What Fri­day told us about Dyer’s power as po­lice chief, may­oral can­di­date

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY BRI­ANNA CALIX [email protected]­nobee.com

Fresno Po­lice Chief Jerry Dyer and Fresno County pros­e­cu­tor An­drew Janz will face off for mayor in the March primary elec­tion, but some say “the pow­ers that be” in Fresno have al­ready cho­sen the next mayor.

Crit­ics said that be­came clear on Fri­day when Mayor Lee Brand and City Man­ager Wilma Quan an­nounced Andy Hall is tak­ing over as act­ing po­lice chief, even though he didn’t ap­ply for the job.

Sandra Cele­don, pres­i­dent and CEO of Fresno Build­ing Healthy Com­mu­ni­ties, called it a “dark day for democ­racy in the city of Fresno.”

“The fix was in from the be­gin­ning,” she said. “Mayor Brand and his in­ner cir­cle picked the chief they wanted.”

Com­mu­nity or­ga­nizer Stacy Williams was blunt. She said Brand has “con­ceded” to Dyer with­out an elec­tion.

“Ba­si­cally what has hap­pened is Dyer has taken over as mayor be­fore he has been elected,” Williams said. “The pow­ers that be have al­ready se­lected him. … Brand has com­pletely let go of all of his power.”

Both Dyer and Brand re­sound­ingly de­nied that.

“That’s not true at all,” Brand said. “The vot­ers of Fresno will de­cide who is go­ing to be the next mayor. There are no sure things in pol­i­tics. … It could be some­body else. It may not be Jerry Dyer.”

Dyer also called the state­ment “absolutely not true.”

“If that were the case, Lee Brand would’ve sus­pended the search when he made the de­ci­sion not to run and I an­nounced I was run­ning,” Dyer said. “And he did not.”

Brand also pointed out that he hasn’t made an en­dorse­ment in the mayor’s race. Hall said at the news con­fer­ence he won’t en­dorse po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates as chief, ei­ther.

DYER’S IN­VOLVE­MENT

How much in­flu­ence did Dyer have over Brand’s and Quan’s pick for the new chief?

Dyer did not sit in on the in­ter­views for the ini­tial five can­di­dates. Those were panel in­ter­views, and the pan­elists in­cluded nine com­mu­nity mem­bers and nine city em­ploy­ees. The pan­elists were cho­sen by Jeff Cardell, the city’s per­son­nel di­rec­tor, and the city man­ager’s of­fice, Brand said.

Four fi­nal can­di­dates in­ter­viewed with Brand and Quan. Dyer acted as a con­sul­tant for those in­ter­views, Brand said. But ul­ti­mately, Brand and Quan de­cided none of the can­di­dates were “the right choice at the right time,” Quan said. Dyer said he did not en­cour­age Brand and Quan to choose an in­terim rather than pick­ing one of the four fi­nal­ists.

That’s when Dyer rec­om­mended ei­ther Hall or Pat Farmer, both deputy chiefs, as an in­terim. Dyer told his bosses he be­lieved Hall would be the best fit for a long-term fill-in.

Dyer said he’s happy and sat­is­fied with Hall’s ap­point­ment.

“I have a sense of peace know­ing the path­way for­ward,” he said.

DYER’S ROLE AS CHIEF AND MAY­ORAL CAN­DI­DATE

Brand ac­knowl­edged it’s difficult at times to dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween Dyer’s role as chief and as a may­oral can­di­date.

An ex­am­ple of that: Dyer spoke dur­ing the new con­fer­ence Fri­day wear­ing his chief’s uni­form. At that time, he couldn’t an­swer ques­tions from re­porters re­lated to his run for mayor. Hours later, his cam­paign sent a state­ment on the chief se­lec­tion, and he took ques­tions about his can­di­dacy.

In hir­ing a new chief, Brand said he and Quan couldn’t ig­nore Dyer’s 18 years of ex­pe­ri­ence lead­ing the po­lice depart­ment.

“It would be fool­ish for us to not take his in­put,” Brand said.

If other may­oral can­di­dates have a public safety back­ground, Brand said he’d be open to lis­ten­ing to them.

“I would love to give Lee Brand in­put in this process as well,” Janz said. “I don’t have a prob­lem with Lee Brand ask­ing the cur­rent po­lice chief’s ad­vice on the search process. I am con­cerned, though, that good can­di­dates may be re­luc­tant to ap­ply know­ing that Chief Dyer is part of the process.”

Moving for­ward, Dyer will not be in­volved in day-to-day op­er­a­tions at the po­lice depart­ment. He’ll use va­ca­tion time to take an ex­tended leave to fo­cus on his cam­paign.

DYER’S IN­FLU­ENCE ON CHIEF CAN­DI­DATES

Dyer has main­tained since at least March that sev­eral of his depart­ment’s top-rank­ing of­fi­cers would make a tal­ented chief. When he an­nounced his run for mayor at Manch­ester Cen­ter, he noted there was some­one in the room who would make a great chief. Hall was there, along with Capts. Mark Salazar and Phil Coo­ley.

Dyer said he has a fa­vorite from within the po­lice depart­ment to suc­ceed Hall when Hall is forced to re­tire by the city’s sys­tem. “I don’t think I could say with­out taint­ing the process,” Dyer said.

He said he re­al­izes his longevity as chief may in­tim­i­date po­ten­tial can­di­dates. He also said the process be­came mud­dled when Brand de­cided not to seek re-elec­tion.

“That changed the dy­namic of whether or not peo­ple feel com­fort­able ap­ply­ing from out­side,” he said.

Quan and Cardell said “a cou­ple dozen” peo­ple ap­plied for the job. The re­cruiter hired by the city asked how the mayor’s race might in­flu­ence the can­di­date pool, Quan said, adding that’s nor­mal for any ex­ec­u­tive po­si­tion search.

Brand said he’s go­ing to re­launch the search in 2020 in hopes of find­ing a per­ma­nent chief with no re­tire­ment lim­its.

“Be­fore I leave of­fice, my goal is to have our new po­lice chief in place, no mat­ter who­ever the next mayor is – Jerry Dyer or An­drew Janz,” he said.

Dyer noted the fu­ture mayor doesn’t take of­fice un­til Jan­uary 2021.

MOVING FOR­WARD, DYER WILL NOT BE IN­VOLVED IN DAY-TO-DAY OP­ER­A­TIONS AT THE PO­LICE DEPART­MENT. HE’LL USE VA­CA­TION TIME TO TAKE AN EX­TENDED LEAVE TO FO­CUS ON HIS CAM­PAIGN.

ERIC PAUL ZAMORA Fresno Bee file

Fresno Chief of Po­lice Jerry Dyer an­swers a ques­tion af­ter an­nounc­ing his bid for mayor on May 29 in Fresno. Crit­ics say “the pow­ers that be” in Fresno have al­ready cho­sen Dyer as mayor.

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