But since it is an official, signed response, I thought I would share. Fontana is definitely on my radar again, but not the Fontana Police Department. I would like to think that many of the issues with the Fontana Police Department were resolved with the forced retirement of Police Chief Rod Jones. Anyway, here is what was sent to me by the current police chief.
Dear Mr. Gutglueck,
The Fontana Police Department experienced three in-custody deaths in an approximate six-month span, around 14 years ago. All three incidents were fully investigated by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, then the case was reviewed by the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office, and the department employees were cleared of any wrongdoing. Under the leadership of then Chief Frank Scialdone, the department proactively hired outside force experts to conduct a holistic review of the training, policies, and procedures associated with use-of-force. This review resulted in a comprehensive 240-page report which included 31 suggestions for improvement. While many of the suggestions were implemented and improvements were made, the department has had additional in-custody deaths since then. We are continuously reviewing our training regarding the handling of suspects and arrestees to prevent these incidents from occurring. Despite following proper procedures some of these deaths will occur regardless of the best efforts of law enforcement because they can be caused by factors beyond our control. If you desire additional information, please make a formal request via the statute governing such requests (GOVT. CODE §§ 6250 – 6276.48).
I would also like to clarify that I was not involved in any of the three cited in-custody deaths. While Captain Rodriguez and Lieutenant Green were cleared of any wrongdoing in the Rincon case, they had no involvement in the Banda and the Tyler incidents.
Captain Rodriguez and Lieutenant Green were both promoted while assigned to the SMASH Unit and assigned to patrol, which is entirely consistent with organizational practice. As for me, I was never assigned to the SMASH Unit, and never worked in the SMASH Unit with Green or Rodriguez.
The Fontana Police Department utilizes properly vectored force. However, I am aware of the reality officers under my employ are humans and can make mistakes. I promote an environment of accountability, which is fostered throughout the ranks of the Fontana Police Department. When a mistake is made, we will own up to it, ensure proper discipline is administered, provide training to mitigate reoccurrences, and in those severe instances, work to remove individuals from the organization incapable of upholding our obligation to the community. I ask for the public’s support in this endeavor by bringing questionable behaviors of officers to the attention of my supervisory staff.
The listed allegation of current and former members being retaliated against for reporting brutality perpetrated by their peers is patently false and would never be tolerated by me, or my staff. All allegations of misconduct reported by the public or from within the department, are taken seriously and fully investigated.
Thank you for the opportunity to clarify misinformation regarding my department and the involved officers. I am certain we can both agree it would be unethical to report known inaccurate information as fact, or even suggest it to be possible. To that end, I offered these responses and remain open to further inquiries you may have regarding the Fontana Police Department.
Robert W. Ramsey, Chief of Police
Fontana Police Department