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, September 08, 2005


This scandal came to you, courtesy of the California State Attorney General's Office. No, they were not involved in creating it, but without this office's presense "in the back pocket" of the police department as one detective put it, this appalling and embarassing episode would have merely been treated as business as usual in the Riverside Police Department and swept beneath the carpet with the rest of the dirt.

The central figure in this sad chain of events is Det. Ron Kipp, a 24-year veteran of the police department, who spent over 18 years of his career working in narcotics.
This officer, who looks like a less washed up Nick Nolte, also had a clean personnel file despite his involvement in an off-duty arrest for assault, multiple nonfatal shootings including one that injured the female passenger in a pick up truck and one fatal shooting in 1996.

The number of years Kipp spent inside the narcotics division without being reassigned should have triggered a red flag. Instead of looking at his long tenure as simply creating a more experienced and seasoned narc, his supervisors should have been looking for signs of trouble. They were just around the bend.

Kipp was busted in April 2001, for telling an informant to sell drugs at a higher price than that authorized by the department and telling him to keep the extra money from the sale. According to a memo he received from then Internal Affairs Lt. Bob Meier, Kipp had violated two sections of RPD policy 2.23. These were:

V. The failure to reasonable action while on duty:

W. Exceeding the lawful peace officer powers by unreasonable, unlawful and excessive misconduct.

He received as discipline after a four month investigation, an eight-month suspension and a transfer to the robbery unit. Another narcotics detective, Roberta Hopewell, who was the initial subject of the allegations made by a DEA agent, was transferred to the Auto Theft Unit. Kipp later accused Hopewell of lying to investigators when she pointed the finger at him for misconduct she had been accused of, in a deposition he gave in relation to a civil law suit filed in connection with a criminal case.

Defense Attorney Andres Bustamonte, who represented a man named Benito Salazar in a felony drug and animal welfare case, deposed Kipp, yet it was the arrival of another attorney, Victor Sherman that turned the deposition into a confessional by Kipp of how the RPD's narcotics division conducted its operations. Kipp, who openly admired Sherman, said that although the department and the Riverside County's District Attorney's office had clashed over the use of "walled off" stings, the prosecutors of that agency jumped on the bandwagon several years before and were more willing accomplices in the process. Even though this type of sting, which involves concealing information or existance about informants from prosecutors and judges, is not illegal, in certain cases such as those described in the deposition by Kipp, the RPD clearly crossed the line.

Barbara Taylor, a deputy prosecutor with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office said in a May 14, 2003 article published by the Los Angeles Daily Journal

"If the informant is a percipient witness, if he watched something go down, then we need to know that because it has to be given to the defense"

The lawyers for Salazer later alleged that there were at least five criminal cases involving the same informant selling pseudoepherdine cases to people to use for meth production, then secretly broke their tail lights from 2002-2003 before leaving them to drive off. A short time later, a patrol car would pull them over on the tail light, do a search and find the drugs. In at least one case, Kipp allegedly tailed the suspects in a gold colored pickup truck with no license plate before the traffic stop. Those officers would then call either Kipp or another detective in narcotics named Danzek and they would come out and handle it. Several of the patrol officers who made the stops are now in narcotics.

According to Kipp's deposition, the patrol officers had no knowlege that he knew beforehand there were drugs in the vehicles and just believed they were conducting pretext stops on traffic violations. Why, any members of the department would set up unsuspecting officers in such a fashion is one only those individuals can answer, though if the officers involved in the stops knew that they were actors in a staged event, then there is still another can of worms to open out there.

Allegations were made against Kipp that he allowed this informant which he hid as part of a "walled off" sting to sell drugs on the side, and if he gave Kipp 4-5 busts a year, "his back was covered." Kipp denied all of them, including those made by the DEA agent.

links on the crackdown at the RPD:

RPD Narcotics operations brought to standstill

scroll down to "It's just Business as Usual".

15 narcotics cases under review

Kipp was deposed by a lawyer, allegedly for a civil case. The city attorney's office did not know about this for several months. A representative appeared from the State Atty General's office and Kipp had believed he was being questioned by him. The AG representative, Michael Stamp, remained silent during most of the proceedings except to prevent Salazer's attorney from asking Kipp questions about the city attorney's involvement in trying to suppress the use of portions of this deposition to gain access to Kipp's personnel records in court.

When Salazer's attorneys tried to uncover information about the informant, nicknamed "El Lobo", they were thwarted for over two years. Finally, presiding judge Edward D. Webster ruled that the prosecutor had to turn over a list of cases where the informant was involved. Webster added that related criminal cases could be overturned on appeal, and civil litigation could be filed against the police department and the D.A.'s office.

Kipp on the investigation against him: (excerpt People of the State vs Salazer, RIF123653--deposition taken Nov. 18, 2002)

"I think this is why this thing is getting held up is because they are a little afraid to mess with me on this deal b/c it's the way business was always conducted even when he[then Capt. Andrew Pytlak] was sergeant."

Kipp on the reluctance to discipline him:

"Because this is way we've always done it. It's never been a secret."

Kipp on the Attorney General Investigation:

"I don't know what the hell their problem is. I think the big problem is the Attorney General's office. They're so afraid of not looking proper. You know, with the A.G.'s office being in our back pocket and overseeing everything we do. I think that's our biggest problem."

Kipp on fighting his suspension:

"I won't go down for this. They don't want me exposing their administration's policies. Not only can I prove that they lied about their policies, I will do it."

Again, ladies and gentlemen, this latest scandal was uncovered by the State Attorney General's office's presense "in the back pocket" of the RPD. This office will be checking out on March 6, 2005 hopefully taking all of the department's scandals, uncovered and otherwise, with it.


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