S. E. Williams
This week, in an exclusive interview with The Voice, San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors Chairman James Ramos spoke candidly about last week’s terrorist attack at the Inland Regional Center which left 14 dead and 21 injured.
“I was attending a conference in Monterey Bay,” Ramos shared when asked where he was the morning of the attack. “As I was coming out of a meeting, I received an alert on my phone.”
His initial reaction, like the reaction of so many others in the nation and around the world was one of shock. “I couldn’t believe this was happening, he explained and continued. “There was so much speculation about the number of victims and shooters.”
After receiving the news, the first thing Ramos said he needed to do was try to get the facts straight. “I had to separate what was speculation from what was really going on so I called the Sheriff. He confirmed that this was an active-shooter incident, that there were fatalities and people injured; but at that time—they could not estimate a number.”
In the wake of the tragic event, Ramos confirmed the Board of Supervisors will continue to do everything in its power to provide support and resources to the victims and their families. In addition, he advised, counseling is available to all county employees. Employees can contact the Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) at (909) 421-9495 or the Disaster Distress Helpline at (800) 985-5990.
The County has also partnered with the Arrowhead United Way to establish a relief fund for the victims and families. Donors may text “SBUnited” to 71777 and will be sent a link with instructions on how to donate. Readers can also visit www.arrowheadunitedway.org for more information.
“When asked whether he believed the tragedy may have changed the community of San Bernardino at all he replied, “I think this tragedy has made the community stronger.” He continued, “Situations like this one can either separate a community or bring them closer together. What we have seen here, is the willingness of the community to come together to mourn the lives lost and pray that we can move forward. I’ve never seen a community grow closer and San Bernardino is standing united and strong.”
With the fear of terrorism so heavy in the air and in some instances being further stoked by many in the political arena, Ramos was asked what he would say to San Bernardino County residents regarding the issue of terrorism in general. “Our focus remains on assisting the victims and families and providing safety to our employees and the public.”
There is no question last week’s devastating event was an unusual combination of terrorism and workplace violence. As a result, Ramos was also asked whether there are any plans to re-train employees relative to violence in the workplace. “The county continually evaluates its security measures,” he stated. As a matter of fact, Ramos confirmed such an evaluation was actually underway when the tragedy occurred.
Going forward, he explained, “The County’s focus will be on controlling access to work areas and limiting the number of entrances. The board has granted staff the emergency authority to move ahead with these improvements.”
“In the short-term,” he further advised, “the county is increasing security at county facilities. Fifteen years ago, security was practically non-existent. Since then, the county has added security guards, barriers and metal detectors.”
In the long-run, “Law enforcement is telling the country that unfortunately, you cannot eliminate all risks. All one can do is mitigate it,” he concluded.
In spite of this hard truth, Ramos expressed hope, encouragement and optimism as he shared his final thoughts. “We stand together as a community and as a family. We are San Bernardino County strong.”