By Carlos Avalos
There are 189 sworn officer positions in the Fontana Police Department, at least 169 of which are currently filled. There are 24 dispatcher and clerical positions in the Fontana Police department, at least 22 of which are currently filled. According to sources within the police department itself, an overwhelming number of those working for the department are related in some way or another or are or have been involved in a personal, physical, sexual, domestic or quasi-domestic situation with one another.
Lifelong friendships, marriages, intimate relationships, and blood relations are among the ways that people in the Fontana P.D. are closely connected. Sources within the department, sometimes referring to the situation as “incestuous,” have given accounts of the nepotism as follows.
Starting with the Fontana police dispatchers, Amy Blessinger is married to current officer Wayne Blessinger. Dispatcher Jennifer Schlotterbeck is married to current sergeant Kurtis Schlotterbeck. Dispatcher Melody Mundrich is married to current officer Mathew Mundrich. Dispatcher Sherry Hunt is married to current corporal Richard Hunt. Richard Hunt is the nephew of Ted Hunt, the Police Officers Association executive director. Crime prevention secretary Wendy Ratcliff is married to former Fontana P.D lieutenant Bob Ratcliffe. Fontana P.D dispatcher Lindsey Ernes is married to current corporal Michael Ernes Dispatcher Michelle Bernal, according to sources within the department, has had intimate relationships with multiple Fontana officers. Dispatcher Marcela Edmonds has had intimate relationships with multiple Fontana P.D officers, including current Sergeant Keith Zagorin. Dispatcher Deana Vasquez has had multiple intimate relationships with current Fontana P.D officers.
Dispatcher Anessa Kirkland is currently married to Officer Kasey Kirkland. According to Fontana P.D sources, resigned officer Jesse Marin, retired officer Brian Kiner, and current officers Casey Mutter and Raul Feletto, all Fontana P.D officers have had an intimate relationship with Mrs. Kirkland. Kirkland was first pregnant by Casey Mutter, who simultaneously impregnated a Rialto Police department dispatcher, sources told the Sentinel. This type of behavior and standard was set forth by the dispatcher supervisor Wendy Hostetter, who participated in an intimate relationship with and married Allen Hostetter, who achieved the status of deputy chief with FPD before he left to become the police chief in La Habra. Their son Cory Hostetter is now an officer in the department. Some of the department’s current officers remarked that it might be a coincidence that two people met and fell in love on the job and now a generation later their son works for the same department.
Steve Slusser is a retired sergeant from the Fontana P.D, and long time friend of current Fontana Chief of Police Robert Ramsey and William Green, the department’s third-in-command in charge of the SWAT team. Steve Slussler’s son Kyle Slussler is now employed as a corporal and is a member of the SWAT team as well. Current officer Leonard Sein was married to Steve Slusser’s daughter. Current corporal Mathew Roth is married to Steve Schlusser’s other daughter. Steve Schlessler is not on the best of terms with both of his sons in law, department sources have told the Sentinel. Because of these soured relations, it is believed by some members of the police department that both of Slusser’s sons in law cannot move up in rank because of Slusser’s power and influence. It is highly unlikely that Leonard Sein will move beyond the rank of officer or that Mathew Roth will achieve rank above his current grade of Corporal until Steve Schlusser retires.
Angela Stover is a current captain in the Fontana P.D. According to sources in the Fontana P.D, Angela Stover before getting married to current lieutenant Gary Aulis, was in a relationship with retired lieutenant Robert Morris. Angela Stover, according to Fontana P.D sources, caught Gary Aulis in a relationship with a police cadet.
Fontana P.D training coordinator Michele Huff is the sister of current Fontana Police Captain Michael Starks. Retired narcotics lieutenant Michael Dorsey is married to current Fontana P.D officer Maria Monto. Douglas Imhof, a current Fontana P.D lieutenant, is the brother of former Fontana Police officer Ron Imhof, who was relieved of his duty for hiding police reports. Ronald Koval, a lieutenant in the department, is the son of a former Fontana police officer, John Koval.
Robert Ramsey, Darren Robbins, former police chief Rodney Jones and Edward Stout, Brian Binks, Patrick Mackey, Ronald Koval, Robert Moritz, and Tony Michael Clay are all from the Inland Empire. Every one of these officers except Rodney Jones, Robert Ramsey, and Edward Stout are Fontana natives born and raised.
Mathew Kraut, who is a current lieutenant in the department, is in a long term relationship with former Fontana P.D officer Rick Lopez’s daughter, Rachel Lopez, who is a secretary for the department, according to sources within the department. Current Fontana P.D Corporal Sheila Foley is the daughter of retired officer Jim Foley. Sheila Foley has more time served with the department than 80 percent of the department’s current personal, Yet, according to sources, Sheila Foley has experienced difficulty moving up in ranks because she is a member of the LGBT community. Tony Michael Clay, a corporal with the Fontana P.D, is the brother of Jim Clay, a retired sergeant in the department. Current sergeant Liam Coughlin had a brother in the department who was a sergeant, Pat Coughlin. Mark Aranda, a current corporal with the Fontana P.D, was engaged and living with Fontana P.D officer Valerie Gutierrez. Officer Gutierrez, however, entered into a short term relationship with fellow Fontana P.D officer David Campa. This negatively impacted the relationship between Aranda and Gutierrez.
There is a refrain that is heard from time to time around the Fontana Police Station that goes, “Don’t go camping with Campa.” Mr. Campa’s sexual escapades border on the legendary, and more than one of the department’s female employees have ended up on his list of sexual conquests. David Campa, according to department sources, engaged in a sexual relationship with current department officer Ron Bruns‘ former wife Lonnie Ives, a former Fontana officer who left the department because of the tension this indiscretion engendered, it is asserted.
Shawn Cory and Jonathan Cory are current officers and brothers in the Fontana P.D. Shawn Cory is married to former Fontana P.D Captain Dave Faulkner’s daughter. Adam and Leonard Sein are two brothers in the Fontana P.D. Officer Lauren Baker is dating Fontana P.D officer Jonathan Cory.
Current Fontana P.D officers Peter Breslin and Katie Beebe are married. According to department members, Jenny Bogdanov has been in an intimate relationship with Kyle Slusser and David Venzor, all three are current Fontana P.D officers. Jason Delair is a current officer in the Fontana P.D and his father David Delair was a former Fontana officer but is now retired. Officer Kirsten Ryn is married to Peter Ryn. Current Fontana P.D officer Josh McMillan is married to a former Fontana explorer officer, who is now an officer at another agency. Current Fontana Police officer Timothy Frydendal is married to Angela Frydendal, who is medically retired. Samuel Ferguson, a current Fontana P.D officer, is dating an intern clerk. Current Fontana P.D officers Daryl Avila and Angelica Avila were married, but their marriage is apparently over.
To show how the nepotistic nature could have a huge impact on the department function and its morale as well as the career promotions, an incident involving current officer Chris Burns is illuminating. It is an obscure but nonetheless known fact that high ranking officials and officers including Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) members participated in so-called swinger relationships. One case in point was the incident that involved Chris Burns and his former wife and SWAT team member Micheal Ernes. Members of the department told the Sentinel that they lost respect for Burns after it was widely bruited about the department that Burns allowed Micheal Ernes to participate in sexual intercourse in front of him with his wife. Chris Burns was hazed out of the organization and forced to resign. He later rejoined the department at the lowest level of seniority. There is graphic detail surrounding this incident which is not appropriate for a newspaper, even one as daring as the Sentinel.
In the chart above, PURPLE = people related through blood; RED = people married or engaged in sexual relationship; BLUE = good friends; and YELLOW = people who are related through blood or marriage with people who used to work for the FPD.
The Fontana S.W.A.T team are a group of close friend within the department. They are a police force within a police force. James Burton, Jason Coillot, Ronald Curtis, Michael Dorsey, Michael Ernes, Marc Gonzales, William Green, Richard Hunt, Frank Losch, Shawn Michels, Kyle Slussler, Scott Snyder, John Van Tuinen, and Ronald Vogelslang are all members of this elite team. They are considered to be “One Percenters.”
Out of the sworn police officers and dispatchers there are or have been roughly 43 active Fontana P.D officers or personnel engaged in intimate relationships with one another. This number is most likely higher but information with regard to every interpersonal relationship among the members of the department is beyond the ken of outsiders. At least some members of the department who have carried on with one another have been relatively discreet about it. Some of these relationships are openly conducted. Some are not. Some involve marriage. There are thirteen former Fontana P.D officers that are through marriage or blood relation involved in some way with current Fontana P.D officers. If these thirteen former officers are added the 43 active officers bound up in intradepartment relations, it appears there are roughly 56 officers currently in the FPD who are related through marriage, strong friendship, blood relation, or intimate relationship with current or former officers.
When every single current officer or dispatcher related through any means with current or former officers are tallied, that number grows to roughly 70 people involved in the department’s current or recently past functions and operations who are related through intimate relationship, marriage, or blood relation with former or current Fontana P.D officers.
In any police force or business atmosphere relationships are forged and kept. People become friends, partners, and engage in relationships and marriage. Relationships are expected to be grown and gained. Such is the nature of human interaction and cooperation. At what point human nature and human tendencies within the context of an organizational structure devolve into nepotism and incestual compromise is open to debate. A few intimate relationships and or marriages within an organization may be inevitable. However, when generations of fathers, sons, daughters, husbands, wives, and mistresses are working for the same police department, issues arise. Does the police officer who had a father in the same police force get special treatment, or move up the ranks faster? Does a woman or man who sleeps with many of his or her colleagues get enhanced assignments or receive special treatment, positive or negative, compared to someone who does not engage in this type of behavior? Do lifelong friends or officers who aspire to be one of the Golden Boys/ Good ol’ Boys move up the ranks faster than an officer who plays by the rules? While friendships and collegiality are inevitable and even desirable within an organization, at what point does close become too close? Does having a physical relationship with one’s colleagues within the context of a law enforcement agency advance the goals of the organization? Does it lead to favoritism? Does it compromise professionalism? Does it impact the function, fairness and judgment of officers who are supposed to uphold the law and carry out their assignments as trusted civil servants correctly and honestly?
Section 1050.1 of the Fontana P.D policy and scope states that the purpose of the policy is to ensure equal opportunity and effective employment practices by avoiding actual or perceived favoritism, discrimination or actual or potential conflicts of interest by or between members of the department. Section 1050.1.1 defines nepotism as the practice of showing favoritism to relatives over others in appointment, employment, promotion or advancement by any public official in a position to influence these personnel decisions. Personal relationships are defined as including marriage, cohabitation, dating or any other intimate relationship beyond mere friendship. Relatives are defined as an employee’s parent, stepparent, spouse, domestic partner, significant other, child natural or adopted, sibling or grandparent. Section 1050.2 of their nepotism policy states that the department will not prohibit all personal or business relationships between employees. However, in order to avoid nepotism or other inappropriate conflicts, Section A states employees are prohibited from directly supervising, occupying a position in the line of supervision or being directly supervised by any other employee who is a relative or with whom they are involved in a personal or business relationship.
In a recent Fontana Herald-News article, Fontana Police Captain Angela Stover was quoted as saying that the ‘Fontana P.D has under gone much change this year, and anytime there is change there can be some uncertainty.” Captain Stover’s words are borne out by the consideration that the department has hired more minority officers, along with a person from the LGBT community.
One interpretation of Captain Stover’s assessment is that there is uncertainty as a result of the department hiring minorities. Her statement raises the question of whether the same uncertainty she references would accompany the hiring of the people of the usual Caucasian background that the department has historically recruited. Is the recent change in the department organic or was it one put in place to offset controversy over the issue of race relations in the city and the department’s involvement of several untoward incidents relating thereto in the last year? One test of this will be whether these new minority recruits that have been part of the wave of change in the department will in fact actually stay on and have long lasting careers in the department. To do so, will they need to immerse themselves into a culture of nepotism to get promoted? There is a monumental difference between hiring minorities and actually keeping them on for the long haul to serve, protect, and instill their capabilities and values into the department and community.
It was recently noted that several Hispanics have moved up the ranks in the department, including three corporals, two sergeants and three lieutenants. This has been hailed as a positive development by some. But others have expressed concern that Hispanics or any person of minority descent can move up the ranks in the department only by adapting to, accepting and embodying the ethos of the department as it has always existed, living by the same code that has accepted the standards of favoritism of nepotism that yet plague it.
Simultaneously, it was disclosed that there was a substantial increase in the number of Hispanic persons who have been hired for non-sworn positions at the Fontana P.D. Of the 87 non-sworn positions, about half are white and 44 percent are Hispanic. Yet of the department’s sworn officers, only 21 percent are Hispanic. This is in a city where an ethnic breakdown of the city shows that fully 69 percent of its residents are Hispanic.
In an effort to obtain comment from the Fontana Police Department and its personnel with regard to the issue of nepostism, invitations for comment were made to Chief Robert Ramsey and Captain Billy Green, including providing them with an early draft of this article and a copy of the chart dilineating the various relationships between department members that is reproduced on page 14 of the Sentinel. This elicited no response. Several members of the department did speak to the Sentinel, but did so with an understanding of anonymity.