Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sheriff Hoops Fouls San Bernardino

It was requested of this reporter to pay a visit to the Arden Guthrie area of San Bernardino by some concerned residents on August 7th of 2009. There were reports that S.M.A.S.H. team was gearing up at a local Target parking lot and the residents were concerned that, due to complaints of officer misconduct, there may be some abuse of power impending.

At approximately 10p.m., a Fontana P.D. vehicle was seen cruising in the area. I stopped the car and asked them if they were getting ready to do an Operation Phoenix Sweep and they confirmed that they were. I told them they were welcome in the neighborhood; however, only if they were respectful of the residents and I also informed them that I would be filming. I suggested that they only “raid” the homes they had warrants for and leave the other residents alone because it is illegal to enter homes uninvited without a warrant. The officers found it humerous and the driver stated that a warrant is not always needed. A few moments later, a distraught young man, escorted by another resident, came running toward me and stated that he’d just been stopped by Fontana P.D. on Guthrie, called a “punk” and “nigger” by one of the officers and intimmidated into staying until they’d ran him for warrants.

Moments after that, a young, single mother ran to me, claiming that she had also been stopped and harassed by Fontana P.D. This was disturbing to me; therefore, I traveled around the block to Sunrise, where some children were gathered on their property, upset. I asked them what they were upset about and one said that Fontana P.D. had stopped in front of their play area and asked them what the area was called. My group has been trying very hard to change the mindset of these children and part of this was to change the street nickname from “Little Africa” to “Sunrise,” or “Arden-Guthrie.” Upon realizing what the officer was demanding, one of the older boys gave him the answer he was clearly searching for, “Little Africa.” Then, the officer rolled his eyes and stated, “I wonder why,” before he and his partner took off in their squad car.

Interestingly enough, none of these residents had seen one another that night before speaking to me. There were many other squad cars in the area and many other cops to blame; however, all of the complaints were about the same squad car with similar complaints.

I tried to call the watch commander and only spoke to a watch commander who was not involved in the sweep. He promised me that the watch commander in charge of the sweep would call me back, but they never did; therefore, I went to the Sheriff’s office on Monday morning and requested to speak with Sheriff Hoops. While I was waiting for Sheriff Hoops, Captain Tanguay came out and informed me that the Sheriff would not ever meet with me and, after I informed her of the problem, she also told me that her department is not responsible for the misconduct of other city police officers who they invited to our city.

How is it that our Sheriff’s Department can invite people into our city to do these things and take all credit for any positive results, but shirk all responsibility for any negative results? I urge all San Bernardino County residents to vote out Sheriff Hoops if this is the behavior we can expect from his underlings.
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