have come in and are being built to accommodate this increase. The overall growth has caused officers to have to respond to more calls and the response time becoming longer than needed.
The growth in the area has also affected Clovis Community Hospital, with an increase of patient intake. The Department of Social Services has grown to keep in line with the growth of families which in turn raises the increase of child neglect cases and other related crimes.
With these two lines going in different directions, the budget cuts for the department have gone down as well, resulting in loss of officers in other key departments. In 2006, former chief Zulim input a total of 20 detectives that were divided into separate departments of investigations like general, narcotics, gang unit, youth services and MAGEC. Today, there are only eight investigators who are placed in the general investigation department.
Investigative work wasn’t the only department that suffered cuts. According to Chief Fleming, a total of 20 different programs experienced cuts due to the lack of staff and budgeting. These programs also suffered due to the department having to prioritize certain things over others because of the lack of officers.
Chief Fleming also stated that Clovis PD’s budget does grow with the city, but “additional costs have grown disproportionately.” As the expenses grew a total of 7% between three categories, salaries going to officers have decreased by 3%. With everything calculated, 10% of the budget has changed where it’s going in the department.
Because of these cuts and the dire need of officers, the community has seen a negative impact. Cases like the double bar homicide, youth drug overdoses, fatal car accidents due to less traffic enforcement, and a rise in domestic violence cases have become constant occurrences.
Quality of life has been impacted as well. Trash has seen an increase in alleyways and in fields due to the homeless, municipal codes have been constantly violated like immobile vehicles staying exposed in driveways and an increase in graffiti have been noticed more in the city.
The last key graph showed how reduced staffing affected some of the key areas in the department in the past two years. This stemmed from retirements, resignations and worker’s comp interests. Just this year, over 11% of officers resigned or retired. 10 different areas saw an increase resulting in investigative staff being cut from their trained departments and moved back into the patrol areas that needed help.
Fleming also mentioned how nine other departments could see cuts if things didn’t change.
After presenting the negative impacts of budget cuts to the Clovis Police Department, Chief Fleming showed how things can improve.
Based on the studies and statistics of Chief Fleming and his team, the police department needs 32 more officers and eight community service officers to move in the right direction.
16 of the 32 officers would go to patrol while the other 16 would go to staff according to Fleming. Eight CSOs would be divided between four going to patrol, three municipal enforcement and one in the investigations. Fleming also showed the expectation of officers needed in the next five years. To keep up with the population growth, there is a need for 50 officers, eight CSOs, five dispatchers and two animal control officers.
After Chief Fleming’s presentation, each council member gave their insight. The general feel from the council was agreement that something needed to be done.
Mayor Pro Tem Lynne Ashbeck advised how she felt change could begin.
“I would advocate for some kind of convenience for the citizens in some fashion to talk about this,” Ashbeck said. “I think we can see what’s out there as far as additional revenue as required. I do not think we’ll get to 52 more officers saving money within our current budget. I just don’t, but I think we can get there in a three step plan.”
This also led Askbeck to recommend a type of committee of citizens to discuss their experiences with the Clovis Police Department. She also stated how these issues with Clovis PD are “not the story of Clovis” as both council and residents want the community to be safe and a place people can feel comfortable in as it has for years.
Councilman Drew Bessinger echoed Ashbeck with his input on the situation with Clovis PD.
“I know that we are at a point where we have to do something and we can’t do it with our current financing,” Bessinger said. “We need to get our citizenry involved because I think if they truly understood just how close we are to having some big issues, they would step up.”
Bessinger also retold a phrase he previously heard that fit well with what the long term prevention is. “There’s an old saying that for the want of the nail, the horse lost the shoe, you lost the horse, you lost the rider, you lost the war.”
Councilmember Vong Mouanoutoua was also in agreement with his insight on the safe reputation of Clovis as a community.
“New families come because of Clovis Unified…they want their kids to go to the best schools, but they stay because it is the safest here,” Mouanoutoua said. “They stay because they can go to our parks, go to our trails, go to our shopping centers because they feel nothing is going to happen to them. If we lose or ever lower that, then we have lost what Clovis is.”
While Councilman Bob Whalen agrees with the rest of the council, he also wants to ensure proper research is done and make sure Clovis residents are informed of the options that can be given to help the Clovis PD.
Mayor Jose Flores agreed with Whalen’s assessment on the topic.
“They’re (citizens) protectors too, and they’re willing to pay you the professionals to do the job,” Flores said. “I think we have a better city, a more safer city because (the citizens) contribute to that safety and it might be a few more dollars somewhere that they’re willing to contribute IF we do the calculus right.”
Mayor Flores also turned to the Broken Window Theory as an example of something that isn’t wanted for the community.
This theory means that any visible signs of civil disorder and crime will create even more of that issue. Because of the police having to pick and choose which cases are more important, calls into the department have dropped because citizens feel their cases aren’t important or won’t be responded to which in turn causes more crime. This is something both the council and Clovis residents don’t want happening.
To view the full State of Department of the Clovis PD, you can view the videos on multiple sites. You can watch on either the Clovis Police Department Facebook page, City of Clovis YouTube page, or you can visit https://cityofclovis.com/government/city-council/city-council-agendas/.