Police use of force is a headline across the country and the topic of intense debate.
I do not have the knowledge regarding what may or may not be taking place in other jurisdictions, but I am intimately aware of what your Fontana Police Department is doing and would like to take a few minutes to share with our residents some of the proactive measures we have taken to ensure we maintain our legitimacy to serve.
To begin with, our officers are well trained in techniques to reduce physical confrontations and understand that when force is used, it must be objectively reasonable under the totality of the circumstances known to the officer at the time.
In order to accomplish this, we do a great deal of training. Last year in total, our police officers received more than 13,000 hours of documented advanced officer training. We cover topics including de-escalation, responding to mental health related calls for service, tactical communication, force options, constitutional policing, community-oriented policing, defensive driving, bias-free policing, and many others.
In order to ensure professionalism is imbedded in the culture of our department from the earliest stages of a career in law enforcement, our field training officers, those senior officers tasked with training academy graduates, receive additional training in de-escalation and community-oriented policing.
Training of our officers is of the utmost importance because when they find themselves in a dynamic, rapidly evolving situation, which require split-second decisions to be made, their reactions will be largely guided by the training they have received. Our overarching goal is to ensure officers have a concerned response to all situations and intervene safely, based on the information they know at the time and to be guided by department policy and case law.
All uses of force are required to be thoroughly documented in police reports. Additionally, a field supervisor will respond to all uses of force and complete an on-sight analysis of the situation. The Fontana Police Department also deploys body worn cameras on all field personnel to enhance accurate reporting and transparency.
In terms of department policy, please know neck restraints are banned absent a legitimate life or death situation. In deadly force situations, I expect my officer to employ whatever tactic is necessary to survive or to save the life of another.
You should also be aware our officers have a DUTY to intervene in any situation where they witness another officer using excessive force. Furthermore, they are also ordered to immediately report their observations to a supervisor.
The Fontana Police Department enjoys a very solid relationship with our community. This has less to with what we are doing at this moment and more to do with what we have worked so hard to build over several years of purposeful relationship building. It is our hope that by continuing to focus on enhancing community relationships, we will glean a deeper understanding of our stakeholders’ needs and increase communication.
Our collective efforts have made us a safer, healthier, and happier community. There is not a single segment of our community we are not regularly engaged with; from kids and schools, citizens academy events, connecting homeless individuals with services and housing, support of veterans groups, dialogue with civil rights leaders, re-entry programs for those leaving jail and prison, working collaboratively with immigration advocates, regular meetings with faith-based and business groups, and outreach to our senior citizens. If you live or work in Fontana, you matter to us.
We are in the service of you and it is our sincere desire to do it better than it has ever been done before. The term police reform does not intimidate us. We are a different department today than we were five years ago and we will be different in five years than we are now. That is healthy and is shaped by our commitment to you.
If you have questions of me or our department, please ask. We are always willing to have thoughtful conversations. For what it is worth, I believe the key to getting us through this difficult time will be largely dependent upon our ability to listen to each other.
(William Green is the chief of the Fontana Police Department. This information was originally included in a video on the Fontana P.D. Facebook page.)