Fresno Pacific University President Joseph Jones and two alumni with deep ties to the community have been named to the Fresno Commission on Police Reform.
In addition to Jones, David J. Criner Jr. (D.J.), pastor at Saint Rest Baptist Church, and Simon Biasell, pastor of Woven Community at Westminster Presbyterian Church, both Fresno, are part of the 37-member panel appointed by Fresno Mayor Lee Brand and chaired by Oliver Baines, a two-term former Fresno City Councilmember and retired city police officer.
The group of African American leaders, local advocates and members of the Fresno Police Department has 90 days to present recommendations on police policies to the Fresno City Council for final decisions. Mayor-elect Jerry Dyer, the city’s retired police chief, is not a member of the group but says he supports the effort.
Criner is an alumnus of FPU and Biasell is an alumnus of both the university and Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary. Criner has served with numerous local organizations and worked with the city government and Fresno Unified School District on justice issues. He has also been campus pastor for FPU’s North Campus. Biasell has served in Presbyterian Church USA congregations in the San Joaquin Valley, Southern California, the Bay Area and Seattle over the past 10 years.
Joseph Jones came to Fresno Pacific University in 2017 after serving as vice rector of a Christian university in Pakistan. His prior 20-plus years in higher education included positions at North Park University, Chicago, and Messiah College, Mechanicsburg, Pa. Before becoming a professor, Jones served in justice systems in New York, Oklahoma and Virginia. He has a B.A. and M.A. in Psychology, and a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice.
Plans for the committee were announced June 11, 2020, after the Fresno State chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and other leaders listed their demands for re-imagining the police department in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and other unarmed African Americans by white police officers. The membership list was announced at a Fresno City Hall news conference June 19, 2020. Read more at fresnobee.com/news/local/article243659387.html?
Fresno Pacific University is California’s Central Valley’s only accredited Christian university, connecting every student’s untapped potential with unlimited opportunity for professional, personal and ethical growth. Nonprofit and independent, FPU offers more than 100 areas of study to about 4,000 traditional undergraduate, adult degree completion, graduate and seminary students at the main campus in Southeast Fresno and throughout the Valley at regional campuses in North Fresno, Visalia, Bakersfield and Merced as well as online.