Five before Midnight

This site is dedicated to the continuous oversight of the Riverside(CA)Police Department, which was formerly overseen by the state attorney general. This blog will hopefully play that role being free of City Hall's micromanagement.
"The horror of that moment," the King went on, "I shall never, never forget." "You will though," the Queen said, "if you don't make a memorandum of it." --Lewis Carroll


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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Job Burnout made me do it

Cops always mumble and grumble when people they arrest make excuses for the act they committed which allegedly led to the arrest. There are no excuses, they say, only choices. Well, except when it comes to cops and the choices they make.

Like with Al Kennedy, formerly an investigator of the RPD Sexual Assault and Child Abuse(SACA) Unit...fired after having sexual relations with a rape victim on a case he was assigned.

First some background:

The latest in the Travails of Al Kennedy

Al Kennedy is a former sexual assault investigator with the RPD. He was fired by Chief Russ Leach in 2001 for having sexual relations with a rape victim. He claimed SHE came onto HIM and the sex occurred only after her case was closed. The episode came to light after the woman filed a law suit against him, the department and the city in U.S. District Court. The case ultimately settled for around $25,000.

Kennedy's supervisor, Capt. Michael Blakely decided that a written letter of reprimend, and 90 days spent in interim performance review was sufficient discipline. His supervisor, Deputy Chief Audrey Wilson decided that an 80 hours suspension without pay, was sufficient discipline. Chief Leach disagreed, and fired Kennedy. Wilson was told about the termination and later informed Blakely that she had disagreed with it. Apparently, that is sufficient evidence to reinstate Kennedy to his job, even though it is Leach, not Wilson, not Blakely, who has the sole discretion when it comes to disciplining an officer.

Well, in 2004, Kennedy got his job back, when the arbitrator reinstated him after three years on the sidelines, without backpay, yet with the same seniority as he would have earned if he had worked during those three years.

The department scratched its head.

The city scratched its head.

What is a three year suspension? Does it exist? The city council ultimately voted soon after to appeal the arbitrator's ruling and it is still progressing through Riverside County Superior Court. Kennedy is appealing the ruling too. Yeah, he wants his job back so he can return to work but he wants all his backpay too.

The city aided and abetted in Kennedy's pursuit of a cash payday when it dropped the ball completely, only months after filing its appeal against Kennedy's reinstatement, in Riverside County Superior Court. The court kept summoning Riverside City Attorney Gregory Priamos to court, and the letters kept being returned to the post office, 'undeliverable.' How can letters sent to City Hall be undeliverable? Because City Hall, gave the court clerk, the wrong mailing address.

Eugene Ramirez, attorney for the city appeared in front of presiding judge Stephen Cunnison and explained that he had not been notified about the case since last February. Cunnison decided not to drop the city's appeal after all, and the case will continue to move forward.
Days later, a sworn afidavit by Michele Flowers was submitted to court, where she said that asst. City Attorney Jim Brown had told her that HE had discovered that the city had missed court dates while doing a routine docket check. Technically, that is not direct perjury but perjury by proxy, since Flowers was not giving false information herself, but relating information told to her by Brown which was false. He had checked the docket soon after an email was sent to Priamos's office, relating the fact that the city had been ordered to show cause why the case should not be dismissed due to failing to properly proceed. I should know. I sent that email.

Frank Schiavone, councilmember, also was the recipient of an email on this matter, but did not respond. But how could he? The city atty is supposed to be in the pocket of the GASS Quartet. Now, if it had been George Carvalho, the city manager, screwing up, then Schiavone would be all over this mess.

How come there are no sessions discussing the mistakes made by Priamos?

Why is his behavior not held to the same standards as Carvalho?

Why is his behavior not held under the same magnifying glass, as Carvalho's?
Because the City Attorney's office was not paying attention, the city almost faced the forced reinstatement of a disgraced detective who was fired for sexual misconduct with a rape victim on a case he was investigating. The city would have had to face either putting this man back on the force, or paying him with a physical disability retirement, which would cost the city thousands of dollars. The arbitrator who reinstated Kennedy had a retirement in mind when he made his decision. However, awarding a corrupt officer with a retirement package sends a message that this and other types of odious misconduct are fine, because although you may lose your job for a while, you'll make bucket loads of money back in the long run. That's how bad cops get rewarded, River City style!

But the episode of Al Kennedy's inability to control either his sex drive or his need to exercise power a woman at her most vulnerable did not end there. What would this sad soap opera be without its star jester?

Former Lt. Jay Theuer soon entered the fray, with Kennedy's defense:


Theuer issued a memo stating all the problems in the SACA unit which over two years, led Kennedy to perform the desperate act of repeatedly unzipping his pants and having sex with a woman. Kennedy was "burned out" after working in the SACA unit and had requested a transfer to the RAID unit, which took him six months to receive. Then apparently, around the same time the disturbing misconduct came to light, supervisors apparently noticed that for the previous two years, Kennedy was not doing his job. He let numerous cases slide including the rape of a 14 year old girl by a 35 year old parolee. At least the department found his neglect of that particular case, unacceptable.

Theuer stated in his memo some startling statistics, including that there were only two SACA investigators to cover all the rape and child abuse cases in a city with over 250,000 residents. Investigators typically received 30 cases each a month, and collectively handled 3,000 a year.

Problems existed within the SACA including failure by supervisors to perform evaluations on the investigators. Failures to properly assign cases, prioritize and track cases existed as well. These issues are serious, and should have been addressed immediately by the department, as is the issue of employee "burnout" a real problem for detectives assigned to the emotionally charged crimes of rape and child abuse.


Employee burnout. Administrative problems in an overtaxed, poorly supervised investigation unit, can not, should not and shall not be accepted as excuses as to why one sexual investigator, by his own admission, exercised appalling judgement and lack of consideration for anything or anyone outside his own sexual "needs". Kennedy needs to be held accountable for his choices. Yet it is those same people who complain about the poor choices made by people they arrest, who are the first to line up to defend this man and his poor choices, using some bizarre oppression card. That, and insinuations and innuendos that the woman involved was the REAL sexual predator in the situation. When cornered, blame the victim! It's always so gratifying to see law enforcement do its part to continue abhorrant behaviors to keep women in their place.

All this chest beating about the emotional state of the man who committed the misconduct. Nothing at all about the emotional state of a woman who had reported being raped and tortured, then is told that the investigation into her rape has hit a dead end. Detectives are carefully trained on how to interact with rape victims, because the emotional state of a woman who has experienced great trauma and violation often means that they are vulnerable in ways they had not been previously. Even if the woman had pursued a relationship, Kennedy's responsibility was to kindly and gently refuse, but then to do so would be to put her needs above his own. And if she was not the one, then what he did was, if not rape itself, too damn close to it for comfort and too damn close to it if one is a detective entrusted to investigate some of the most sensitive crimes. It is also a spit in the face to all the dedicated and hardworking detectives assigned to investigate rape and child abuse. One wishes that an outspoken member of that unit like Theuer would realize it. I am sure his colleagues do but they have opted for silence, over valor.

(Believe it or not, not ALL women think police officers or detectives are DA BOMB! So give that assumption a rest, please.)

Leach, for once, stepped outside the shadow of the RPOA and did what he needed to do in this case, which was terminate Kennedy's employment. He realized that the credibility and integrity of the SACA unit was at stake. Who can trust a division with intimate details about their crimes, and access to their bodies, if the detectives are having sex with the crime victims? Claiming rights to "consenting" women's bodies in which they are not entitled.

An arbitrator with extremely poor judgement excused Kennedy's conduct by reinstating him to his job, even while stating in his ruling that Kennedy had committed very serious misconduct.

The city council made history by not immediately paying off a white officer who was terminated.

Judge Cunnison received the case after both sides decided to appeal.

And interested parties, girls, boys, women and men in the city of Riverside await the judges' next move with trepidation, hoping a disgraced detective remains off the force.


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