Wake Up Clovis: City growth overpowers needed services

(Photo by Jess Gonzalez) Clovis Fire Chief, Chris Ekk, was one of multiple speakers at the Wake Up Clovis Chamber of Commerce Breakfast.

By: Jess Gonzalez

February 26, 2024 – Good and bad news were provided on the status of the City of Clovis at the Clovis Chamber of Commerce’s Wake Up Clovis informational breakfast on February 14, 2024, at Clovis Community College.

To start, there was the good news. Clovis continues being a fine community to live in and is still the safest in the Central Valley.

The bad news? The growth of the city, geographically and population-wise, is increasingly creating problems for the city—especially for the Clovis Police and Fire Departments.

They are in a losing situation trying to provide the level of services befitting a city the size of present day Clovis without the proper funding and staff to do so.

Presently, Clovis has a population of 125,000 people—and growing. For several years now, that growth has steadily caused city services to suffer.

It’s not necessarily the quality of services that has deteriorated, but rather the demand for the services has increased while the manpower available that provides such services has stayed the same. The two departments share that in common.

(Photo by Jess Gonzalez) Curt Fleming Police Chief speaking at Wake Up Clovis Breakfast

Crime is rising

So how do Police Chief Curt Fleming and Fire Chief Chris Ekk feel about what their departments are facing? Not good. But their hands are tied.

Without more money to run their operations, all they can do is attempt to find ways to run as efficiently as possible with understaffed and underfunded departments.

Crime in Clovis is rising. According to the list of crimes that rose in 2023 in Clovis, Assisting and Promoting Prostitution had the biggest percentage rise. It rose by 400%.

The second and third crimes on that followed were Arson with a rise of 187% and Extorsion or Blackmail with a rise of 150%.

While those types of crimes must be addressed, more noticeable to city residents as they drive around town is the rise in the number of homeless people.

According to both chiefs there are certain types of crime associated with the homeless. That primarily means a rise in theft and property crimes. It does not necessarily mean a rise in violent crime.

For the average residents, the types of crime that most afflict them are property crime and mail theft. The police chief suggested residents use cameras to help protect themselves and their property.

By the numbers…

The police department’s current budget is $54,524,000 which represents 52% of the City’s General Fund. The fire department’s budget is smaller at $24,040,600. That represents 22% of the City’s General Fund.

As is clear, the city is spending considerable amounts of money already, but the demands on both departments are more than can be provided under present budgets restraints.

To cope with those restraints, the police department has had to do away with crime prevention programs and they’re using more technology to help fight crime.

But they still need more eyes out on the street; so they want the community to lookout for crime and to alert them when they see it happen.

Clovis presently has 117 sworn police officer positions.   A 2021 staffing study on 2021 indicated 138 positions were needed that year.

Three years later, the demand is higher, but the number of officers has not grown. Looking into the future, by 2027, 158 sworn police officers will be needed to provide services to approximately 130,000 city residents.

That equates to 1.2 officers per thousand residents. With a constantly growing crime rate that may not be enough.

For its part, the fire department has 67 sworn positions. The department anticipates needing 6 more positions over the next few years and a total of 15 more by the end of the decade.

So, it appears the fire department is in better shape than the police department in that respect.

Fire Chief Chris Ekk informed that his department has not seen an impacting increase in the number of fires. About two-thirds of calls to his department are emergency related—medical service types.

Included in emergency calls are car accidents. He did note the department’s response time to certain areas of Clovis—mostly the outer parts of the city—can take longer for his department to respond.

Community survey: services need to be upgraded

An on-going community survey has found two-thirds of respondents feel there’s need of additional funding to upgrade the present services.

City leaders agree on that assessment. But how do they get more income for the city? That is a much too common problem with most cities and states everywhere.

The survey also indicates there’s need to retain local small businesses that create jobs. The taxes they generate brings more funding to the city to help maintain its financial stability. Achieving that objective would increase the quality and number of services.

Is the Clovis way of life a thing of the past?

Since it was incorporated in 1912, Clovis residents have worked hard to make it the best community in the valley.

Throughout the years, it has been an outstanding community. But the constant change of society is continually chipping away at what once was. Yet, the community working together can make a difference in maintaining its way of life.


GOClovis is an app found in the Apple store which allows users to take pictures and report a problem out in the community directly to the police department.

It makes reporting crime or other problems faster and easier. The city recommends it be used by Clovis residents.