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

Friday, October 21, 2005

The cost of racism

$1.64 million is what tax payers in this city will have to pay to cover the expenses that resulted when members of the department's management decided to engage in racial discrimination, harassment and retaliation against one of the department's Black officers.

Jury awards $1.64 million in racial discrimination, harassment and retaliaton case

The jury of two African-Americans, two Latinos and eight Whites deliberated for a day and a half before agreeing in most cases on a verdict. They decided that Sutton was entitled to $140,945 in economic losses and $1.5 million in non-economic losses. The verdict, as juror Charles Espinoza said in the Press Enterprise article, was intended to help take care of Sutton's need but also to send a message to the city of Riverside in the form which would deliver the most impact: Through the city's coffers.

So taxpayers in this city will be the ultimate payers for the "outrageous treatment" which management chose to impose on Officer Roger Sutton when it removed him from the canine unit in 1999, and then engaged in retaliatory behavior against him when he complained of racial discrimination in the department.

Earlier, in 2004, Sutton was forced to take his case to arbitration after the civil court system froze its trial schedule to handle a backlog of criminal trials. After a "mini-trial" lasting several days, the arbitrator awarded Sutton, $200,000, which is peanuts in comparison to the jury's verdict. The city refused to pay chump change to Sutton and the case went back to the courtroom. In 2004, Scott Silverman had said that he felt his client would receive a larger award if a jury heard his case.

And on Oct. 20, he was proven right.

Of course, racism in the RPD is old news by now, what with federal and state investigations done involving the agency. The state's investigation was prompted by Riverside County District Attorney Grover Trask, who though his office decided not to prosecute the four officers who shot Tyisha Miller, was concerned about possible evidence of racial animus in connection with behavior displayed by the four officers and their sergeant after the shooting. The only people still in denial are those at City Hall, who even after this huge indictment by a 12-member jury against the pre-decree RPD's management will continue to bury its head in the sand and will likely opt to take this decision out of the hands of ordinary citizens performing one of the most important civil duties, and place it into the hands of a judge with the Court of Appeals. The city's continued practice of denying culpability in the racism that plagued the police department especially its management for many years, is part of the reason why people have difficulty believing that things have changed. For those who have tried to change the racial environment inside the department including officers, the city's stance makes that courageous task much more difficult.

Although most of the management personnel including former Deputy Chiefs Michael Smith and Audrey Wilson, who contributed to this mess are long gone through timely retirements, two of the principal players still remain. Now, they will not just be drawing high salaries for doing whatever it is that they have been doing, but they will cost the tax payers in another way, through a payout on this costly verdict. Sure, an insurance carrier might pay out the costs above $500,000 but what happens to your insurance policy when they are forced to pay out a claim? The costs of premiums goes up.

And given that other Black city employees have pending trials against the city of Riverside in the more amiable U.S. District Court, it remains to be seen how the huge jury's verdict in this case will impact their legal decisions as well as those of the city's. One thing for sure is this. The emotional impact of racism in the city's workforce has been long known, and often ignored. However, for the first time, this racism's financial costs have also become known, and those can not and will not be as easily ignored. The fact that this new revelation came from a vote of 12 ordinary people who heard all the allowable evidence, rather than from a city quickly settling reverse discrimination claims outside of public scrutiny makes the message that the city received through the verdict all the more clear in terms of race relations among its own employees.

13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Mary, a scenario:

Let's say one of the many "white, shaved head" officers of RPD, while off duty, walks into a bank in the City of Riverside. The officer, dressed in civilian clothes, walks up to the teller. He then proceeds to look around nervously. Next, the officer orders the bank teller (a young woman) to give him all of the money at her register and put it in a bag. The teller, paralyzed by fear, is unable to move or even breath. The officer tells her again but the teller is in shock and can’t move. The officer looks around at the video cameras and all of the witnesses and flees from the bank without any money. The teller is eventually able to speak and tells another employee a man just tried to rob the bank...she recognizes the suspect as a regular customer...AND an officer for RPD.

Now, can you imagine...

You would be in Heaven!!! An RPD officer commits bank robbery, a violent felony, in broad daylight and caught on camera!!!

Oh my!!! The stories you could write. Surely a front pager!!

Well guess what...it happened.

Several months ago, the very story I just told actually happened. And the suspect? No other than the officer who just collected his well earned $1.64 Million.

Of course, although detectives were called to the scene and the suspect (you're favorite officer) was located within minutes, the suspect was not arrested that day. In fact, not a single thing happened to the officer.

The teller has still not returned to work all these months later because she was ROBBED!!! She was victimized and was scared to death, rightfully so, by a very large man who robbed her. He failed to get his money at that time, but oh did he succeed this week in one heck of a robbery. This time the victim was the City of Riverside and the suspect robbed the city for 1.64 million. Robbery, as defined by the California Penal Code, is the taking of property

Now, of course, like always, I'm sure you will find a way to justify this act in your mind. It was probably RPD's fault for creating such a "hostile" work environment all those years. Of course the only natural thing to do would be to rob a bank and terrorize an innocent young woman...

But no matter what your response, you know for a fact that if ANY white male officer did the same thing, he would be in prison and YOU would have been the first person to applaud at the "justice" that had been done.

Where's the "justice" for the teller? Where's the "justice" for the citizens of Riverside, who weren't even made aware that an officer, whose salary they pay, likes to rob banks for fun on his days off?

You pride yourself on "uncovering" all of the horrible things that take place at RPD and "informing" the public. But why not let them know about a black officers side job as a bank robber? I'd be willing to bet you've known about the incident for quite some time Mary, yet no mention of it among the numerous bashings of white officers in your blogs. I wonder why?

Nothing is more disgusting than hypocrisy.

I guess some people are allowed to commit felonies and get off scott free so long as they’re: #1. Not white and #2. Had a joke told in their presence which they found “offensive.” ….Hmmm, seems fair.

The true victim of racism is the teller who will never get justice because “racism” protects people like the officer who robbed her. The fact that people can get away with anything, even felonies, as long as they threaten to claim “racism” is the sad result of propaganda. Propaganda which is apparently just convincing enough to persuade a jury of idiots to give 1.64 million dollars to a bank robber who heard a racial joke in a hallway ten years ago. Wow, now that’s justice.

Keep on fighting that good fight Mary. You’re doing a bang-up job!


Hugs and Kisses,
Serpico

Sunday, October 23, 2005 9:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will someone please tell an offensive joke around me or offer to set me up with an olive skinned man...I want my $1.64 Million!!!

Sunday, October 23, 2005 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger Five Before Midnight said...

Dear Serpico:


Hmmm...talk about assumptions...

No, I had no idea that any alleged bank robbery was committed by Officer Roger Sutton until I read what you posted on an earlier thread. I obviously do not hang out at the same water cooler you do. I asked one question then which I will ask you again, Mr. um, Serpico...

Is this a real investigation of a crime or a Christine Keers type investigation? If you don't understand what I mean, then ask someone who's been in the agency longer than you have.

How would anyone in the public arena possibly know what criminal acts are committed by officers in the RPD, until after the cases have either been prosecuted in criminal court or filed in civil court? As has already occurred on the majority of cases in this blog, which were based on public information already released.

Your agency keeps such a tight lid on its officers' acts of misconduct, from management on down to the street level because it believes that hiding its bad behavior is much better than coming up front about it, even under a stipulated judgement with the state. You protect your own and it doesn't matter if they are good or bad. Everybody knows that.

You claim that it's the fear that keeps officers from talking about misconduct. Well, that's an old excuse. If you pointed fingers at each other more often in public when it was necessary, then it might be easier to tell most of you apart when something bad about the department does come out.

What would you do if you saw or knew of misconduct by other officers? Black, White or Hispanic? Assuming it makes a difference. Would you report it to a supervisor? Would you sit on it? I'm thinking the latter, though you aren't above going hiding your identity and writing about it on a blog if only to try to prove a point about a Black officer.

The real Serpico broke that wall and risked his life to expose serious misconduct in the NYPD. He didn't hide behind someone else's moniker on a blog.

However, your point is well taken. I will call the department tomorrow and inquire about this matter. And they will tell me that pursuant to PCs 832.5,6,7 any information about an investigation of an officer is confidential.

That's you Peace Officer Bill of Rights that your predecessors fought for that ensures that lack of transparency involving LE agencies. And it's your bill of rights that will thwart my efforts to obtain more information. It's sure not my Bill of Rights standing in the way of the truth.

As far as how I feel about crooked police officers, well, you are wrong there.

White, Black or Hispanic,male, female if an officer commits an illegal act and actually is held accountable for it(and I don't mean these cop-out misdemeanors from time to time, for more serious criminal offenses like assault and Hit and Run while DUI), I'll be in first in line to applaud that because I think any bad officer as well as all those who support them either directly or implicitly, have a detrimental effect on a LE agency. But I'll believe it when I see officers stand up and report their brothers in public.

As for a White officer in that circumstance being arrested and put in prison? I don't think so. I think that officer's misconduct or illegal activity would be no more likely to be disclosed by the department especially now with everyone so eager to leave the stipulated judgement a memory. Plus, it's not likely that anyone like yourself would ever come here and leak that information to me if a White officer were involved in crooked or illegal activity. Afer all, no one has so far.

You do have my curiosity peaked with your comments and I will ask the department tomorrow. I just won't tell them that ahem, Serpico told me. I don't think that would go over well, do you?

As far as favorite officers, I don't really have one. And if that status changes, I'll be sure to let you know. Mr. um, Serpico.

Take care,


P.S. Given how this department would treat a "Serpico", I guess that means your use of that moniker is um, sarcastic? Oh well.

Sunday, October 23, 2005 3:27:00 PM  
Blogger Five Before Midnight said...

Dear Closeted Cop:

Do you ever get tired of listening to yourself?

Don't break out in a sweat, now...

Yours truly,

Sunday, October 23, 2005 3:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will someone please excplain to me what the alleged incident "Serpico" related has to do with the topic of this story?

Is he using it to try to justify the RPD's pattern of racist official behavior? To distract attention from the jury award they have imposed on the taxpayers of Riverside by said racist official actions? To turn every discussion of the RPD's official racism into another exercise in race baiting?

So rather than confront the manifest racism of his department, he makes a lame attempt to justify it - or failing that, to at least do his damndest to chan ge the subject. I'd say that "Serpico's" sheet is showing.

Frank Serpico - the real Serpico - was a man of integrity, who stood up to the very same "blue wall of silence" which this one this is here to enforce.

Sunday, October 23, 2005 5:25:00 PM  
Blogger Five Before Midnight said...

Well, it's clear from his post and how he structured his comments, what is really important and what's puzzling is that it doesn't really seem to be about the alleged robbery or its victim. His main point is, that there is a serious problem in the RPD with racism against its White officers. Hence his need to start his comments the way he did, with his somewhat flawed analogy, rather than simply begin by relating the incident.

If the officer who allegedly robbed her was White, "Serpico" probably would not be leaking information about that incident here. No one would know anything about it outside the department in any way, shape or form. The Code of Silence parts open its walls, once for alleged criminal conduct by a Black officer, but has not(and likely never will) for a White officer. I guess that's called progress? It might be, if there were not strings attached.

But, at least one victim of alleged police misconduct gets some sympathy from an officer inside the Blue Wall, even as a means to an end here and that's a start, of sorts. Others are not that fortunate to even have one officer in his or her corner.

After all, where is the sympathy for Breata Simpson, who was only trying to do [i]her[/i] job and was on the phone with her supervisor for further instruction when former Officer Michael Collins slammed his arm into her throat and pinned her against the wall, before knocking her to the ground. The other officer stood and watched the entire time, and did not report what turned out to be illegal conduct to a supervisor.

The department was none the wiser that anything happened until Ms Simpson made a complaint about it. Plus, Collins had recorded the entire incident with his personal recorder that he carried.

I wonder if Ms Simpson ever returned to working in her job.

Then the DA filed misdemeanor charges of PC 149, 242 and 602. He was allowed to plead guilty to trespassing(never mind that he forced her door open) and did one year summery probation and paid a fine of $405.00. Then like Graham was able to do in the Lake case, he got his record expunged.

Or Jason Gambill, who left the state after the city paid $50,000 out because Officer Aaron Perkins had identified himself as an officer (according to an assistant city attorney), when he assaulted Gambill), damaged his car and chased him around, all over a u-turn in traffic. Road rage, it's called when civilians engage in that type of behavior. You criticize the wrist slapping that officer got like I did once, and four officers walk out of the building in a huff. So much for sympathy for victims.

Perkins pled guilty to vandalism and disturbing the peace, and the DA saved his career by dropping the battery charge(which would have prohibited him from carrying a firearm for 10 years) as part of the plea bargain. He received three years summary probation and a 52 week "anger management" course, which hopefully cured whatever ailed him.

Gambill, as said, left the state. Maybe he felt safer some place else.

Or even Jose Martinez who couldn't work for months, and spent days in a hospital after at least three officers beat him up and threw him in Lake Evans. Oops, I meant only the two Black officers, because the department seems to have forgotten about Jason McQueen's involvement in the whole affair. McQueen, the White officer was never prosecuted; The two Black officers were and rightfully so, though all three of them should have served longer time in jail.

All this history aside...

The alleged victim in this incident if it occurred will have learned what prior victims of officer misconduct and corrupt behavior have learned before her. Cops protect their own no matter what(though with "Serpico" there's that caveat.) If they care at all about these [it]victims[/i], it's just to prove a point about something else. Otherwise, their lips are sealed and they pull that wall of silence of theirs around them then point fingers at those who try to penetrate that protective wall they built.

The analogy btwn the White cop vs the Black cop is flawed.

A better analogy would be to use this one: Black cop v Black civilian.

If the woman were robbed by a "very large(Black) man" who was not a cop, that man would be arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned, if he were the actual robber and even in instances, if he were not. So if Sutton engaged in this alleged robbery, the protection which he has received from being held accountability does not come from his skin color, but his badge.

Still, as I told Mr. "Serpico", I will check into this, and he and I both know that I'll run smack dab into the Blue Wall. The same one that only exists to protect officers like the aformentioned here. He'll still be pointing fingers at my inability to breach that wall that was set up to protect people like him, by those people. How doing THAT helps this alleged victim, is unclear.

Monday, October 24, 2005 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger Five Before Midnight said...

Hmmm....here's a task for those who like word matches.

Match the following quotes with the appropriate source:

1) "I can not release that information. It's confidential."

2) "You'll have to talk with our public affairs office Ma'am

(the guy who said this needs to quit smoking.)

3)***Busy Signal***

---------------------------

A) Robbery
B) Internal Affairs
c) Public Relations Office

-----------------------------

Still, this system is not set up for anything but to help maintain the Blue Wall.

Monday, October 24, 2005 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger Sandalou said...

What hole do these idiots crawl out of? And could somebody please send them back to watching cartoons..

If So-not Serpico honestly believes Sutton attempted to rob a bank why is he bitching to you about it? Maybe because he knows it's bullshit like all the rest of the 'data' he spews. To imply that he got off because he's black is pathetically funny. Poor Serp, being shorted in the graft and evil deed department because he's just a white boy.

As far as your officer Collins...is he about 6'4" and was he ever a Stater in Washington? An Officer Collins here assaulted a friend of mine (the examining physician said it was a second degree assault). She's 5'2" and weighs 110 lbs. What set him off? She refused to get out of her car at 3 am (we work swing) for a stranger. So he reached through the window and dragged her out by the hair, then proceeded to beat her.

The state patrol then transferred him 100 miles south and offered to drop the 4th degree assault against an officer charge if she didn't file against him. She accepted because she was scared to death.

I've got more, we've all got more. Serpico isn't fooling anyone but himself. I'd like to see the cowardly scut run into the real Serpico. He's soil himself.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005 1:39:00 AM  
Blogger Sandalou said...

Oh yeah, they charged her with fourth degree assault because in trying to curl into a fetal position she kicked the fragile Officer Collins in the shin.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005 1:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man...you guys really like Charles-211 (Sutton) don't you...

Tuesday, October 25, 2005 9:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

see ya tonight Mary...I'll be wearing my favorite color..can you guess what it is?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger Five Before Midnight said...

Dear still-in-the-closet Cop:

Yellow?

Mine's teal.

yours truly,

p.s. I might not go to city council tonight. Too many campaign speeches by our elected officials, rather than conducting city business.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger Five Before Midnight said...

Well, Sandalou, he's here to tell me about it b/c he wants to make a point about how racist the department is against White officers. That's what the majority of his comments were about.

It's not really about the alleged crime or its victim. They are a means to an end.

If he really did care, he wouldn't be here hiding under a moniker of someone like Serpico, would he? After all, Serpico didn't hide in the shadows and point fingers. He did it up front. He was Serpico, not "Serpico".

No, this "Serpico" would be out making some noise if he gave a damn about working in an honest, ethical department...

He'd be at CBS, WBN, UPN, CNN, MSNBC, NBC, FOX, Los Angeles Times, Press Enterprise, Usa Today as well as here. If this were the truth, I knew it to be so and I were in his shoes, that's what I'd do. I couldn't work with corrupt cops around me without making noise about it, let alone one who supposedly robbed a bank! Another reason why I would never be good in LE. I could never look at conduct like happened with your friend, and remain quiet about it and look the other way. It would not make sense to work in this profession if there were criminals in my own locker room.

But we all know how it goes, the occasional Serpico aside...

You know the adage, a dozen officers watched but none of them saw a thing.

btw, I'm really sorry about your friend's experience of COC(or contempt of cop)where she is beaten and then charged for that beating. She got assaulted twice, first by the officer, then by the system.

As for Officer Sutton, I don't know him. But I do appreciate Closeted Cop's attempt at diversion, in an attempt to avoid dealing with the issues raised here. As far as defense mechanisms go, he's got that one down. Too bad they don't give awards for that kind of thing.

I do know for sure now that there are cops in the RPD who hate him, especially after the verdict. And I've heard one explanation why, that because of this wonderful thing called, the Blue Wall, can not be substantiated. You point fingers, but you lack the courage to do it using your real names. Why? Oh yeah, the code of silence...right...

I think if the alleged victim mattered all that much, you'd find that courage some place.

And I do know that comments like this tend to show up when the people who make them need to divert away from the issue at hand, which is that if Sutton robbed a bank, then it is the badge and the Blue Wall that is protecting him, not his race.

Oh, some officers might find this particular case particularly vexing and they've more or less stated why, but they'll still hide behind their Wall. They will still work to insure that this Blue Wall remains solid and firm, even as they bemoan it from time to time, abeit in certain cases with obvious criteria.

After all, in all the attempts at diversion here, I did not see one officer suggest that hey, maybe it's time to take a wrecking ball to our Blue Wall. We are no longer going to protect those of us who commit misconduct by remaining silent and looking the other way. But then have you ever heard the term about Hell freezing over?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005 10:59:00 AM  

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