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, August 31, 2007

Riverside's Heat Wave: How long will it last?

Heat continues to be a factor in the area's weather forecast. Yesterday's high temperature hit 111 degrees in Riverside and that combined with humidity makes things potentially hazardous for the elderly and people who spend a lot of time outside. Drink your liquids, wear hats and clothing to protect you against the sun and heat if possible and keep an eye on pets(which should not be left in the car), children(which also should not be left in the car) and elderly or ill people who are more susceptible to heat problems.

The above link includes a pdf file of the city's "cool places".

The three big problems are heat stroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps/dehydration. All three can hit pretty quickly though heat exhaustion is more common than heat stroke and none are pretty. All three require prompt treatment.

Advanced heat exhaustion especially that unresponsive to first aid measures and all cases of heat stroke are considered medical emergencies.

Prevention and treatment of heat stroke and dehydration

Identification and treatment of heat exhaustion

Have fun during the heat wave which is expected to extend into the holiday weekend but exercise caution as well.

The Riverside Police Department received its third regular report and second audit on its implementation of the Strategic Plan that is in place to guide the development and improvement of the police department into the future. Although the plan was originally approved by the Riverside County Superior Court to cover the period of years between 2004-2009, there was emphasis at the presentation in front of the city council on Tuesday night that the Strategic Plan is actually intended to remain in place indefinitely, although it will undergo modifications from time to time. It will never be completely implemented.

There's a lot that was said and a lot to say about the police department's latest audit and public report so there will be more postings on this issue. But the police department had made much more progress than was shown in its April audit, according to consultant Joe Brann who was hired by the city to conduct the audits. If you remember, last April's audit showed that there were some deficiencies in the department's management during the period of the last six months of 2006. The department began to improve in these areas during the first several months of 2007.

Chief Russ Leach talked to the city council about programs including the Police and Correctional Team(PACT) also known as the Parole and Corrections Team , transitional housing and mental health training programs. The latter just received POST certification in recent weeks and will begin its third training class for police officers and other department employees next month. The first two classes which lasted between 30-40 hours were held the beginning of June and in mid-July.

Progress reports on the development and implementation of the mental health crisis training and team formation are given at the Public Safety Committee meetings. The last meeting held earlier this month included key members of the committee that is working on developing this program and elicited some good discussion. The progress of this program which was at a virtual standstill during portions of mid-2006 is one reason to be hopeful and encouraged by the progress made by the department but given the chain of events last year, it's important to be cautious as well. I did have a fairly good look at that and the problems that the department encountered after it dissolved its stipulated judgment with former State Attorney General Bill Locker's office in March 2006 need to serve as a reminder of how important it is to remain focused and moving in a foreword direction in a unified manner through a mechanism which is internally generated and motivated. A process independent of outside oversight of any form.

One councilman said that there was no better barometer of the department's progress than my comments as well as those of others, but simply noting progress doesn't mark that.

Recommendations that came up in the audit included having one more audit this year and two next year, as well as providing information on crime statistics and police performance to the public.

The Riverside County District Attorney's office spent time monitoring a MySpace page set up by an Eastside Riva gang member, according to the Press Enterprise. On one entry, they found lyrics to a song written by a gang member, the subject matter being the injunction which was filed against Eastside Riva last week.


"To me, the fact that a prominent member of theirs is telling everybody who visits his Web site about the lawsuit is a good thing," Lucky said. "Obviously, he is aware of it (the injunction), which is the most important thing for me."

Law enforcement agencies often log on to the Internet to monitor what criminals are saying and who might be listening. But with the East Side Riva gang injunction, the action online reflects what is happening on the streets and in the courts, often within hours.

Online visitors to dozens of MySpace pages devoted to the gang meet to praise one another's rap skills, defiantly insult law enforcement and deride District Attorney Rod Pacheco's attempts to rein them in.

Almost as soon as the information is posted, law enforcement officers examine the messages for clues to what is happening on the street. Almost 100 pages of MySpace material were included in the district attorney's request for the gang injunction, which prohibits members from associating with each other, blocking access, being lookouts and committing crimes, among other activities.

Lucky and other law enforcement officials spent much of last week pursuing the gang in court and ensuring that people they have identified as East Side Riva members are aware of the consequences if a judge makes the injunction permanent. Lucky said he heard Chavez's song for the first time Monday.

"It only took him a day or two to get the song out," Lucky said.

And it's true that the county's employees do spend time on the internet. This site generates at least two visits from Riverside County's ISP each day.

InstantRiverside has some links on its site here and here. The latter link reports on the record set on Wednesday this week for electricity usage in this city, not surprising given the current heat wave.

The Associated Press stated that the probational San Francisco Police Department officer who shot himself at a party and died soon after was legally drunk.


Officer James Gustafson Jr., 23, of San Mateo, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.09 percent above the legal limit for driving of 0.08 percent when he shot himself in the neck with his department-issued semiautomatic pistol on Aug. 11, said San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault. Gustafson, who had graduated from the police academy in January, was off duty at the time.

This is a senseless tragedy in which there is more information about it here including a comments thread.

Guns and alcohol do not mix. This is another tragic example why.

Also in the San Francisco Chronicle is this story about a medical student who is suing after he was tased by a police officer.


Mehrdad Alemozaffar, 27, who is to begin a medical residency at Harvard University this fall, said Officer Jesse Serna was among the police officers and sheriff's deputies who tackled him to the ground near Broadway and Montgomery Street at about 2 a.m. Dec. 17.

The incident happened after officers trying to get Alemozaffar and two friends to leave the area pushed them in the back, the federal civil-rights suit said. When Alemozaffar complained, Serna replied, "Stop acting like such a girl," the suit said.

When Alemozaffar asked Serna why he had said that, Serna chuckled and replied, "I am calling you a girl because you are acting like one," the suit said.

Alemozaffar was handcuffed and placed facedown on the street. Then sheriff's Deputy J. Reymundo shocked him at least 10 times with a Taser, the suit said.

The suit names Serna and two other police officers, along with Reymundo and another deputy.

Differing accounts were provided by Alemozaffer. The department said that the taser deployment records showed only three discharges that day.

Involved in the incident was Officer Jesse Serna, who is number one on the list of San Francisco Police Department officers when it comes down to the highest number of complaints of excessive force. During a nine month period, the department received five complaints of excessive force involving Serna and in fact, Chief Heather Fong removed him from the field in June and put him in what the article stated was a "non-public contact position". She made the decision to do so after the newspaper had published a series of articles on police officers who had garnered multiple complaints against them by members of the public.

It would seem that the department should have been keeping a close eye on officers like Serna already through an early warning tracking system. Five complaints of excessive force in a nine month period should attract attention from the officer's supervisors and from department management because excessive force complaints in general do not usually generate much statistics as other categories of misconduct allegations do.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Heat and other signs of August

Belo Blog includes a severe heat warning here. Temperatures reached 108 in Riverside yesterday and that combined with high humidity caused by seasonal monsoon conditions have created potentially dangerous conditions especially for the elderly and those working outdoors.

Temperatures are expected to stay above the century mark until after Labor Day, with a chance for thunderstorms coming into the region after the holiday. This weather has created a high demand for electricity statewide which led to a stage 1 alert to conserve use of it during peak hours.

Also on the Press Enterprise blog, Mayor Ron Loveridge sent a message of support for Riverside's sister city in India, which is Hyderabad, located in the state of Andhra Pradesh. This city was struck by terrorist bombs which killed 43 people and injured over 100.


"The attacks by terrorists can never be justified and deserve the condemnation of all," Loveridge wrote in the letter to Chief Minister Y.S. Rajashekara Reddy. "No message can bring solace to those who lost their loved ones or were injured in the attack, but our thoughts are with them, and with all of you, in this dark hour."

Riverside has six sister cities and is part of the oldest ongoing sister relationship in history, which is its relationship with Sendai, Japan.

As noted in the prior posting, the DHL freight planes spent most of the early morning hours taking off from March Air Force Reserve Base at 15 minute intervals, according to people who live south of Central in Riverside. If those noisy planes are truly MD-11 and MD-12 aircraft as has been claimed, then DHL needs to send those planes back for a refund.

People living as far off the alleged flight path as the Arlington Green Belt area and the Eastside could also hear the planes at around 3 am every 15 minutes.

Here's some contact information for those on the March Joint Powers Authority from its Web site which is here if you feel like contacting them about the latest flight path used by DHL.

March Joint Powers Authority
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 7480, Moreno Valley, California 92552, USA
Delivery Address: 3430 Bundy Avenue, Suite 107, Bldg #3408 Riverside, CA, 92518, USA
Phone: (951) 656-7000
Fax: (951) 653-5558

The members of the March Joint Powers Commission are here. There is contact information available to reach them at their appropriate city or county government Web sites. If they get enough complaints, perhaps they will move the flightpath again and this time, pull the next proposed path out of a hat.

You've got to love election years. SmartPark is finally being renovated, less than three months before November's election. Not quite down to the wire, but Ward One candidate, Mike Gardner is correct when he said that the problems should have been addressed and solutions implemented when the program was first introduced months ago.

Councilman Dom Betro, Gardner's opponent, launched a series of changes to "unshackle" downtown parking as he called it. It sounds similar to what's been done with the original vote to introduce a multi tier of electricity rate increases last year, which was to toss it out during the current election cycle only this case changes are to be implemented that should have been evaluated before it was implemented full-time. The city council finally got the message that small business owners and their customers have been telling them for months. Perhaps the changes in the parking program will allow the businesses downtown to be unshackled.

What a difference several months makes on the issue of parking downtown.

The heads of the Greater Chamber of Commerce support metered parking, but many of the small business owners located downtown have appeared at city council meetings and other forums, saying that their sales earnings took a beating after the program was implemented. One more sign of the disconnect that is a result of the marriage between the chamber and City Hall even in situations where small business owners feel disenfranchised due to decisions made by elected officials.

Salvador Santana, publisher of The Truth collected hundreds of signatures from these business owners who were protesting against SmartPark. He took the petitions to city council several times but the city council still insisted it was right about SmartPark and all the people complaining about it downtown were party poopers and evil city employees taking advantage of all the free parking, which of course they did because their employers did not provide adequate parking facilities for them.

Those attending the afternoon session of the latest city council meeting related how the cart which holds The Truth, which is published by Santana was moved to the street by a security guard at City Hall and then later searched by Officer Putman, who was assigned to provide security at City Hall during the meeting. Putman allegedly said he was looking for a bomb while conducting the search. It's not clear at this point why Santana was singled out for this treatment given that the police officers assigned to City Hall do not routinely search people who come to city council meetings.

When it comes to getting what you think the city needs, push for what you want while you still can. There is still about 35 or so shopping days before the election polls open on the first Tuesday in November, all sales are final. This leaves plenty of opportunity to push for more changes from those on the dais who are up this year. And after the elections are decided this year, there are the mayor elections next year, the county supervisor races and then the year after that, more city council races!

Coming up in a future posting will be the tri-year election schedule so shoppers, meaning city residents can know which elected officials will be more responsive to promoting changes to dysfunctional programs and projects and implementing previously ignored programs and projects in any given year during this cycle. If you want a special project introduced, a new policy created or an old council vote reversed, you will be able to check the handy list to check when will be the best dates within the next three years to try and do so.

While the sudden rash of good well, generosity and reversal of fortunes shown by the city's elected officials is well, heart warming, you'd still better strike while the iron is hot.

Politicians up for election in the tri-year election cycle include the following.


Dom Betro
Art Gage
Steve Adams


Frank Schiavone
Ron Loveridge, perhaps.
Ed Adkison, anything is possible.

Betro, Gage are still fighting to win their seats back so their mayoral ambitions and their expected clash for the highest paid elected position on the dais may be revisited down the road.


Andrew Melendrez will probably run for a second term.

Schiavone, most likely if the county gig doesn't work out.

Nancy Hart may or may not run again.

Here's a suggestion though. When city residents including ward constituents have concerns about issues, including new projects, proposed changes to old places or the introduction of loud aircraft in their neighborhood's air space, the best thing to do is to listen to them. Take notes, talk with them and work on a solution, instead of spending months telling people who are concerned that they are being over dramatic, overstating the problem, being divisive or are gadflies. Do these things in other years besides those where elections take place.

Either that or treat every year like an election year.

Will Riverside County Superior Court Judge Robert Spitzer be removed from the bench? The Commission on Judicial Conduct's officer has recommended this action but the final decision still lies ahead, according to the Press Enterprise.

A Los Angeles Times article states that it is official. Riverside County Sheriff Bob Doyle is going to Sacramento to work with the State Parole Board. Who is set to replace him remains to be seen. Voting is by fax, just kidding.

A toxic plume of perchlorate is heading towards Rialto, according to this article in the Press Enterprise.

Here's a message from Save-Riverside which reported that its MySpace site had been hacked into and deleted and there have been other attempts to hack into that organization's sites. Apparently someone or some people didn't like what was on the sites and didn't want other people to access those sites so they could make up their minds what to think about what they were reading.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

River City Hall: I'll give you red, if you give me blue

"Doesn't the mayor make all the appointments?"


"It's a waste of my time to involve myself with a commission that is toothless and has been entirely politicized"

---Individual who withdrew his application rather than be interviewed.

Riverside's Mayor Nomination and Screening Committee met Tuesday to discuss the selection of a new commissioner to replace the departing Steve Simpson who vacated the Community Police Review Commission last week. However, those at the meeting had a difference of opinion of what the process would be. It didn't seem like there even was a process. At any rate, it was interesting to watch politics in action.

At this point, the CPRC has moved so far away from what it could have been. There's been a lot said about the limitations of the charter in what it can do and there's plenty of merit to those arguments but the charter has little or no impact in some of the decisions that have been made regarding its operations lately, which can be blamed more on politics.

Political appointments including those which have been witnessed in recent months only send to push it further down that path towards becoming the public relations machine that the current regime at City Hall appears to want it to be. The sad thing is that it is even failing at that as complaints in at least one neighborhood seem to be shuffled elsewhere besides the CPRC. As one individual told me when sharing his knowledge of this reality, what does this exactly say about the commission?

I spoke with one individual who the city council members and even the city clerk had allegedly said had been interviewed by the city council, but he said that he was never interviewed and in fact had withdrawn his application. He had done some research for the position and after talking with police officers who laughed at it, lawyers including individuals at the Riverside County District Attorney's office who opposed it, and representatives of a police department that didn't want it, he had come under the conclusion that to serve on the body would be a waste of his time, because he had hoped that it could make a difference rather than be a toothless tiger.

Call me back when the process for appointment gets less politicized, he said before hanging up on the city.

It's just as well, even though he had a lot to offer to the CPRC with his service, even in his own words, he admitted that he'd probably only last a week before being expelled if being outspoken and challenging the directive of City Hall was enough to get it done.

A conversation like this one leads one to think that the only people who will be interested in serving on it are not those who could truly make a difference and want to push it in that direction, but those who want it on their resumes for future plans at future dates. After all, if you just need a resume filler, serving on a toothless tiger is perfectly fine, even preferable because you don't have to face making the decisions that might endanger your future plans. Most of those who have resigned in the past year were people who felt they could make a difference through their service. They expressed their frustration but no one really listened. Instead of seeing their departures as the losses they were, some saw opportunities opening up instead.

It's not unusual that I encounter at least one person a week that I think would make a great commissioner but it's hard to get anyone to apply because they don't want to deal with what appears to be a body that has been mismanaged by a city management team that has no experience in this area. They laugh and say they don't need the politics in their lives. Call them back when it's a commission again, they say.

As one commissioner said last week, the city treats us well when we agree with it. We've all seen what happens when the commission doesn't agree with the city and the police department and its difference of opinion becomes public like with an officer-involved death case rather than behind closed doors as it might on a citizen complaint.

Not much in term of surprises arose at this latest committee meeting to select the new commissioner.

Councilman Dom Betro wanted his long-time political supporter and current Human Relations Commissioner, Chani Beeman on the commission. He was joined in this recommendation by Councilman Frank Schiavone who said he had changed his mind, reversed his "nay" votes against Beeman and would support her recommendation for appointment. It's funny watching Schiavone advocate so absolutely, positively for one position on an issue one month and then the next, switch fences in a way that is described as being an organic progression but probably has every bit as much or more to do with back room politics.

However, Mayor Ron Loveridge vetoed that process in a sense and said they had applications to consider and they should select individuals from that group to vote for. That's how the process used to be done once upon a time in a matter of speaking. A point in history which at this point seems like it took place when the words, "transparency" and "process" weren't just sound bytes tossed around that aren't ever meant to be put into practice.

Betro advocated strongly for his selection, saying that Beeman had received the most votes in the "also ran" category during the selection process in March.

However, technically speaking, the record shows that she had received three votes, which put her in second place behind candidate, Sharon L.B. Tyrell, who received four votes but apparently is no longer under consideration. Tyrell gave two fairly decent interviews and should be in the running too, but has apparently been removed from consideration. Her exclusion was troubling because she had the most votes, but this time it wasn't going to be the highest two vote getters out of four but only the highest vote getter period would be counted and obviously, since she got the higher number of votes last time, she could pull a repeat which would put her on.

So initially, the person who was thought to get the most votes is supposed to be granted the recommendation for appointment based on that. But wait, it turns out to be someone else and that person is disqualified from further consideration, despite that.

Such is politics at City Hall and politics is paramount when it comes to board and commission appointments. It's not what you can do, or offer. It's who you know. Only instead of rewarding someone with an interview for having the best block party in the city, people get rewarded for other reasons.

Did Beeman give the best interview? Yes, she would bring many good qualifications to the commission but she is also the most political candidate. What she's brought in her work to the CPRC makes her a much better advocate than a commissioner.

But is this a political appointment? It's hard not to see it as such given her tight political connections with Betro, the same councilman who is pushing her appointment without even pushing for any equal consideration of people who submitted applications to serve on the commission. She is currently serving on the Human Relations Commission and has turned that body around in a big way, but it would also be nice to actually see a commissioner on the HRC who was not so eager to jump ship from one commission to one that fits their needs and wishes better as if it were out with the old and in with the new. This is especially true because 99.9999% of those who live in the city have very little chance of even being interviewed to serve on one commission, let alone being picked to serve on two commissions. Most of those who apply even those who have been longtime residents and have a lot to offer on their applications have virtually no chance of being interviewed. And there are those who not only have served on one commission but have served on two.

Not to mention that all the city's boards and commissions are important and deserve to have commissioners appointed to them who will serve out their complete terms. The Human Relations Commission deserves much more than being used as a stepping stone to the CPRC. It shouldn't be losing its stronger members to other bodies yet it may lose its second commissioner to the CPRC in the past nine months. But unless someone passes a requirement that commissioners serve out the terms that they have committed themselves to before jumping off and joining another commission, that won't change. What complicates the situation greatly for the HRC was that until the hemorrhage began at the CPRC late last year, the HRC had the highest turnover rate of any board or commission by a fairly large margin. Exactly why, is a question that different people have offered different reasons for, ranging from personality clashes, to time commitments to the delayed gratification of goal achievement when in comparison to other commissions. It's probably a combination of different factors added to which it underwent a period of time transitioning out of its micromanagement by the city manager's office to the protection of Loveridge's office. The hiring of Yvette Pierre as its new director has helped ensure some stability to its structure but still seems that some of its commissioners remain on it until they get tired of it or what they see as a better opportunity comes along.

By leaving this commission to jump on the CPRC without a second thought, that sends the message that the HRC is not good enough for these commissioners, which is a bad message to send to the majority of applicants for commissions like the HRC who never are even considered for interviews to serve on it. One long-time resident who applied in the late 1990s who had a MSW degree got frustrated after submitting for a position on it three times and not even getting called in for an interview with the city council.

Like the HRC, the CPRC needs to have members who represent a cross-section of the city's population who live in its different communities and neighborhoods. They should be individuals who haven't been politically tied to it during its past and present but people who should have a high level of commitment who came to it from a different path outside from its politics. Unrepresented on the CPRC are the Eastside, Casa Blanca and Arlanza who historically have had the most turbulent relationships with the police department. Bob Garcia, an original member of the commission who termed out earlier this year was the only representative of any of these neighborhoods.

The CPRC's demographics hardly reflect this, given that the following commissioners who currently sit on it have served on at least one other commission. In fact, Betro and Councilman Ed Adkison tried to push for people with prior board and commission experience for the CPRC so they "could hit the ground running" given the "current situation" involving the commission. A "current situation" that had their blessing, by the way through their silence on the actions taken involving the CPRC during the past 18 months. A situation that they only appeared to be interested in when it meant being able to put their own choices on the CPRC, especially in the case of Betro, who ran purportedly supporting the CPRC but has done little of consequence to show his support of the CPRC. During the past year, he could have taken the opportunity to speak in support of it in public, yet he never did. Given his recent endorsement by the police union, don't expect him to break that trend.

Some argue that the only role a city council member or mayor can play in relation to the CPRC is through the appointment of commissioners to serve on it. However, once one leaves the city of Riverside and travels to other places where there are boards and commissions similar to Riverside's, one will see elected officials who speak in strong support of civilian review and their city or county's civilian review mechanism, even if their opinion puts them in the minority on their governmental body.

But then Riverside's city government is still waiting and has been waiting seven years for a strong, vocal supporter of the CPRC to come from the dais. Some support the idea of it and seem unprepared to face the reality. Others, like Loveridge, have embraced its definition as a "symbolic gesture". Others including what was known as the GASS quartet opposed it and were backed and some say fronted by the Riverside Police Officers' Association to oppose it.

GASS definitely didn't care for civilian review, but what about its successor, BASS?

A lot of people who were strong advocates of civilian oversight and the CPRC put all their eggs in Betro's basket, but was that a worthwhile endeavor? The silence from his corner regarding what's been happening to the CPRC the past year speaks volumes. His dismissal of the city manager's thorough disregard for the CPRC's finding on the Summer Lane case that he exhibited when discussing the subject at several community meetings also speaks volumes. There hasn't been a positive public word out of his camp since the passage of Measure II which was endorsed by Betro, Loveridge and two other city council members.

Betro chastised individuals for supporting the Riverside Police Officers' Association's right to due process in its labor negotiations as virtual traitors to the CPRC due to the decision of Officer Ryan Wilson to sue the CPRC to overturn the finding it rendered against him in his shooting of Summer Marie Lane. He also bashed the union for the law suit filed by one of its members. Yet six months later, he accepted the union's endorsement and its money in his election campaign even though the Wilson law suit was ongoing. However, none of Betro's closest supporters went to city council to protest against the Wilson law suit either. These individuals should have been the first of line and showed the community that they expected to protest in force how to do so through their example. But of course none of them did.

Betro and Adkison who are both members of BASS, both were staunch in their belief that prior board and commission experience was a necessary requirement.

Here's the list of commissioners who either currently serve on another commission or did in the past.

1) Chair Brian Pearcy also chairs the Downtown Parking Committee

2) John Brandriff was appointed on the CPRC while serving on the Human Relations Commission.

3) Peter Hubbard served on the Board of Public Utilities for 10 years as a commissioner and alternate.

Someone called what was going on with the boards and commissions "bastardization" of the process by City Hall so they could pack them with people who have proven their loyalty or "paid their dues" as if either should be criteria to use when selecting commissioners. This unwritten rule that was sprung on the public during the selection process would eliminate over 99.9999999999% of the city's population from being considered from service on the CPRC. It's a qualification thought up on the spot when it was needed that makes absolutely no sense at all especially for those of us who aren't insiders at City Hall and have no desire to be.

Most impacted by this unwritten requirement would be men and women of color who are less likely to be able to serve on one commission and if that's the case, wouldn't be among the selection process for the CPRC if prior board and commission service was even an unwritten requirement. Sure enough, none of the commissioners who fell within the unwritten requirement of prior board and commission service were any race but White. Currently, the CPRC is less racially diverse than the Riverside Police Department.

It's difficult to keep up let alone keep score with who wins a position on the CPRC because the selection process lost its integrity months ago, as a series of political appointments have been used to fill the vacancies which keep coming from within its ranks. Those who make the appointments are so brazen in what the process has become, that to sit in on these selection and interview meetings and listen to the discussions that go into selecting commissioners is truly an education in City Hall politics although probably at the introductory level. And that's just the discussions, debates and lobbying efforts that happen in a public forum, the conversations that go on behind closed doors must be even more of a fascinating study in the political structure of what is Riverside. It's great to watch if you want to write a thesis paper on the dynamics of city government but it's not healthy for the well-being of the city's boards and commissions.

The excuse by several councilmen for their appointments on the CPRC is that there aren't enough applicants who know how to be CPRC commissioners. One wonders how they can say that when they admit that they haven't seen the list of applicants until just before the meeting and have their minds are clearly so made up that they don't really participate in any semblance of a screening process. It's interesting watching one councilman be so adamant against one appointment last March, but by August, he's taken a 180 degree turn. In between, was the appointment of a woman who was vying for the same elected position that this councilman will be fighting for next year. And so it goes. They sit there in stony silence grunting a yay or nay in response to a name that Loveridge picks out from the applications he at least takes some time to read through.

But what bothered me the most about this appointment process was the conversation I had with Schiavone in late June when he started asking me questions literally on the street about Simpson's mental competency, based on what he had read on my blog about the clash between Simpson and City Attorney Gregory Priamos. Even then, in between questions about whether or not I thought Simpson was mentally fit enough to serve on a commission and realizing later that along with malfeasance, mental incompetence could be grounds for removal from a board or commission by the vote of the city council, I understood later why there was already talk of who would replace him.

Did Schiavone believe at the time believe that he had the votes necessary to have Simpson removed? And if so, how would he know this? But if he didn't, why would he be considering and discussing a candidate he would vote to replace Simpson?

After all, one would think that this wouldn't be a question that would be answered until a final vote was taken after a competency hearing. Given the unpredictable nature of such a proceeding and its potential outcome, not to mention the final decisions in terms of the votes cast of at least five elected officials, one would think it would be premature to discuss replacement candidates.

What was also amazing was that the short list of people provided in the conversation by Schiavone had come to him discussing Simpson's mental competency included no one who had talked to him or even spent much time observing his behavior before expressing their alleged concerns about his ability to serve on the commission.

There certainly hasn't been much transparency about how these concerns came about, even as questions were asked about Simpson's mental fitness. Any concerns about this issue most certainly happened behind closed doors and it appears that until his meeting with Pearcy in July, Simpson was kept totally in the dark about what was apparently transpiring behind the scenes concerning him. It's difficult to believe and very disappointing if it's true that this is what was going on, given that the city council members take great pride in how they conduct themselves on accountability issues with boards and commissions. These city council members should be above engaging in such behavior.

Simpson said that he had been threatened with removal. He also said that CPRC Chair Brian Pearcy had taken him out to eat and told him to tone it down, toe the line or he was gone. Pearcy did not respond to Simpson's words at the last CPRC meeting but it seems to me, that a chair should represent his commissioners' interests, not those of City Hall. There needs to be some inquiry and some level of accountability to investigate what Simpson said at the latest meeting about what happened to him because not much seems to be known about what exactly did happen.

Will this happen? Of course not.

This city is still struggling with an ethics complaint process that is as strong as a paper tiger and that individuals have said is being used unfairly against elected officials even though two out of the three complaints received against elected officials that are supposedly unfair have not been accepted by the city council for a hearing, let alone vetted in a public forum where both sides would get to present their sides. How can anyone decide whether or not the complaints themselves are unfair or unfounded without even knowing what evidence is available? How can anyone judge a process in that way that seems to change its rules with the seasons?

Any inquiry into the process that ended with Simpson's resignation but appears to have begun much earlier will not garner much support. But what of the process concerning addressing potential mental competency in commissioners if the situation does arrive? Is there even such a process in place? Probably not.

If there ever is a mental competency issue involving a commissioner, then there needs to be a process in place to address this issue in a way that doesn't strip a commissioner of his or her dignity. How would the city council members feel if they were treated in this fashion by each other over the same issue?

But then that's hard to explain to a city government if it believes it's perfectly okay to try to push that process simply to replace one commissioner with another for reasons that might have little or nothing to do with fitness to serve and everything to do with politics and trade. It's not clear that the campaign against Simpson that was clearly going on had anything to do with legitimate concerns about mental competency. What cast doubt on it was the differences between Schiavone's conversation with me and what Simpson related involving his own experiences at the CPRC meeting last week.

What was interesting even as it was also appalling, is that the concern that the "seventh floor" showed regarding Simpson in terms of his interaction with Pearcy did not appear to involve mental incompetence but instead appeared to be about a commissioner with strong opinions about certain things including several taboo issues including the commission's right to even discuss retaining an independent counsel, let alone actually do it. Was there any concern raised by Pearcy about his mental competence to remain on the commission and if so, why was the message instead to tone down his rhetoric? If there was concern about mental incompetency, wouldn't it remain consistant among the parties involved in all their interactions?

Even though Simpson's position on the independent attorney was in line with what many people believed and in fact, several said at his last meeting that they fully supported all his recommendations, it's doubtful anyone will support his right to a due process examination of what led to his decision to resign. They will already be throwing in their support of the next step, which whether intentionally or not comes at his expense. Why worry about the means when it all worked out in the end?

What appalls me now about the whole affair is whether or not there was a willingness on the part of one or more city council members and maybe other individuals as well to put someone like Simpson through the humiliation of a mental competency hearing for some other reason. Was it done to create a vacancy? Was it done to try and remove someone whose opinions and style the "seventh floor" as it's called, disagreed with?

To me, the idea that behavior like this could have taken place in connection with the CPRC or any commission for that matter is too repulsive and disgusting to even contemplate. If it was not carried out as an action of concern for the well-being of a commissioner and the CPRC but for other reasons that are more selfish and self-serving among politicians, then we are really at a nadir in the CPRC's history and in the history of our city government as well.

If the appointment process of commissioners to the CPRC has descended to that level, then it's not worth promoting to prospective community members interested in serving on a commission they can believe in. The police officers and most definitely, the community members especially those who engage the complaint process deserve much better than this and they deserve much better than elected officials who would engage in such behavior if that's indeed what they did. All of our politicians have the capability and have shown that they are capable of great good, and sometimes courageous stands. This episode most definitely was not an example of their finest hour whatever underlying motives or reasons were involved.

But what of community leaders who impose strict ethical requirements of leaders, but first and foremost do so regarding those they personally or politically disagree with? If you support a politician, a candidate or an elected official, you should hold them to a higher standard than those that you oppose. In part, because their behavior good and bad reflects somewhat on those who support them, stump for them, campaign for them and believe in both their potential and what they do.

The hardest part of being a watch dog is when you must choose a process over a person or people and often that can be a difficult process. But if you choose people over process, most often you apply double standards involving different people who undergo a process based on how you feel about that person or people and what they stand for. Then, people watching, say wait a minute, you criticize this person for doing this but when it's someone you approve of, you push for it. What gives? What do you really represent? Is it do as I say, not as I do? What do you stand for again?

What does the community receive from all of this intrigue inside City Hall which nearly saw a spectacle of humiliation enforced on one of its commissioners? It's interesting among those of us who have been involved in the police complaint system to watch the behavior of those who don't know what it's about. For us, the CPRC means something entirely different than to those to whom it remains an academic exercise. The only problem, is that those who file complaints and undergo the experience of doing so aren't considered "stake holders" by City Hall in the process. But complainants and police officers who have complaints filed against them are major stake holders, before politicians, city employees and community leaders who speak for those who have or will file complaints. Yet no one thinks to even ask members of this population what they think should come next for a body that was purportedly created to meet an important need.

Communities who have disproportionate numbers of their residents file complaints are definitely stake holders, but often don't have a voice either. These communities have been denied a voice in the actions taken involving the CPRC by City Hall during the past 18 months including the politicization of the appointment process. Not once did those at City Hall ever ask the community for its opinions about what it was doing. In fact, those in City Hall did whatever they could to keep it out of the public eye.

Some situations are taking place as a result of all that's happened, like ripples on a lake after a rock splashes its surface.

With complaints allegedly being funnelled in at least one neighborhood straight to the police department to be "resolved" rather than through the CPRC or even the Internal Affairs Division, it's clear that this development which contributed to zero complaints being filed in the Eastside last year can be read in two ways. Some say, it shows greater confidence between the neighborhood and the police department but some see it as a reflection of what the CPRC has become in the past 18 months, which is nothing less than what it was intended to become when the city first passed the ordinance to create it in February 2000. Exactly what it does mean needs to be examined and evaluated. It could be one or the other. It could be both or other things. But it deserves a look.

But then the whole process used by the Mayor's Nomination and Screening Committee that is turned into an exercise where elected leaders sit around a table with binders of applications in front of them that don't seem to be opened. In the past, city council members had actually read all of them before discussing which ones to interview and there were some good, interesting discussions even if back then, it came down to who knew who.

Now, it's still who knew who and who paid which dues to get there, when in reality, it's a venue where those questions shouldn't be asked let alone imposed as unwritten requirements. Every applicant deserves equal footing no matter who they know or don't know or support at City Hall. This is a commission that performs an important function, not a political tool which unfortunately is what it has become.

What is past is prologue? That's a question that needs to be answered too.

Are Riverside County employees abusing their work mail systems? Riverside County Sheriff Bob Doyle is leaving his job, but apparently not before conducting an investigation about whether or not a lieutenant in his department inappropriately used his email address to stump for the man who is expected to be the interim acting sheriff, Neil Lingle. Doyle urged people working for him to just calm down with the emails.


Sheriff Bob Doyle confirmed Tuesday that an investigation was in progress over an unconfirmed allegation an employee had violated the county's e-mail policy.

County spokesman Ray Smith said the e-mail policy does not specifically address the type of uses connected to the allegation.

"When an allegation comes up, it would be appropriate to look into it and determine if it is a violation and that sounds like what is going on now," Smith said.

The sheriff said appropriate disciplinary action would be taken if the allegation was confirmed, although it was not readily known what that action would entail. Doyle declined to name the employee.

It's not clear what impact this will have on the emails that are sent out regarding the ongoing situation with who will replace Doyle when he departs the building. As for the department's fax machines? They remain quiet at least for now.

The Press Enterprise also voiced its view through this editorial about the abrupt announcement regarding Doyle's departure. It seems to be an enthusiastic supporter of Lingle.


Lingle brings experience and expertise that outsiders -- even former employees -- cannot match. The undersheriff, a 17-year department veteran, runs the day-to-day workings of the $450 million, 3,000-employee agency. Lingle in the past three years has been at the center of every key decision and effort, especially plans to bolster county jail space and build two new jails in the next decade. The supervisors and the undersheriff agree that the fast-growing county's No. 1 priority should remain slashing the number of prisoners the sheriff releases from jail early because of crowding.

Lingle would sustain momentum on those key initiatives while repairing relationships with elected officials and the sheriff's deputies union. Doyle stopped speaking with union representatives over policy disagreements; Lingle vows to end the silence. And he would mend ties between the department and the district attorney and supervisors, which frayed under Doyle's watch.

Electrical shortages and even blackouts could be on the horizon through out the state, according to the Associated Press. Increased use of air conditioners in the wake of the latest blazing heat wave is to blame.

Today and tomorrow are expected to see electric usage that will set new records as temperatures are expected to range between 105 to 115 degrees. Hopefully, blackouts will be avoided.

On that note, there are more letters on the decision by the Riverside City Council to reverse its vote on the electrical rate increases including one that supports that decision.

Several postings ago I made a reference to Press Enterprise reporter Phil Pitchford being an "old face". I meant not that he was old but that he's been around the newspaper a while. I first met him in 1996 when he was reporting on the city government in Riverside before departing. In a newspaper where quite a few of the "old faces" have left, it's nice to see one that is still around.

DHL Noise Forecast:

Is DHL keeping you awake tonight? Is it your night to have its planes fly over your home?

Here is a list of neighborhoods reporting noisy air traffic courtesy of DHL and of poor decision making by the March Joint Powers Association.



Mission Grove


Green Belt



Sycamore Canyon

Hawarden Hills


If you are on this list, all I can say is you're stuck buying ear plugs, or white sound machines and praying that either the DHL flight path is moved again like a hot potato or we get in some new elected representatives who will take responsibility for the problem and provide a viable solution to it rather than a bunch of rhetoric which just adds to the already noisy atmosphere.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Lee Deante Brown: Many questions, fewer answers

Last week, the Community Police Review Commission voted to send questions to the Riverside Police Department's Officer-Involved Death investigation team regarding the April 3 fatal shooting of Lee Deante Brown.

Here is a partial list of those questions in the wording in which they were asked that have been brought up during the past several months mostly by Commissioner Jim Ward and members of the public. It's interesting watching the commissioners discuss the drafting of the public report in connection with the Brown shooting. Each time the discussion has been opened, there is silence from most of the commissioners in terms of discussing it until they are prompted on it by Chair Brian Pearcy. They appear to be taking their cues on how to continue on the discussion through him.

Ward on the other hand can discuss it freely, using evidence gathered by both the police department and the CPRC's own investigator, Butch Warnberg, to make his argument.

These questions have been sent to the police department for responses back in writing. Hopefully, the department will provide them.

Conflicting Officer Statements

1) Officer Stucker said Mr. Brown was sitting or squatting when shot, Officer Ellefson said he was standing, four(4) independent eyewitnesses said he was sitting or on the ground when shot. Who's credible?

2) Both Officer Stucker and Officer Ellefson said Mr. Brown had possession of the taser. However, six(6) independent eyewitnesses who saw the shooting said he had nothing in his hands when he was shot. Who's credible?

3) What evidence did the RPD find that linked Mr. Brown to the taser other than the officers' statements?

4) Officer Stucker claimed he was tased and, as a result, was disengaged from the struggle prior to the shooting. When he turned around, Mr. Brown had Officer Ellefson's taser in his hands. However, according to his belt recorder, he was engaged up until seconds before the shooting and according to the Coroner's report, Mr. Brown's body had three(3) wounds consistent with taser probes and one taser probe was embedded in his belt. Do you find Officer Stucker's claim creditable? If yes, how? Why?

The Custody of Chain of Officer Ellefson's Belt Recorder

1) Why wasn't Officer Ellefson's transcribed belt recorder not submitted with the criminal casebook?

2) How as the "Drop the gu"-"Drop the gun" discovered?

3) Who discovered it?

4) When was it discovered?

5) Who was it reported to other than the FBI investigator?

6) Why wasn't this information made a part of the criminal casebook?

7) Who shared this information with the FBI investigator?

8) Why wasn't the statement picked up on Officer Stucker's belt recorder? All the other statements were!

9) All other commands were repeated over and over, but the "Drop the gun" command was made only once. After Mr. Brown was shot and reportedly still had the taser in his hands, Officer Ellefson's first command to Mr. Brown after shooting him was, "Stay down", not "Drop the gun". Why?

10) Why didn't Officer Ellefson claim this statement when he signed his enhanced transcribed copy of his belt recorder?

The Custody Chain of Officer Ellefson's Taser

1) Why were there no fingerprints and only traces of DNA on Officer Ellefson's taser?

2) Had it been wiped clean prior to testing?

3) Why was Officer Ellfeson's DNA not found on his taser?

4) Were Officer Ellefson's fingerprints found on his taser? If not, why?

5) Which analysis took place first, the fingerprints or the DNA? Does one compromise the other?

6) Why wasn't proper protocol followed, i.e., using one swab for each area of the taser rather than one swab for all areas? Could this process be tantamount to wiping the taser down?

7) According to the evidence, Officer Ellefson's taser was cycled seven(7) times. The sixth(6th) cycle was at 13:49:11 and the seventh(7th) at 13:49:17. How could Mr. Brown gain control and cycle the taser in six(6) seconds considering all the officers said took place between the statement, "Watch that cuff" and Mr. Brown gaining control and cycling the taser.

8) If a taser can only be used for contact tasing, can the taser be cycled if no contact was made?

9) On Nov. 30, 2006, we were directed not to review and discuss the Brown OID case because additional relevant information was being developed as part of the criminal investigation and that this information would be important to the criminal review of this case. I am unaware of any additional relevant information being shared with us(The CPRC). All we received was a faxed copy of the physical evidence examination report from the Department of Justice(DOJ) to Det. Medici that was sent on Nov. 13, 2006, approximately two weeks prior to the directive to cease and desist review of the case. This directive was in effect for approximately one and a half(1 1/2) months. I would like to know what relevant information was developed by the RPD during this time (see attached email).

It's not clear when responses to these questions will be received back by the commission from those who can best answer them in the police department. It does appear that further discussion on the Brown shooting might be postponed until these questions receive a response.

More news about the classified advertised threat against Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco, which is under investigation according to the Press Enterprise.


Pacheco on Friday had announced that he was seeking a court injunction to limit the ability of East Side Riva gang members to congregate and commit crimes. Pacheco said he thinks the advertisement was an East Side Riva intimidation tactic made in response to his injunction effort.

Using the word "memorial" in the ad "raises it to a certain level, a criminal level," Pacheco said Monday after speaking at a luncheon meeting of the Corona Chamber of Commerce. He said his office is investigating the incident as a possible threat against a public official.

Making such a threat is a crime that carries a maximum penalty of three years in state prison, the district attorney's office has said. Investigators served a search warrant at the newspaper office Monday morning, but it was not clear what information was obtained.

"What better way to put terror in the community than threaten the district attorney?" Pacheco asked in an interview. "When they threaten me, they threaten all of society."

Some community members had concerns about the injunction in that it might be applied in a discriminatory fashion.


Larry Gallegos, a member of the pro-cannabis Patient Advocacy Network, said the injunction has angered some Hispanic residents, who fear how the injunction will be enforced.

"I think he is doing a great job with the gangs," Gallegos said. "I'm just concerned with how the injunction will be administered. Is there going to be an increase in racial profiling?"

9-11 phone calls made from cell phones in Riverside will be heard by local dispatchers rather than the CHP, according to this article in the Press Enterprise. About half of all 9-11 calls were made from cell phones, which caused serious delays in response.


Some callers reported being placed on hold for five to eight minutes, said Riverside police communications manager John Wright.

The CHP was overwhelmed with more than 8 million calls per year, Wright said.

"Now calls go directly to the correct 911 operator, which is probably cutting minutes off the response time," Wright said. "In a life-saving situation, that time is critical."

Riverside has seen a 30 percent increase in wireless calls into its call center since the conversion began, Wright said.

Other Inland cities that have switched over include Corona, Beaumont, Banning, Palm Springs, Murrieta, Indio and all cities that contract with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

The Riverside County Sheriff's Department is still reviewing whether the conversion would be possible and beneficial to its county, Executive Officer Tom Freeman said.

Nothing beats trying to find a pay phone(which are nearly extinct at this point) or other land line when you need to call for assistance especially on a holiday. Hopefully, these changes will help alleviate the situation.

Outgoing Riverside County Sheriff Bob Doyle has picked the man he hoped will succeed him and it's Neil Lingle. More about Lingle here.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Doyle also criticized other candidates for lobbying county supervisors for the appointment to fill the three years remaining in the sheriff's term.

"We've had people that were fired and that I wouldn't allow to stay because of incompetence calling board members looking for support," Doyle said in a phone interview. "If they are stirring stuff up trying to cause dissention and anxiety about people, and not being truthful about people, that's a problem

Because God forbid, it be an open appointment process. In Riverside County? I don't think so.

In 1999, Mayor Ron Loveridge made a speech during the dedication of the Martin Luther King, jr. statue and said that there would be no tolerance for the use of racist and sexist slurs in Riverside's work force.

Eight years later, has this vision become reality?

Does the city of Riverside really practice a zero tolerance for racial and gender slurs in its workplace? What happens to those who report them? What happens to those who use them? Are you more likely to keep your job if you use slurs than if you report them?

What agencies do you report it if it's happening to you?

At the Plum House place on 12th and Almond, there's a sign that states there is a meet and greet with Ward One candidate, Mike Gardner. Not sure what the date is, but it was displayed.

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

River City: The heat wave begins

"It's probably time that the department makes a conscious decision about whether it's acceptable for officers to take steroids."

---Former Chief Ken Harms, Miami Police Department

There was a debate on whether or not it was acceptable to allow law enforcement officers to take anabolic steroids in order to improve their work performance, according to this study released by a professor at the University of Texas, Austin in 2005.

When this study was released by John Hoberman, Ph.D., there was a discussion about steroid use and whether or not it should be legal taking place even on the floors of the U.S. Capitol due to the BALCO scandal that had hit the world of athletics from major league baseball to track and field. But, little discussion ever took place in any forum about the impact of steroids on police officers who opted to take them. According to many sources, the number of those choosing to do so is increasing across the country.

Should their use by law enforcement officers be tolerated or discouraged or banned? Many agencies screen for police officer candidates who have used drugs including steroids, but they have differing policies for how to handle past use of steroids and other drugs.


Prohibiting police officers from using anabolic steroids would appear to be self-evident given what is known about how these drugs can produce hyper-aggressive behavior. But understanding the use of these drugs by police officers and other men whose professional roles involve physical strength and assertiveness requires us to examine the two opposing arguments that have been advanced to favor or oppose the use of steroids by law enforcement personnel. The functional argument holds that the physical and psychological effects of steroids promote the safety of the officer and, therefore, public safety, as well. The deviance argument holds that, on the contrary, both the physical and emotional effects of the drugs endanger the public and expose drug-taking officers to serious legal risks resulting from their dangerous drug-induced behaviors.

The idea that steroids might actually play a functional (and therefore legitimate) role in preparing police officers to do their jobs was not beyond the pale in 1987. For example, the Miami Herald exposé prompted a former Miami police chief, Ken Harms, to make the following comment: "It's probably time that the department makes a conscious decision about whether it's acceptable for officers to take steroids." (4) The sheer political incorrectness of this statement, when judged by today's standards, speaks volumes about how the social status of these drugs has changed in the interim. Although Chief Harms did not go on to parse the pros and cons of steroid-taking by police officers, it is not difficult to imagine what he might have said.

So the debate continues that has one side claiming that steroids are a quick-fix for police officers to become stronger, faster and more fierce. Others say that steroid use leads to more aggressive, perhaps violent behavior in those who use it.


This case of allegedly steroid-fueled police violence comes from Texas. Over a period of seven years during the 1980s, a Houston police officer named Scott Tschirhart shot to death three black men in circumstances that led to protests and a grand jury investigation. Cleared by the grand jury, Tschirhart was eventually fired by Houston's black police chief shortly after the third killing in 1989. (19)

It was well known to his fellow officers that Tschirhart was a user of anabolic steroids, and they had watched the drugs transform him as a bodybuilder and as a policeman. "The bigger he got … the worse he got about strutting around and bragging," a veteran officer recalled. "You could really see him changing." (20) But the Houston Police Department had no policy against steroid use, so no one intervened until the third fatal shooting provoked the department to investigate this officer's unusually violent career.

An ABC News Report that same year documented other cases of what was referred to as "'roid rage" in police officers. The unstable emotional swings are blamed on how steroids impact the brain's dopamine receptors. When these receptors are damaged, it often leads to aggressive behavior, poor judgment and a lack of impulse control.


James Batsel IV was a police officer in Riverdale, a suburb of Atlanta. In 1993, he joined a group of police officers who, in addition to bulking up on steroids, burglarized stores and nightclubs in the Atlanta area.
During one of those burglaries, Batsel shot and killed a nightclub owner. In his defense, Batsel blamed the murder on the steroids he was using.

Batsel, now serving a life sentence for murder at Hays State Prison in Georgia, refused an interview request from But his father, James Batsel III, said, "The police force that he was on was rampant with it."

Maj. Greg Barney of the Riverdale Police Department declined to offer comment on the 12-year-old incident.

Batsel also described the effect steroids had on his son's disposition, causing him to fly into a violent rage for no reason. This side effect of steroids is known as "'roid rage."

"He had a temper you would not believe," Batsel's father said. "He had a dog that he just loved -- and he took that dog out and shot it."

In 2006, The Boston Police Department began testing for steroid use after several of its officers abused and dealt in steroids, according to the Boston Herald.


The suspected ringleader among the three officers charged with guarding massive shipments of cocaine, Roberto Pulido, is accused of trafficking in steroids, which he allegedly imported from a drug dealer in Greece. A regular customer for the steroids was a second officer, Carlos A. Pizarro, according to an affidavit filed by an FBI agent in the case.

A fourth officer implicated in the federal investigation was placed on administrative duty and had his gun confiscated last week after he was implicated in the distribution of steroids and suspected steroid use, a law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation has told the Globe. Because the department does not test officers for steroids, Edgardo Rodriguez probably would not have come to the attention of department officials if it weren't for the federal probe.

``The mayor supports steroids testing, and he will negotiate with the union regarding this matter," Menino spokeswoman Rebecca Frisch said. The mayor declined to be interviewed.

It's not known, certainly to the public whether the Riverside Police Department has ever grappled with the problem of steroids being used by any of its police officers. Hopefully, it has been spared from the problems faced by other law enforcement agencies.

However, in the 1997 incustody death of Hector Islas, there were some references to possible steroid use by former officer, Vernon Bryant. After Islas' death, Bryant avoided submitting a blood or urine sample for testing by the police department for hours. When one of the other officers involved in the death asked him to submit a sample, Bryant asked if it would test for ephedrine or steroids, according to a declaration submitted in the civil case.

Whether or not Bryant tested positive for either of these substances or not, was never known not even by former police chief, Ken Fortier because the Riverside Police Officers' Association went to Riverside County Superior Court to file an injunction against the release of the results of Bryant's toxicology test.

Whether or not there are problems with steroid use in this police department remains known only by those behind the blue curtain. Hopefully, the police officers in this agency are smarter than those elsewhere who have abused steroids, endangering their health and the well-being of themselves and others around them. Hopefully, if steroid abuse does take place, others who know about it don't keep the information to themselves and look the other way. That does nobody any favors least of all the individuals they think their silence protects.

Other resources:

Steroid use by law enforcement personnel(Drug Enforcement Agency, 2004)

Differential standards for abuse of steroids by police and fire fighters (KPHO, Phoenix, August 2007)

Abuse of Anabolic Steroids(by Charles Swanson, Ph.D., Larry Gaines, Ph.D. and Barbara Gore, M.S.)


Measures to Take

Most police departments do not have a blanket policy of
anabolic steroid screening for recruits. Also, the extent of
anabolic steroid use by police officers is presently unclear.
However, departments should begin to train supervisors,
background investigators, and internal affairs personnel on how
to identify the physical and behavioral signs associated with
anabolic steroid abuse.

In addition to the physical and psychological symptoms
previously noted, other possible indicators to begin looking for
are sleep disorders, marked increases in irritability,
depression, unusual nervous tension, trouble in concentrating on
cognitive tasks, increased officer-to-officer conflicts, and
complaints from the officer about the department, its policies
and procedures, or working conditions. If members of police
departments are made aware of these symptoms, they will be more
readily equipped to confront a possible abuse situation.

Steroid Use Among Police(CBS-5 News, Phoenix, 2006)

Two items most found in Mesa Police Department personnel records of police officers suspected of steroid use were excessive force complaints and domestic violence.

Another heat wave has shook the city of Riverside with temperatures expected to top out at 107 degrees the rest of the week.

The Riverside Governmental Affairs Committee will be meeting today to discuss who the lucky people are who will receive grant funding from Charter to produce programming. It sure helps if you are a city employees, as Belinda Graham from the Development Department discovered when asking for the $6,000 needed to finance a documentary of the renovation of the Fox Theater downtown.

According to this report, she's one of two individuals who received recommendations from "staff" to receive a portion of the available funding which was $7,000 of the original $45,000 for this year. Half of the funding comes from the governmental account, the remainder from public service account. The allocation from the latter caused some head scratching among those who thought that community organizations and non-profit groups would be the ones to have access to it, not city employees. Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis said that the work needed to be done by "a professional" which means naturally, city employee preferably one who came to the city from a stint with Riverside County's Economic Development Agency.

Also, the two councilmen who attended, Frank Schiavone and Dom Betro, discussed the process of selection for boards and commissions. Tomorrow, the Mayor's Nomination and Screening Committee will meet to screen applicants to fill a vacancy on the Community Police Review Commission that was left by the latest departing commissioner, Steve Simpson who resigned last week out of protest regarding the micromanagement of the CPRC by City Hall.

One of the councilmen, Betro, asked if they could just bypass the established process because they had just had conducted interviews recently. But apparently, neither he nor Schiavone had reviewed the updated list of applicants for the CPRC because there were new people added to the list. Consequently, the committee will at least go through the appearances of screening those and other applications for further consideration. However, the money's on the reality that a selection has already been made by the city council. Such is the point that the process of appointing commissioners to the CPRC has been politicized by City Hall. Look for another insider at City Hall to make the grade as a couple of them are in the running to join the latest round of politicized appointments on the CPRC.

Outgoing Councilman Ed Adkison was a no show at the meeting. There was no explanation provided why he failed to appear. Schiavone and Betro did mention that FRED is dead, though most political watchdogs have known that for quite some time. At City Hall, just like high school, some friendships fade awfully fast to be replaced by others. One BBF replacing another, so to speak. Such is the nature of the political arena and high schools.

Press Enterprise Columnist Cassie MacDuff put in her opinion on what's up in Redlands with the city manager dictating what information will be given to city council candidates who submit questions. She relates her own experiences trying to get information out of Redlands City Hall which gave her some idea of what was to come for aspiring politicians.


Requiring Redlands council candidates to submit their questions in writing to the city manager rather than get answers straight from city staff is wrong in so many ways.

First, barring candidates from meeting with city staff gives the two incumbents an additional advantage, since they already have regular contact with staff.

Second, the policy of providing the answers to all seven candidates undermines the initiative of the candidates who ask the questions, and rewards the passivity of those who sit on the sidelines.

Enterprising candidates do the heavy lifting; the rest can coast on cruise control and reap the benefits of others' work.

But what worries me most is the role of City Manager N. Enrique Martinez. In my experience, Martinez is worse than a bottleneck when it comes to the flow of city information. He's a brick wall.

Surprise, surprise asthma rates have increased for emergency workers who responded to the World Trade Center after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, according to the New York Daily News.


The data show 3.6 percent of the 25,000 rescue and recovery workers in the registry reported developing asthma after working at the site - more than 12 times the expected figure for adults over a similar time period.

"The risk was significantly elevated for fire and rescue workers, medical workers, and police and military personnel compared to volunteers," according to the study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Firefighters, police officers, construction workers and volunteers swarmed to the site immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. While most of them were from New York, hundreds or more came from across the country to help in the moment of national crisis.

Overall, workers who arrived at the disaster site on the day of the attacks and stayed more than 90 days reported the highest rate of new asthma - 7 percent. Volunteers accounted for almost one-third of those responding to the survey; firefighters accounted for about 14 percent.

Workers who reported wearing protective respirators on Sept. 11 and 12, when the contamination was at its worst, had lower risk of developing adult-onset asthma, the study found.

"These findings reflect the critical importance of getting appropriate respiratory protection to all workers as quickly as possible during a disaster, and making every effort to make sure workers wear them at all times," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, the city's health commissioner.

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Hiding in Plain Sight: Due process for Kelsy Metzler?

The Riverside Police Officers' Association has gone to bat for former police officer, Jose Nazario, who was fired shortly after being told he potentially faced voluntary manslaughter charges in relation to a killing of an unarmed Iraqi prisoner in Fallujah, according to the Press Enterprise.


Meanwhile, the Riverside Police Officers' Association is asking that the Riverside Police Department place Nazario back on the force, and put him on paid administrative leave until the investigation is concluded.

Nazario was terminated by the Police Department after his arrest on the federal charges. Police Chief Russ Leach said that at the time he was terminated, Nazario was still serving the probationary period as a newly hired officer.

Nazario was eight weeks shy of completing his probationary period, according to a statement by the police officers' association.

"We are concerned that due to a flaw in that process, a new Riverside police officer nearing the end of his probationary period has been dismissed without any evidence of police misconduct," President Ken Tutwiler said in a statement. "While the Riverside Police Officers' Association is not in a position to cast judgment, or assess guilt or innocence, we are here to call attention to a police officer's right to due process."

By doing so, it's just fulfilling its responsibilities as a union to look out for its members which are the department's police officers, detectives and sergeants. As a stand to take for what it represents, it's a commendable one and one in line with its responsibilities towards its members.

But the leadership should take it a step further and apply their standard of addressing a "flaw" in the process to another probational officer who was fired by the department two years ago. This one was not accused or charged with committing a crime and it's not clear whether or not there was any investigation of misconduct that had been done by the department in this officer's case. The sin of this officer appears to have been in believing that the police department meant it when its employees encouraged officers to report discrimination and/or harassment involving race and gender that they experience or witness. However, the past and present seem to be blurring when it comes to addressing these problems. As far as the department and city seem to be concerned, employees stepping forward and reporting this bad and discriminatory behavior might as well be committing a crime.

The officer in question was a woman named Kelsy Metzler who was fired during the summer of 2005 not long after graduating 21st out of 70 in her class, which isn't bad at all. After graduating from the academy and fulfilling all of its requirements to become a police officer, Metzler showed up for her first day at work at the police department to receive her assignment. Instead, she was led to a room where a representative from the Internal Affairs Division was present along with defendants later listed in her law suit and told she was fired. When she asked why, she stated in her law suit that she was told by them that they didn't have to give a reason and that they didn't like her. It's not clear whether a union representative was present with her on her behalf when she received the notification of her termination as a police officer before her career even had a chance to begin or when she was told that she wouldn't be given a reason for her termination. Somehow, it's doubtful that anyone stood up and advocated for her rights as has been done for her male counterpart. She certainly didn't mention any such advocacy in her law suit.

In her law suit, Metzler had stated that she had complained that a male cadet at the academy was sexually harassing her and possibly other women there. She was told it would be investigated in accordance to the policy put in place to do so. She was later told by her supervisor that she couldn't access a copy of her complaint nor could she receive an update on the investigation, both rights that anyone who files a complaint under any reputable policy would have. Was there anyone able to help her have access to either of these things?

Two Riverside Police Department officers came to visit her at some point after she had filed her harassment complaints. It would have been great if these two male officers who visited her and who are listed in her law suit would have been there to tell her that the department had heard about the complaint and was concerned about her well-being. After all, it had spent a huge chunk of money and time recruiting her, screening her application, going through the extensive hiring steps and taking her through the pre-academy phase before she even entered into the police academy. At this point in her employment, the department and city had already invested a six-figure sum in her future and in its future.

According to her law suit, none of that happened. What allegedly happened instead is that the two men informed her that her employing agency had heard about the sexual harassment complaint and was very unhappy with it and with her. One would think they would be unhappy with the prospect that one of their employees was being harassed rather than at her, but law enforcement is funny in that it has a tendency to punish those who complain about poor treatment. However, that mistreatment often costs in terms of thousands, even millions paid out litigating it. Riverside was about to learn that lesson the hard way, when several months after Metzler's termination, it would be slammed with a $1.64 million jury's verdict in connection with a racial discrimination, harassment and retaliation law suit filed by a Black male officer.

Her alleged meeting with the two officers from the Riverside Police Department was when she should have known that trouble was coming if indeed that's how it played out.

She complained further and told the department she wanted her complaint to go to the state's civil rights office but the department apparently kept it inhouse. It only left the "house" when she filed a complaint first with Fair Employment and Housing and then through the state court system where it was dismissed because the statutory period of one year had expired.

In the past including that which is not so distant, employees have been fired soon after complaining of hostile work environments that are either racist, sexist or both in other city departments outside of law enforcement. Employees were also threatened with termination or given poor evaluations after complaining of racism and/or sexism in the workplace as well. The sad thing about the police department is that one wonders whether or not Metzler's situation is an isolated incident, given that the law suit filed in connection with it comes 10 years after another female police officer working for the same department had filed her own law suit.

How much have things changed in this regard? A lot, a little bit or not at all?

In the wake of news that the RPOA is advocating for Nazario, it would be nice to see the leadership for the labor union for the rank and file take its advocacy of those included in its membership one step further and also demand the restoration of another police officer who has been fired while on probation so that this individual can also be placed on administrative leave. The RPOA could take the same principled stand based on its mission statement that it is taking when it decided not to make a determination about Nazario's guilt or innocence but to advocate for his due process, and apply it to the case of Metzler as well.

An investigation needs to be done into Metzler's allegations that is not compromised by a culture that defends racism and sexism in its ranks and punishes those who complain about it or report it. An investigation needs to be done regarding the police department's role in her firing so soon after she filed a complaint of sexual harassment and very soon after she graduated fairly high in her academy class. An investigation needs to be done to determine whether the management of the police department fired Metzler because it was fearful that she might make a similar complaint involving the police department if she made similar allegations of misconduct there or whether she was indeed fired for legitimate reasons. An investigation needs to be done to determine whether there's a "flaw" in Metzler's ability to exercise her due process rights and whether her due process rights were upheld, given that both she and Nazario are probational officers who are not afforded the same rights as those who complete the required probation.

Metzler's lack of the right to be told the reason for her termination prevented her from being able to defend herself in the one appeal process available to her, the "name clearing" hearing, because she had no idea what she was defending herself from. On the other hand, Metzler apparently learned that the same thing didn't apply to her employer who when questioned by prospective employers could provide reasons to them why it fired her. According to her law suit, these "reasons" ranged from her being unfit to be an officer(which makes you wonder what that says about the fitness of the 49 officers who allegedly graduated behind her in her class) and even that she had sexual relationships with her instructors at the academy. If the latter were true, then one wonders why there hasn't been massive terminations or other discipline at the training academy of instructors engaging in improper fraternization with trainees. That would be taking the "boys will be boys" adage pretty far to only punish Metzler and let the instructors off of the hook if this fraternization actually took place.

Law suits and grievances involving racism and sexism in terms of discrimination, harassment and retaliation had been filed in the past involving officers, Rene Rodriguez, Roger Sutton and Sgt. Christine Keers. However, all or a majority of the allegations of misconduct included in these legal actions took place before the imposition of a stipulated judgment involving former State Attorney General, Bill Lockyer and the city. It's not clear what these officers received in the form of advocacy or support from their labor union, although in Keers' case, she was assigned an advocate from the union leadership who did lobby strongly on her behalf.

The White male sergeants who filed their reverse discrimination claims in 1999 not only received strong advocacy from their labor union but one of them, Sgt. Jay Theuer, actually became its president in 2000. The union showed its support of the White male officers who were fired in connection with the shooting of Tyisha Miller in 1999 but appeared to turn its back on Rodriguez and perhaps Sutton as well, when both complained about racism in the department during that same time period. In fact, one officer left his job permanently while the other took a leave of about one year.

Of the White male sergeants, several including Theuer, Wally Rice and Mark McFall have retired, albeit all in the lieutenant rank. Several others are lieutenants and one, Mark Boyer, is a captain.

The RPOA board is predominantly composed of men, with only a couple of women serving on it in its recent history. Experts say that police unions tend to elect leadership that the department as a whole is the most accepting of, which is why many if not most police unions tend to include only or largely White men in their leadership. The Latino officers are integrating into its leadership which is a good sign but there is scant to no representation by Black male officers or female officers of any race in either the department's management or the leadership of the RPOA. This seems to mirror the department in terms of how these racial and gender groups fit within its ranks and also in terms of how they move up the hierarchical ladder. If the department continues to integrate in upcoming years and the union's leadership does likewise, then that will be seen as more of a cultural change than if the department becomes more integrated but the union's board does not.

Advocacy for its members is an integral function of every labor union including the RPOA. That's one of the primary reasons that unionization enters into any profession including law enforcement and it's one of reasons why belonging to a union appeals to employees. And when it comes to keeping city management's feet to the fire, in this city no one does it better.

If so much attention is to be paid to a male officer's right to due process which is the job of the labor union of a police agency, then it needs to be paid and advocated for that of a female officer whose career ended before it even had a chance to begin.

A former Colton mayor lost possession of his vehicle because he had failed to pay out a civil judgment against him according to the San Bernardino Sun.

There's already a lot going on in Colton what with the clash between former police chief, Ken Rulon with both City Manager Darryl Parrish and the police union leading up to the termination of Rulon and the filing of a multi-million dollar law suit by him in U.S. District Court.

Former mayor and city councilman, Abe Beltran was handed the judgment by the Orange County Superior Court for a bribery scandal he was involved in over a decade ago with among other politicians, former San Bernardino County supervisor Jerry Eaves.


The city is in the process of developing a new ethics policy in an effort to prevent future misbehavior by public officials.

"As stewards of good government and stewards of the public trust, it is essential that we create an environment of accountability and responsibility," City Manager Daryl Parrish said in an e-mail.

Hopefully they will do so but if the city residents want an ethics code to be implemented, they should push for one with more teeth to it than the one implemented in Riverside. While the kangaroo court and the let's make the rules up as we go along process has become interesting to watch and certainly interesting to blog about, it hasn't set the standard in terms of ethics codes for other cities and counties in the Inland Empire or anywhere else for that matter, to adopt. Riverside needs something with a bit more integrity attached to it, but that's not likely to happen any time soon from our "stewards of good government and public trust".

Did the New York Police Department racially profile a family in Howard Beach?

That's the question being asked in an article by the New York Daily News which addresses an incident involving a Guyanese-American family who were cited after trying to report a hate crime.


Michael Hussey, 19, allegedly shouted the N-word as he menaced Gounden, who was hosting a large party.

Police made no arrests at the time, but ticketed a Hussey pal for blocking a driveway.

Gounden said Hussey was arrested Aug. 18 on hate-crime charges only after he complained to higher-ups at the 106th Precinct.

Several days after the party, Gounden said, the ticketed young man showed up with a cop who gave Gounden a summons for excessive noise. Gounden said the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau was investigating whether Officer Richard Lennon improperly gave Gounden the summons. Police sources confirmed the probe.

Councilman Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach), however, accused Gounden of playing the race card after getting written up for an expensive building violation.

"He knew Howard Beach. He knew its history and he used it to try to get around the building code," said Addabbo. "If he had done things up to code, no one would have bothered him."

Also in New York City, NYPD Capt. Alberto Sanchez was convicted of misdemeanor battery involving his girlfriend who was also a police officer.

A former deputy chief from the Los Angeles Police Department was dismissed from a law suit filed by detectives against him for doing warrantless searches. Michael Berkow, who is now the chief of the police department in Savannah, Georgia, is still facing investigations for sexual misconduct during his stint in the LAPD.

Oh, and Press Enterprise columnist, Dan Bernstein celebrates 25 years of writing columns here. Happy anniversary, Mr. Bernstein and hope to see many more columns in the future.

An unknown individual or individuals put out a threat against Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco through the classified section of the Press Enterprise according to an article in that newspaper. The threat was apparently in response to an injunction filed against the formerly unnamed gang in press coverage, Eastside Riva which was written about here.

People are threatened for reporting crimes. People are threatened for breaking codes of silence in certain professions. People are threatened in different countries around the world for speaking out or criticizing their governments and how people are treated. But all these threats come from the same places and it's not from a position of strength.

Threats especially those of the anonymous kind are for cowards. There are few actions that are lower and more cowardly than doing this whether it's through classified ads, through threatening people who witness crimes or through "praying" in a "beautiful example of poetic justice" harm on an individual or their family.

Some individuals had also told me that if you receive threats, you must be doing something right, which may be true but often it is easy for others to say. That's not much comfort when you feel less safe and worry about family members, or each noise in the middle of the night can seem like something threatening. Property damage can leave you asking was it accidental or something else? Was that hang up call a wrong number, an auto dialer or something else? Was that harassment email sent that originated from a computer ISP that is registered to the city mean someone is going to harm you especially when it's clear this person knows what you look like?

When someone breaks the still of the night and finishes a statement with "or else", what does that really mean? Everything, every noise, every shadow takes on a different meaning when you've been threatened, which just adds to the fear and the injury of the original threat.

Threats are for cowards and anonymous ones usually come from beneath the rocks that exist around us. The only way to address them is to show that you're not going to allow them to stop you from what you are doing. Pacheco made that statement in the news article that he intended to do just that.

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