Chino City Council members appeared unconvinced by arguments made by several young adults at the June 16 meeting who called for a diversion of funds from the Chino Police Department to social service programs.
The police budget was included in the overall 2020-21 Chino city budget (see police budget story on this page.)
The budget was approved unanimously by the council who joined Mayor Eunice Ulloa in stating that the Chino Police Department is not only necessary for the community, but is doing a great job.
The young adults said they wanted funding for the police to be reallocated to various social service programs to benefit youth, mental health, housing, the homeless, and schools.
A speaker named Gladys told the council there was a “social awakening where light is being shed on deeply embedded racism.”
She wants money reallocated to services that benefit black, indigenous and people of color.
Gladys said the $874,000 allocated to the police gang unit is unnecessary.
A speaker named Chelsea said money was being wasted on a private gym and shooting range.
Chino resident Carissa Ramirez said while she was a student at Chino High she and her brother were approached by Chino Police with guns drawn.
The police had responded to a call from a resident who saw them outside while they were filming a video, she said.
Priscilla Shuo said responsibilities to solve societal problems should not be put on the police.
“We have a for-profit prison system with lobbyists. We always have money to militarize our police,” Ms. Shuo said.
A speaker named Andrea said 90 percent of property crimes are caused by economic insecurity.
Addressing Councilman Mark Hargrove, “Your dismissive attitude is noted. I could see your eye rolls from the back of the room,” she said.
Chelsea Arvizu, a Chino High student, said as a person of color she would rather confront an armed gunman in her house than call the police for help.
Local residents Yvette Gasso and Stubbie Barr spoke in favor of the Chino Police Department.
Chino community services director Linda Reich said the city collaborates with the Chino Valley school district, churches and local non-profit organizations.
She said schools are funded through the school district and not the city, however the city provides counseling and five resource centers at school sites.
Chino has 14 case managers and 12 of them work at school sites.
The city provides counseling service at a cost of $10 to Chino residents.
A SWAG or Social Work Action Group formed a year ago with the Chino Police has helped to shelter 45 homeless people, she said.
Chino Police Chief Wes Simmons said racism is not tolerated in the department and cops will be disciplined if they are found to violate any policy.
He also said there is a need for school resource officers.
“Unfortunately, you are more likely to be killed by a bullet at a school than you are by a fire,” he said. “Our role is to keep students safe and be a mentor to those kids.”
The police chief said the budget for narcotics officers was reduced by $180,000 and an officer was moved to a quality-of-life team to work with the homeless.
Social services are almost 10 percent of the police department budget and the training budget is almost double that of Ontario with four times as many officers, he said.
City council responds
Mayor Ulloa said not all crimes are committed for economic reasons. “Bad people need to be stopped. Repeat offenders need to be stopped. It’s a wonderful thought to think that crime will stop with more funding,” she said.
The mayor said police keep gangs out of Chino and if the gang unit was abolished, gangs would come back.
Councilman Hargrove began his comments by saying, “First off, to anybody out there who thinks I’m offensive if I roll my eyes, trust me I don’t mind that at all. But if you’re going to come up here and present misinformation that is out-and-out wrong, you can’t do that either, you have to be responsible for it.”
He added, “I come from a law enforcement background.”
He previously worked at the California Institution for Men in Chino.
“I think that’s added almost 34 years of experience you don’t have that I have,” he said. The council scrutinized and scrubbed the budget during a study session last month, he added.
Councilmember Paul Rodriguez said he believes Chino is a positive place to live and that Chief Simmons and retired police chief Karen Comstock have been moving forward in a positive way.
He said protesters should register to vote.
Councilman Tom Haughey said body cams worn by Chino police have helped identify some false claims made against officers.
Police chief responds
In response to the Champion’s request to address the issues brought up at the meeting, Chief Simmons provided the following answers.
“The City of Chino through its Community Services Department and Police Department spend more than $8.5 million a year on social services, prevention, intervention, training and outreach programs,” he said More than $4 million goes directly to case management services, after school services, counseling services, teen programs and tobacco education.
Responding to the $874,000 budget allocation for the gang unit, the chief said, “Unfortunately, this is necessary as almost every community in California has a gang presence. Through the efforts of our gang unit, which requires a high level of training and expertise, we have been successful in mitigating most of the violence associated with these gangs.”
“The training program accounts for $2,422,535 of the budget and is related to de-escalation, crisis intervention, mental health, implicit bias and principle-based policing among many other topics. We provide our personnel with a minimum of 32 hours of training a year which is more than double what is required by the California Peace Officers Standards and Training,” Chief Simmons said.
Police gym, firing range
All the police gym equipment was purchased through donations and asset forfeiture funds and is maintained by the Police Officer’s Association through members' dues, the chief said.
“Enforcement can be a very physically demanding profession and ensuring the health and wellness of our personnel is one of my priorities.
By having a convenient and safe place for employees to work out before and after work helps us reduce injuries and illnesses while also reducing the number of days lost when an employee can’t come to work because they are injured or ill.”
Chief Simmons said the costs for maintaining the police firing range is approximately $120,000 a year.
“The range is an essential training component for any law enforcement officer. Having our own, allows us to exceed required training standards. This also eliminates the need for us to rent and travel to another facility thus increasing the efficiency of our training program.”
Crime and criminals
“We have found that a large number of the people who commit crimes in the City of Chino are from other cities,” he said.
“When you compare our Part 1 crimes from last year, 13 percent were related to crimes against persons and 87 percent were related to crimes against property.
Though I am pleased that the percentage of our crimes against persons is very low, that doesn’t diminish the seriousness of property crimes.
Our goal is to keep all crime low and every victim deserves a police department that takes their crime seriously whether they were the victim of an assault or their home was invaded during a burglary.”