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


My Photo
Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Whatever happened with Officer David Hackman?

Hackman, in trouble again

This is what is happening to former RPD officer David Hackman now. What happened earlier during his stint in Riverside made what followed inevitable.

As mentioned in the article, Hackman was the center of some controversy in Riverside when he made racist slurs after four other RPD officers shot Tyisha Miller to death on Dec. 28, 1998. After an internal investigation, Hackman received a 30 day suspension without pay.

While in the locker room during the early morning hours following the shooting, Hackman saw fit to entertain some of his blue buddies with his rendition of Joan Miller grieving over the death of her granddaughter, Tyisha. He imitated her voice, and said, "Here's big Mama here to do the Watts' death wails". One of the officers present was not laughing. Former Officer Rene Rodriguez instead reported the comments made by Hackman and other officers to the Internal Affairs Division.

Another comment made by Hackman was in response to a comment made by former Sgt. Gregory Preece. He had referred to Miller, an African-American woman, as an "NHI". If you peruse the most recent manual of law enforcement venicular terms, you will find that NHI, means "No Human Involved" and is reserved for incidents where people of color have been beaten or killed by police officers.

Eventually, although the RPD refused to fire this racist cop, it did prod him to leave the agency and Hackman packed up his slogans and headed off for greener pastures, up in Northern California. Like his disgraced blue brother Michael Alagna, Hackman picked a LE agency nestled in a rural town in the central valley of Northern California, where there were relatively few African-Americans in residence to hide. Of course, predictably enough, Hackman got himself into trouble.

Hackman's boss, Sheriff Curtis Hill is defending his man.

Hill said he felt confident hiring Hackman and did a thorough background check before bringing him aboard.

“He did a fine job for us,” Hill said. “It’s unfortunate he got himself into this situation, but we’ll work our way through it.”

Work through it? Are you nuts? You have a deputy who is violent on and off the job and you want to keep him employed? Oh yeah, right it's your ass that's on the line here as hired him, after the (cough)thorough background check. (cough)

The sheriff's boss, a member of the Board of Supervisors is playing it cool...for now.

When Supervisor Ruth Kesler heard the lawsuit was filed she sighed and asked, “Who’s suing us now?” but declined to comment further until she is able to read the suit.

“There’s two sides to every story,” she said. “Until I get the other side of the story I don’t want to make any comments.”

Ruth, the other side of the story is in Riverside. Conducting at least a portion of Hackman's background check in this city could have saved you a lot of grief, two men a few broken bones and a bucketload of cash that the county will have to pay out to make Hackman's victims and Hackman go away.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

In Search of...Racial Profiling

There used to be a show by that name hosted by Leonard "Mr. Spock" Nimoy, over 20 years ago. The show tackled different unexplained occurances like crop circles, phantom hitchhikers and the Bermuda Triangle. Were any of these things real, or not? Some evidence would be presented, but those questions would remained unanswered.

That's how the forum on Racial Profiling or in P.C. terms, Pretext traffic stops took place. Filling the shoes of Nimoy, was Human Relations Commission chair A.J. Wilson, and special guests were Dr. Larry Gaines, from Cal. State University, San Bernardino's Criminal Justice Department and in its entirety, the Attorney General Task Force.

Lt. John Wallace did all the talking for the Task Force, while Sgt. Mike Cook, and Officers Phil Hernandez and Cheryl Hayes forming a rainbow of sorts, sat on the sidelines. About 25 people attended the forum, mostly the same people who attend any meeting that has to do with the police department. Hundreds and thousands of other city residents stayed home. Some who did, said that they were used to the police department holding public forums defending its practices, or trying to sell the rightness of them to the public. The PR train to celebrate the winding down of the five-year consent decree had already began rolling, so to speak.

The discussion began with polite words and an academic focus which was where most of the interest appeared to be. Those who don't give a damn about Chi-squares and variances, but just do not want to be singled out by the police for harassment in the department's search for criminal suspects with only a race and a broad age range to go with, stayed at home. The study and how it was conducted became the focus of the discussion rather than the problem of racial profiling in a police department found to have violated the state constitution while its officers had conducted traffic stops on the public.

When the questions began to be asked, Dr. Gaines started becoming more defensive. And it was only at the end when things began to get interesting. The RPD's agenda involving the annual study was revealed further with each word that spilled out of Gaines' mouth. Even HRC Chair A. J. Wilson appeared to notice and jumped into the fray.

Racial Profiling, back beneath the rock

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Is it possible(or legal) to discipline a cop?

PORAC, or the Police Officers Research Association of California provides services for law enforcement officers throughout the state, in areas of legal and labor issues. It publishes a monthly magazine filled with articles, about issues faced by law enforcement officers, written by officers. The obvious slant in the articles allows readers to view one side of the story. As far as LE officers are concerned, that is all that is necessary.

Many articles are stored in the archives, regarding officers from the RPD who've been fired or suspended, always unjustly of course, then reinstated back to duty.

WARNING: These articles leave out a whole other side of the story, and because the average citizen is not legally able to determine the truth through examination of the evidence and facts, there is no way to know for sure if the officer really is guilty or not guilty of committing misconduct.

Cliff Mason: mid-1990s, excessive force when using a flashlight. Reason: feared for life.
Received 40 hour suspension. Reinstated in arbitration.
Currently, heads the SWAT/METRO team. Flashlight policy written in 1997.

Benjamin Shafer: fired in connection with handling narcotics seized as evidence.
Reason: the stress of studying for his detective exam combined with the hectic atmosphere of "Narco Bay" caused him to forget to make report corrections
Employment terminated. Reinstated in arbitration.
Currently, works as a motorcop in the traffic division and is a board member of the RPOA.

Richard Prince: Suspended in connection with a finding of excessive force suspension due to use of wrist lock, by Internal Affairs and the CPRC.
Reason: Believed it wasn't excessive
Suspended. Discipline reversed in arbitration
Currently, works in patrol. Shot and killed motorist Rene Guevara in December 2004.

Erich Feimer: Fired in connection with dishonesty about use of force during an arrest on report and to several supervisors
Reason: Memory loss
Fired, Reinstated in arbitration and by Riverside County Superior Court
Currently, works in patrol.

The reversal of Officer Cliff Mason's suspension

Officer Benjamin Shafer is unfired in arbitration

Richard Prince's suspension overturned

Erich Feimer: Did poor memory cause him to be less than honest?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

More drops in the bucket

Is Officer Daniel Floyd up to his old tricks in his new assignment at La Sierra already? If so, the honeymoon is over folks. All Latino/as are urged to file complaints with the CPRC if they believe that Floyd has mistreated them.

The Racial Profiling...oops I mean Traffic Stop Study Forum sponsored by that interesting duo, the Human Relations Commission and the Riverside Police Department. Appearing for the department will be former Lexington Police Department officer and current Chair of the Criminal Justice department at Cal State Univ. San Bernardino, Larry Gaines, accompanied by Police Chief Russ Leach. Directing the production will be Dr. Pedro Paynes, who serves as the director of both the HRC and the Community Police Review Commission. Their combined message to the community is that:


Starring Russ Leach and Dr. Larry Gaines

With Dr. Pedro Paynes, as EMCEE

The Chorus will include members of the HRC....performing a variety of dance numbers.


The forum is supposed to have 45 minutes allotted for Gaines to present his report, then 10 minutes for the representatives from the RPD led by Officer Cheryl Hayes(one of the department's three Black female officers) to respond. Yes, it appears they are going there. An hour has been set aside for the audience to comment and ask questions about Gaines' presentation. We'll see how that goes....

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Racial Profiling Forum, or dog and pony show?

Riverside Police Department
Human Relations Commission

2004 Traffic Stop Study Special Public Forum

Wednesday, July 20
6 PM
The Main Branch of the Public Library

The intent of this forum is to discuss the 2004 Traffic Stop Study prepared by Larry K. Gaines, PhD at California State University, San Bernardino, Department of Criminal Justice
The report is an analysis of traffic stop data in the City of Riverside. The Riverside Police Department continues to collect and analyze its traffic stop data to determine if any patterns emerge that point to racial profiling.

Is it racial profiling, or Criminal profiling?

Okay, this is an age-old question in my town, when it comes to defining the reasons behind the tendacies of police officers to focus their attention on Black and Hispanic motorists. And this latest "special forum" by our city's buffer commission is supposed to put this complex issue into terms of black and white for all of us

I'm asking the above question, because according to Gates who is mentioned in this flier as the author of the RPD's traffic stop studies, RPD cops only perform pretext stops on criminals. But if the release rates are well over 50% for Black motorists, and the hits from searches on Black motorists is so low(<10%),>Some like former city councilman Alex Clifford say, that there is no such thing as "driving while Black" because actually it's "driving while criminal". Ameal Moore, the only Black council member became really upset at Clifford's words. He wasn't the only one.

Also appearing will be Chief Russ Leach, who will represent his department, and will most likely back up whatever Gates says.

Absent from the podium will be the professor who conducted the OTHER research study on the RPD, in 2000. Dr. Robert Nash Parker, from UCR's Robert Presley Center, though he has been invited to come as a member of the public.


Friday, July 08, 2005

What exactly is an internal investigation?

Lt. John Wallace, who heads the Attorney General's Task Force said it.
Lt. John De La Rosa who heads the department's Internal Affairs Division said it.
Chief Russ Leach who heads the department has said it.

There's a whole lot of internal investigations going on!

Civilian complaints are down!
Internal Investigations are up!
Accountability reigns!
Knock out some champagne.

When De La Rosa appeared before the Community Police Review Commission during a training session, he said that things were very busy in Internal Affairs. Buried in the police department's 2005-06 budget in the middle of a footnote, is the addition of a fifth sergeant to the Internal Affairs' Division.

So what exactly is an internal investigation?

In official terms, an internal investigation is one initiated against an officer by another officer. Statistically, these investigations tend to take longer to complete, and are also more likely to have their allegations of misconduct sustained. Why, should be obvious. Since they are initiated by police officers who never lie while the general public is comprised of liars, then there really needs to be no explanation for the higher sustain rate.

By their nature and because of state laws passed to protect the reputations of law enforcement officers, internal investigations are considered, top secret. Hence, the reaction of both De La Rosa and Leach to my attempts to obtain more information about an investigation conducted involving Det. Joseph Miera.

Miera has worked for the RPD for about 14 years, and has spent two separate stints totalling six years inside the department's gang intelligence unit. Last January, the Internal Affairs Division was conducting an internal investigation of Miera for undisclosed reasons. It is not clear whether this investigation has been completed. It is not clear what allegations involving Miera the department investigated.

Internal investigation aside, Miera continues to work in the police department, and continues to testify as a gang expert on criminal cases. He continues to testify in cases involving the seizure of narcotics. On April 14 and April 28, Miera testified in the preliminary hearing of an alleged 1200 Blocc Crip who was arrested last December on drug charges related to selling cocaine. Mark Roberts was arrested on Dec. 8, 2004 and had been an associate of another alleged gang member, Dione Mckinnon who had been arrested on July 14, 2004 on drugs and weapon charges, also by Miera.

McKinnon's lawyer said that his client had made allegations of the contraband being planted in his vehicle, said that he was being set up. In Miera's police report that he wrote detailing the events which led up to McKinnon's arrest, he states that McKinnon had said "that's not mine" after he pulled the change purse out of the secret compartment inside the dashboard of McKinnon's car, with the packets of cocaine still out of sight.

Miera's deduction on his report was that McKinnon was proclaiming his innocence, knowing that the change purse contained drugs, which could very well be true. Or perhaps, McKinnon did not recognize the change purse being removed from inside his car. The fact that the detective on this case is under investigation by his own department for alleged misconduct complicates the issue greatly when it comes to who is telling the truth and who is lying. The additional problems faced when it is not known what the alleged misconduct is, and what the investigative findings were create a situation which can not be anything but tainted with doubt and suspicion. That is the legacy of "top secret" internal investigations of police officers.

Business as usual, for a detective in the gang unit to testify at preliminary hearings and criminal trials. But does this mean that Miera has been investigated and cleared of wrong-doing? Does it mean he is being investigated and has not been notified, because supposedly when internal investigations are conducted by the RPD, the subject officer is the last to know.

How much damage an officer under investigation for allegations of misconduct does to his unit, and those in it, can not be estimated easily, but it is there.

Or does it just mean that internal investigations are just two words strung together that really have no meaning at all.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Steroid Abuse and the RPD: Did 'roid rage kill Hector Islas?

Last week, I had a run in in the parking lot at the Orange St. Station with a bald, bearded plain-clothed officer who got out of his vehicle, walked around the back of it glared at me, then walked away. After walking several yards, he turned his head at me and glared at me again, before walking into the station.

When I first saw him, I had no idea who he was. I just assumed it was a skinhead who was on an anger trip, even before I realized it was an RPD cop. After he turned around and glared at me the second time, it dawned on me who he was. I also realized that despite the fact that this particular officer had been a source of harassment for several years, I had not recognized his appearance because in the several months since I had last seen him, he had put on an enormous amount of bulk, mostly on his upper frame. He also had swelling in his face, and unlike most cops who get pissed off at a drop of the hat, he was unable to hide his anger.

For some reason, warranted or not, I thought of steroids. If you've been to a gym, you've seen them. Men and sometimes women who bulk up seemingly overnight. Men who shave their heads to compensate for acceleration of male-pattern baldness. Bad facial and back acne where there was none. Swelling in the cheeks and lower face because of edema, from kidneys working overtime. And of course, 'roid rage which manifests as explosive anger, aggression, paranoia and depression.

And most of these folks are probably lay people, who do not carry a gun and have the enforcement powers of a police officer.

Steroids are a serious, if under discussed problem in law enforcement agencies. And how do you know if the officer who pulls you over for a traffic stop, or responds to a call for service, is a steroid junkie?

You have the new short, skinny officers who develop wrists the size of tree trunks in a matter of weeks. There is the former sergeant of Special Operations who had triceps the size of most people's thighs, again developing in a short period of time. His body dutifully shrunk down to human size when he left that division, and eyebrows raised at that among more than a few civilians.

When people think about steroids and the RPD, they talk about the Hector Islas case. Perhaps if both the RPOA and the department had been honest about the issue of drugs and drug testing of officers in this case, Islas and steroid abuse or more specifically 'roid rage would not be used in the same sentence. We will never know for sure now if they should be.

In January 1997, six RPD officers chased and beat to death a Hispanic man with a small frame, and who, while alive, had stood 5'6 and weighed about 135 pounds. Officers Larry Gonzalez, Bob Williams, Jim Simons, Marco Quesada, Vernon Bryant(ret) and probational officer Mark Hake pursued Islas back and forth across the 91 freeway, to Sherman Indian High School, the spot where Islas died. The offical cause of death was Asphyxiation caused by exertion and metamphetamine use, which is a common explanation for cause of death in chokehold cases. However, Islas' family did an independent autopsy and found injuries including broken and dislocated cervical vertebrae, broken facial bones, broken upper and lower jaws and teeth.

Islas' wife had to go to the morgue to identify the face of a man she no longer recognized.

The pictures of Islas after his killing were the subject of a motion filed by the city of Riverside to suppress them, and hide them from any civil jury listening to the case, because they were deemed inflammatory and misleading in nature. Some of the injuries appeared worse than they really were, the motion stated. The case settled on the eve of trial for $790,000 including payouts of $150,000 a piece to each one of Islas's children.

The photographs remained unseen by a jury, so the city got its wish. However, Islas' widow showed people what her husband had looked like when he died, and what lay on the morgue table was no longer human.

The focus of this case became former officer Vernon Bryant who in the initial hours after Islas's death decided to go out and get drunk, presumably to flush his system out by taking advantage of the diuretic effects of alcohol. Quesada had initially balked at submitting a blood sample for 30 minutes, according to court documents, because he didn't like needles. He gave a urine sample instead. Bryant however evaded drug testing for a longer period, after telling people that he was afraid what his test would reveal. Finally, according to a sworn affidavit by Williams submitted in the city's opposition to a preliminary injunction filed by the RPOA in civil court, Williams had gone to persuade Bryant to provide a sample. Williams was chosen for this job because he had been involved in a fatal shooting in 1991 so he knew the drill. Bryant asked Williams if the drugs tested for included steroids and ephedrine. Williams answered, yes.

Well, to most people, it does not take common sense to understand that if someone being tested for drug use without prior warning asks if certain drugs will be detected than you have better than even odds that this person has or is currently taking these illegal substances. If you have one dead man, with crushed cervical vertabrae and injuries in bones that require over 300 pounds of force to fracture, and one officer who is asking about steroid detection, then you have a serious problem with determining if steroid abuse played any role in that homicide.

This is not to say that steroids played a role in Islas's death, but questions were raised, and then covered up, because too often in controversial situations, the truth is trumped by damage control.

Eventually Bryant gave a sample, the results of which would never be revealed because the RPOA rushed off to get a TRO in Riverside County Superior Court, because after all, the privacy of police officers when it comes to drug testing is only paramount when there might actually be a positive drug test involved. Did Bryant have either steroids or ephedrine in his urine? Did he have either or both in his urine when he was involved in the killing of Islas? It would be ironic indeed if a man who allegedly was under the influence of drugs had his life ended in part by an officer under the influence of drugs.

Ever heard of 'roid rage? Did it play a role in Islas's death, and the decision of the city to eventually settle the case?

Thanks to the RPOA, we, the public will never know what drugs our officers are taking, and what substances they inject into their bodies. Bryant retired eventually, having already survived a firing and reinstatement in the RPD before Islas's death and with him, went the truth.

Islas case law:

Islas v the city of Riverside(RIC305968)

The Riverside Police Officers Assn v the City of Riverside(RIC292595)

RPOA successfully covers up urine tests

Anyway, I heard my first rumor about the RPD and steroid use from someone who posted at some site that the trainer at his gym in Riverside had customers in the RPD who bought steroids from him. That was it. No names, no further information. He did not know if the trainer was being truthful or trying to draw him into steroid use by saying that if the cops do it, it must be good stuff. If it's just idle boasting, then there is no steroid problem. But if it's the truth, then what?

Larry Gaines, PhD of Cal State San Bernadino who writes those superficially analyzed reports on RPD traffic stops each year, co-wrote a rather interesting article on steroid abuse in law enforcement, and he urged law enforcement administrators to give a damn about what their officers were injecting into themselves to become "bad ass" street cops.


Unknown, or less well-known, to anabolic steroid abusers
are certain detrimental emotional and psychological symptoms.
Indeed, it is maintained that "aggressive behavior is almost
universal among anabolic steroid users." (9) There are
documented case histories of severe depression, visual and
auditory hallucinations, sleep disorders, thoughts of suicide,
outbursts of anger, anorexia, psychomotor retardation, and
irritability. (10)

Behaviors that go along great with being a police officer, naturally.


Though departments may find steroid abuse issues difficult
to deal with now, they must become aware that developments in
the legal environment (17) signal strong social apprehension
about the use of anabolic steroids. Administrators should share
this concern, given the consequences that may result from police
anabolic steroid abuse. Increased citizen complaints against
officers, unprovoked off-and on-duty violence, a negative impact
on abusers bodies, increased damage to police-community
relations, officer involvement in illegal activity, civil
litigation, and adverse media coverage are problems that may
likely arise from officer abuse of steroids.

The first step toward confronting steroid abuse must be a
desire on the police department's part to know more about police
anabolic steroid use. The reasons why officers become involved
in taking steroids and to what extent they use them is unclear.
Is it a matter of ignorance or lack of information that officers
simply don't know the risks they are taking? Is it because they
believe that not only are they "out-gunned," but also
"out-muscled" by criminals? Does it have little to do with work
and more to do with a narcissistic involvement with one's own
body? These questions and many others must be addressed as
departments cope with steroid issues.

Food for thought for administrators, but unlike Gaines' "there aint no racial profiling by the RPD, no siree!" annual reports, this research paper of his will likely be ignored, which would be a tragic error on the part of any law enforcement agency, especially one which pays thousands of dollars annually for those racial profiling reports. After all, this paper is available online for free.

Steroid Abuse by Cops

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Some Quick Drops in the Bucket

RPD Officer Roger Sutton will have to wait another two months to go to trial, after presiding Judge Edward D. Webster formally recused himself from a case he had been presiding over for several months as it continued to twist and turn its way through the labyrinth known as Riverside County Superior Court.

Webster admitted to both parties that he had married former Deputy Chief Audrey Wilson to her current husband retired Sergeant Mike Wilson. He also said that he was friends with both of them and Audrey Wilson's parents. He also was friendly with most of the other defendants in the case who were employed with the Riverside Police Department.

Before Webster chose the eve of trial to drop his bombshell, both sides argued over the pile of motion de limines the city had filed in court to expunge even the mere scent of racism from the trial. Ten motions, some of them clearly connected with the allegations of racial harassment made by Sutton in his original complaint filed in August 2000.

Eugene Ramirez, the attorney for the city, said that if the motions are not granted, then the trial will not take three weeks as scheduled but between five and six weeks.

Three weeks to try the facts, and three more to try the plaintiff. That is what Riverside has come to during the first five years of the new millenium.

The department has remained steadfast in its silence involving the internal investigation of Gang and narco detective Joseph Miera. When asked about the status of the investigation, Lt. John De La Rosa who heads Internal Affairs cited confidentiality to every question asked, then finally said, "You know it's confidential." Then he advised me to talk to the city attorney.

So basically, yes there is an investigation and it is currently ongoing otherwise, De La Rosa would have said that one had been completed as he had in the DUI case involving Officer Melissa Brazil.

Been there, done that in writing. A supervisor of civilian front desk employees at the Riverside Police Department's Orange St. Station refused to forward a Freedom of Information Act request sent to Chief Leach, and opened it up, reading it, then referring it to the Record's Division where no doubt, it still sits.

Fortunately, the city attorney's office emailed the FOI request to Chief Leach's office and Leach responded, in writing in a letter received on July 5. He said that Miera is still employed by the department but cited confidentiality and threw out a bunch of penal codes preventing the public from knowing what its own public servants have been up to, during their time out serving the public.

The city plans to appeal the decision of Riverside County Superior Court judge Stephen Cunnison to reinstate former Det. Al Kennedy back to the police department. Chief Russ Leach also has stated that he will not allow Kennedy back into the department.

To the unidentified plain-clothed, bearded bald anger-management case in the Orange St. Station Parking lot this past week....get off the steroids, they're bad for you.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

How to utilize the complaint process

Let's say that you wish to file a complaint against an RPD officer and you want to know the procedure. Well, here it is:



The following information is provided by the ACLU:

What to do if police stop you

Identifying the subject officer(s):

Things to help you ID the officer if he or she is not helpful at self-identification or refuses to provide names and badge numbers:

Name tag Not easily read, either at night or in bright sunlight, that is if the officer's even wearing it.

Badge: The number imprinted on it is the officer's identifying number, more easily read than an ID tag.

Physical Description: Race, gender, height, build, hair color(if there's hair), eye color, type and model of sunglasses, facial hair, scars, facial marks, tattoos(triceps, calves, ankles)

Vocal: Tone, Volume, speech impediments, regional or national accents, word usage.

Time/location of incident:The officer is required to give his location to the dispatcher, when on break, making a stop or at a call. However, the more inappropriate the incident, the less likely the officer would have recorded his or her location.

Squad Car: Look for the four digit number, on the rear, and one side of the vehicle. The first digit is always a "3". Also, the license plate, the presense or absense of a siren and whether there is an insigna or writing on the outside that indicates whether it is being driven by a member of the canine unit, or the METRO team.

If you can not get identifying information on officers in cases where multiple officers are involved, then try to focus on the officer who you have the most contact with, and is the subject of your complaint. Also, try to find the identity of the sergeant assigned to supervise the involved officers and whether or not he or she was onscene during the incident, if you do not know this information. This is important to know now, because you may discover that this sergeant has been assigned to do the personnel complaint investigation.


Under departmental policy, all patrol officers and their supervisors are required to carry digital audiorecorders. Under this departmental policy, they are required to activate their recorders at ALL officer-initiated professional contacts whether traffic stops or pedestrian stops. Failure to do so constitutes violation of said policy(wink, wink) but it is unknown whether any officer has ever been disciplined for failure to activate his or her recorder for the duration of the encounter.

There are currently 13 vehicles equipped with digital video recorders. These are activated during pursuits and when the officer leaves the vehicle. They can also provide audio recording for a certain distance away from the officer's vehicle.


As soon as you are able to, write down the details of your experience or dictate them into an audio or video recorder while your memory is fresh. When new information surfaces in your mind, add that information to your detailed account. If you have any injuries, i.e. bruises, red marks from handcuffs, scrapes, etc. document them by taking photographs. Even if the department takes photographs of your injuries, take your own independent photographs when you are able to do so.


You can go to the following locations to pick up a complaint form:

1) CPRC office, Sixth Floor at City Hall, 3900 Main st. (near 10th st.)

2) RPD administrative headquarters, 4102 Orange St. (1 block east of courthouses)

3) Lincoln Field Operations Station, Lincoln st. near Adams(just look for the building without windows)

4) Internal Affairs Division, 3400 Central, adjacent to 91 freeway overpass, 2nd floor

OR you can file a complaint over the phone, call:

1)CPRC office: (951)826-5509

2) Police Russ Leach: (901) 826-5940

OR you can file a complaint online:

online complaint form

You should have little difficulty obtaining a complaint form from any of these locations, as the department is in the final year of its stipulated agreement with the state and eager to make a good impression on those who are auditing their systems including the citizen complaint process. If anyone refuses, obstructs or applies conditions to you regarding access to a complaint form or the process for any reason, then they are in violation of departmental policy and the department could be in violation of state law and this person can be reported to the consultant who is in charge of overseeing the stipulated agreement.

A separate complaint form is required for each officer listed as a subject of the complaint. The form is on carbon paper and makes copies which will be sent to the involved officer(s), the supervisor of the officers and the Internal Affairs Division.

Provide names and contact information of witnesses. File your paperwork at the location which feels most comfortable to you. Ask for a copy to be stamped with the time and date the complaint has been received by either the police department or the CPRC office.

WARNING: the officers who are the subject of the complaint will be able to access your personal information including date of birth, address and contact phone number so think carefully about whether or not you want to include your personal contact information. If you do not, then ask an uninvolved friend or family member to provide that information for your use. The inclusion of the complaintant's personal information on forms accessible by the involved officers has been challenged in policy recommendation form by the Community Police Review Commission but the police department rejected this recommendation, finding no compelling reason to not release this information to these officers.

If you disagree with this decision to continue to release personal information on complainants to involved officers:

Contact: Chief Russ Leach and tell him so, at:

(951) 826-5940 or email him at:

Officers usually do not harass or attempt to contact complainants because most of them want to be on their best behavior while being investigated. Other officers have no interest in harassing complainants. Unfortunately, occasionally there are exceptions. In the past, officers have even taken people who have filed complaints against them to jail as punishment. If an officer does try to harass, intimidate or contact you during the complaint process, initiate a separate complaint against him for this misconduct and go to the civil court and file a restraining order against this officer. It will of course never be granted by a judge in Riverside County Superior Court but it will send a message to the department that you are not to be harassed because you filed a complaint against an officer.



After you file your complaint, you will receive a letter in the mail from the Internal Affairs Division acknowleging that they have received your complaint and have assigned it to be investigated. The letter will start out, with text that states how many contacts the department's officers have had with members of the public and how overwhelmingly, these contacts have been positive. Well, this might be true, but it has nothing to do with what has happened to you. Do not be distracted by this attempt to make it appear as if there must be a problem with you, if the overwhelming number of contacts by police with the public are positive. This is the first of what may be several attempts by the department to dissuade you or discourage you from filing your complaint, but just remained focused in terms of your complaint.

You may be asked to sign paperwork which is optional in relation to the civil or criminal penalties that can be levied against you if you knowingly file a false complaint. No one should ever file a complaint that is false. If you are standing with truth on your side, then you will be fine if you sign these documents.

The complaint will be assigned to a sergeant, who either works in the Internal Affairs Division or more likely, to a field sergeant or watchcommander who works in the Field Operations Division, where the vast majority of complaints arise. The Internal Affairs Division investigates internal investigations initiated by other officers and also performs administrative reviews of incustody use of force incidents, including shootings. Its representatives actually handle very few citizen complaints, even though the department has been strongly encouraged to increase the proportion of its personnel complaints investigated by the Internal Affairs Division. Chief Leach has responded by saying that the department does not have enough sergeants to assign to all the personnel complaints. That may very well be true, but that is not the complainant's problem.

The other option is if the CPRC chose to independently investigate citizen complaints. It has this power according to the city's charter, but statistically, the private investigating firm retained by the CPRC is only assigned to look into about 1% of all complaints.

At any rate, you will be contacted by the investigator to set up an interview most of the time. Your witnesses may or may not be interviewed. According to policy, ALL witnesses listed on a personnel complaint form are to be interviewed, but in actuality this does not occur. The reason why, is because the complaint process is built to help the officer who is being complained about, NOT the person who is filing the complaint. If you remember one thing during the entire process, this needs to be it.

Interview tips

When you set up your interview with the investigator, there are some things that you need to do, and one thing you need to remember. The RPD complaint process is an adversarial system, and you are considered the adversary to all parties involved in the complaint including the investigator.

What you need to do is set up the interview in a location of your choosing Do NOT agree to meet the investigator at the Internal Affairs Division. Agree on a location that feels most familiar to you, and one where you feel comfortable. The investigator should agree to this, but if he does not, then call Lt. John De La Rosa at (951)751-3500 and tell him to set the supervisor straight. There is no policy that states that the investigator has the right to state the location of the complaint interview, but do not be surprised if one will try on your case. Be prepared.

Bring at least one witness to your interview, both to be an independent set of eyes and ears, and to be moral support for you. An investigator is less likely to intimidate you, or try to do so, if there is someone else present. This is especially important if two investigators tag-team your interview, which happens in complaints involving major allegations or those which are politicially sensitive for the department and the city.

Record the interview. The investigator will be recording it, for professional purposes. You need to do like, so that at least one unabridged copy of your interview exists. This protects you.

Request that the investigator conduct the interview in plain-clothes. If you do not do this, he or she will show up in uniform for the interview. According to departmental policy, a uniformed officer is the first level of force used against a civilian. That is usually its purpose during the interview as well.

Always be calm, polite and even-tempered. This won't be easy, because these interviews can be stressful enough, because by relating the officer(s)misconduct, it causes you physiologically and emotionally to relive it. That's normal. If the officer behaves inappropriately and baits you with questions, remarks or asks leading questions, remain polite, and remember you have it on tape. If you feel the investigator behaved inappropriately or exercised bias against you during the interview or defended the officer, then file a separate complaint against him with Internal Affairs, with a copy of the recording as evidence.

If possible, contact your witnesses on the complaint to ensure that they have been contacted by the department for their interviews. Often, the complaint investigators fail to interview all the witnesses on a complaint despite the fact that departmental policy 4.12 requires them to do so. If your witnesses have not been contacted, then call Lt. John De La Rosa at (951)751-3500 and tell him to set the supervisor straight.

After your interview is conducted, you will not hear from the investigator again in most cases. You should however call him or De La Rosa from time to time to check on the progress of your complaint.

Once you have been interviewed, then the witnesses on your side will be interviewed, along with the witnesses on their side(usually other officers) before the final witness is interviewed, which is the officer(s) who are the subject of the complaint. Your statement will be accessible to that officer(s) ONLY if the allegations on the complaint are sustained against him, her or them.

Upon completion of the investigation, the complaint will go up the chain of command within the police department for evaluation and review. The material in the investigation will also go to the CPRC office for processing before it is presented to the CPRC for discussion. The executive director of the CPCR and the commissioners are able to send the complaint back for further investigation or research if they have questions or find problems with the process. After this is done, you will receive a letter from the CPRC giving you a date when your complaint will be discussed in closed sessions which are held the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month. This gives you an opportunity to appear before the CPRC to comment on your complaint before the closed session.


The CPRC will meet at least once to decide the findings for the allegations on your complaint. Then those findings will be sent to the City Manager's office, along with the department's findings and the city will make the final decision. If both sides come up with similar findings, which they do about 99% of the time, then the city will usually side with both entities. If there's a split decision which has occurred less than 25 times in four years, then the city will probably choose to side with the department.

Actually, although the CPRC is a process where decisions are made by a civilian body, abeit one that is top-heavy with people coming from law enforcement backgrounds, do not be surprised if you receive a sustained allegation from the city based on what the department decided, rather than what the CPRC decided. Most civilian forms of oversight have sustain rates that are lower than those of the departments they oversee.

When the city makes its decision, they will send you a letter in the mail with the allegations and findings. They will of course, not tell you which officer received which finding on which allegation, if multiple officers are involved. You need to use your own powers of deduction to sort it all out.


Each finding will have one of four dispositions. Here they are, and what they mean, in order of frequency.

Unfounded: The most common finding, unfortunately. It means that after perusing all the evidence, it is determined that the incident did not occur. Remember, you are dealing with two entities, the department and the CPRC, who want to give "good" officers the benefit of the doubt. If two of the officers deny something happened, and both of them failed to turn on their recorders to back them up(oops) then that means it did not happen. According to CPRC Chair Michael Gardner, most of the complaints fall in this category.

This finding will be kept not in an officer's personnel file but a separate storage area for posterity sake.

Exonerated: It happened, but the action was legal, justified and proper. In the words of CPRC Chair, Michael Gardner, it means that the complainant experienced something legally done to them, but just didn't like what is happening. What it also means, but no one tells you, is that although the action might be wrong, the departmental policies are so poorly written that there are none that cover this type of behavior so the officer who does it can not be held accountable for his or her actions.

This finding will be kept not in an officer's personnel file but a separate storage area for posterity sake.

Not sustained: After perusing the evidence, no determination of guilt on an allegation can be made. With the advent of the digital audiorecorders, this finding has increased greatly. This probably means that they are not being used as often as they are required to be.

This finding will be written down and placed in an officer's personnel records for a period of five years in accordance to state law.

Sustained: The officer committed the misconduct. This is the rarest finding and basically only happens if the officer admits the behavior. Of course, there are instances where the officer can admit to the misconduct and still receive a finding of "unfounded" particularly on discourtesy complaints.

This finding will be written down and placed in an officer's personnel records for a period of five years in accordance to state law.

Another possible finding is Misconduct Noted which is given when a policy violation is uncovered which was not originally part of the complaint. It is treated the same as a sustained finding.



if the officer receives a sustained finding, then the chief of police has the option of disciplining that officer. The officer then receives a copy of the entire investigation and prepares for the disciplinary process. He or she can receive the following forms of discipline either individually or in combination:

Written Reprimend This is the most common and consists either of a written memo outlining the misconduct and the reason why the reprimend is written. It can also simply be a fill-in-the-blank sheet with a check list where "written reprimend" is checked off.

Training For some sustained allegations including policy violations, discourtesy or excessive force, the officer might be sent to receive more training. When Chief Leach first came on board, he said that training was the most common form of discipline he handed out. However, statistics did not back him up, showing that he actually handed out very little training, and lots of written reprimends. His reaction was to stop allowing the public to access this statistical data.

suspension Time off from work without pay, from one work-day to three years of work-days as occurred in the case involving disgraced Det. Al Kennedy.

transfer The officer is transferred to another assignment or if in patrol, another location

termination of employment The officer is least for a couple of years before an arbitrator reinstates him. Then he either comes back to work or wins a free retirement.

demotion The officer is demoted as part of his discipline to a lower rank.

And last but not least....

Promotion This may seem contraindicated to most folks who are sane and possess common sense, but certain officers are above being disciplined even if they commit gross misconduct. These officers quite naturally, are promoted instead. It happens. I know.

If you think this process is grossly ineffective or unfair, it just means that you are smart and you are definitely not alone. Fortunately, there are other options...

Additional Tools:

Small Claims Court: People have successfully sued the Riverside Police Department in Small Claims Court, in relation to incidents involving excessive force. In one case involving officer Dave Ruddy, the plaintiff was awarded $500 by the judge who ruled that the officer had used excessive force against him after he had been handcuffed.

Citation:Jerome Burrel v the city of Riverside(MVS136950)

Minute order:

11/24/1999 - 8:00 AM DEPT. 07



Filing in Small Claims Court

for cases of retaliation upon filing a complaint:

civil temporary restraining order forms

Newer›  ‹Older