Connect with us


Fresno Police Academy Training Will Be Examined for Racial Bias



Image of cadets in formation at the Fresno City College police academy
Share with friends

The Fresno City College task force that’s reviewing the Police Academy curriculum will look at how future officers are instructed on the use of force when they next meet, said Robert Pimentel, Fresno City College vice president of Educational Services & Institutional Effectiveness and the task force chairman.

Portrait of Fresno City College Vice President Robert Pimentel

— Task force chairman Robert Pimentel

At its second meeting Tuesday, the 23-member task force heard how the college trains law enforcement officers in community policing and on issues such as microaggressions, Pimentel said.

Microaggressions can be verbal or behavioral, hostile or derogatory, and can be aimed at a specific group such as people who have been marginalized.

The task force was formed in the wake of protests and calls locally, statewide, and nationally for policing reforms, starting with how officers are trained, after George Floyd died at the hands of Minneapolis police on Memorial Day.

Chancellor Says Training Needs Review

In June Eloy Oakley, chancellor of the California Community Colleges, called for a review of police training curriculum for racial bias and to make sure it reflects the experiences of people of color.

The Fresno City College task force includes officials from area police departments, churches, Fresno City faculty representatives and administrators, and social justice advocates.

Several of the members — State Center Community College District trustee Annalisa Perea, Pastor DJ Criner, Barrios Unidos executive director Ashley Rojas, retired Selma Police Chief Greg Garner, and Fresno Housing Authority board chairwoman Adrian Jones — also are serving on the city of Fresno’s Commission on Police Reform headed by former councilman and police officer Oliver Baines.

After the State Center trustees on Tuesday approved a resolution backing the task force, Perea released the following comment: “Serving on both the City’s Police Reform Commission and the FCC Police Academy Review Task Force makes sense when you consider as trustees, we oversee the entry point of the funnel that begins the training process for future police officers.

“Our review of the Academy will be the philosophy and methods used by our instructors to not only ensure that cadets are trained to POST (California Peace Officer Standards and Training) standards but as importantly that they are trained to handle and de-escalate situations that they are faced with.”

Community Colleges Train Most Officers

Most of the state’s police officers receive their training through a community college.

Fresno City College’s Police Academy, located for now on the central Fresno campus, trains cadets who are hired for departments throughout the Central Valley, from Sacramento to Bakersfield, Pimentel said.

Each year Fresno City graduates about 160 cadets, he said. Currently, there are three classes ongoing with about 97 cadets.

Once the task force finishes its review, its report will go to college president Carole Goldsmith and be shared with academy officials, who will review the recommendations and make changes. The academy next spring will respond to the task force with a report on what has been implemented.

If the changes are small they may be put into effect as early as the fall semester, but proposed curriculum changes will need faculty review, Pimentel said.

First Responders Campus Work Continues

In the meantime, work continues on designing the new $46.1 million First Responders campus at Willow and North avenues southeast of Fresno. The campus will provide training for police, fire, and emergency medical technicians.

State Center spokeswoman Lucy Ruiz said the COVID-19 pandemic has not delayed the work, which she said Wednesday is “actually a little ahead of schedule.” Classes are scheduled to start there in the spring 2024 semester.

Police Academy Task Force Members

Robert Pimentel, task force chairman

Ashley Rojas, executive director, Barrios Unidos

Greg Garner, retired Selma police chief

Brendan Rhames, Fresno Police Department

Chief John Golden, Kerman Police Department

Chief Joe Gomez, Selma Police Department

Capt. Joe Alvarez, Fresno Police Department

Jeff Dunn, Police Officer Standards and Training

Whitney Conover, Fresno City Police Academy faculty

Anna Carrillo, Fresno City Police Academy faculty

Francine Oputa, Fresno State

Pastor DJ Criner, Saint Rest Baptist Church

Artie Padilla, Every Neighborhood

Adrian Jones, Fresno Housing Authority/North Star Family

Becky Barabe, Fresno City College

Gary Fief, Police Academy director

Ray Ramirez, director of student equity, Fresno City

Paul Gilmore, Fresno City faculty

Carol Rains-Heisdorf, Fresno City institutional research

Paul Calvo, Fresno City student

Karla Kirk, Fresno City faculty

Annalisa Perea, State Center trustee

Chief Jose Flores, State Center Police Department

Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email