Officer Chauncey Fonner may only be in his fifth year with the Cal State Fullerton University Police, but has already proven to be a hero dedicated to serving and protecting his community.
The 27-year-old CSUF alumnus was honored last June with the Lifesaving Award for his heroic actions.
On a sunny Saturday afternoon, Fonner was patrolling the surrounding area of CSUF.
But at 4:30 p.m. on May 26, 2012, he got an emergency call to respond to a child who was not breathing.
Fonner raced down Commonwealth Ave. toward 2604 East Chapman Ave. and quickly parked his squad car outside of a salmon-colored house with turquoise trim windows.
He ran toward the rusted side of a metal gate on the right of the house where he was being flagged down.
Instead of a child, Fonner had found a man around the age of 30 who had overdosed on oxycodone. The man laid unconscious in front of him.
He quickly reacted by removing the CPR mask from his patrol kit and successfully resuscitated the man back to consciousness.
Fonner waited by his side until help arrived.
“When I arrived he was unconscious, not breathing and I just resorted to my training and performed CPR and was able to revive the individual and keep him conscious until Fullerton Fire Department arrived,” Fonner said. “This was the first person I’ve physically had to go hands on with in an attempt to revive.”
Fonner was recognized for his heroism and honored with the Lifesaving Award on June 9, 2012 by the Fullerton Police Department along with the Titan Excellence Award from CSUF.
“An instance like that where an officer saves someone’s life, that deserves recognition. It’s a huge thing that changes not only the other person’s life but the officer’s life,” Capt. John Brockie of University Police said.
Fonner remains humble about the award, which sits in his house unhanged along with his degree.
Fonner said he was just doing his job to help people.
“I couldn’t care less for the recognition of the award. I signed up to help people, to be a problem solver and to help those who are unable to help themselves,” Fonner said. “I’m not one to boast about my achievements in life.”
Fonner did not consider becoming a police officer until his senior year of college.
He studied criminal justice with an emphasis on cultural diversity and had plans to attend law school.
Fonner said he met many lawyers who were burnt out working 80 hours a week and decided that life wasn’t for him. He graduated cum laude in 2008.
Now he is working on a master’s degree in public administration.
“He is confident. He knows the different statutes, the state statutes and the campus specific rules. He is willing to learn,” Brockie said. “Things are ever-changing in the police world, laws change every year. He is a student both on the job and off the job and he is very intelligent.”
Communication skills are one trait Fonner has used to help him excel as an officer.
He prides himself on his people skills, whether he is speaking with a staff member of CSUF or a gang member.
“With his personable skills he can talk to a gang member and a faculty member the same way, it’s always with respect but businesslike. He knows how to get things out of people and that’s a treat for police officers,” Lt. Scot Willey of University Police said. “Our officers are really well versed with talking to everybody but Officer Fonner is probably one of the best at that.”
Fonner stays vigilant while on patrol, keeping his head on a swivel and his eyes moving behind his black Oakley sunglasses.
He rolls the windows down to listen for any calls for help and does not listen to music to avoid potential distractions.
He often works long 12-hour shifts and said he stays focused by keeping hydrated and eating healthy snacks such as fruit or Clif Bars.
Fonner said he has a 30-year plan to stay in the police department.