At Tuesday’s San Fernando City Council meeting, almost three dozen public comments were made in support of San Fernando Police Chief Fabian Valdez after news spread that two councilmembers were allegedly seeking to remove him from his position.
At the Feb. 21 meeting, four speakers and 31 letters sent to the council were read and entered into the public record, gave the highest praises to the police chief, highlighting his positive community outreach and the effort he’s made to strengthen and improve the relationship between the police and the community. Valdez was selected as police chief just one year ago — he was sworn in on Feb. 22, 2022.
Resident Dee Akemon said she helped to spread the word to other residents that information from “a trusted source close to the City Council” shared that two members on the dais, Cindy Montañez, and Joel Fajardo, were maneuvering to fire the chief.
Valdez, when he stepped into his new position in the town new to him, was met with some resistance from those who preferred that the new chief was hired from within the department. SFPD Lt. Irwin Rosenberg and Lt. Nichole Hanchett both threw their hats in the ring for the position.
“They’re using him as a scapegoat and I don’t like it,” Akemon said. “I want this chief [to be] supported. We have somebody who’s really on our side, who goes out there and talks to people, spends his time spreading himself around, talking to different groups and going to different places in the city to let people talk to him.”
Akemon referred to the council’s special Jan. 30 meeting, called by Fajardo, to have Valdez discuss the police department’s operations and administration. Akemon felt that the meeting was conducted more in the form of a “deposition” held before a trial. Some watching the exchange called it an “inquisition,” and questioned why Fajardo was allowed to monopolize the council’s time with an unrelenting barrage of questions — one right after the other.
“It got a little personal, I think, towards the end. … It was kind of gossipy,” Akemon said. “I don’t know if you can remember every single thing you’ve ever said in your life, but the chief was being made to answer for things that he had said that didn’t sound very offensive to me.”
The San Fernando Valley Sun/el Sol called both Fajardo and Montañez for comment. Fajardo called the information “patently false,” saying that he has never advocated for Valdez to be fired, but for more “transparency” within the police department. Montañez was not available for comment by press time.
During the previous special council meeting, Fajardo focused some of his questions directed to Valdez about the San Fernando Police Officers Association (POA). Currently, members of the POA’s leadership have been placed on administrative leave. An action that Valdez took after the previous chief, Anthony Vairo, failed to process although the charges were made on Vairo’s watch, he chose to let them sit on his desk for the next chief to handle.
The POA gave Fajardo its endorsement during his last campaign.
This newly elected council, meanwhile, with both Fajardo and Montañez who previously served, returning councilmembers Mary Mendoza and Celeste Rodriguez and a brand new member Mary Solorio is already finding itself in some backroom political muck that is causing the community to react with immediate support for Valdez.
Attending the council meeting, William “Blinky” Rodriguez, executive director of Champions in Service — a gang intervention program based in North Hills said that when he first met Valdez, it was clear to him that the chief was different due to his passion for the community.
As Rodriguez recounted, “He called me one day and said, ‘Hey, I’m at San Fernando Middle School … I’ve been talking to some administrators here and to some parents and there’s a lot of young men here that need a surrogate father, that need a mentor, that need someone to talk to. What do you think?’ I said, you know what Fabian? Yea, that’s something I want to be a part of, especially in the city I grew up in.”
He later told the San Fernando Valley Sun/el Sol that he feels Valdez is a man of integrity and spoke about the chief’s efforts to reach out to the community to improve relations.
“San Fernando has always been a great town and so has the department, but there’s just time for certain change.”
Valeria Galvan from the Las Palmas Senior Club praised Valdez for coming to the club and being open to the members there and answering their questions.
“That’s what I think us seniors needed … to have somebody, especially coming from a man in his position, to be there for the seniors and, if we have questions or worries, we can go to him and say chief, you know, there’s something going on here. Can you help us or what can you advise? What can we do?” Galvan said.
More than two dozen written comments were sent to the City Council, all of which were in support of Valdez.
One letter came from actor Danny Trejo, who had previously met with the chief. Trejo wrote that Valdez is “honest, trustworthy and makes the community feel safe. He is leading the department in a positive direction by restructuring it in a safe and responsible manner,” Trejo wrote. “He holds police officers accountable for their actions and this is crucial for building trust and ensuring public safety.”
Another comment, from City of San Fernando resident Leo Wise, said, “Chief of Police Fabian Valdez is always making sure that law enforcement is serving the public. I want to support the chief because he believes in second [chances] and represents the community by helping the ones in need.”
Editor Diana Martinez also contributed to this article.
Refreshing to see democracy finally come to the City of San Fernando. Supporting Chief Valdez is the right thing to do. The old San Fernando POA was nothing more than a watchdog organization that would ensure the old guard remained in power in San Fernando politics. With this new Chief of Police, “ There is definitely a new Sheriff in Town. Welcome to the City of San Fernando, Chief Valdez, may you have many many years of service to our great City.
The chief is a great man of integrity. Some do not want change and resist. It is time to give the chief security in his position so that he can implement other changes without looking over his shoulder.
I had the opportunity to meet this gentleman the chief of police Mr Valdez at national night out as me and my daughter and my grandsons volunteered. He’s an amazing person very kind. I don’t know why someone would want to try to remove him. 🙏
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