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

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Committees and Commissions

The Mayor's Nomination and Screening Committee held its annual meeting to begin the process of deciding who will be chosen to serve on this city's boards and commissions beginning in March.

Committee chair, Mayor Ron Loveridge decided to begin the process along with city council members Frank Schiavone and Ed Adkison without waiting for the remaining member, Dom Betro to appear.

The event started on a bizarre note, with Adkison asking why they didn't just get rid of the Human Resources Board. City Attorney Gregory Priamos told him gently that they couldn't because it was in the city charter.

Okay, so that was that, before Adkison recovered and then asked what that board did. Priamos then even more gently listed its responsibilities. So, it appears that the Human Resources Board will be around for at least a little while, even with all the turmoil it faced last year with the resignation of its chair, Gloria Lopez in protest of the lack of transparency and cooperation she felt existed between that board and City Hall.

Then Schiavone and Adkison wanted to take the selection processes of both the CPRC and the Board of Public Utitilies back to the Governmental Affairs Committee, citing them as "special" cases which required "special" processes, but Loveridge did not appear to be very supportive of that idea.

After Betro finally arrived, the committee members moved on towards making the selections for those who will be interviewed for appointments on the city's boards and commissions. They barely broke a sweat during the hour-long process, though there were a couple boards and commissions which gave them trouble including the usual offenders.

Eight applicants out of at least 30 representing all seven city wards were chosen to be interviewed for two positions on the CPRC.

Not surprisingly, several of the applicants chosen to be interviewed for positions on this commission come from law enforcement backgrounds including service as reserve officers or as former police officers or deputies. Interestingly enough, one of several applicants who didn't is a sociologist at Riverside Community College, who included as a referrel, a Riverside Police Department officer. That's an interesting development, given that most of the police officers do not like the CPRC.

The city council will interview these candidates at a later date, and two of them will be selected to fill city-wide positions vacated by commissioners, Bob Garcia who termed out and Bonavita Quinto who declined to be reappointed for a second term.

It didn't appear that Loveridge or the city council members really knew that many applicants and were stumped in some cases of whom to pick. Which is why the city council members and Loveridge had difficulty coming up with a pool of applicants to interview for the CPRC without considerable effort. The people they do eventually choose will be walking onto a commission that is currently without an executive director and that has been weakened by Hudson and DeSantis, with the apparent blessing of seven city council members during the past year.

Many people were not chosen to be interviewed, coming from a wide variety of backgrounds.

Retired Riverside Police Department officer, Granville "Bud" Kelley's interview prospects were nixed by Councilman Ed Adkison and so he will not be interviewed. He shouldn't feel too bad though, as retired Riverside County Sheriff's Department deputy, Ruben Rasso's application received similar treatment from the committee. Some were seen as either too "extremist" or too "political" while others were simply given a thumbs up or thumbs down.

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to serve jury duty during one of the busiest days of service in the city's recent history where jurors spent two hours waiting in line to get into the courthouse. It was a day spent sitting and listening to the father of a former RPD officer who was convicted of several counts of battery under the color of authority complain about how the justice system had done his son wrong and made an example out of him because all he did was slap a man in handcuffs around a bit. If you guessed that his son was former officer, Robert Mauger, who was involved in an incident in the summer of 1997, you were correct.

Improved civilian oversight is being demanded in Los Angeles after its police department exonerated an officer involved in a fatal shooting of a 13-year-old boy. Devin Brown was shot by Officer Steven Garcia because he had allegedly backed his car into Garcia and the city's police commission decided that the shooting had violated departmental policy. During a secret board of rights hearing, the department negated that finding.

These meetings used to be open to the public but were closed in the wake of the Copley decision upon advice given by City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, even though the California State Supreme Court's ruling stated that it didn't address meetings and thus did not include them in its scope.

That action sparked a large reaction in Los Angeles among elected officials and community members, according to the Los Angeles Times.

LAPD's ruling in Brown case leads to calls for police oversight


"This lack of public disclosure deepens suspicion in the African American community that the LAPD is more interested in protecting officers than in curbing police abuse," said Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable.

Councilman Bernard C. Parks, who led the LAPD from 1997 to 2002, said holding disciplinary hearings in private undermines confidence in the Police Department.

"After 30 years of progressive efforts to make the public aware, we've had a complete reversal," Parks said. "This is unraveling decades of hard-fought battles."

The news of this development has even reached the halls of government up in Sacramento.


Last year, for example, the Police Commission changed a decades-old policy and began issuing public reports without the names of officers involved in shootings. At that time, state Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles) offered to sponsor legislation to ensure that names would not be struck from public police records if commission members had concerns about potential court restrictions.

On Wednesday, Romero said she had not heard from commission officials since the court decision.

"My offer still stands," Romero said. "If the city of Los Angeles, from the mayor to the City Council to the commission, want help, I can carry the legislation…. It's a sad day for those of us who believe that policing should be done in the public."

Romero said the developments in the Brown case also show that the commission needs greater power over officer discipline. Under the City Charter, the commission has the authority to set broad policy, but cannot independently impose discipline.

"On paper, there is civilian oversight, but this illustrates that the commission has no teeth. Its teeth got kicked out inside a closet."

The issue of civilian oversight and police accountability has had new life breathed into it up in Sacramento in the wake of the Copley decision as other members of the state assembly and state senate had voiced their concerns about the loss of transparency over law enforcement agencies which over time, will result in the erosion of public trust in those agencies.

It's ironic that it is a case involving a person named Brown which has led to such concern in Los Angeles. A similar situation involving another Black male individual named Brown is doing the same 60 miles to the east in Riverside.

This month there was supposed to be a second briefing by the CPRC's own investigator Butch Warnberg on the Brown shooting at one of its meetings. That briefing was to include among other things a trajectory analysis, as well as reports on other evidence including that which apparently hasn't been turned over by the Riverside Police Department to the CPRC including the toxicology and DNA tests apparently conducted on Ellefson's taser nearly eight months ago. Instead of a process that is transparent to the public, the city of Riverside has essentially halted that process, which the CPRC is entitled to under provisions included in the city's charter. If the CPRC has no executive director, then it probably is no longer investigating the Brown shooting at least at this point in time. The status of its investigations into the officer-involved shootings of Douglas Steven Cloud and Joseph Darnell Hill are unknown. The civil litigative processes in the Brown and Cloud shootings, both which resulted in claims for damages being filed, are proceeding much more smoothly.

Nominations are being accepted for awards in a well-known competition focusing on internet blogs. There are many different categories in this multi-round competition and Five Before Midnight has been nominated in the first round for "best local and state coverage" blog. Before today, I had no idea what a Koufax award was, so this is a nice surprise.

It's entirely possible that several commenters here may be up for nominations for awards under "best commenter" including Kevin, R.P.D., Serpico and Starsky. If these individuals have indeed been nominated, that would put them in an elite group to compete for such a prestigious award and they should feel honored whomever and wherever they are. But then winning an award would be old hat for at least one of them.

Barbaro update: Grow hoof grow.



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