Fresno police chief resigns after investigation into affair

Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama has officially resigned after an investigation opened about an allegation of an “inappropriate off-duty relationship.”

It was reported that Balderrama was having an affair with another officer’s wife for nearly two years after being initiated as the first Latino Chief of Police in Fresno in 2021.

As a result of this discovery, Balderrama was placed on paid administrative leave on June 12 with Deputy Chief Mindy Casto taking his place until further notice. 

The resignation was announced at a press conference on June 25 by Mayor Jerry Dyer. In the same press conference, City Manager Georgeanne White said that an independent attorney who conducted an administrative investigation found that Balderrama did not abuse his power in his handling of personnel issues with the officer.

Sources from the Fresno City Hall told the Fresno Bee that this allegation was kept private and under investigation since February due to wanting to secure proper statements from those involved. But both Dyer and White criticized local media coverage of the investigation, calling the coverage a “media circus.”

Despite the scandal, Dyer believes Balderrama still has hiring potential, and he’ll be offered another police chief position.

Fresno Police Department Policy 341.1.2 states, “Members shall demonstrate the highest degree of integrity at all times and avoid any act which speaks of a lack of integrity or the mere appearance of a lack of integrity.”

As stated on the City of Fresno website, Balderrama said, “As your chief of police, I make the commitment to build and maintain public trust while partnering with the community to make Fresno a safer place to live.”

A broken commitment. 

If a police officer is to represent honor, but our police chief creates distrust, how are we as citizens supposed to feel that our encounters with police officers are with pure and honest intentions?

It is not to say that all officers are dishonest, but it does make it challenging to decipher those who are and those who are not. 

This was not the first deceitful occurrence that has happened within our police department and most likely will not be the last. 

My only hope is that individuals in leadership roles have learned from the actions made by Balderrama and choose to make honorable decisions.

Alexis Zuniga (she/her/hers)

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