Five before Midnight

This site is dedicated to the continuous oversight of the Riverside(CA)Police Department, which was formerly overseen by the state attorney general. This blog will hopefully play that role being free of City Hall's micromanagement.
"The horror of that moment," the King went on, "I shall never, never forget." "You will though," the Queen said, "if you don't make a memorandum of it." --Lewis Carroll


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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The RPD by the numbers: Through the ranks

Last week, the Press Enterprise wrote an article about how dozens of prospective police officers showed up at Bordwell Park in the Eastside neighborhood of Riverside to take their physical agility tests on a newly constructed course at the park. The idea to build a course at a local park came out of the department's personnel and training division earlier last year. If the applicants pass this part of the process, they must still undergo background checks and psychological examinations to gain entrance into the Ben Clark Police Training Academy.

Applicants for police positions christen agility course

What will that entry class look like? Will it reflect the increasing ethnic and racial diversity of the city? Will there be any women? What will the average ages of these future police officers be in a department that is very much on the young side and has been since undergoing an 80% turnover in employment earlier in this decade?

When the Riverside Police Officers' Association was undergoing its biennial labor contract negotiations last summer, several of its representatives said that one of the reasons it was so important to have a strong, high-paying and benefited package to offer new recruits was because of the increasing competition among law enforcement agencies for men of color and female applicants. They were right and it will be interesting to see what the union's role is in terms of how diverse the department becomes as it has laid some foundation with these comments.

The police department competes with other law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties for new officers. In recent months, both the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department have given huge increases in salaries and benefits to their sworn employees as they both compete with each other over a similar hiring pool to fill vacant positions within their respective agencies. City Manager Brad Hudson threw in comparisons with agencies in San Bernardino County and few people took them seriously.

Today's Riverside Police Department

Last week, I received a copy of the latest EEOC report from the city's Human Resources Department which contained statistics from the Riverside Police Department. These statistics were compared with those provided by Human Resources in January 2006, and some trends were noted.

By gender, women continue to struggle in terms of even having their departmental representation approach the national average which fluctuates between 13-16%. As long as the department sees the implementation of Strategic Plan #1.5 as an elective or something that can be cast side as a "general idea", that will continue as it's already been a trend for many years. Attitudes towards women in law enforcement have to really change and not just be given periodic lip service.

It will be very difficult to improve the hiring and retention of female officers without a specific action plan with incremental(short-term) and long-term goals attached to it by a leadership which has a long-term commitment and vision of the process and who will be able to withstand a lot of criticism. The hiring of women of color also needs to take into consideration barriers that exist in terms of recruitment and retention of members of racial groups that are not White and the planning and implementation needs are important here also.

The Police Chief magazine published an article in 2002 that was titled "Recruiting Women to Policing: Practical Strategies That Work" and written by Donna Milgram, the executive director of the Institute for Women in Trades, Technology, and Science in Alameda, California. In her article here, she includes strategies for recruiting female officers including a checklist that can be used by law enforcement agencies who recruit through the internet.

But mainly Milgram writes that recruitment needs to be examined in a different way than in the past to be successful.

(excerpt, article)

When police departments substantially increase their female applicant pool, they typically hire more female recruits.1

The key to achieving this increase is implementing women-specific recruitment strategies such as having a recruiting Web page for women or sponsoring a police career orientation for women. In the marketing world this practice is called "segmenting your market" based on demographics, and the accompanying "targeted marketing" strategies that result are considered to be the most effective.

Viewing recruitment as marketing may require a major paradigm shift for many law enforcement agencies. Law enforcement has traditionally regarded policing as a "calling" rather than a career choice. Nevertheless, that culture is slowly changing as police departments have struggled with a drastically decreased number of applicants in the past five years. While the events of September 11 have resulted in a spike in the number of public safety applications, it is unlikely that police agencies will return to the time when recruitment meant placing an advertisement in the local paper or having a display at the school career fair.

The Department of Justice has a resource guide for recruitment, hiring and retention of female officers here which is very detailed in its strategies.

Here are some more ideas on how to tackle this issue by a former male police officer. Norm Stamper, a retired police chief from Seattle provided some possibilities in his book, Breaking Rank on page 119.

One of them was to send female police officers to the schools beginning at the elementary school level, which the police department should already be doing and provide opportunities for girls and women to spend time with female officers.

He also suggests what he calls innoculating the female candidates who attend the academies against "conformity behavior" and to teach them skills to confront male officers who behave in sexist ways. He also suggested providing childcare centers for officers around the clock to assist officers especially those who are single parents.

He also suggested a few other things probably just to get his point across.

(excerpt, Breaking Rank)

"For the male who sits back, crosses his arms, rolls his eyes, and suggests that women should make the coffee or sweep out the command van? Bring out the two-by-four. If that doesn't work, show him the door. For the cop who thinks it's funny to call women 'split tails'? Forget the two-by-four."

A bit strong, but one way of saying it won't be like the "good old days".

After they are hired, the movement of female officers through the ranks often depends on their racial background.

White women who enjoy racial privileges similar to White men move up in the ranks whereas women in other racial groups don't, albeit at a slower pace than White men do. That is also in part due to the more successful(only relatively speaking) recruitment and retention of White female officers in comparison to Asian-American and Black female officers who for the most part have only been in the department for five years or less. The department has only one Asian-American female officer hired in the past year and two out of the three Black female officers are relatively recent hires. The retention of Latina officers traditionally has not been nearly as good as their male counterparts and it is less clear what the experience levels of the five Latina officers who are currently employed than it is for the Asian-American and Black female officers.

The hiring of male Latino officers has been slower than it should be, but still much more successful than the hiring of Latinas, which shows that gender and its combination with racial identity still is very much a factor in the recruitment and hiring of officers. The retention of male Latinos appears to be better than that of African-Americans, Asian-Americans and White women, but still needs to be addressed because it might be just as vulnerable to decreases if attention is not paid to it as it has been in the past.

Latinos continue to have difficulty moving up the chain of command but have made progress on the male side. Alhough they have made inroads especially at the top of the chart, with both deputy chiefs being Latino, they are still far underrepresented in terms of their representation in the city's population. Much more work has to be done to increase this racial group's representation in light of the fact that Riverside will sooner than later be a majority minority city, meaning that there won't be a single racial group that holds a majority and Whites themselves will be minorities. And most of the time spent by the officers in the police department are in neighborhoods that are predominantly Black and Latino.

For women of color, the issues are both recruitment and retention. For White women, the issues are more retention and promotional. Mentorship programs have been successfully utilized in law enforcement agencies across the country and their effectiveness has been backed up by research studies performed by different organizations. White men who have risen through the ranks have traditionally benefited through informal mentorship programs and any upper management officer who claims that he got there on his own is probably lying. Creating programs for all officers would help all of them, bring a formerly closed off process into the open and would comply with state laws in effect after the passage of proposition 209 in 1996, effectively putting that old strawman argument to rest.

White women progress from the officer level to the detective level, though according to 2006 statistics they still languish at low percentages in the field training officer classification which is otherwise buried amidst the "officer" statistics. What may factor into their movement into as well as their experience in the detective division may be the fact that since 2000, many detectives are actually assigned to the field division to serve as more experienced and seasoned officers on the night and weekend shifts in that division. Some of them may wait a long time before actually being assigned to an investigation division either in the General Investigations Bureau or the Special Investigations Bureau.

There's no statistical breakdown within the "detective" classification that helps determine the racial and gender breakdown of detectives assigned to investigations vs field operations and the length of their stints in both divisions. There is also no racial and gender breakdown for assignments to various teams within these investigation divisions. In recent years for example the department's Homicide unit was predominantly White and male as have been the sergeants assigned to supervise it.

The difficulties of White female officers are moving from the lower ranks up to the initial supervisory rank of sergeant and then very much so when they hit the glass ceiling at the level of lieutenant. The sergeant position is probably the most challenging and difficult in law enforcement, partly in terms of moving up from being an officer's peer to being their supervisor overnight especially in a smaller agency like the RPD where you can't easily be assigned in an area separate from where you had previously been assigned. Most new sergeants as do lieutenants first work in graveyard assignments in the field operations division.

The promotion of female officers may also be hindered by the existing reality that there are many lateral assignments including SWAT/Metro, motorcycle, canine, aviation and others which are almost exclusively male. Consequently, this provides male officers with much more opportunities to gain experience through these assigments, which although several have low turnover, more male officers fill those openings than female officers. Currently, there is one female motor officer in the traffic division and no female aviation, canine or SWAT officers and there are very few female field training officers according to statistics provided in 2006.

This is important to note as several of the recent sergeant positions have gone to officers who have had experience on the SWAT team and other special units.

Black male officers have experienced slow movement through the ranks, with one recently being promoted to lieutenant from an assigment in the Internal Affairs Division. That unit staffs about a half-dozen sergeants and one lieutenant and it would be interesting to see what the racial and gender breakdown is for that unit given the number of sergeants and even lieutenants who have been promoted out of it. One may suspect that a major reason to take what one would think is an unpopular assignment would be because it may provide promotional opportunities.

Unfortunately, as long as councilmen like retired RPD officer Steve Adams herald back to the days of the good old boy networks of the past and spout off comments in public meetings that retention programs including mentorships are "remedial training for those who can't cut it", don't expect much progress in this city. As long as Chief Russ Leach calls his pre-academy training phase, where quite a few women have dropped off, as a weeding program that's main benefit is that it saves the city a lot of money, don't expect much progress in this area.

Only several years ago, Leach made some inroads in the promotions of Black and Latino men and even some with women. And on one occasion, he defended his promotion of Capt. Jim Cannon against criticism by disgruntled White male lieutenants as he should. That's what makes his recent attitude expressed by his recent comments surprising. Though not nearly as surprising as his recent actions of "me too"-ing Adams at several public meetings.

Gender breakdowns within racial classifications were not provided by rank because as mentioned above, with the exception of White women, women of color have not progressed through the ranks. Part of that can be attributed to the fact that the department has had difficulties recruiting and hiring women of color let alone retaining them long enough so they can move up through the ranks if they choose to do so and meet the qualifications for each rank.

Asian-American officers while increasing in numbers somewhat and proportionally a great deal still have not broken through the ceiling into the detective division. It's hard to say why without knowing how long these officers have been in the department, whether they were academy graduates who were hired or officers who lateraled from other law enforcement agencies.

The reason there are no American Indian officers included in the statistics are because there are no officers in this racial class and there hasn't been since the retirement of Lt. Alex Tortes in December 2005. When he was an officer, he was pretty much the only representative in his racial group, although White male officers who were upset at his promotion to lieutenant in 1999 allegedly labeled him African-American for their own reasons.

There are also no "other" classifications of officers that include any officers in them according to the report. If officers are biracial and some are, they usually pick one racial group to identify under or the agency does for purposes of the EEOC reports which are required under federal law.

Officers: 229(+11 since January 2006)

Male: 209(+11) 91.3%

Female: 20(0) 8.7%

Asian-American: 8(+2) 3.5%

Black: 18(+2) 7.9%

Latino: 50(+4) 21.9%

White: 153(+3) 66.9%

Pilots:5(-2) All White males

Detective: 70(0)

Male: 60(-2) 85.7%

Female: 10(+2) 14.3%

Asian-American: 0(0) 0%

Black: 3(0) 4.3%

Latino: 9(-1) %12.9

White: 58(+1) 82.9%

Sergeant: 55(+2)

Male: 50(+2) 91.0%

Female: 5(0) 9.0%

Asian-American: 0(0) 0%

Black: 4(0) 7.3%

Latino: 9(+1) 16.4%

White: 42(+1) 76.4%

Lieutenant: 21(+3)

Male: 21(+4) 100%

Female: 0(-1) 0%

Asian-American: 0(0)0%

Black: 2(+1) 9.5%

Latino: 4(0) 19.0%

White: 15(+2) 71.4%

Captains and Deputy Chiefs: 8(0)

Male: 7(-1) 87.5%

Female: 1(+1) 12.5%

Asian-American: 0(0)

Black: 1(0) 12.5%

Latino: 3(0) 37.5%--two deputy chiefs

White: 4(0) 50%

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The term split-tail is degrading towards all women. I prefer snatch!

Ron Jeremy

Thursday, February 15, 2007 6:57:00 PM  
Blogger Five Before Midnight said...

Dear "Ron":

Somehow that name doesn't really suit you. I can think of a better one. By chance, will you be supporting the same candidate in the upcoming election later this year? Do tell.

Somehow I think so. After all, you weren't grateful to the incumbant who brought you two pay raises.

You showed up again so somebody somewhere has you stressed out again. Did you have a Valentines day letdown? Guessing by your choice of monikers I would say so!

Coming to this site for some attention because no one else will give you the time of day? I'd say I felt honored but it's kind of like thanking a gnat for buzzing around your face.

Here's your cookie to go with your tin badge and your plastic whistle. I think I hear your mom calling you. Better run along now.

By the way, where's V.G.? I mean Vulgaris Giardia? Is he still following women around the city fantasizing about what underwear they are wearing? A leopard never changes its spots. He just moves his around.

I would refer you both to a psychiatrist for a full workup but I think it's probably too late at this point in your personal growth. And unfortunately as has been shown, behavior like yours at best is ignored, at its worst rewarded by society.

Have a nice day,

Thursday, February 15, 2007 10:41:00 PM  

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