FPD remains progressive

 

Last updated 1/19/2021 at 3:57pm

The year 2020 has brought many unexpected challenges, not only for the Fountain Police Department, but also for the citizens of Fountain and this country as a whole. From COVID-19 at the beginning of the year and the entire country shutting down, to the death of George Floyd in May, which spawned riots across this country and the demand for police reform and social justice, nobody could have predicted the impact 2020 would have on all of us as a community. However, the city of Fountain and the Fountain Valley have fared extremely well during these trying times, because of the community support we have shown each other on a daily basis.

The Fountain Police Department prides itself on being a progressive, constitutionally based department that hinges itself on the support from our citizens and community leaders to successfully operate every day. Our department is a major contributor to the "Community Love Banks" and "Community Trust Banks" in our city. From our perspective as a department that serves its citizens, we try to make deposits into the "Love Bank" every day, meaning enhancing the quality of life for our citizens by helping to provide them with a safe community through crime prevention and community involvement. We understand this could not be done without the citizens trusting the department and the department trusting the citizens for their support and cooperation on solving complex problems together.


Today's law enforcement is much different that it was even one year ago, with the demand for social justice and police reform. In Fountain, we realize that some police departments across the country have made withdrawals from their "Love Banks" and the balance in the "Trust" account has been overdrawn. We acknowledge, condemn and oppose bad police officers and want them removed from the profession as much as anyone, as it makes our job here in Fountain even more difficult. With the new police reform bill that was passed in July of last year (SB 20-217), there are new mandates that police departments are required to meet. As the chief, I would like the citizens to know the Fountain Police Department was already implementing most of these requirements years before the bill passed. We are committed to being a progressive police department to meet and exceed the requirements of any police reform bill that passes, and we constantly monitor law enforcement best practices to see where we can use them here in Fountain. That is why the foundation of our department hinges on the 4C's, which are Character, Compassion, Commitment and Competence.

For example, the Fountain Police Department was the first agency in the region to implement a Body Worn Camera system, to increase police accountability and enhance transparency with our community. We have upgraded our system twice in the last five years in order to have the best and most reliable system available, providing transparency to the best of our abilities. We currently have 10 school resource officers covering every District 8 school, serving as the protectors and guardians of both the students and the staff. As a department, we receive annual de-escalation training both online and hands-on scenario based, so our officers are up to date on the latest techniques to diffuse situations before they result in a use of force. Beginning in February of 2021, the Fountain Police will have a new Behavioral Health Connections (BHCON) unit consisting of a police sergeant and a mental health clinician, who are specially trained in handling calls involving mentally disturbed or people in crisis. Our department has approximately 15 CIT (Crisis Intervention Training) officers to help with handling these types of calls – again, to avoid police uses of force and de-escalate potentially dangerous situations.

Our department is committed to having mentally balanced officers by providing free mental health services to all first responders in the form of chaplains, psychologists and any other service an officer requests, to better themselves physically and mentally for the day-to-day rigors of today's law enforcement. We are extremely proud of last year's nearly 100-percent solve rate of all violent crimes in the city, which included homicides, shootings, arson, and aggravated robberies that resulted in numerous arrests. With the diligence of our Investigations Unit and the newly added D.I.C.E. team (Directed Enforcement Community Engagement), we are committed to providing a safe community for our citizens to enjoy. We will not tolerate criminals coming into our community and putting fear in our citizens.

Finally, with the COVID-19 rollercoaster that we are all on as a nation, we give a heartfelt thanks to the community for their overwhelming and continued support of our police and fire departments during these ever-changing times. Since this all started in March, we have had local businesses, churches and individual citizens donating food, money, homemade masks, cleaning supplies and many other items to keep our first responders safe. Our officers appreciate and understand what this community means to us and what we mean to you.

I hope this finds everyone in good health. Stay safe. We will get through this together. I have always believed from my time oversees in the Army that while we are not a perfect nation, I have never served/lived in a better one. The things that bind us as Americans are far stronger than the things that divide us. Lastly, my pledge to you is that we will always follow the Constitution and serve our citizens as a constitutionally based police department. We will strive everyday to ensure each one of our citizens is treated fairly in accordance with the law and is afforded due process regardless of the circumstances.

Respectfully,

Chief Chris Heberer

City of Fountain, Public Safety Director / Chief of Police

Editor's note: We followed up with FPD about the "solve rate," specifically in relation to some high-profile cases from last summer. One was a drive-by shooting between two vehicles. Lt. Mark Cristiani tells us FPD investigators did identify the suspects but as of yet are still working to secure enough evidence for an arrest.

Another case was a string of vehicle break-ins followed by an armed home invasion on July 6. As reported a few weeks later, a 13-year-old from Security-Widefield was arrested July 9; a 15-year-old was arrested a few days later. Cristiani said both went through the juvenile court process and ultimately were released. Tragically, the 15-year-old was shot and killed just a month later in Colorado Springs.

In addition, there was an armed carjacking at the Fountain Microtel that remains unsolved at this time. Cristiani said all in all, though, the solve rate is very near 100 percent.

 

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