Fresno City Hall kept its promise – the Tower District now has a satellite police station to help keep the public order.
City officials – Mayor Lee Brand, Council Member Esmeralda Soria and Police Chief Jerry Dyer foremost among them – gathered in The Tower on Wednesday to unveil the new storefront facility.
“By opening this station today in the Tower District, we’ll improve the response times and balance the workload for our police officers, and better address the specific issues and safety needs in the neighborhood,” Brand said. “We know how important the station is to the safety of the Tower District, and its efficiency to public and the Police Department.”
The satellite station is at 1302 N. Wishon Ave., a short stroll from such neighborhood favorites as the Tower Theatre itself, the Chicken Pie Shop, The Painted Table restaurant, and Frosted Cakery.
Generally speaking, the portion of the Tower District north of Olive Avenue belongs to Council District 1 (Soria) while the area south of Olive sits in District 3 (Oliver Baines).
Baines on Wednesday was out of town on city business. I sensed that Soria wouldn’t have missed this event for the world.
“It is a great morning for the Tower District,” Soria said. “This has been a long time coming.”
It was more than a year ago that Soria and Baines hosted a community meeting in the cafeteria at nearby Heaton Elementary School. The place was packed with Tower residents and business owners concerned about crime and vagrancy. The people wanted City Hall to do something.
Part of that evening’s backstory was the closing several years earlier of the Central Policing Station at the corner of Elizabeth Street and Broadway, about a quarter-mile south of The Tower’s main business strip. The station’s demise, along with the elimination (temporary, as it turned out) of the Central Policing District, was the result of a long tale of City Hall financial woe. Residents at the Heaton meeting wanted to know when the police would return to The Tower with permanent physical presence – a brick-and-mortar site that says to good guys and bad guys alike: The cops are here, and they’re not going anywhere.
That Heaton cafeteria cauldron of populist outrage was much on Soria’s mind as she took the microphone on Wednesday.
“The residents spoke loud and clear that they needed and wanted additional police presence here, especially in the Tower District,” Soria said. “You know what a unique neighborhood it is here, with its mix of businesses and residents. And we have a lot of people that come and visit from outside. We want to make sure that it is a safe place, not only for the people that live in the neighborhood, but also for the people that want to come and visit the businesses and spend some of their money in the area.”
Dyer said he will always have a soft spot in his heart for The Tower – back in the day, he worked many a shift in the area as a beat cop and the Central Area commander.
“The Tower District is very special,” Dyer said. “That’s why adding this satellite office in the heart of the Tower District is so important today – the Tower District is special. It is special to the city of Fresno. It is unique. It is the crown jewel for Fresno, and I really mean that. When you look around Fresno, there is nothing else like The Tower. It’s important that we not lose this.”
Dyer said the Tower station will be a place for officers to write reports and meet with community members. The station won’t be staffed full-time, but it will get plenty of use from patrol officers, community service officers, modified duty officers and police cadets.
“This satellite office will no doubt increase the level of interaction that our police officers have with residents in the Tower District,” Dyer said. “That community engagement is going to allow our officers to become more intimately familiar with the issues that are confronting residents so that we can collectively address those problems and make sure that we maintain this crown jewel in Fresno.”
The Mayor and Soria teamed up to cut the new station’s official ribbon. Soria provided cupcakes from Frosted Cakery. Dozens in the audience cheered at the event’s conclusion.
The late morning weather was perfect.
Paul Caprioglio was there. Here’s hoping the District 4 council member can pull off the same winning performance for the opening of the El Dorado Park/Fresno State satellite station.