Community support effort for the Chino Hills Police Department

Devera Kingwill of Chino Hills (second from left) organized a community donation effort for the Chino Hills Police Department through social media and received 300 supportive comments. Volunteers joined Mrs. Kingwill to deliver 50 thank you notes, and hundreds of snacks, candy, Gatorade and water to the police station on Peyton Drive Wednesday morning. She said the effort was made to counter the current “hatred shown to police officers” and to confirm that the “silent majority in Chino Hills support the police.”

About a dozen residents, mainly young adults, have attended the last two Chino Hills council meetings asking for a police department forum on the safety of black residents, a cultural affairs committee to increase awareness on black history, and more police training on racial basis.

Capt. John Walker of the Chino Hills Police Department said he is in the process of designing a town hall meeting to address the concerns.

He said he would prefer to have an in-person meeting and suggested the Chino Hills Community Center because 70 people could be accommodated with social distancing. 

The Community Center is still closed but will be re-evaluated by the city for re-opening on July 5 along with other closed facilities, depending on where the state and county stand in the reopening phases.

Resident Emily Whitmore conveyed in an email that the #8cantwait should be used as a bare minimum standard and the flier sent out by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department that addressed each proposal was thoughtful but dismissive of widespread systemic problems in the country. 

At the last meeting, residents asked Capt. Walker to address the #8cantwait campaign which are eight demands organized by Black Lives Matter groups on how to reduce police violence.

Ms. Whitmore said the city’s law enforcement contract of $15.9 million should be re-evaluated to better allocate funds into community services and development.

“This does not mean to drain police funds, but instead look critically at how we can improve our community to prevent crime,” she said.

Taking action

Elizabeth Selters, who formed an “anti-racism running club” that will have its first meeting Sunday at Chino Hills Community Park (see Page B3) said many residents have voiced concerns about racial unrest in the country and want to know how the City of Chino Hills will address it.

Brad Goldman said he was disturbed about a racial slur from a fire board member (see this page) and an online Zoom panel featuring black leaders disrupted by a racist incident (see Here and There page B4).

“We must acknowledge racism and denounce it in all its forms,” he said. “We must speak out and lead.”

Jim Gallagher said he wants the City of Chino Hills to follow the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors’ lead when it passed a resolution Tuesday declaring racism as a public health crisis and forming a committee to address the effects of racism in health care, law enforcement and economic opportunity.

Supervisor Curt Hagman said San Bernardino is the first county in California, and possibly the state, to declare racism as a public health crisis.

Adding “equity” as an 11th vision in the countywide vision plan will set the future for residents going forward, Mr. Hagman said.

Ata Khan of Chino Hills asked the council to play a leadership role to address systemic racism, form an ad hoc committee on cultural affairs and direct the city’s legislative action committee to analyze bills on police reforms and reparations.

Resident Ronnie Guyer said he is concerned that police protests have become more violent with stained-glass church windows being broken and statues being taken down by people who want to defame them.

He said these actions are being done to make the country weaker. 

At the last meeting, Luis Esparza said with the recent calls to defund police departments, “I would officially declare my opposition to defund or underfund the police department that keeps our city safe,” he said. “Any push or acceptance of such actions by the council will be frowned upon by myself and my social media community.”

Mayor Art Bennett said the reality is fewer than 20 people are repeatedly expressing the same concerns, but the severity of the concerns needs to be addressed.

“We can’t let this go much longer,” he said. “We have to make residents understand we are not turning a blind eye and we want to make sure the police officers we employ are doing the right thing.”

He asked Capt. Walker to invite Sheriff John McMahon to the town meeting.

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