In 2013, Rich Hunt was the newly elected president of Fontana Police Officers Association. He asked the Board of Directors to help completely change the POA’s mission, values and image.
His vision was a Fontana POA that was more than just a labor union. It would also connect with and benefit the people of Fontana. I’m proud to say I was part of that Board.
We began the sea change by focusing on three values: 1. Integrity, 2. Trustworthiness, and 3. Open Communications.
Integrity is different than trustworthiness. Integrity means having a sincere belief in, and adherence to, a high moral and ethical code.
Trustworthiness means you unpretentiously live by that code so you will be worthy of trust.
Trustworthiness does not necessarily mean people trust you. It means you are worthy of their trust. Our goal was to earn community trust.
We followed the organizing principles of the eminent scholar Peter F. Drucker, who taught there are three sectors in the public sphere: 1. Government, 2. For-Profits Businesses, 3. Non-Profit Groups including faith-based institutions.
We began to build trust-based relationships with organizations in each of the sectors.
We understood that a fundamental way to get to know someone else is to have a meal together.
We began by cooking breakfast for the families staying at Ronald McDonald House, so they could be near their critically ill kids at Loma Linda Children’s Hospital.
Off-duty officers volunteered to help the families in distress by providing the complimentary meal. It has been very meaningful because off-duty officers volunteered with love, sincerity, and compassion.
Next, we began to barbecue at community events. We used our own home barbecues which were not always adequate as the numbers of people we served began to increase.
Because we had developed relationships in the for-profit and non-profit sectors, the Fontana Chamber of Commerce along with the Rotary Club, Exchange Club and others helped us buy a mobile barbecue, which we have consistently used to cook for our community.
----- WE ALSO understood the dynamic of racial tension across the nation.
We began to connect with Fontana civic and religious leaders, including Bishop Emory James, Pastor Francine Brookins and Ellen Turner.
One of the most important organizations in Fontana history is the Concerned Citizens for the Development of North Fontana.
The president of Concerned Citizens is Ellen Turner, the daughter of legendary local civil rights leader Jessie Turner, as in the Jessie Turner Center. Just like her mother, Ellen is a remarkable woman and great leader.
We got to know each other and build a bond of trust and friendship with Ellen and her colleagues Vernall Townsend and Deborah Hall-Lindsay.
Each year we partner to present the “Chillin’ N Grillin’” barbecue competition with the theme of UNITY in commUNITY. This year we are raising funds because we want to make the event free for all Fontanans.
Finally, we could not succeed without the support of Mayor Acquanetta Warren, the City Council, Chief Billy Green and the newest part of the team who fits very well, City Manager Mark Denny.
Just like our other partners, we trust them because they all sincerely work to make our City a better place to live, work, play and invest.
Why is that important?
Last week, all of law enforcement has been dealing with the sudden death of Mr. George Floyd in Minneapolis. We are confident in the criminal justice system and believe justice will be served.
We were also concerned when a legal and legitimate protest in Fontana on May 28 was hijacked by criminals who began to destroy things and harm innocent people.
Just as we do not condemn all protesters simply because they are exercising their Constitutional right to protest, we ask you do not condemn all police officers simply because we are police officers.
Because we had established trust-based relationships, we immediately worked with our partners to help calm fears, hold damage and injuries to a minimum, and keep the peace in Fontana.
The success has been based on Rich Hunt’s vision of connecting to the community and building trust-based relationship through Integrity, Trustworthiness and Communication. Thank you to all our partners.
(Jason Delair is president of the Fontana Police Officers Association.)