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

Friday, September 29, 2006

What would Lockyer think?

There is a saying among many Christians, that when they decide whether or not to do something, they ask a higher power for advice. First, they ask themselves, "What would Jesus do," and then they respond accordingly to how they read that answer.

Adopting a similar philosophy, the question to be asked here will be, what would Lockyer think? Bill Lockyer is the state attorney general, for California although he is currently seeking a different political office in the upcoming elections.

Lockyer spoke of and finally wrote about the partnership that he hoped to see exist between the city government, the police department and the city's residents. These are the three stakeholders in the rather expensive and extensive reform process that took place the previous five years. Different people will have different opinions about who the most responsible party was, but the one thing that is very clear is that unless all three partners are engaged, there will not be any lasting reforms.

Several recent developments among the partners brought this issue back to light and served as a reminder of exactly what Lockyer meant when he made those statements and the main reason why he chose to place the city under a stipulated judgment in the first place.

Apparently, the city government believes it has no role to play, nor holds any responsibility involved in this ongoing process. Even while it so far has failed to deliver on promises made earlier this year and there have been hundreds of police officers and earlier, dispatchers and other employees congregating at city council meetings arguing for due process in their labor negotiations, the city government still spends much of its time patting itself on the back for the great job it has done. That most definitely is not what Lockyer would want to see.

Let's start with Monday.

The city of Riverside has finally decreed that it will present the first quarterly report of the police department's progress in terms of its implementation of the Strategic Plan. On Monday, City Manager Brad Hudson told Councilman Frank Schiavone that it would be presented before the city council meeting, in two weeks, after Schiavone spoke with him after the Governmental Affairs Committee meeting. It is not clear whether or not the city has agreed to a contract with former AG consultant Joe Brann as was promised last March.

The department's Audit and Compliance Panel, headed by Lt. Brian Baitx also presented its first progress report, in front of Hudson and the command staff this week. Apparently, its six month "reorganization" process has been completed.

Still, all this interest in issuing the "quarterly" public report on the police department developed quite recently. Last week, the city council appeared to have no idea when or if a "quarterly" report would be presented to it, six months after it had promised to do so regularly. Councilman Frank Schiavone did express some concern and took some initiative to look into the matter, but even he took a more reactionary position, so reminiscent of the past city councils, in that if there are no major problems, then what needs to be looked at?

Well, what needs to be shown is that the city government is engaged in its police department and is abreast of what is going on. And that when problems exist and do arise, and they will, that these problems are addressed before they become larger. That is a lesson that the stipulated judgment should have taught but apparently the city council did not understand it, which is very unfortunate.

Then there was Tuesday.

At City Hall, on Tuesday evening, over 250 members of the Riverside Police Officers Association, the Riverside Police Administrators Association and the Brotherhood of Electrical Workers appeared to protest against the unfair labor practices that nearly every bargaining unit has alleged against the city management team. In addition, the heads of several unions have also alleged that the city has engaged in retaliatory practices against either them or their members this summer including this week.

Hudson sat and watched, his jaw set in a firm line and the fingers of one of his hands clicking his pen many times, while a dozen speakers spoke against the labor practices and in favor of a fair and competitive contracts for the city's police officers and electrical workers. The mass gathering of city employees mirrored earlier rallies held by the SEIU's General Unit this summer. The city council sat and watched in silence as usual, jaws also set and eyes blinking on occasion. The mayor was perusal, a stickler to the three-minute rule for those people who do not praise him.

The leaders of nearly every bargaining unit in the city have said that these negotiations involving their units have been the worst in recent memory and all of them lay the blame squarely at the door of Hudson and his team. However, the blame truly lies at the door of his employers, the members of the city council, who no doubt will give him high marks at his upcoming six-month performance evaluation despite the reality that with one year on the job, he has left a frightened and miserable work force in his wake.

The problems have extended beyond that work force.

Gloria Lopez, who served as the chair of the Human Resources Board, announced her resignation at a city council meeting several weeks ago. She cited continuing problems with communicating with the city's management team and of tension existing between the city and the board. At a meeting several months ago, City Attorney Gregory Priamos appeared to present a lecture and power point presentation on the Brown Act but members of the board were too frustrated with being stonewalled by the city government in their attempts to obtain information on its labor practices, to be in any mood to listen to it.

Human Resources Board Chair steps down


Lopez said the city's human resources department has failed to provide the staffing support the board needs to function properly. Likewise, Lopez said, the board never received a response from city management, the mayor or City Council to a letter sent last spring that laid out numerous instances of "communication problems" with city management.

Among their complaints was the city's failure to notify them that the human resources director had been dismissed, that the new director had ignored their requests, that their agenda had been changed without telling them, and that they were required to conduct their meetings under the Brown Act without receiving any training.

Lopez said the lack of response sent a clear message to board members that they were not wanted.

"It's just a lack of respect from the HR staff," Lopez said. "It's just very rude."

It's not just rude. It's also the city's way of telling her and the others that the all-volunteer board simply exists for appearance's sake, to make it appear as if they were performing a task, but not really honoring it. Of making it appear that its recommendations would carry some weight with the city government that it reported to, when in reality, they were not treated as being worth more than the paper they were printed on.

The city's Web site defines the role of the Human Resource Board as follows,

Nine members act in an advisory capacity to the City Council on matters related to personnel such as employment opportunities, equal employment opportunity and policies and procedures impacting Human Resources among other issues. The Board meeting with different department heads each month to receive department profiles related to activities and staffing.
Meets at 4:30 p.m. the first Monday of each month in the Main Library Board Room.

If anyone is willing to fill in the shoes of yet another frustrated person who has served on the board, here is some information also from the city site.

Time commitment may include 2-3 hours per month. For further information or to leave messages for Board members call Janis Leonard at 826-5162.

The response from the city council on this development apparently has not been very friendly either. At least one of them did not even have a clue why this board existed.

(excerpt from article)

Council member Ed Adkison said he did not recall receiving a letter from the Human Resources Board. In fact, he said, he isn't even sure what they do.

It is too bad that he did not take the initiative to find out for himself, which he would have done if it was as much a priority for him to address what goes on in the city's labor force as it is to address issues with economic development in the downtown area. Do any of the city council members have any idea what this board's purpose is?

The Human Resources Board is not alone in experiencing frustrations when attempting to address the labor issues of this city.

The Human Relations Commission earlier this year sent a letter to the City Manager's office expressing concerns about the recent demotion and firings of several key Black and Latino employees at City Hall. Actions that were begun not too long after the hiring of Hudson by the city council.

The commission did receive a response of sorts.

Soon after that letter was sent, Hudson decided to reorganize that department and their two full-time staff analyists were reduced to one of them working two days a week in that department(after at least 10 years working in that position) and the other who was already assigned to oversee a new commission, left to fill the gap. This employee resigned from the city not long after these changes were implemented.

You have to wonder, what Lockyer would think of all this, if he knew what was going on. If he learned that the city council through its city manager has broken its agreement to address issues involving the police department that concern both it and the communities of this city on a regular basis. If he discovered that the city council was not fairly addressing issues involving labor contracts with the police department's employees which impact both them and the communities of this city. If he knew that the city's employees including hundreds who work for the police department have spent this past summer going through the worst labor negotiations in years.

People have said that the stipulated agreement was against the police department, but actually it was for that agency and against the city which had neglected it for decades. I gather that many police employees may not have liked its imposition, but others probably felt in a sense relieved that it came.

For one thing, the judgment included text that stated that their employment unions would have bargaining rights during the reform process. This helped them raise their salaries and benefits during a period of time when an already understaffed(according to Lockyer's writ of mandamus) department was losing even more officers. However, now they have lost that advantage and are being treated accordingly.

For another, it provided a mechanism for reforming the department that the city could not ignore or walk away from, while pushing the department to change its patterns and practices that led to numerous alleged violations of the state's constitution and legal codes. It's too bad it had to nearly come down to a law suit to jump start it but there you go and welcome to Riverside.

That mandate needs to continue, and the city needs to honor its commitments to both of its partners in a process that really began nearly seven years ago.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Race and gender by the numbers

The Human Resources Department's latest EEO quarterly report on the police department's sworn employees reflects several trends which deviated from those found in previous reports.

For the first time, the increase in male officers in the department is not being driven by the proportional increase of White male officers. The net increase in the number of both Asian-American and Black male officers is largely responsible for the 0.32% increase shown since earlier figures were released in January 2006. The department experienced a net increase of three Black officers and two Asian-American officers, all men in the past nine months. That is definitely good news, because traditionally those are racial groups in the department that have been underrepresented in terms of hiring. The fastest growing racial group in Riverside is Asian-Americans, so it's encouraging that the department has shown some signs of tapping into pools where more candidates are found, causing the number of officers belonging to this racial group to triple in several years.

For Black officers, the female officers tend to be proportionately higher in their representation in the department than their male counterparts. This is the only ethnic or racial group in which this is the case, although the recent increase in the number of Black male officers has lessened this advantage somewhat.

During the past several years, the police department has struggled to hire and retain Black officers. One of the reasons was that the department has struggled with the issues of racism within its ranks including a discrimination, harassment and retaliation claim that received national attention in 1999, and along with other problems caused qualified candidates to look elsewhere first. More recently, a civil jury delivered a verdict of $1.64 million in connection with a racial discrimination, harassment and retaliation law suit filed in 2000 by Black officer, Roger Sutton which may soon receive closure. Many local Black candidates instead have sought employment as law enforcement officers in the Riverside County Sheriff's Department or the Corona Police Department and have avoided the Riverside Police Department and all its publicized racial problems altogether. This past hiring period for Black officers has been better than in previous years, but it remains to be seen whether it is a trend or not.

The number of Black female officers have tripled in the past three years, but their growth is still slow in terms of numbers.

Since the retirement last year of its only American Indian officer, Lt. Alex Tortes, the department has had no officers in this racial group.

For many law enforcement organizations, the issue of how to recruit and hire officers has received a lot of attention. Even as many law enforcement agencies grapple with racism and sexism, there is a push to bring more men of color and women into these agencies as law enforcement officers. Qualified Black and Latino officers can often be the subject of intense competition by different agencies to hire them, so on the surface the agencies look more diverse. Whether they each address the issues that impact retention rates of these men and women remain to be seen, however.

Different advocacy organizations have tackled these issues in different ways.

The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives has addressed the issue of recruiting Black officers at its Web site. NOBLE's leadership recommended that recruiters should target predominantly Black colleges and universities with a campaign for recruiting candidates to become law enforcement officers. This would be done through job fairs, lectures and workshops.

NOBLE recruiting efforts

The hiring of women, particularly women of color by police agencies has been problematic, and many departments including the Riverside Police Department have been the subject of law suits by female officers alleging discrimination, harassment and retaliation in the workplace. Although, law enforcement is not alone in facing this problem. Today, an article appeared in the Los Angeles Times about a discrimination and harassment claim being filed by a female employee of the Los Angeles Fire Department, which could lead to the first gender discrimination/harassment class action law suit in that department's history.

L.A. Fire Captain files discrimination claim (registered site)

The National Organization of Women and Policing which advocates for female law enforcement officers has come out with a handbook which is full of information on how police departments can improve their hiring of women as well as identify and eliminate obstacles within law enforcement agencies that hinder their retention. It addresses issues such as working while pregnant, sexual harassment, mentoring programs for women, preparing for physical agility tests and other topics.

Several years ago, a representative from this organization approached both the Riverside Police Department and the Riverside County Sheriff's Department to offer the organization's assistance on the issue of the recruitment and retention of female officers in their agencies. The reaction from both agencies was not surprising, but very disappointing.

The response from the sheriff's department was disinterest, even though at that time Sheriff Bob Doyle had convened a panel of community members from throughout the county to discuss and come up with guidelines addressing the issues of recruitment, retention and diversity in law enforcement both in terms of race and gender.

The response from the representative from the police department was not indifference, but more close to hostility. At the time, the percentage of female officers in this police department was still higher than it is now even though there had been no net gain in female officers in four years. Still, it apparently believed there were no problems or at least not any worthy of its concern anyway.

However more recently, Officer Cheryl Hayes, herself a Black female officer, said at a recruiting fair in July that the department was working on the creation of mentoring and support programs for female officers, as well as male officers and the families of officers employed by the police department which is a good use of resources that should reap dividends. A former dispatcher, Hayes had also related accounts of how she was able to talk women who had originally expressed an interest in a dispatcher position into deciding to become police officers. Hayes and other female officers offer faces for other women to look towards as examples when considering whether or not to go into the profession.

Recruiting and Retaining Women

In previous reports, Latino male officers have experienced the highest increases, although the percentage of officers in the department(@18%) is still less than half of that that reflects the city of Riverside. Unfortunately, for the first time in several years, there has been no net increase in the number or percentage of Latino officers. In fact, the percentage of Latino officers in the department has dropped for the first time in recent years.

The situation is more worrisome for Latina officers, who have not experienced any net increases in several years, even when their male counterparts were greatly increasing in number.

There are currently no women of color above the officer level.

Another law enforcement agency, Denver Police Department had struggled with the issue of diversifying its police department and was the subject of an EEOC complaint filed by the Latino Police Officers Association, Denver chapter. This article written by addressed this law suit, from a perspective that was mostly cautious, and obviously written from a perspective that is common in law enforcement.

The author raises some interesting points.

This case raises many interesting questions. Do we want a diverse workforce, or do we want the best, most qualified workforce possible? Can they be the same thing?

What's interesting about it is that the author actually considers the idea that "diversity" and "best, most qualified" are not necessarily mutually exclusive factors, that they can exist together and he actually asks the questions, which is good. Too often, the assumption in law enforcement agencies is that White and male equates "most qualified" simply because the vast majority of law enforcement officers are White men, and the majority of the pools that departments hire from are composed of mostly White men. Not surprising given that it is White male officers who most often come up with these recruitment pools.

He then asks this question.

Do we look at the overall community, or the available and eligible work force?

What follows is where he makes his mistake in his reasoning.

The author defeats his own argument by targeting the area of recruitment for his challenges against "diversity hiring". Recruitment involves measures taken not so much to hire individual police officers in a department, but to increase the pool in which that department taps into in order to hire those individual officers. Whether or not the pool in question fully represents all the qualified candidates that exist is what should be addressed. If it is not, then steps should be taken to address that problem and to broaden that pool or seek out other pools that offer other possibilities.

For example, if you are a recruiter looking for talented candidates at primarily air shows, base ball stadiums, auto shows and military installations, then you will be missing your opportunities to access many talented candidates who are female. Many of these events are primarily attended by men and if women are there, they are usually with men which may not provide the best opportunity at that time to tell them about the job opportunities at your law enforcement agency. Military installations have a larger women's pool especially women(as well as men) of color but those pools have decreased in recent years due to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So, there needs to be effort made to discover the "pools" where these talented female candidates are more plentiful. Educational institutions are one place to look. Sponsoring female oriented career expos is another method.

Unfortunately, that is not what happens here. The author does not appear to see the status quo pools as the problem which needs further examination.

He argues that the pool should be filled with the most talented, "qualified" officers but then seems resistant to increasing that pool so that it includes more men of color and women who fall in that category. If the author were truly interested in diversifying the law enforcement work force in a way that would avoid the dreaded consent decree(which should not be the main priority), it would seem that he would welcome the chance to implement changes at the recruitment level to diversify the pool of qualified individuals so that it would increase the "available and eligible work forces" coming from the communities he mentions. Any resistance to that seems geared more towards protecting the status quo and presenting it as the only legitimate recruiting pool, then blaming any lack of men of color or women in law enforcement agencies as being due to "low numbers" in the recruitment pool.

Recruitment and often racial and gender disparities begin in other "pools" including those geared towards youth.

Explorer programs for teenagers have traditionally been a mechanism used in recruiting future officers. However, the racial and gender breakdown of many explorer programs matches that found in many law enforcement agencies and the recruitment pools that explorers are often drawn from do as well. Irvine Police Department and Baltimore Police Department state on their Web sites that one of the goals of their explorer programs is as a recruitment tool, though their sites do not explain their recruitment policies. Most Web sites pertaining to law enforcement explorers programs do include a creed that they do not discriminate on the basis of race, gender or ethnicity. Missing from this list are often sexual orientation and religion, not surprising given that many explorer programs are at least indirectly connected or sponsored by the Boy Scouts of America which has a history of either banning atheists and/or gays and lesbians from their scouting troops or discouraging their participation.

It's interesting to see the arguments raised by individuals who try to state that they are concerned about diversity in law enforcement yet they apparently believe that White men have some sort of claim on the qualifications of being a police officer, simply because the current methods of recruitment(and many might say testing) are geared to them, namely because these same methods were created by White men. They seem to have difficulty believing that the possibility exists that there are many Asian-American, American Indian, Black, biracial, multiracial and Latino men and women as well as White female police candidates out there who do not get hired by these law enforcement agencies because either these agencies keep fishing in the same ponds, or they do not understand(or even care) how to go out and change their recruitment tactics to broaden their pools in which to recruit from.

This article's main intent, appeared to be a blanket warning to other agencies to avoid consent decrees in relation to what it called, "minority oriented" hiring, which is very unfortunate coming from a self-identified recruiter who began his article on a better tract. It is true that Denver Police Department had been facing some scrutiny from the Department of Justice's civil rights division in 2004, but it did not appear to be directly related to diversity issues in its hiring practices.

Partial Stats: (% difference from Jan. 2006 figures)

By Gender:

Male: 353/387 91.22% (+0.32)

Asian-American: 7

Black: 25

Hispanic: 69

White: 252

American Indian: 0

Female: 34/387 8.78%(-0.32)

Total: 34

Asian-American 1

Black: 3

Latino: 4

White: 26

American Indian: 0

Women by Rank:

Officer: 19

Detective: 9(all white)

Sergeant: 5(all White)

Lieutenant: 0

Captain: 1(White)

By Ethnicity and Race:

Asian-American: 8/387 2.1% (+0.5)

Male: 7
Female: 1

All officers

Black: 28/387 7.2% (+0.5)

Male: 25
Female: 3

Captain: 1(male)

Lieutenants: 2(both male)

Sergeant: 4(all male)

Detectives: 3(all male)

Officers: 18(three female)

Hispanic: 71/387 18.3% (-0.6)

Male: 67
Female: 4

Deputy Chiefs: 2 (both male)

Captains: 1 (male)

Lieutenants: 4 (all male)

Sergeants: 8 (all male)

Detectives: 10 (all male)

Officers: 48 (four female)

White: 280/387 72.3% (-0.5)

Male: 254
Female: 26

American Indian: 0/387 0% (0.0)

Male: 0

Female: 0


Riverside by ethnicity and race

(source: U.S. census, 2000)

Asian-American: 5.68%

Black: 7.41%

Hispanic: 38.14%

Native American: 1.09%

Pacific Islander: 0.39%

Two or more races: 5.10%

Other races: 21.0%

Riverside by gender:

Male: 49.3%

Female: 50.7%

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The lips are moving

How quickly they forget.

The promises of yesterday have become the memory slips of today. It appears that the elected officials in Riverside have already forgotten their promises to remain committed to the continued reform of the Riverside Police Department. Maybe they forgot what these promises entailed the day after they had voted 7-0, to keep them.

If a collective lapse of memory is truly what is involved in this situation, then never fear. Here is a written record of which elected official made which promise at that workshop. After all, each city council meeting is recorded with both audio and visual equipment by the city. CDs of the meeting can be "burned" and purchased, and then be put in written form. Thank goodness for technology! You can access your own CD copy of the March 28 workshop(item #8) at the city clerk's office at Riverside City Hall for under $2.00.

Call this a refresher course.

The meeting opened with comments from former AG consultant Joe Brann on how much progress the police department had made during the five years it spent under the stipulated judgment. Then elected official after elected official spoke up praising the department but also themselves and their leadership as the "new council" which was of course, so much better than the preceding ones.

They once again offered the department and its police chief, Russ Leach the moon.

Councilman Frank Schiavone said,

"I think the chief knows this is a new council and it's "ask and you shall receive"; there is nothing that the chief has asked for from this department that he has not received. "

That might have been true then. But what about now? Six months after that statement has been made. After all, what ever happened to those 120 video recorders which were promised last Christmas? What has changed in the last six months?

Anyway, what was promised at that workshop, was the following.

That Brann would be contracted by the city to conduct quarterly audits for an undetermined period of time. That the Strategic Plan would continue to be implemented as well as many of the 22 components in the stipulated judgment. Reports of both would be provided regularly to the council and public. That either the Governmental Affairs or the Public Safety Committees or even both of them would be taking up issues involving the continued reform of the police department and that either or both would provide the public with a "forum" for expressing its concerns and views about the process.

Alas, what was delivered, was nothing. What was intended to be delivered is most likely a lot less than had been promised that day. How many meetings have been held by either the Governmental Affairs or Public Safety committees to address issues pertaining to the department's implementation of the Strategic Plan?


After the city council praised the department and themselves, not necessarily in that order, they moved on to what the workshop was actually about.

City Manager Brad Hudson praised the department's police officers as "wonderful and how in all his experiences he had never encountered a "more talented group of folks, top to bottom". Of course, this is coming from a person whose department's more alleged recent actions have led to the city being sued by two unions which represent that "talented group of folks, top to bottom". Apparently, the unions representing this "talented group" are not even entitled to due process during their labor negotiations and has to sue to get back to the bargaining table.

So is Hudson a man of actions, or simply words? Whatever he is, he continued on with his speech, at first hinting at his great master plan.

"I think to ensure that we continue down that path, that I have to spend some time with Joe Brann and have some discussions with him continuing on with us a bit further down this road."

Hudson continues onward in his comments by discussing a proposal to issue regular progress reports to the city council.

"And then we will report back here on a quarterly basis to council with a lot of detailed information on what is going on in the department, how we are relating in the community, the kind of policing we are doing and also at the same time, get additional input from the community on things we might think about doing that would better our public safety work in the field."

Now that sounds like a plan, but what exactly has happened to it in the past six months? How many quarterly reports has the department or city issued during those six months?


When a California Public Records Act request was submitted to the department asking for information on the progress made by the police department since March 28, the following written response was issued:

"To date, consultant is still considering
the proposal from the City Manager's office"

So the buck was passed from the city and the police department to the "consultant" on why there had not been any progress reports rather than either entity assuming any responsibility for this continued oversight themselves in the meantime. However, this written response does show that it was intended that Brann be integrally involved in the creation of these quarterly reports, because after all, their apparent release seems contingent on him signing a contract with the city, according to that response. It is necessary to remember this, because it is clear that the city will at one point in this episode argue the opposite position on a date to be announced.

Brad Hudson made it clear what the plan was supposed to be when he made this suggestion to the city council on March 28 as shown below:

"I think that perhaps you could make a motion to let the city manager to retain outside expertise to assist in implementing the Strategic Plan and to report back to the city council quarterly"

Okay, that is what Hudson promised then. Has a contract been delivered? No, but then is Hudson batting a 1000 in getting contracts signed lately? No.

Councilman Art Gage speaks next, praising the police department and its employees:

"I have never been so impressed with a group of individuals in my life. But frankly, I mean, the quality of the captains and the lieutenants and the chief. And then the guys out in the field, the officers out on the street. They are quality individuals."

Well, that is very interesting to hear from an elected official, because after all, they are Hudson's direct employers. By the way, the captains, the lieutenants and those "quality individuals" not only do not have contracts ensuring them salaries and benefits that are also of "quality" but they are currently in litigation against the city including Gage and other members of the city council. So, once again, words do not translate into meaningful actions.

Schiavone at some point laid it out on the table(in his usual "let's get to it" style which is not a bad quality), in terms of his strong belief that the city council had to take the leadership role in this process.

"In concept I agree with the oversight, but by simply directing the city manager, I think that takes it out of the council's hands which ultimately has the responsibility."

There is not much to disagree with there. Leach runs the department. Hudson is Leach's employer and Hudson reports directly to his employers on the city council But have his employers taken that initiative since that meeting to fulfill its responsibility?


Has the city council taken the initiative to be leaders in terms of ensuring that the same officers from top to bottom that they have praised so effusively receive healthy labor contracts?

Apparently not.

Schiavone continued in his speech by asking that the committee he chairs, Governmental Affairs, be the mechanism in which to discuss issues pertaining to the department's policies. He also intended to use his committee as a forum for public input on the process. He added that he favored a "transparent" process. Oh, don't we all with city government?

"So I would like to see just a slight modification where the city manager and chief can make recommendations to Governmental Affairs, the public can participate and then it can come to the full council for debate."

Councilman Dom Betro responds to Schiavone's proposal.

" I'm not sure if this belongs in Public Safety Committee and/or I'm not sure what you mean by, I had assumed that it was going to be brought to the council on a quarterly basis."

So a territorial disagreement has begun between the two councilmen. Still, it was nice to see that there was some interest by council members to bring it to their committees for further discussion. It would have been nicer still to see it translated into meaningful action.

Brad Hudson interrupts that discussion to throw more compliments Brann's way.

"I think the thinking was that Joe[Brann] is already engaged in the oversight capacity, recently engaged with the Attorney General's office, I think he is familiar with the operations with each plan and with a lot of the issues and that it would be a reasonable plan to have him continue in a similar capacity at the direction of council."

Schiavone's interest is obviously piqued by Hudson's pronouncement and he makes a proclamation.

"Let me stop you right there, if that is where it is headed, then I will support it right now. I didn't know that was an option."

Hudson answers him.

"Yes, that was the intent."

Mayor Ron Loveridge closes out the discussion, with his usual words of how (insert council action) is a moment of historic proportions never duplicated before or since.

"This is not business as usual. This is a statement of going ahead of going forward. The commitments made are very explicit, and I think particularly the way we are going to frame the kind of accountability is well taken..."

But does the city government's recent memory lapses of the promises it made to the city's residents mean that it's business as usual? None of the promises made so enthusiastically at the workshop last March has come to fruition. Not one of them.

So what has changed from the past, which everyone has put so neatly behind them?

Initial enthusiasm, followed by apathy and disinterest are patterns that have been seen in past city councils, when it has come to issues pertaining to the police department. This shift in attitudes and what it lead to is one of the reasons why the stipulated judgment was signed in the first place.

Now that it is dissolved, this old pattern albeit with new faces involved, has returned. Also, the pattern involving labor negotiations has shifted away from how it stood while the agency was under the stipulated judgment. Civil litigation was filed by police labor unions numerous times in the 1990s and so it is already again in the 21st century, only months after the dissolution of the judgment, which also appears to be a byproduct from a shift in behaviors of those at City Hall towards the bargaining process.

Despite Loveridge's insistence that this is not "business as usual", it appears that his words may not match what is reality.

But if you repeat history, you will repeat its mistakes as well.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The crossing of fingers

Oh, how quickly the city of Riverside forgets.

One day, its elected leaders appear passionate on an issue and vow to take leadership roles in implementing their vision. The next, they cast it on the shelf and move onto the next issue which will enrapture them for all of several minutes.

That is what has happened with the Riverside Police Department mere months after the city dissolved its marriage of convenience with the state. It's back on the shelf while Mayor Ron Loveridge and the city council play with their latest toy which appears to be once again, Eminent Domain. Okay, maybe they will enjoy that one for more than several minutes, given the glee all but two of them showed over the seizure of much of Market Avenue in downtown that took place last Tuesday.

They did fool some folks last spring, at the gathering they held where the three partners in the reform process, that being the police department, the community and the city officials, talked about what would be in store to ensure the continued growth of the police department.

But then are the community members to be blamed for believing their city leadership was acting in "good faith"?

On March 28, 2006, the city council conducted a workshop to determine the fate of the Riverside Police Department after it had dissolved its stipulated judgment with the State Attorney General's office earlier that month. Each city council member as well as Mayor Ron Loveridge spoke glowingly about the progress that had been made by the police department during the past five years. Each one of them said that they were committed to continue a process which to that point had cost the city over $22.5 million and a human price across the board which is immeasurable.

One by one, each elected official stressed the important role that the city council would play in the process. In fact, it would lead that process. In fact, city leaders were tripping over themelves trying to appear as if they were the ones most committed to continuing the process.

At the workshop's end, the city council had promised to continue a structured form of oversight over the department, less stringent than what had preceded it, but there nonetheless. They had agreed to retain former AG consultant Joe Brann to serve in an auditing capacity and to have its city leaders meet quarterly and distribute progress reports on the reform process.

City Manager Brad Hudson would supervise this process, even though his expertise is economic development, not law enforcement administration. As usual, he was glib with the sound bytes.

(excerpt from this Press Enterprise article. )

Hudson joked Tuesday that Brann is "an expensive guy," but that it would be a "logical extension" to retain him.

Six months later, none of those promises have been kept.

No quarterly reports have been released by the police department to be discussed by city leadership, let alone disseminated to the public. In fact, the police department, the Strategic Plan have apparently been erased from their collective memories.

The police department has returned to its former position as the "stepchild" of the city of Riverside. The "logical extension" referred to by Hudson is currently on ice, rather than serving as an auditor. There has been no more talk about the Strategic Plan, let alone its continued implementation by city officials. And Hudson, his office and the city council have even taken on a cavalier attitude with the police department's employees, during this summer's labor negotiations with the various bargaining units. Two lawsuits filed in Riverside County Superior Court and one "strike" vote have defined the process.

But let's start at the beginning, when information was given out that implied a far rosier picture of the relationship between the Riverside Police Department and the city of Riverside, post-consent decree. The first being, that Brann was on board.

Only three months ago, a police department representative had said that Brann had been signed to a three-year contract with the city. However, according to a written response included in a recent California Public Records Act request, the truth turned out to be far different.

(excerpt from the RPD's response to CPRA letter dated Aug. 1, 2006)

1)Quarterly process of implementation of strategic
plan pursuant to guidelines set by workshop on 3/28

Response: "To date, consultant is still considering
the proposal from the City Manager's office"

Still considering? Maybe the contract that was offered has changed, since the promises made last March when signing Brann onboard appeared to be according to Hudson's jovial demeanor, a done deal. Was the city really serious when it intended to retain Brann in the first place or is this a case of crossing fingers?

Let's move onto the reforms, including extended compliance with several components of the stipulated judgment. Attorney Bill Lockyer, Brann, even the Human Relations Commission(see below) had recommended that all or a portion of the 22 recommendations remain in place. During the workshop, the city council agreed to do just that. In fact, councilman Frank Schiavone wanted the city council to address policy issues albeit through its Governmental Affairs subcommittee which he chairs. The police department's policies or anything else for that matter have yet to appear on an agenda for that committee.

The $500,000 that was allotted to purchase 120 digital video recorders, enough to equip the remainder of the fleet of squad cars, at the eleventh hour of the end of the stipulated judgment still remains unspent, well at least on the video recorders. Hudson and his sidekick, Tom DeSantis presented a laundry list of items that had to be purchased before the promised video records, but that it would get done. Some day.

Last December, the department and city had also promised to revamp the department's "cultural sensitivity" curriculum, which Chief Russ Leach called "inadequate" and "outdated". That item was referred to the community relations office, for further work. However, according to the response to the CPRA request, which included an intra-department memo sent by Officer Melissa Brazil, from Personnel and Training, about a planned meeting in September, the department is still implementing the same diversity training program from the University of California, Riverside Extension Center which was part of that "outdated" training.

About $25,000 of the city's general fund has been allotted for the 2007 Traffic Stop Study, which is a good indication that this particular reform which was also picked to be continued will be carried out.

The department's Personnel and Training Division is also laying the ground work to create and implement a mentally ill crisis intervention program. This was initiated by the department in response to issues involving the mentally ill arising from various critical incidents during the past several years. The latest, was the fatal officer-involved shooting of Lee Deante Brown, which is the subject of investigations by the police department, the Riverside County District Attorney's office and apparently, a federal agency as well.

That was spring. As summer arrived, so did labor negotiations between the city and its various unions and bargaining units which represent its departments.

It would be a long, hot summer.

First, the SEIU, which represents many police department civilian employees including its dispatchers, was locked out of its labor negotiations after the city management accused its negotiators of bringing in unauthorized onlookers in the meetings. That lockout was brief. The leadership of the SEIU brought its members together and held a vote to call a strike. Now, the intention was never to actually strike but to show the city that it had the muscle to do so.

Oh, it did.

Hudson blinked, and the SEIU soon entered into its contract, but how it did would emerge later, in a document filed in county court, by another union, the Riverside Police Officers Association.

Before that union filed its law suit, its sibling, the Riverside Police Administrators' Association filed its own lawsuit alleging that the city was using a technical error in a memorandum of understanding to deny members of upper management benefits involving overtime pay and co-payments into health insurance. The RPAA's head representative, Lt. Darryl Hurt had tried to address the city council on the problems they were experiencing during public comment at a past city council meeting, but Loveridge cut him off with that wave of his hand. He told Hurt that he had to save his comments for an unrelated discussion item which hopefully would be heard in front of a sea of empty chairs.

The RPOA filed its law suit soon after, alleging that the city had violated its "good faith" practices in its negotiations with the union. According to its law suit, the city management team had gotten two other units, the SEIU and the Fire Unit(which represents city fire fighters) to sign contracts by promising that their medical benefits would match those received in the RPOA's contract, even though it was still negotiating with the police union at the time. Assuming that the city was not bluffing the other units into settlements, it appears to be a violation of trust between management and its employees. Without that trust, the purpose of union negotiations appears fruitless. Too many people have paid a high price to fight for the right for workers of all different professions to unionize and try to better the states of their workplaces through such negotiations to treat the process in such a fashion.

Whether or not the RPOA should receive higher medical benefits is something that both sides of the bargaining table need to hash out, but it needs to be done in an environment where one side will not betray the other and cross its fingers behind their backs while appearing to be operating in "good faith". It is also inappropriate for the city's management to play different unions off of one another to keep them all in line and most likely signing contracts giving their members less than what their labor is worth.

Another important reason to sign good labor contracts with police unions is to attract tomorrow's police officers, with good pay and benefits that are the best in the field. The top quality candidates often feel the pull from several different agencies before they pick which one they will work for. Offering top of the line salary and benefits is also good at diversifying police departments since many agencies compete for Asian-American, Black and Hispanic candidates particularly those who are bilingual.

The old adage, "you get what you pay for" is more true in law enforcement than in most other contexts and each generation of officers should always be followed by one that is better than it. That's something that any profession should aspire to doing, to continue improving itself or for some, to begin that process.

After seeing how the city's officials treated its own employees including the police officers it lauds and applauds, most often during "appreciation" dinners, award ceremonies and election year campaigns, it is difficult to believe that it cares any more towards its other partner in the continued process of improving the police department, community members. If it has made promises to city residents that it never intended to keep, then that will be shameful.

I think that has been amply demonstrated the past six months as well.

Memorandum to Mayor from Human Relations Commission

1) Fully implement the goals and objectives of the Strategic Plan which was approved by the courts during the implementation of the stipulated judgment.

2) Incorporate the 22 steps of the stipulated judgment as measurable objectives of the Strategic Plan

3) Require quarterly reports of performance of the goals of the Strategic Plan and the 22 measurable objectives

4) Retain an independent monitor, reporting to the Mayor and the City Council to review the reports and provide the annual performance audit

5)Conduct regular public meetings to report on progress and hear suggestions for improvement from the public

6) Upgrade the Community Police Review Commission through independent staff leadership including special legal counsel. Require regular reports to the City Council on policy issues facing the Riverside Police Department.

7) "Chief's Night Out" program which would provide the opportunity for the chief of police to hear concerns of the citizens in various communities in this city. It would not focus on presentation but as with the "Mayor's Night Out" would focus on "listening" to the concerns of the residents.

Strategic Plan Workshop Report
If you are concerned about the issues involving the city government's apparent failure to deliver on the promises made in its March 28 workshop on the Strategic Plan.
If you are concerned about the current lockouts or stalled negotiations of the police department's unions and want labor negotiations to resume in a fair and just matter.
Contact City Hall

City Hall

Mayor Ron Loveridge: 826-5551 email:

City Council: 826-5991

Dom Betro:

Andrew Melendrez:

Art Gage:

Frank Schiavone:

Ed Adkison:

Nancy Hart:

Steve Adams:

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Links and places

Mel Opotowsky, former managing editor and ombudsman for the Press Enterprise wrote an Op-Ed featured in the Aug. 26 edition of that newspaper, on how reporters' attempts to get information and public records pertaining to the arrests of entertainers and politicians are often thwarted by law enforcement agencies. His laundry list included the incident involving Congressman Ken Calvert who was sent home(without a note) by Corona(CA) Police Department officers after being caught inside a vehicle with a prostitute. The only thing surprising about this sorry episode is that the police officers actually let the woman go as well. Too often, it's the "johns" who receive preferential treatment in these situations and the women who go to jail. Also mentioned was the newspaper's thwarted attempts to obtain the audiotapes of the 911 phone calls and written police reports in relation to the fatal shooting of Tyisha Miller by four police officers in 1998.

Here is a really old court case that was found on the California First Amendment Coalition site. It's about a court case that was filed in 1980 after an incident involving KSDO radio station and a story it ran based on information from an unnamed source involving an investigation conducted within the Riverside Police Department. Apparently, the station's employees had received information involving the alleged complicity of the Riverside Police Department and other law enforcement agencies in an alleged heroin smuggling operation based in Baja California, all the way up to the highest level of management. It is not clear whether the investigation was actually done, or whether the whole thing was a smear tactic used against the agency by a high-ranking member of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, as alleged in the law suit. KSDO survived a law suit filed in Riverside County Superior court by individuals trying to get that information and a later appellate decision.

The Los Angeles Police Department, which regularly sends lateral officers to Riverside's police department including two who were alas, apparently fired last year for misconduct has its very own blog. The brainchild of current chief, William Bratton, it gives regular updates on the LAPD's business, at least that which is fit to print.

The LAPD does blogging

Speaking of the LAPD, if you are an officer there and you believe you have been retaliated against for participating in wage-related litigation, here is your chance to be part of a class-action law suit that has been filed against the police department, the city of Los Angeles and apparently everyone in between.

A study by the Los Angeles Times shows that in the LAPD, police officers are nearly as likely to be shot by each other through accidental shootings than by criminal suspects. What this article or this one do not address is how other studies have shown that disproportionately Black police officers have been shot by White police officers in the LAPD and other agencies. Well known incidents of this racial "friendly fire" have also occurred in Providence, R.I., Norfolk(VA) and Washington, D.C.

The FBI keeps statistics on fatal accidental shootings that occur involving onduty officers, including this from 2004. However, many of the Black officers who are shot "accidentally" are either off-duty or in undercover assignments and thus are not included.

Still in L.A., there is a blog on the homeless situation there. It was created by a man who has served on enough committees and task forces involving homeless issues in L.A. County to probably serve as a better spokesperson for the governmental officials than the homeless. It has links to many useful articles detailing the homeless issues in L.A. from police crackdowns on Skid Row to "living while homeless" legislation passed by city officials. As Los Angeles goes on these issues, so does the rest of Southern California.

Coming in from San Francisco are reports that one of the officers who was the brainchild behind several infamous racist, sexist and homophobic videos which became the center of a scandal last year has put his film making skills to use again and has created a 27 minute long "defense" video. Here, Officer Andrew Cohen explains that there was another side to the police officers involved in that incident and he has adopted the oft-used excuse, "those violent criminals made us act racist, sexist and so forth" to explain his and his colleagues' shameful conduct.


This will show you what I'm all about and what the department is about," Officer Cohen said at a screening of the video on Wednesday. "The officers that were suspended are nothing like the accusations."

Well, you know what they say. A picture is worth a thousand words and those first ones Cohen and his friends produced left a lasting impression. He also mentions(or plugs) that he has made several "educational" videos about the SFPD and which ones would those be again?

At this site, the Police Assessment Resource Center, is tons of information on consent decrees, stipulated judgments and other mandated law enforcement reform processes. A series of reports is located on the right hand side of the home page, including a national survey of civilian oversight(Yay! Hiss!) and studies done on Portland Police Bureau and Milwaukee Police Department among others.

Another good resource for issues of gender in policing is the National Center for Women and Policing. On site there are articles dealing with different issues, from the recruitment and retention of female officers, to studies regarding the prevalence of domestic violence in the law enforcement profession.

Here is an excellent report on how to recognize sexual harassment in the workplace, if you are a female law enforcement officer.

What you can do if harassed

Sexual harassment in law enforcement unfortunately remains a serious problem beginning at the academy and continuing onward into the departments including here and here.

One police chief responds.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Minority report

Minority Report.

Some say it was Tom Cruise's last good movie. Others say it's a separate opinion that differs from that of the majority sitting on a judiciary body or any other panel that has to deliberate on a case before it and deliver findings or release public reports.

The issue of whether or not the Community Police Review Commission should allow one to be released in connection with an officer-involved death case was the focus of much debate at its Sept. 14 meeting.

The CPRC did approve the final draft of its public report on the officer-involved death of Terry Rabb, a 35-year-old Black man who died in police custody last October.

In it, the CPRC stated that the commission believed that based on the information gathered so far, the behavior of both officers, Camillo Bonome and John Garcia was within policy 4.30 which is the department's use of force policy.

However, the CPRC believed that the officers' actions during the incident raised two important issues regarding their tactical decisions.


It appears that, upon arriving at the scene, Officers Bonome and Garcia already knew that the cause of Terry Rabb's behavior was due to "his low blood sugar." The call was dispatched as an "assist medical" for a "5150" due to "low blood sugar." In light of this information, it remains unclear why Officer Bonome allegedly attributed Mr. Rabb's behavior to the use of illicit drugs in front of a family friend. It appears that Officer Bonome's decision to verbally express his belief that the patient was under the influence of illicit drugs resulted in a heated argument between himself and Mr. Rabb's friend, adding more distraction to an already chaotic scene.

Several commissioners had said at an earlier meeting that they were not certain under what perception of Rabb's condition, Bonome and Garcia had been acting under. Were they treating him like a very ill diabetic suffering a hypoglycemic episode as they had been told, or were they instead treating him like a relatively healthy man under the influence of an illegal stimulant? Or a combination of the two? If Bonome had indeed made those comments, on what basis did he do so? What criteria did he use to make a presumption that turned out according to toxicology results to be incorrect?

Given that the OID investigators apparently never asked either officer about these alleged comments made by Bonome, these questions involving the officers' perceptions particularly that of Bonome may never be answered. Perhaps, the Internal Affairs Division's investigators questioned the officers on these issues in order to complete their administrative review of the case, which they are certainly allowed to do. However, given the confidentiality that shields that division's actions, this information will never be disseminated to the public.

The second issue was the following.


There is insufficient evidence to determine whether or not airflow to the patient was impeded by the officer's decision to place the patient face first into the cushions of the couch while carrying the weight of Officer Bonome on top of the patient's upper body

So, are they confused about whether or not the actions of these two officers led to Rabb's death? If so, then how would they know whether or not the officers acted in accordance with departmental policy, regarding use of force? Even if the officers' actions had contributed or even caused Rabb's death, that would not have necessarily made their actions a violation of policy, but the incident would have to be examined in a different way to come to that final conclusion. It complicates the situation further and the reaction of the CPRC seems to have been to slip into a default mode, where if they do not have enough information at this point to know for sure, then it has to be within policy.

There is an alternative finding(see below) that could be considered. But first this.

The CPRC's "issues" created more questions than they answered and makes one wonder if they even had enough information to issue a finding either way at all, if they are uncertain as to whether or not Rabb could have shown signs that he might have been experiencing positional asphyxia while restrained by the two officers.

Positional asphyxia occurs when a person is unable to to get enough oxygen into his system because of the position he or she is placed in, i.e. if an individual is lying on his stomach with weight placed on his back, for example.

Positional asphyxia

U.S. Department of Justice: positional asphyxia


Certain factors may render some individuals more susceptible to positional asphyxia following a violent struggle, particularly when prone in a face-down position:
Obesity. Alcohol and high drug use. An enlarged heart (renders an individual more susceptible to a cardiac arrhythmia under conditions of low blood oven and stress).

The risk of positional asphyxia is compounded when an individual with predisposition factors becomes involved in a violent struggle with an officer or officers, particularly when physical restraint includes use of behind-the-back handcuffing combined with placing the subject in a stomach-down position.

Rabb had been leaning against the couch in a prone position, with his face push into the cushions and his knees on the floor. Bonome had placed his body weight onto Rabb's back while trying to apply a carotid restraint as Rabb struggled, tucking his chin to his chest. He apparently remained there while Rabb was being handcuffed.

(excerpt, D.O.J. report)

Basic Physiology of a Struggle

A person lying on his stomach has trouble breathing when pressure is applied to his back. The remedy seems relatively simple: get the pressure off his back. However, during a violent struggle between an officer or officer and a suspect, the solution is not as simple as it may sound. Often, the situation is compounded by a vicious cycle of suspect resistance and officer restraint:

A suspect is restrained in a face-down position, and breathing may become labored.

Weight is applied to the person's back-the more weight, the more severe the degree of compression.

The individual experiences increased difficulty breathing.

The natural reaction to oxygen deficiency occurs-the person struggles more violently.

The officer applies more compression to subdue the individual.

After two officers and a fire fighter had placed handcuffs on Rabb, they sat him down on the floor with his back facing the couch, which falls in line with the D.O.J.'s recommendation to remove a person from a face down position as soon as possible after handcuffing him. However, it is not clear how long Rabb had been lying face down on the couch, his face pressed into the sofa cushions before they did that. What is known is that within minutes after he had been handcuffed, he stopped breathing and went into cardiac arrest. Positional asphyxia can happen even if the force used was not excessive under departmental policy, but if it was present, then it has to be part of what formulates an answer to that question.

Whether or not Rabb died at least in part due to positional asphyxia is an important part of the issue, another of which is, what did the CPRC base its decision on if they could not answer the questions raised above due to lack of available evidence.

If this had been a citizen's complaint, then the commissioners would have had no choice but to issue a "not sustained" finding(a point raised by Commissioner Jim Ward) but for OIDs, apparently the default finding given similar circumstances is that the officers acted within policy even when there is not enough definitive information to know either way. Even after the CPRC's investigator tied Rabb's death to both his illnesses and the use of a restraint, in this case an attempted carotid restraint, which should have opened it up to further inquiry.

Rather than delve even deeper into these issues, which under the current climate is certainly understandable, they instead focused on another important component, the handling of 5150 calls for service which is critical.

In the CPRC's view, these issues provided emphasis as to why the RPD needed to provide training to its officers on how to interface with people who are initially reported as "5150". Also, the report stated that the department's use of force policy did not address the escalation or deescalation of force by officers when they were dealing with individuals unable to mentally process the instructions given by them.

The Riverside Police Department is in the process of creating and implementing an educational component to its training to aid officers in their tactical decisions when interfacing with individuals who have mental, physical and emotional disabilities. The commissioners supported that agency's efforts to do so and stated that in their report. They also raised that issue during their public report on the Todd Argow shooting. The department began tackling the issue after the April officer-involved shooting of Lee Deante Brown.

The Rabb report was quickly approved by the CPRC. That part of the process was hardly unusual, but what preceded it, was. For the first time, one of the commissioners had wanted to offer up a dissenting opinion through what is called, a minority report. Commissioner Jim Ward submitted a two-page draft of his minority report to the other commissioners. Their reactions to it were strong.

Commissioner Bob Garcia agreed with Ward's report, but other commissioners strongly disagreed with both the report as it stood and the release of it.

Not surprisingly, commissioner Jack Brewer was one of them.

"I can not vote to have this report added to a report from the commission," Brewer said.

Other commissioners including Frank Arreola agreed with him.

"I don't agree with or support his findings. The minority report," Arreola said.

Several community members tried to explain to the commissioners that they did not have to agree with the content of the minority repeat because by definition, it is an opinion that the majority of people on a panel does not agree with. That did not seem to clarify the issue for several of them, who still apparently believed that in order to approve its release, they had to agree with it. A representative from the city attorney's office who was sitting in the audience told them there was no current policy in place in their bylaws or policies and procedures addressing the issue of minority reports.

The majority of the CPRC facilitated by the associate city attorney voted 4 to 3 against allowing Ward to do so. The argument was that as the city attorney had said, there was no process in place to allow the issuance of minority reports, although such a process had been in place when handling citizen complaints for several years. In fact that process was encouraged by Chief Russ Leach at a workshop with the CPRC in March 2004.

So the minority report will not appear in the report on the Rabb incident that will be released to the public and posted online at the CPRC Web site, but it addressed issues that quite possibly could come up for further introspection and review in the future. Who knows, several of these issues could find their way in the majority reports, if they are indeed trends that need to be watched.

Ward stated that the department was conducting substandard investigations in OID cases that resulted in investigations that were "insufficient enough to make credible findings." Differences between the accounts provided by involved police officers and civilian witnesses were not explored through follow up and these inconsistencies were not addressed. The role of the CPRC commissioners was to seek out information an fill in the inconsistencies in order to make an informed decision, but that ability was hampered because they had access only to civilian witnesses, not police officers. Ward added in his conclusions that he believed that the department's investigations were incomplete and inadequate and placed too much emphasis on the officer's perception and not enough on other components of policing. Consequently, this results in and from the improper and inadequate supervision, monitoring and training of the department's officers.

The quality of the investigation conducted by the OID team was not addressed in the public report's conclusions even though several commissioners particularly Brian Pearcy had said at an earlier meeting that this was the primary focus of their concerns involving the case.

Ward also challenged some of the text of any department's holy grail(or as some might say, its Rosetta stone), its use of force policy. He cited numerous ambiguities in its text and believed that its content was inadequate to prevent violations of the state's constitution.


RPD Policy 4.30

(emphasis, Ward's)

The situation of physical force and the type of force employed, depends on the situation as perceived by the officer

The purpose of this policy is to provide guidelines as to when physical force may be employed and the type of physical force that the law will permit.

However, guidelines can not cover every possible situation presented to the officers. Therefore, officers must be reasonable in their actions.

Officers should clearly understand that the standard for determining whether or not the force applied was reasonable in that conduct which a reasonable peace officer would exercise based upon the information the officer had when the conduct occurred.

RPD Policy 4.30 B philosophy reads in part "...officers must have an understanding of and true appreciation for the limitations of their authority.

Ward's concerns about the language of the policy included the following:

What is most important, when it comes to officer's behavior?

Is it perception, law or limitation of authority?

Can an officer's perception be unlawful?

Can an officer's perception be unreasonable?

Can an officer's perception exceed the limitation of his authority?

Ward provided an example clearly drawn from the Rabb case to illustrate his points of how the three expectations listed in policy #4.30 can collide with each other. An officer is provided with credible information, but allegedly dismisses it and acts upon his perception. Is that lawful? Reasonable? Does it exceed authority?

Ward added that he understood that perception was an important component of police work, but that it was not infallible and should not be treated as if it was. He believed that the department's investigations were devoid of "perceptions checks", meaning that there was no attempts to determine whether or not those perceptions are consistent with the situation the officer is confronted with. That was what had been lacking in this case.

Ward also cited from the writ of mandamus filed by the state attorney general's office in 2001 that had alleged that the department's policies were inadequate to the point where they impaired the department's ability to uniformly and adequately enforce the law. Policies that were adequate often were not adequately and properly implemented. The state and city entered into the stipulated judgment in March 2001 and exited from it earlier this year, with all the items on the list of reform completed and the underpinnings of a much improved department in place, according to those surrounding the process. Ward wondered if all those concerns had truly been erased.

He did state his realization that the city and police department were no longer held to the stipulated judgment with the state attorney general's office but added this.

However, if the issues that caused them to be under the consent decree are still manifesting themselves today, this commission has the responsibility to bring this to the attention of the policy makers and citizens of our community.

One would certainly hope so and that others including members of the oft-mentioned triad of city, department and community would do the same if the conditions ever do arise.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The songs of summer

Humidity is rising - Barometer's getting low
According to all sources, the street's the place to go
Cause tonight for the first time
Just about half-past ten
For the first time in history
It's gonna start raining men.

--Weather Girls

Actually, it's only raining a certain type of men in Riverside these days. Men dressed in dark suits. They came to town in the beginning of summer to inquire about a recent occurrence and have yet to leave. Here's hoping that they find what ever it is they are looking for. The truth is out there.

Video killed the radio star.
Video killed the radio star.
In my mind and in my car, we can't rewind we've gone to far.
Pictures came and broke your heart, put the blame on VTR

--The Buggles

Also coming to town, will be the digital video recorders that were promised just before the stipulated judgment was dissolved last March. During the five years of the judgment, the department had fulfilled its mandate of purchasing cameras and installing them in 10 vehicles, by 2003. However, during the last two years, only three recorders had been purchased and installed, far less than the 25 additional ones that the city was supposed to be looking for money to pay for. Community members asked what was up with that, and City Manager Brad Hudson said at a city council meeting that the city would allot $500,000 from the general fund to purchase enough video recorders to equip the entire fleet of squad cars.

These recorders were to be installed by autumn, but at the moment, the city is still looking at different vendors and trying to find the latest technology so that what they purchase now is not obsolete in six months, according to Hudson. Apparently, the recorders have been bumped down a few places on the city's shopping lists, but never to fear, they will be purchased. At least that's what Hudson and his sidekick, Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis have promised.

Video may have been bad for radio after the birth of MTV, but apparently it's one tool that is good at helping improve the accountability of law enforcement agencies, as well as document those who commit traffic violations so they can't argue to the judge about it later on.

On another front, the millionaires' club could be about to gain a new member. Stay tuned to that situation as it develops.

Let's go down by the riverside
Leave your problems all behind
You can rest troubled minds
Down by the riverside

--Kirk Franklin

It was another busy week in Riverside, the city where the street festivals have disappeared along with the orange groves. Krispy Kreme and Greensleeves restaurant, two of the city's subsidized businesses have packed up and left town. It appears that the Downtown Supper Club may join them soon.

Despite all these recent events, everyone is still talking about the law suit filed last week by the Riverside Police Officers Association against the Community Police Review Commission. No wait, it was against the city of Riverside.

It sparked many questions. Why in the blazes is the RPOA trying to bring the Summer Lane shooting back in the forefront of public debate? Why does it want to appeal a finding that was essentially nullified by both the police department and the city manager's office? It's not like this happens every day in the rest of the world where people stick to appealing findings that are well, actually ruled upon and enforced. It will be interesting to see what case law is used by the attorneys to support its thesis.

People have once again been scratching their foreheads and asking, why, but apparently that's been going on for years.

An easy response might be that this is, after all Riverside, or what was described by one movie director as the "desolate landscape on the edge of the desert." However, to respond this way would be a copout.

Another way to respond to perplexing issues such as this one is to say that maybe there are larger forces at work here that dictate taking yet another look at the first fatal officer-involved shooting ever to be determined to be in violation of the use of force policy by the CPRC. Perhaps the RPOA has been chosen to serve as a vehicle for that reexamination, through its law suit. These forces often work in mysterious ways and given the circumstances, that could certainly be the case here.

Another less spiritually driven way to answer these same questions is to examine how the RPOA views the CPRC. Clearly, this union recognizes its right to exist and to make the decisions that it has made including that involving the Lane shooting. After all, if that were not true, it would simply have ignored the finding like it tried to ignore the first subpoena issued by the CPRC in 2004 against former officer, Tina Gould. Then Chief Russ Leach put his foot down on that one.

People and their organizations appeal findings they do not like or disagree with, not findings they do not recognize at all. Perhaps, this law suit is another way of underlining that the CPRC has indeed arrived. It certainly in some respects is a victory for this body of civilian oversight in the midst of an otherwise somber atmosphere that has cloaked it since the non-decision by Hudson and DeSantis late last year.

It's possible that the men in suits who arrived in Riverside this summer could provide an answer to these questions but apparently they are quite busy doing their own thing. Besides, this whole dynamic that is being revisited again has already been asked and answered by their people who have been there and done that. It's a pattern so grooved in stone that even the state attorney general's office could not break it, not that he did not try.

As the Eastside goes, so does Riverside

--Oh, dozens usually at election time

The current cause préférée among many city officials, elected and otherwise, once again appeared on the agenda at the city council meeting on Sept. 13. Over 30 people sat in the audience and listened to the latest progress report on the multi-tiered approach to dealing with issues in the Eastside. These people included community leaders, police officers, representatives from Victory Outreach, members of city staff, in fact everyone but actual residents of this neighborhood. Where were they? The answer to that question speaks to the process selected by the city to "reform" that neighborhood from the outside, inward. After all, the march generated by the University of California, Riverside is coming and the Eastside is but a bump in its path as far as it's concerned on its journey towards finally hooking up with the downtown area.

Most of the police officers were actually there to receive awards from the Eastside Think Tank for participating in the softball match between neighborhood residents and police officers that took place last month. Lt. Larry Gonzalez who is the area commander for the city's eastern region including this neighborhood was the first to speak about the enforcement and suppression efforts being done by the police department during the past year.

Gonzalez told the city council that arrests between June and July this year were triple what they had been in 2005. He said that the department's different specialized teams including the Problem Oriented Policing(POP), Police and Corrections Team(PACT) and the Metro/SWAT team had made numerous arrests but the majority of them had been made by patrol officers assigned to that area. He added that units from narcotics, gang and vice had addressed issues in the University corridor by focusing on gathering intelligence on individuals first rather than take a "shot gun" approach as they had in the past. It may have worked to reduce crime in several of these areas including fatal shootings(at least until last night) and other violent crimes that have at times, made the neighborhood appear as Councilman Frank Schiavone said, a "war zone".

However, prostitution is again on the upswing, even after several "stings" conducted downtown which like those done in other cities, dispersed the "john" traffic to a wider area just like a rock would spread ripples if tossed into a lake. Removing the "supply" as it has been called, does not remove the "demand".

In fact, currently many women in the Eastside and other areas of the city have been harassed while walking down the street by men on foot or inside vehicles who are seeking out prostitutes. Even while walking in front of Longfellow Elementary School, in the Eastside, women have been harassed by "johns" who must figure that if they can't find prostitutes, the neighborhood women will do just fine because if they are poor, they must be desperate enough to accept their money and are thus fair game. It goes to show that you have to address the demand as well as the issues which create the supply, on a much larger scale than what happens or can happen in one city. Arresting this problem is not going to solve it.

City officials and others have seen the Eastside as a "war zone" but in reality, it's a neighborhood birthed by racist housing laws that were not repealed until the late 1960s. It is one of the city's oldest institutions. African-Americans bought property inside an area that was much smaller than it is today, because they could not do so elsewhere in a city that had been founded by abolitionists. Latinos joined them because they were also forbidden from buying property elsewhere, except within another small square-shaped area that became known as Casa Blanca. Many of the Latinos also bought houses near the orange groves where many of them spent their days working. Some of those families still live there today.

Eastside museum exhibit

Casa Blanca school: history

Years later, the neighborhood's residents are predominantly Latino and Latinos currently outnumber African-Americans five to one. There are also many newer immigrants that have settled within its boundaries which seem to fluctuate based on what ever city map is being looked at. The Redevelopment Agency expanded the neighborhood's boundaries further eastward into what is known as the University neighborhood area. That was done to facilitate the commercial development of properties in close proximity to UCR through the use of funding that should have been allocated to the Eastside. That misappropriation of funding has had its impact to the west of UCR, and is most visible on University Avenue where the "haves" and "have nots" are divided by Chicago Avenue which happens to be the eastern boundary line of the Eastside.

Hudson also outlined other components in his report, most of which involved other city departments.

Ralph Nunez, who heads the Park and Recreational Department spoke about the programs that have been put in place at the different parks and community centers. Project Bridge, the city's only gang intervention program has a new coordinator and two new outreach workers. It serves the needs of over 100 youth over the age of 12 in the city, according to Hudson's report. This program which spent years as the "hot potato" being tossed back and forth between Park and Recreation and the police department finally wound up under the jurisdiction of the former. Hudson reassured the audience that the program was doing much better after being on life support the past two years.

Nunez said that several park facilities had been upgraded, tutoring programs were being offered through UCR and the city was considering whether or not to bring little league baseball back to Patterson Park. All that sounded good and full of hope, but people wondered whether this neighborhood was being "saved" by or for them, or whether it was being "saved" to clear the way for the expansion of UCR's west campus towards the downtown, past the 91 freeway. That led to the next part of the discussion, which was the role of development in the process.

Belinda Graham, who represented that end of the project told the city council that the city had purchased four "public nuisance" structures including the abandoned Arco gas station(complete with buried toxic waste), two residences and the Stardust Motel. When she mentioned that the two historic residences would be rehabilitated and moved to other neighborhoods, she forgot that one of those houses had been destroyed along with several others in mysterious arson fires. She also did not address the issue of why these houses were not seen as worthy of these efforts while they were still sitting on property lots in the Eastside.

The city talked about a lot of things. What they didn't do, was talk about one thing.

What went completely unmentioned in this presentation was the fact that an area of about a square mile smack in the middle of the Eastside had been chosen to become the city's first involvement in the creation of a property owners' association. Within the boundaries of this land, sits more rental properties including apartment complexes than inside any other similar sized portion of the neighborhood. In fact, few other areas in a city can rival this one in term of rental properties, in a city where renters are nearly on parity with home owners.

The city even flew in a consultant from out of state to do a study of this project and he held meetings with rental property owners including those who had poor records at keeping up their properties. The city offered financial incentives to these property owners to finally do the right thing and upgrade their properties to more livable standards, in the hopes that these property owners would upgrade their clientele. After all, who can think of a landlord in existence who upon improving his or her property is not going to pass along that expense to their renters?

The consultant from out of state actually took that mindset one step further by asking the property managers this, why would anyone want to rent their property to the kind of people who currently occupy your units? The message was sent that these current tenants, many who are poor and people of color, would be pushed out by "raised" rents in favor of other more desirable tenants capable of paying those higher rents and the only population close enough to do this and currently facing a housing shortage are UCR students. The city through its subsidizing of their improvements would facilitate the property owners and managers in eventually providing housing for university students.

After all, the city had already facilitated housing projects specifically for UCR students closer to UCR. This time it would be at the expense of poorer people who lived in the designated area. The excuse given, is that the crime rate is higher in this area and there are more calls for service, but when the city staff showed a map of calls for service, it turned out that only two apartment complexes close to each other in one corner of the designated area which historically have had many problems, were responsible for the majority of those calls.

Apartment managers in this new association can evict tenants based on currently unspecified guideline and those tenants will be unable to rent anywhere within the new housing association. This will be facilitated by the fact that more and more of these properties are owned and managed by fewer companies and several of the largest ones are based outside Riverside County including in Orange County. A misdemeanor conviction can disqualify you from living in a rental unit but a felony conviction for a sexual offense(and thus being a registered sex offender) may not.

Even though the city has met with apartment managers several times on this project, it has yet to meet with any of the tenants which is hardly surprising.

When people complained about that fact, Council member Dom Betro fell back on the city's favorite strawman. If you do not support "progress", then you want the neighborhood to remain like it is, as if there is only one road towards improving the lives of those who live in it. Any process that will succeed is one that allows those who live in a neighborhood to participate fully in the process, not by creating a neighborhood where consultants can say(in whatever context) that they are undesirable tenants.

So when it comes to the Eastside, just like with other issues in this city, there are two faces being presented. There is the image of little kids playing little league baseball, and a personal computer in every household. Then there's the reality that an entire population within the heart of the neighborhood including families with children who might want to play little league or use free computers may be targeted for removal, in order to be replaced by university students, not to mention a long-range plan sponsored by UCR that basically reduces the Eastside into little land plots of houses placed here and there. Even though its long-range plan heavily impacts the Eastside, UCR does not see fit to even notify its community leadership when it will hold these meetings that are part of a process that will literally change the face of this historic enclave within the next 20 years.

Other city council members were impressed with Hudson etal's presentation. Casa Blanca and Arlanza were two other neighborhoods where council members hoped to see similar programs.

"Everything is in its time," Council member Nancy Hart said, "I don't begrudge a penny spent on an area that isn't mine."

Council member Steve Adams said he hoped to see a similar program enacted in the Arlanza area in six months. Council members Art Gage and Schiavone expressed their hopes for Hillside and Casa Blanca respectively Gage said that the Hillside was not seeing police officers because those resources were being used in the Eastside. One solution he said, was to hire 25 more police officers. On the policing side in a growing city that is in the process of annexing sizable portions of land, that is one way to start. However, that is only one piece of a much larger process of which self-determination must play a role. The city has shown that it still has not learned that lesson.

City Council Agenda

click on item #31

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