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

Sunday, October 29, 2006

CPRA Watch: Mental health training

The following California Public Records Act request was sent nearly three weeks ago. To date, there has not been a response in writing from either the city or the police department.

The issue of creating and implementing training to assist police officers in interacting with those individuals who are mentally ill, mentally disabled or medically ill has been one that community members have been pushing since the fatal officer-involved shooting of Lee Deante Brown in April.

The incustody death of Terry Rabb, a diabetic suffering a severe hypoglycemic episode that occurred last October and the fatal officer-involved shooting of Todd Argow, who suffered from clinical depression and allegedly committed "suicide by police officer" increased the concern in the community that the Riverside Police Department do what is done in other departments in major cities which is to develop and implement a mental health crisis intervention program.

Capt. Pete Esquival was assigned the task of researching and designing a program that was to be used by the police department, while he was serving as the personnel and training captain in Leach's office. In July, Esquival was transferred to the Magnolia Station and replaced by Capt. Michael Blakely. It is not clear what Blakely has done to further the development of this program as there has been very little news on what is happening to date. Hopefully, this CPRA request could have shed some light in this area but as of yet, it has received no response.


Chief Russ Leach
Riverside Police Department
4102 Orange St.
Riverside, CA 92501

RE: Public Records Act Request

Dear Chief Leach,

Pursuant to my rights under the California Public Records Act (Government Code Section 6250 et seq.), I ask to obtain a copy of the following, which I understand to be held by your agency:

The following information from the Personnel and Training Division and/ or other relevant divisions:

1) Current department procedures, policies and training for dispatching and the assessment and handling of 51/50 calls by police officers

2) Statistical information on the number of 51/50 calls handled by month for 2006 and by year for the previous five years.

3) Current progress report on discussions with Victor Lloyd from the Mental Health Association of South-Western Ohio, Inc.

4) Progress report on the implementation of a mental health crisis intervention program and its current timeline.

5) Current training for officers in making assessments and in handling of the mentally ill or medically incapacitated including combative, nonresponsive or suicidal individuals.

As you can see, all the components on this list pertaining to issues involving the mentally ill, the mentally incapacitated and law enforcement, in terms of departmental policies, procedures, statistics and training. At a community meeting last April, Chief Russ Leach spoke of the department's interest in addressing issues pertaining to contacts between police officers and the mentally ill population andsolicitedd the community members for assistance.

Different individuals provided the police department with information of individuals to contact and programs to investigate including Mental Illness Crisis Intervention teams in Southern California, Portland, Oregon and Memphis, Tennessee. The department also received a referral involving an expert on training law enforcement officers how to interact with the mentally ill, named Victor Lloyd from the Mental Health Association of South-Western Ohio, Inc.

Different individuals have contacted and spoken to officers in the department about the current status of the mental health training program and have received different responses, ranging from "We do our own training" in response to an inquiry by a county mental health expert, to different variations of responses that nothing is really going on at the moment or that the training is very limited in scope, which has prompted this CPRA request to your department.

This assignment was initially handled by Capt. Pete Esquival while he was assigned to the Personnel and Training Division and I have been informed that this responsibility has now been reassigned to Capt. Michael Blakely who now heads that division.

I ask for a determination on this request within 10 days of your receipt of it, and an even prompter reply if you can make that determination without having to review the record[s] in question.If you determine that any or all or the information qualifies for an exemption from disclosure, I ask you to note whether, as is normally the case under the Act, the exemption is discretionary, and if so whether it is necessary in this case to exercise your discretion to withhold the information.

If you determine that some but not all of the information is exempt from disclosure and that you intend to withhold it, I ask that you redact it for the time being and make the rest available as requested.In any event, please provide a signed notification citing the legal authorities on which you rely if you determine that any or all of the information is exempt and will not be disclosed.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.


Mary Shelton

Cc: Capt. Michael Blakely

City Manager Brad Hudson

Steven Frasher, Press Information Officer

City Council


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