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

Contact: fivebeforemidnight@yahoo.com

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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Four steps forward, three steps back...

With the chief away, the underling will play, and that is exactly what Deputy Chief Andrew Pytlak has done. Whether it is using the chief's parking spot instead of his own, or rehearsing his role as the future head of the RPD, not a second has been wasted of the last two weeks...

You can have a conversation with people, in the community or from the department, about the future of the department and its next chief, without dropping names most notably Pytlak, quite successfully. Even though Chief Leach has not stepped down, it is already a done deal in City Hall about who will fill his shoes. Someone has spent the past year campaigning for the job very diligently even though no current job opening has officially been announced.

Bad news to the community which has watched and waited for the new, improved police department to emerge from its five-year stipulated judgement.

Bad news for those who were proponants of community orientated problem solving policing, over the older paramilitary style.


For one thing is clear, when it comes to policing, Pytlak is strictly by the book, the dusty worn out guidebook used for years by those in the "Old Guard".

Unpleasant fortune telling aside, it was a busy two-week whirlwind stint for the chief-in-training.

Thrown into his lap has been the strife which has shown itself in the city through a series of shootings, Pytlak appeared at a community meeting at Zacatecas, to present the police department's planned suppression plan. That the Eastside community caught between a rock and a hard place had agreed to enter into, through the Eastside Think Tank's leadership.

His suppression plan included a cop car on every corner, and a combined effort to crack down on the violence, by different divisions including Field Operations, Special Operations, Gang Intelligence and the Police and Corrections Team. The community leaders gave a collective nod, to everything that Ptylak suggested.

Except it turned out that Ptylak had not informed the Eastside Think Tank that there was yet another tool in its arsenal that would be put to use by the department. Not even Lt. Alex Tortes, who has been the area commander of that neighborhood for years.

Instead, it is councilmen Frank Schiavone and Steve Adams who drop this bombshell at the city council meeting on Aug. 9, with the cooperation of City Attorney, Gregory Priamos. The item was placed on the agenda under the emergency exemption of the Brown Act, the one reserved for natural disasters, riots and terrorist attacks.

What was the solution to what everyone can agree on, is a crisis?

SURVEILLANCE CAMERAS

Not just anywhere. Not downtown. Not at the bus terminal(a havin for drug dealers) but University Avenue. Not in Casa Blanca, which has also seen its share of shootings and death recently, which is within Schiavone's ward. It is an election year, and as someone dryly observed, Schiavone would get hung if he tried to push that over there.

Schiavone and Adams however pushed it on University Avenue, long a haven of sex workers, johns, drug dealers and as Chief Leach would put it at a public meeting, "too many pedestrians".

So the city council was about to pass an emergency action to put cameras on University Avenue, when there was no one from the Eastside which University splits in half, to respond on the issue, whether to agree, or disagree.

Several city residents balked, after getting over our initial shock and spoke, urging the council to put the issue to a public forum, in the involved communities. Fortunately, several city council members balked as well, and the body voted instead to create a broader action plan to address the most recent spree of violence within the city's limits. That plan will be put together by the city manager's office.

Pytlak was very disappointed in the vote, and as he stood with Lt. Robert Meier making fun of those who spoke against Schiavone and Adams' motion, he gave a fine example of the philosophy and professionalism he plans to bring to the department when he becomes its next chief.

After the meeting, I went home and after 10pm, when I walked around the block, I saw in the back, a squad car parked with no one inside it. On closer perusal, I saw a young bald White male officer slouched in his seat, so he could not be seen, perhaps taking a breather on a night where there's an officer on every corner in the Eastside neigbhorhood.


Eastside seige

1 Comments:

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Thursday, August 11, 2005 5:04:00 PM  

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