During the Fontana Mayoral Town Hall organized by the Breeze, residents questioned the mayoral candidates about the issue of racial disparity in the Fontana Police Department.
One attendee stated the Fontana Police Department allegedly fired people of color or creating situations to make them leave the force, and asked what could be done to change this.
Lorena Corona was the first candidate to answer. She commented on her desire to revoke the code of silence in the police department and replace it with transparency.
“In order to start the change, we need accountability and transparency,” said Corona.
Hafsa Sharafat approached the podium.
“We need to ensure that what is happening in the police department, the residents can see it. Whether it's the settlements, the trials or whatever the daily processes are," said Sharafat.
Sharafat demanded accountability for officers who commit crimes and disappear.
The last candidate, Mylinda Carrillo, mentioned the police department should interact more with the community. One solution is to have the police department involved in high schools. She concluded it is important to know who officers interact with to maintain accountability.
“By knowing [the officers] and interacting with them we know what their job is,” Carrillo said.
When asking the Fontana Police Department of racial disparity in the force, Sergeant Goltara commented they are “definitely a diverse police department.” He later stated the police department hires from within the community and they have numerous Hispanic, African American, Asian American and Middle Eastern officers. Goltara explained as the demographic changes in city of Fontana so do the demographics of the police department, but race is never used as a deciding factor.
One of issues at the town hall addressed an image of an African American man's deceased body, found behind a Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1994. It was claimed Fontana police officers placed a piece of chicken in the deceased man’s hand and the photograph circulated around the police department for years as a joke.
The attendee who asked the question intended the question for Acquanetta Warren, as it was claimed Warren found out about the image in 2008, yet nothing was seen to have been done.
Since Warren did not attend the town hall, the attendee then asked how each candidate would "retain good officers who got fired for nothing” as compared to officers who exhibit negative behavior?
All candidates expressed how disheartening this was, and how changes must be implemented to ensure all officers are held accountable for their actions. Sharafat's solution was to hold all leaders accountable, and to document officers who exhibited the type of behavior of those who participated in the picture of the deceased man's body.
After Corona commented on what a shame this incident was, she expressed her hope the lawsuit filed by David Moore and Andrew Anderson against the City of Fontana, the case concerning the image taken in 1994, would result in “regulations that will prevent this from happening in the future.”
Carrillo was the last to give her solution. Carrillo stated that the "mayor should have done something to intervene,” and how Carrillo herself treasures “all life".
"We need to help one another, love one another and show compassion for one another,” said Carillo.
Due to the lawsuit still pending litigation, Fontana Police Sergeant Goltara could not comment on any specific incident, however, he stated:
“If something like that happened today in this police department, that would not be tolerated one hundred percent”, and, “would not be acceptable behavior and [the department] would weed any bad person out.”
Goltara claimed what may have been normal behavior many years ago is no longer acceptable now, and mentioned that the police department has "to grow with the times.”