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

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Appeals and Attentions

Only 13 days until the city council elections are over with and the whole city knows who will rule from the dais for the next four years in the odd-numbered wards. Some of us will be glad to see them concluded, and feel that the new version of elections in this city, the version that was approved by voters last November just takes too long and is too drawn out. But it's what the voters wanted so it's what is in place.

Let's see, you file fairly early in the year, wrap up City Hall endorsements either before or after the filing deadline and you campaign until the first week in June and then if you're pushed into a runoff and every ward up for grabs this year has been pushed into a second round of voting, then you have to take a breather and gear up for another 4-5 months of frenzied and frantic campaigning.

By the first week in November, most people are exhausted, their heads oversaturated with information and misinformation about different candidates. The moneyed candidates who received thousands of dollars from the two primary sources of contributions, development firms and labor unions are spending every last dime and candidates who run grass-roots campaigns and measure their contributions not in thousands but in hundreds or singles do most of the struggling. Candidates and their minions walk the precinct in the final weeks before Election 2007 comes to a close.

Some interesting surprises came lately.

Did Councilman Dom Betro actually receive more in campaign contributions from the Riverside Police Officers' Association than his rival Paul Fick did during the 2003 election? That union's PAC spent more money this time around than it did in 2003 when it was backing candidates that it hoped would get rid of the Community Police Review Commission, with Donna DotyMichalka receiving more funding than any other candidate though Betro and Councilman Art Gage weren't far behind.

What this means for the CPRC remains to be seen, though it's interesting to see which camps have invested themselves in rewriting the history of that body's findings on officer-involved deaths to make it appear as if those findings and even of all things, policy recommendations were kept hidden from the public. What's really behind this latest drive to do so from some very different corners?

The CPRC is fine for reviewing citizen complaints but when it comes to officer-involved death cases, it should mirror LEPAC? Is this called coming full circle?

As for development interests, they dropped major dollars in the campaigns of Betro, Michalka, Gage and increasingly that of William "Rusty" Bailey, including those who already have found Riverside's Redevelopment Agency beneficial to them. It remains to be seen what all this will translate to after the election.

It's a pretty good bet that since most of the developers are from outside the county, that they won't be casting a vote at the polls in any of these races because they've already voted through their dollars. As for the labor unions, there's always members who vote outside of the official endorsements put up by their leadership, with some praying fervantly that the other guy will take the election because it's hard for every member of a large organization to be on the same page.

In fact, it looks like several of the candidates are already working on attracting some of these individuals in these labor unions. Incumbent Steve Adams, in Ward Seven, lost the support of the labor union that helped put him on the dais four years ago, but it's clear through his comments in public that he's working on getting it back. Par for the course in an election year to help raise the odds in your favor when you're the odd man out.

Two big developers in the city circuit, Mark Rubin and Doug Jacobs, factored into several campaigns of those who they hope will pull out the stops on the dais including eminent domain to get their projects the help that they want. Venerable Duane Roberts, the owner of the Mission Inn, otherwise known as the center of downtown's universe(which is the center of the city's universe) also contributed to those who see his vision.

Some damaged campaign signs were seen in arroyos. It wasn't clear which campaign they belonged to and it doesn't matter. This type of behavior should be a no-no and unlike others, I don't see any need to put a qualifier with that. Besides, it's littering and an affront to the wildlife that reside in the arroyos.

More diatribes from another anonymous person who didn't bother to come up with fake initials which I guess means I'm supposed to respond but I've so been there, done that. It's a bit funny for a while to see initialed individuals accusing other initialed individuals of not being "real" but it does get old.

The truth is, their tactics aren't that much to be proud of and certainly not what a reputable councilman should be proud of, and it's pretty nervy to appeal to the person to defend the same individuals who have practiced those behaviors on her. They are looking for validation of their own tactics by addressing someone who's experienced some of them from that corner.

I think I'll stick to my "agenda" in a city so overflowing with them that you almost feel naked without one and just keep blogging about what's going on here and elsewhere. The initialed brigade can just make personal comments and criticize my wardrobe in the guise of fostering better political discussion and dialogue of course on election issues of course.

I've blogged through much worse than this latest bunch, which is why comments are closed for now here.

It's too bad Betro's campaign workers, the foot soldiers, who are probably out there working hard for him(and there are those who have both worked hard and have been nice) to be saddled with those who prefer to rattle sabers at Craigslist. I've had discussions with other supporters that have been very interesting. Some of the discussions on Craigslist have been interesting to follow as long as you try to skip your way through the soap suds.

So to this latest anonymous person who may or may not be real who I may know or may not know, if my posting amuses you, it's like people say, laughter is good for the soul so keep reading. If it's tickling the funny bone, it's indeed good medicine. And who knows, maybe our paths will cross some time and we can compare "agendas". I'm sure mine pales next to yours but I'm working hard on it.

But it's not my ward that's at stake, so whoever gets in at the end of the day, will be the elected representative. From what I've heard, it's pretty close, hence the attention that individuals like myself are receiving at Craigslist from people who frankly sound more concerned and insecure about their own personal futures than his reelection which ties them all together in a city that appears fairly divided on Riverside's future and who it trusts to choose its direction.

There are many more resources on police-related domestic violence are available online that weren't included in the previous posting.

Kim Lonsway's research paper on the prevalence of domestic violence among officers in large law enforcement agencies found that only 29% of all law enforcement agencies in her survey of 78 departments had a policy tailored specifically to inhouse domestic violence.

Her report included a 1992 study conducted which asked 385 male police officers and 115 wives whether they or their husbands had engaged in any of a list of physically violent behaviors in he past year. and discovered that 37-41% of both groups said that their relationships included this type of behavior. About 28% of officers said that they had engaged in at least one of the behaviors within the past 12 months.

After 1996, Lonsway said that the percentages of police officers who admitted to physically violent behaviors in their marriages dropped to 9%. Of course, that was also the year that Congress passed legislation that would bar any person including a police officer from possessing a firearm if they were convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence. Self-reporting could put a law enforcement officer at a higher risk of losing his or her job.

Lessons learned from Tacoma was the subject of another research paper done which examined the tactics used by police officers who engaged in domestic violence against their spouses.

For those who don't know Lonsway, she used to work with the National Center for Women and Policing and several years ago, she contacted a representative at the Riverside Police Department to offer her assistance with suggestions for recruiting and retaining female officers and the response wasn't very friendly. But she's been involved in the issues pertaining to gender and policing for a while and remains committed to the efforts to improve the hiring and retention of female officers as well as how police departments address domestic violence involving their own officers.

The state's court system is going to be quite busy, what with hearing not one but two cases coming to it from recent decisions made in lower courts in Riverside.

Defense attorney Paul Grech is filing an appeal of a local judge's decision to allow the Riverside County District Attorney's office to file death penalty charges against Zeus Serrano nearly five years after he was first charged with the murder of Markees Lancaster, 13 who was shot in a driveby by Eastside Riva gang members.


The filing seeks an order by the appellate justices to halt Superior Court proceedings for Zeus Serrano, 25.

"Then we ultimately want them to deny the prosecution an opportunity to seek the death penalty because of the decision made at the 11th hour," Grech said by phone on Tuesday.

District Attorney Rod Pacheco said in a statement Tuesday that his office remains determined to seek capital punishment against Serrano.

"A 13-year-old boy was murdered because of the color of his skin, and we're pursuing the death penalty against someone who was intimately involved in that boy's murder," Pacheco's statement said.

It's not usual that the death of a Black person, even a teenager merits serious consideration for the death penalty which studies shows, is applied at higher rates towards those who kill White individuals. But if Lancaster had been White and killed by Serrano or an individual who was Black like Lancaster, the District Attorney's office probably wouldn't have waited five years to file an intent to seek the death penalty. After all, this is the office where cases have come back from the appellate courts addressing possible racial bias exercised by its prosecutors during jury selections which don't favor Black or Latino prospective jurors.

And Serrano didn't even pull the trigger, something even the prosecutor admitted in a recent court hearing. The individual who did is not believed to be one of the three defendants being tried for Lancaster's murder, according to all involved.

The other 13-year-old Black teenager who was also shot to death in Riverside, in this case the Eastside just weeks before Lancaster's death was Anthony Sweat. Lancaster's mother had known Sweat's family and had been so moved after his death that she participated in group meetings that took place in the Eastside after the city leaders held candles with the community members and promised that this time, this would be the last one.

Lancaster's son wasn't even the last one.

Sweat's case would probably be one that like Lancaster, would have been assigned to the Strike Force, which are judges sent to Riverside County to hear and clear some of the oldest cases in the system. But charges against two young men arrested in connection with Sweat's killing had been dropped before the team of judges even came to town to rescue the county's criminal justice system from itself.

The two individuals who were being prosecuted for Sweat's killing were released last year after DNA tested on evidence believed to be tied to the killers cleared them. At least one defense lawyer tied with the case said that at least eight individuals had submitted DNA samples in this case and positive samples may have been discovered in this group.

The prosecutor in the case didn't admit that DNA testing had even been done, but it had been completed 18 months after the samples were first submitted and four years after Sweat's murder. The first signs of trouble in the Sweat case arose during the preliminary hearing when the heights, weights and ages of the defendants were six inches, 50 pounds and about five years different than those of the people described by the witnesses to the shooting. The attorneys for the two men raised this issue at the hearing but didn't get anywhere with the presiding judge.

Also taking his case to the appellate court is Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco who wants it to review a panel of judges' decision to uphold Judge Gary Tranbarger's dismissals of two misdemeanor cases. Mind you, this is mere hours after a representative from that office said that it respected the decision of three Orange County judges who backed Tranbarger's actions.


The Orange County judges ruled that court administrators were within their discretionary rights to narrowly define what kind of civil courts should be available for criminal trial.

Riverside County prosecutors disagree with that interpretation, saying any court should be made available for a criminal trial, if the case otherwise faces dismissal.

In the filing with the Orange County judges, prosecutors said the judicial investigation of which available courts was not thorough enough.

"The lower court did not exercise its discretion and conclude that the actual matters pending in the family law and probate departments were more important than the criminal cases under consideration for dismissal," the application says. "This conclusion ... denied the People their right to have a court properly exercise its discretion under the applicable law."

Prosecutors said it was a legal error that "constituted an abuse of discretion."

Uh oh. Tranbarger's probably heading towards another boycott and considering it's an overcrowded, overextended court system, that shouldn't be allowed.

The letter writing to the Press Enterprise's Readers' Forum is continuing in earnest to stump for favored political candidates in the upcoming final rounds of Riverside's city council elections.

The newspaper's editorial board was busy as well, using the recent blackout as a means to stump for more substations and higher electric rates.


The City Council raised electricity rates in December to fund a new $125 million substation and a $100 million new power plant. The council rescinded some of that increase in August after residents complained, leaving a giant hole in the financing for the power improvements. The council has yet to specify how the city will bridge that funding gap.

Friday's outage clearly shows that the utility upgrades are not superfluous luxuries for Riverside. And the episode focuses civic attention once more on the council's public responsibility to make sure the improvements happen, regardless of any political calculation involved.

It's likely that when the city council "reviews" how it went retro during an election year when it revoked the very same electric rate increases that it passed last year, that electric rates could very well go back up. Still, the editorial raises an excellent point. How could the city council pour billions of dollars into development projects in this city under the guise of Riverside Renaissance and stick the future generations with those hefty bills while allowing the city's electrical infrastructure fall even further behind?

Orange County Sheriff Michael Carona’s professional and political futures are in doubt as he's been indicted on federal corruption charges.

Appearing while handcuffed before a magistrate, Carona didn’t enter a plea on seven charges of conspiracy, witness tampering and mail fraud. He is expected to enter a not guilty verdict.

Already convicted of criminal conduct are two of his assistant sheriffs, who may testify against him in court in exchange for lenient treatment.

(excerpt, Associated Press)

After surrendering to federal authorities Wednesday morning and being held in a cell several hours, he was released later in the day on $20,000 bond.

He and his wife held hands as they raced to a waiting SUV and sped off without comment.

He has turned over his passport, but the magistrate denied a prosecution request to confiscate his firearm.

Also charged are his wife and mistress, who is an attorney; both appeared in handcuffs with Carona on Wednesday.

Two former assistant sheriffs already pleaded guilty to lesser counts in exchange for their help building a case against Carona.

David Wiechert, an attorney for Carona's wife, said he believed his client was included in the indictment to put pressure on her husband.

"Police officers are acutely receptive to pressure on their loved ones. They (prosecutors) know that if Michael Carona is willing to take a bullet for his partner, he's willing to take a bullet for his wife."

A public defender assigned to Debra Victoria Hoffman, identified as Carona's mistress in court papers, did not speak with reporters at the hearing. An after hours call to her office was not immediately returned.

Although Carona has been charged with tampering with witnesses, the judge allowed him to keep possession of his firearm even as the prosecutor objected. The indictment against Carona provided some details of what prosecutors believed happened that led to the investigation of his activities and those of the two other defendants.


The indictment charges that Carona engaged in a broad conspiracy to enrich himself, his wife and Hoffman by trading access to his department for cash and gifts.

The indictment says the scheme took root in March 1998 and stretched until August, when Carona allegedly tried to keep one of his chief accusers -- a former assistant sheriff -- from testifying truthfully to a grand jury. Federal prosecutors also charged Carona's wife and Hoffman.

Court documents describe a furious pursuit of money, perquisites and expensive baubles, including more than $200,000 in payments and loans, a boat, a Lake Tahoe vacation, luxury box seats to the World Series, Mont Blanc pens and Ladies' Cartier watches. Carona, 52, is also accused of helping co-conspirators get a piece of a wrongful-death settlement that the family of a dead deputy won in a lawsuit.

Carona said in an interview with The Times on Tuesday that he was innocent and would not resign as head of the state's second-largest sheriff's department. He declined to discussed the specific allegations in the indictment.

"I'm staying because I love the job and I do a good job," he said. "Most importantly, I have committed no criminal acts."

Deborah Carona said Tuesday in a prepared statement: "There is no merit to this indictment, and the government's strategy of using me as leverage against my husband will not succeed."

Hoffman could not be reached for comment.

Carona intends to keep his job but the Orange County Board of Supervisors who oversee the county’s departments may have other plans, according to the Orange County Register.

The county board of supervisors can't remove him but are considering other options.


Next Tuesday, supervisors will consider a ballot measure that would let them remove any countywide elected official who misused or neglected their office, provided at least four of the five supervisors concur with the removal.

The proposal comes from Supervisor John Moorlach, who is prompted not only by Carona's indictment – made public Tuesday – but by the local and federal investigations into county Treasurer Chriss Street.

"The incidents with both of these elected officials made it clear that there is a deficit in the ability of the board to do anything," said Moorlach's chief of staff, Mario Mainero.

The proposed county charter amendment is virtually identical to a measure in place in San Bernardino County, said Mainero. That measure was challenged in court, and prevailed, he said.

Moorlach has called for the resignations of both Carona and Street, citing the importance of the public's confidence in its elected officials. Moorlach is the only supervisor to make such an announcement.

The proposal was delivered to the county clerk's office this morning, and by early afternoon had not yet been distributed to other supervisors. However, board Chairman Chris Norby saw it because he had to approve for it to go on the agenda.

Norby was still considering whether he favored putting the measure before voters, noting that voters may find it distasteful that supervisors are asking for more power – and power to remove officials that voters themselves elected.

But he said voters may also get tired of reading about their indicted sheriff's legal travails.

"If this situation drags on another couple months, voters are going to want some relief," Norby said.

The Two Michaels, round two

In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg drew fire for some harsh comments he made about the late New York City Police Department detective, James Zadroga who died of a lung disease last year. Both Michael Palladino, who is president of the Detectives Endowment Association and Zadroga's family members were in shock at what Bloomberg had said at a public forum.

The Chicago Times published column on the ongoing scandals rocking its police department which culminated in a murder for hire plot involving several officers.

Mayor Richard Daley appears to be out to lunch, according To Dawn Turner Trice who is writing about how he still refuses to hand over the list of 52 officers who have generated the most complaints in the department even after petitioning the federal court to do so.


Daley said, in essence, that the aldermen would better serve their communities by dealing with gun violence that, in a matter of five days, claimed the lives of two Chicago public school pupils, Samuel "Sammy" Benavente, 14, and Arthur "AJ" Jones, 10.

"How about a petition to the courts about putting people in jail who commit violent crimes?" Daley said in a tirade. "Where are [the aldermen] when it comes to violence in their own communities? How about a petition there -- all 28? How about looking at more and more children being killed?"

He went on to tell the aldermen that it's easy to criticize police and kick them when they're down. "I believe most police officers are hardworking, decent men and women....That doesn't mean they can't be corrupt. They should not be kicked up and down the street."

I fully understand the mayor's anger about the deaths of these children. You look at the grieving families and you can't help but feel a kaleidoscopic array of anger and sadness and frustration. But to suggest that the aldermen should be focused on street violence instead of the identities of rogue officers misses one factor that contributes to the pathology of a tough neighborhood. To be clear, there are many factors, including persistent fatherlessness, failing schools and the easy availability of guns.

But the focus here is on rogue cops. They have the power to shape the perceptions of the entire community and, even worse, pervert the entire system.

Perhaps if Daley did his job as mayor overseeing the city including the once-again troubled police department, then the aldermen wouldn't be giving him such a hard time that he has to start throwing strawmen.

Brace yourself folks. Unless there's a Halloween miracle, a strike by the Writers' Guild is about to begin given that talks have broken down between the writers and the producers. Anyone who wants to write a screenplay should probably start making the rounds of Hollywood about now.

Will the guild strike? Maybe, but if it's smart, it will hold out until June and see what the Directors' Guild does when its contract comes up for renegotiations.

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Hiding in Plain Sight: Battering While Blue

Today, the Riverside County District Attorney's office sponsored an event to remember the victims of violent crimes and spearheaded its campaign against victims of domestic violence. They, including the men, wear women's shoes including high heels and walk in them. It's their way of literally walking in women's shoes when they can't in so many other ways.

"There’s only one way you’re gonna leave me and that’s dead."

---Tacoma Police Chief David Brame allegedly to his wife and murder victim, Crystal Judson.

Riverside County, May 2005

David McGowan, 44, worked for the District Attorney's office as a senior investigator. On May 10, 2005, McGowan shot and killed five of his family members before turning the gun on himself.

Dead were his wife, Karen and his three children, Chase,14, Paige,10, and Rayne,8. There was another woman shot to death but it would take a while to learn she was McGowan's mother, Angelia, 75. All but Karen had died in their beds, shot in the head by McGowan's duty weapon.

The head of the responding law enforcement agency told ABC-News what deputies found when they arrived at the home.


Sheriff Bob Doyle said all of the victims died from a gunshot wound to the head and all but McGowan were shot in their beds.

"The beds were undisturbed. The house itself was undisturbed. It did not appear that the house had been ransacked," Doyle said, adding there were no signs of a break-in.

After he killed his family members, McGowan called 9-11 and then killed himself. The last thing heard by the 911 operator was the sound of the phone striking a wall and a gunshot.

The news of what was called a murder-suicide reverberated through the quite neighborhood, as its residents could not believe what had happened.


"It's just really quiet here," said David Merriman, whose parents live about a mile from the McGowans. "A lot could happen right next door and you wouldn't even know it."

What McGowan left behind, besides the dead bodies of those he had loved best, was a suicide note and song lyrics.

"Woe is me. I'm looking forward to seeing you in the next life," was all the note said. It couldn't begin to answer a litany of questions about why the tragedy had happened, it could only add to them.

Those he had worked so closely with at the District Attorney's office said they hadn't seen it coming and were as shocked as everyone else.

(excerpt, Shawnee News-Star)

Colleagues said McGowan, who helped prosecutors prepare cases for trial, gave no clues that anything was wrong.

A model employee, he had just returned from a week's vacation and had received an outstanding review, said Ingrid Wyatt, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office. He had a normal workload, she said.

"He reported to work every day, just like normal. We weren't aware of any financial or personal problems within the family," she said. "That's why we're all so shocked about the situation."

Still, some noticed some changes in McGowan including those who didn't spend a lot of time around him which could have made any changes more noticeable.


"Dave was a great guy. He was so quiet and humble. He was all business, very professional," Cathedral City Fire Chief Steve Sowles said.

Sowles said he ran into David McGowan a few weeks ago at the courthouse and noted that he seemed to have aged a lot in the six months since they last met. He said he attributed it to the stress of the investigator's job.

"I was surprised (by) how gray his hair had gotten and he looked tired," Sowles said. "I thought to myself, 'Gosh, we're getting old."'

McGowan's actions were the end result of domestic violence. There was speculation that he may have suffered from depression and been experiencing financial difficulties but on May 10, he made the decision to kill his family along with himself and left no real clues about anything that might have preceded those actions or what life was like behind those closed doors until that final night.

Tacoma, Washington, April 2003

When people recall a murder-suicide form of domestic violence by a law enforcement officer, the case that comes to mind is that of Tacoma Police Chief David Brame who shot his wife Crystal Judson to death before killing himself in a parking lot. His history even before Tacoma hired him to lead its department was filled with serious problems including a reported sexual assault by another law enforcement officer.

Before Judson's death came the domestic violence which built up to it. Abuse that Judson believed she had finally broken free from, but doing so just put her in more danger.

(excerpt, CBS-News)

"It just kind of broke my heart to see Crystal up there with him pinning the badge on and making it look like she was very happy,” says Patty Judson, Crystal’s mother. “We were sitting there in the audience knowing we knew different.”

But after 11 years of marriage, Crystal felt anything but safe. She had begun talking to her parents, Lane and Patty; her sister Julie and her husband, Dave; shopkeeper Linda Lee Clark; and Debbie Phillips, who works at a local tanning parlor.

“She was on a time schedule. David kept very close tabs of her time,” says Phillips.

”He’d mark the time, check the receipts,” says Conmy. “He used to give her $100 every two weeks for the family of three and then four, and that’s all the money she had,” adds Clark. “From the first time I met her, I would see her count out pennies and nickels and dimes.”

“He would make it a point that he was the one who brought home the paycheck,” says sister Julie. And he’d make a point, Lane says, to “say it says David Brame on the check. It doesn’t say Crystal.”

There were also allegations of abuse, both physical and emotional. “There was always yelling and screaming and telling her how horrible she is, how no man would ever want her because she’s fat and she’s ugly and she has kids,” recalls Phillips.

“He would say, ‘You know, I can choke you so quickly or I can snap your neck,’” says Crystal’s mother, Patty.

Instead, he shot her and left her in a coma, before taking his own life. The ultimate expression of the belief that if he couldn't have her, no one could, not even herself. Some say Judson's spirit left this earth before her body did. She died barely a week later, leaving two children behind.

The Tacoma News-Tribune is filled with stories about the killing of Judson and the widespread impact it had on Tacoma and the rest of the country.

The index of stories includes the following.

Who's who

The timeline

And the breaking series of articles, "The Thin Blue Lie" which exposes the questionable hiring of Brame and the coverup after the fact.

The Crystal Judson Family Justice Center was created after her death to offer services to victims of family violence.

Before his stint at the District Attorney's office in Riverside, McGowan had worked at a local policy agency. Brame was the police chief of Tacoma's police department. Both worked in a profession of employees who are at a higher risk for domestic violence involving their own relationships even as they are the ones entrusted with investigating domestic violence in others.

Blogging about this is difficult because there's a lot of information and unfortunately, incidents of domestic violence involving law enforcement officers including homicides that even posting a series on the topic only shows the tip of the iceberg. This issue only comes to life when incidents like that involving Brame and McGowan and other tragedies like them come to public attention.

In most cases, they don't come to light at all.

Probably the best series ever written about police-related domestic violence was the Badge of Dishonor series published by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Written in multiple parts, it covers the gambit of a very serious but relatively unknown issue.

It includes detailed profiles of cases involving dozens of law enforcement officers in Washington State and how those officers who engage in domestic violence often receive slaps on the wrist.

The National Center For Women and Policing has this fact sheet on the prevalence of domestic violence in law enforcement. Several studies have shown that about 40% of officers commit domestic violence compared to 10% of the members of the general publication,

Only about 55% of law enforcement agencies had policies in place to address inhouse domestic violence. Discipline given to law enforcement officers is usually light consisting of mainly counseling and only about 19% of police officers are fired after the second incident of domestic violence that is sustained against them.

One of the most important sources of information on police related domestic violence is at the Abuse of Power Web site which is operated by Diane Wetendorf who is affiliated with the Battered Women's Justice Project.

Why are women afraid to report police related domestic violence? The advice they often hear from their abusers is to not doing the following, according to the Abuse of Power Web site.


Call the police - He is the police.

Go to a shelter - He knows where the shelters are located.

Have him arrested - Responding officers may invoke the code of silence.

Take him to court - It's your word against that of an officer, and he knows the system.

Drop the charges - You could lose any future credibility and protection.

Seek a conviction - He will probably lose his job and retaliate against you.

Abusive officers often use these tactics when engaging in domestic violence. One of them is called, "the voice" which Wetendorf defines as the authoritative voice that law enforcement officers are trained to use on the street and she explains how the training they receive to be good officers might also make them better abusers.

Wetendorf includes some examples of how that works.


Authoritative Presence

Police officers establish their authority through their appearance. Their uniform, badge and gun are the symbols of power that set them apart from others. The mere presence of an officer intimidates people. (Ask people how they react when they see a patrol car driving behind them.)

Officers learn that body language has the power to intimidate and manipulate people. Simply moving or standing a certain way, or getting in someone's space can elicit trust or fear.

Police are trained to use their voice to gain control of people. Different tones of voice convey increasing levels of control: from a polite request, to an order, to an ultimatum or a threat. As with body language, a voice can solicit trust or inspire fear.

Investigative Techniques

Much of police work involves investigation, questioning suspects, and obtaining confessions. Officers learn how to get people to cooperate with them and to give them information. They learn how to vary their interrogation styles, from friendly persuasions, to emotional manipulation, to brutal interrogations.

Police are able to get information about people by running license plates, accessing court records, or requesting confidential information. Investigating officers learn how to use high tech equipment such as hidden cameras, voice activated recording devices, and vehicle tracking devices to do surveillance.

When officers do undercover work they have to be skilled in deceiving people. Like chameleons, they have to blend into whatever environment they are investigating. They have to gain and maintain informants, be able to lie convincingly, and quickly gain people's trust.

She also discusses the double standards that exist between police-related domestic violence when compared to that which impacts the general population. That double standard is often manifested in large ways in terms of how it's investigated and smaller ways in terms of the words used to explain, explain away and often defend domestic violence involving police officers.


When a citizen beats up his wife, it's a crime. When a cop beats up his wife, it's only a family problem.

When a citizen's career is jeopardized by having battered his wife, police say he should have thought about that before he hit her. When a cop hits his wife, they say he doesn't deserve to lose his career over it.

Past behavior is considered a good indicator of future behavior. This doesn't apply to abusive cops... they have changed and left the past behind.

There are two sides to every story and the truth is somewhere in the middle... except when one side is a cop's side. In that case, the cop is telling the truth and the other person is lying.

Once a person has lied, they have no credibility... except for a police officer, who maintains his credibility because he lies when a situation requires it.

How supervisors and management personnel respond or don't respond is often critical. Do the agencies take it seriously or do they apply double standards or treat it as a "family matter"? Do they tell the complainant not to file against the officer because it might hurt his career or a chance at a promotion? Do they say that there is no chance that the prosecutors will file charges?

Many law enforcement agencies do not have policies in writing to address inhouse domestic violence.

Signs of an abuser may include the following from Women Abuse Prevention.

Abusers often:

Do not listen to you, ignore you or talk over you.

Sit or stand too close to you, making you uncomfortable and seem to enjoy it.
Do only what they want or push you to get what they want.

Express anger and violence towards women either through words or physically.

Have a bad attitude toward women.

Are overly possessive or jealous.

Drink or use drugs heavily.

Have a reputation for "scoring".

The Purple Berets who fight against violence against women include a lot of information about police related domestic violence

Included were some examples of domestic violence case which resulted in slaps on the wrist.


In the wake of Brame's death, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer did an extensive investigation into officer-involved domestic violence in the Seattle area. They found 41 officers who had been accused of domestic violence within the previous five years, a number of them accused of multiple incidents. Few paid any professional price; less than half faced charges, and only one was convicted. Among the cases unearthed by the Post-Intelligencer are these:

Seattle Police Ofcr. Phil Rees flew into a rage and slammed his wife, Jenifer, into a wall and hurled a dresser drawer at her, leaving visible injuries. Jenifer Rees called King County sheriff's deputies, who handed her intoxicated husband back his gun and let him drive away, "so he wouldn't miss work in the morning." No charges were filed. Rees was not disciplined, despite two prior complaints of domestic violence against him.

In a fight with his wife, Ofcr. Kevin Hawley grabbed his handgun saying, "I'm going to blow my fucking head off and you're going to watch." He then put the gun barrel in his mouth and pressed his cheek against hers. No internal investigation was conducted. Hawley was promoted to detective.

Four days before Christmas, Washington State Trooper Ronald Somerville grabbed his girlfriend by the throat, shoved her over the couch and pounced on her. When she ran to the phone to call 911, Somerville snatched the receiver and hung it up. As she darted for the stairs, he grabbed her again, put his hand around her throat and pushed her down, shouting, "You don't want to go out this way." Somerville was charged with 4th degree assault and vandalism, charges that were later dismissed. His discipline? A written reprimand.

More stories are here. The list of special problems faced in police-related domestic violence is pretty extensive. And so is the coverage so there will be more to come.

Riverside Land Grab has interesting postings on the relationships between candidates and development firms here and here whether or not it's an election year.

In Chicago, the message of a disgraced police officers to his superiors reads "you are going down with me," according to the Chicago Sun-Times. CPD officer, Jerome Finnigan, if you remember was busted during a sting and charged with conspiring to kill a former police officer to keep him from reporting serious misconduct by Finnigan.


Finnigan started singing recently about the shakedowns, kidnappings and home invasions he allegedly masterminded with at least five other officers and a sergeant since 2002.

In addition to those allegations in state court, Finnigan is charged federally with plotting to kill officers he suspected were ratting on him.

“They’re using Finnigan to move up the food chain,” one source said.
Another source said, “He’s cooperating. What he’s trying to do is get someone bigger than himself.”

Finnigan is cooperating to cut a deal to whittle down the decades of potential prison time he faces, the sources said Monday.

Finnigan’s attorney Michael Ficaro and Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, declined comment.

The Sun-Times reported last month that the corruption investigation is focusing on former bosses of Finnigan — and the probe “goes high” in the ranks.

At least two sergeants have retained lawyers. Investigators are scrutinizing the supervision those sergeants and other bosses exerted over Finnigan and the others.

Rest assured, this isn't the last word coming out of the scandal-plagued police department in Chicago.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Hiding in Plain Sight: Driving While Female

To bfp and Maia and other women who care so deeply about these issues.

An interesting and informative brochure has been created to help stop police brutality against women of color and trans people of color by Incite! Women of Color Against Violence.

It requires Adobe Acrobat to read but is filled with information about serious problems including sexual violence, the handling of domestic violence calls and racial profiling reported by these communities in cities all over the country.

There were so many issues covered that it's impossible to blog about them all, except in a serial fashion, so we'll start with the topic of "driving while female".

I was thinking about the issue of driving while female especially after a conversation I had with an individual whose loved one was one of the victims of a former Riverside Police Department officer named Eric Hanby.

Hanby was investigated and later prosecuted for sexual assaulting women in the early 1990s. When he went to trial, he was acquitted by a jury but the department fired him, although I was told he might still be working for a smaller law enforcement agency in the state. If that's true, then it's a sad commentary that odious behavior like that he engaged in can still get you hired in the law enforcement profession but then at least one smaller agency hired a registered sex offender.

The profession needs to stop doing so if it respects what it stands for and organizations representing the different ranks of police officers should together work on issues in the hiring and recruitment processes that cause many smaller law enforcement agencies to dip into really bad hiring pools to fill their ranks.

Was Hanby's behavior strictly an isolated example of a "bad apple" in the Riverside Police Department or in law enforcement in general, or is it more a serious problem stemming from sexism within the profession not to mention its agencies. With a string of deputies, both field and correctional, from the Riverside County Sheriff's Department who are facing criminal prosecution for committing sexual assault under the color of authority, in several cases involving multiple women, that's a question that's being asked more and more.

The epidemic of sheriff deputies arrested for sexual crimes in Riverside County not to mention the prosecution of San Bernardino Police Department officer, Ronald VanRossum led to an exploration of this issue in the Press Enterprise in 2004.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Most agencies have policies dictating what peace officers should do when they have members of the opposite sex in their custody, Deal said. The officers are required to notify dispatch of their location and destination and mileage, policies that protect inmates and officers alike.

The Riverside County Sheriff's Department has such a policy, Doyle said. But ultimately agencies rely on the honesty of an individual to follow it.

Any officer who commits a crime thinks he is above the law, Kamau said.

"Any cop who operates in this conduct has been doing it for some time before he got caught. At some point, this cop assesses the situation around him and came to the conclusion that he could engage in this behavior and not get caught or engage in this behavior and not get penalized," he said.

Such conduct affects other officers, said Kamau, who said he dismisses any police leader who talks of his or her organization being large and calls unacceptable behavior the result of a "few bad apples."

He said he makes an analogy with the airline industry.

"Is it acceptable to have a few drunk pilots on the planes because it's a large organization?" he said.

"It's really just a shell game when they tell you it's a few rotten apples. My point of view is that the barrel has a lot of apples and there is bacteria, and that will affect all the other apples."

An example of one of those "bad apples" lately, is apparently San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department deputy, Matthew Linderman who faces multiple felony charges. And so it goes as it's gone before.

Autumn, 1991 in downtown Riverside

About 16 years ago, I was downtown on a quiet Sunday afternoon and saw a squad car parked by the north-west corner of the intersection of Market and University. I looked at it and noticed that the window was down on the driver's side and that there was more than one person in the car. It was a male police officer and a woman.

The officer was what many women would describe as good-looking. He had dark hair, tanned skin and wore a thick gold wedding band which I saw when he took a look at me, opened his door further as it had been ajar and shoved the woman out of the driver's side of the car. She landed in the street, he closed the car and he took off down University in a westerly direction before turning right on a street behind the bus station.

The woman got up on her feet and started running, but one of her shoes was off so she gave up after a few steps but was yelling something at the departing squad car which I couldn't understand.

I was shocked. I didn't know what I had just seen but it didn't look appropriate, let alone professional police conduct. Pretty blatant even considering how quiet and unpopulated downtown Riverside was back then. Hopefully, the years of change in the department has eradicated that type of misconduct but given that sometimes it can take up to a dozen years or longer to catch an officer doing it and bring him to justice, you can never be really all that sure.

I didn't complain though I did think about it but back then, I didn't know anyone could complain about police officers or that systems to do so existed. It's just as well that I didn't because back in 1991 was also back in the day when the complaints that were filed to the department were alleged tossed in the circular file. That's what even what former State Attorney General Bill Lockyer said happened in those days. Back even before former Chief Ken Fortier's failed attempts to reform the complaint system.

After all, it would take the state of California, with lawsuit in hand and a citywide outcry for civilian oversight, to do that.

Driving While Female is complex though, because it often intersects with what's called Driving While Black or Brown when it happens to women of color. And women in these ethnic and racial groups are more likely to encounter Driving While Female than are White women, though many of the most highly publicized cases that result in splashy investigations have involved White middle-class women. Driving While female combined with Driving While Black or Brown makes life difficult for women of color and fosters much of the sentiment that law enforcement agencies aren't there to protect and serve them, just police them and occupy their neighborhoods.

An excellent definition of the various forms of racial profiling is here courtesy of the ACLU and another one is here by Amnesty International. Racial profiling impacts both men and women of color. Gender profiling can impact men of color as well, because in most cases in most law enforcement agencies, men are more likely to be pulled over by officers than women are. That's the case with the Riverside Police Department, according to the annual traffic stop studies it conducted between 2002-2005. The much anticipated return of these studies beginning next year should reveal similar statistics.

Kenita Nichols and Mercedes Johnson, two young Black women, filed lawsuits in relation to being racially profiled by Chesterfield Township Police Department officers. Their case is hardly isolated. They were arrested because a robbery had taken place even though their vehicle didn't match the description of the vehicle used in the crime.

As we know, Black women have been shot to death inside vehicles, in Chicago, Portland, Oregon and here in Riverside.

Some of the categories of problems encountered by women who encountered police officers while driving or riding in cars include the following:

Driving While Female and denied rape kit

A woman arrested in Austin on a DUI was denied access to a rape kit and toxicology screening after making allegations that she may have been drugged and then sexually assaulted. Unfortunately, this isn't an isolated incident. Women who report rape particularly women of color have been arrested instead on old warrants including for misdemeanors and denied access to rape kits.

The Austin case led to litigation and I contacted a captain in Austin for more information but he said he couldn't comment until the litigation was resolved in a year or so, but that there was a whole other side of the story. Here's the side that's been told so far.

(excerpt, Austin Chronicle)

What began as a routine Friday payday -- "a mom's afternoon" with her best friend Charlotte Hughes -- turned into a fractured evening that, to this day, Glore barely remembers. By 11pm that night she'd totaled her husband's rare, "cherry" Ford Thunderbird, smashed out the rear passenger window of an Austin Police Department squad car, and landed herself in the Travis County Jail on a charge of driving while intoxicated. That wasn't all -- indeed, that was far from the worst.

The next day Glore awoke, or came to -- Glore says she doesn't know which it was -- in the city's central booking facility. Hughes picked her up, and brought more disturbing revelations. "When I got in the car with Charlotte," Glore remembers, "the first thing she says is, 'Girl, we were drugged.' When she said that, I started to shake. I could feel it in my gut. I said, 'I want to go to the hospital.'"

Even before Glore left the jail she had begun to realize that something was very wrong. She was bruised, cut, bloody, and burned. Her fingernails were torn, her clothes filthy and her underwear stained -- and she didn't remember how any of this had happened. She says she had flashes and impressions -- for example, looking at the round cigarette-like burn she discovered on her foot while still in a holding cell. "I realized that I had a round burn on the top of my foot," she said. "And every time I look at it I get this impression of people going, well, 'How will she react to this?' And then someone burning me. This is an impression; I don't know if it's what happened, but it is the impression and the feeling that I get every time I see it." Impressions and feelings, along with the soiled underwear and her numerous cuts and bruises, were all Glore knew of what had happened that August evening. For her, the empirical evidence dovetailed into an inevitable conclusion: Glore became convinced that not only had she been drugged, but that she had also been raped.

When Glore arrived the next evening at South Austin Hospital, she told the emergency room staff what she believed had happened, and asked that the staff give her a rape kit test and a toxicological screen. "The tox screen was especially important to me," she said. "Then I felt I could prove that I had been drugged, that all of this had happened." The ER staff alerted the APD that Glore wanted to file a report and that she wanted the tests -- standard operating procedure in rape or sexual assault cases.

The officers who responded to the call from the hospital took her report and called it in to APD's sex crimes unit, she said, but when headquarters radioed back, Glore was horrified. The officers told her they knew she'd spent the night in jail on a DWI, she said, and moreover they believed she was fabricating the whole drug and rape story in order to evade the misdemeanor charge. In short, the APD explicitly denied Glore access to the rape kit test and the tox screen -- even after Glore said she herself would pay for the exams. Glore's medical report from South Austin Hospital confirms her story. "Also noted APD was here," reads the ER report, "and they felt that this patient's story was fabricated, that she has this lapse in memory and they think this is just all a scheme to get out of her DUI [sic]... They [APD] are not going to approve of [the] rape exam, and they are not going to take her to the SANE [sexual assault nurse exam] nurse at St. David's."

Driving While Female and sexual harassment

Wallkill, New York became the second city in the United States two weeks behind Riverside to have its police department placed under a state consent decree, which happened in 2001. The court-mandated reform process was an end result of an investigation conducted by the New York State Attorney General's office into allegations that police officers stopped female motorists and sexually abused and harassed them.

When California State Attorney General Bill Lockyer spoke about Wallkill which was breathing down Riverside's neck to become the first department to be placed under a state consent decree, he called it a case of "Driving While Blond" but for the women involved, it was no joke as it isn't for women who have shared their experiences.

It was no joke for the newspaper that reported on the sexual harassment of female motorists by Wallkill Police Department and faced retaliation in response.

Here are the allegations made against Wallkill's police department by the state attorney general's office.


Among the illegal actions alleged in the 54-page complaint are the following:

Police officers stopped female motorists – often at night and on lightly traveled roads – to solicit dates or sexual favors. At times the uniformed officers would make sexually suggestive comments or implied that falsified charges could be dropped if the women would agree to go out on dates with them.

Police officers harassed women at their places of employment and elsewhere. In one instance, a uniformed male police officer forced a woman to partially disrobe, and subsequently interrogated her about her sexual past, when there was no valid law enforcement reason for either action. In another instance, a uniformed officer repeatedly visited a local dining establishment where he grabbed several 16-year old waitresses around the waist and hips or putt his hand on their thighs. The officer also repeatedly made sexually suggestive comments, for example, asking what the waitresses would look like if they took their shirts off. Although parents complained to the Town about this officer, no disciplinary action was ever taken.

Police officers harassed Wallkill citizens who questioned or spoke out about police conduct.police conduct.

Police officers ticketed Middletown Times Herald Record delivery trucks in a coordinated effort to retaliate against the newspaper for news articles critical of the department.

In 2002, the department had greatly improved its assigned monitor told the New York Times.


''I think it is a department in transition and moving in the right direction,'' Mr. Esserman said yesterday in a phone interview from his office at Thacher Associates, a private investigative and monitoring firm in New York City.

The 37-page report noted that the Police Department had installed video cameras in patrol cars, but officers sometimes failed to turn on the cameras or the microphones. It also said that officers often did not record all required information when stopping drivers, and were known to turn in ''sloppy paperwork'' with the wrong dates and patrol car numbers, among other things.

Still, the report acknowledged that there had been no more ''ugly allegations'' of misconduct and that the Police Department had forged better relationships with other law enforcement agencies. The report said: ''The complaints from other local law enforcement agencies about the lack of professionalism and cooperation by Wallkill have abated. One has the sense that the Wallkill P.D. hit bottom and in the last seven months has begun the upward climb.''

Asst. State Attorney General Mark Peters was cautiously optimistic, said the department was no longer a threat to public safety but had this to say.


''At the same time the attorney general's office is pleased that the immediate danger has been dealt with, we take very seriously the failure to follow all the oversights, such as video cameras and stop forms, because they are what prevent a department from slipping back again,'' he said.

In 2006, Wallkill completed its decree, hopefully a much better department including in terms of how it treats women.

Driving While Female and sexually abused

Wallkill's police department wasn't the only small law enforcement agency in New York state that employed officers who harassed female motorists.

In Suffolk County, Highway Patrol officer Frank Wright was sentenced to serve five years in prison in a courtroom in Central Islip after he was convicted of sexually abusing four women including one who was forced to strip down to their underwear and then walk in 38 degree weather while holding her clothing.

And in Nassau County, a police officer was charged with forcing a woman to have oral sex with him, according to this New York Times article.


The allegations have led to investigations by local police forces and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, two grand jury proceedings, a lawsuit by the state and a change in Nassau police policy. In several cases, including this latest one, news reports about the women's complaints have prompted others to come forward, sometimes about incidents that took place months or years earlier.

''Often when people come forward, they discover that things are more widespread, and it means other people come forward with other types of stories, more readily,'' said Nancy Duff Campbell, co-president of the National Women's Law Center in Washington, which has been following the New York cases. ''This is exactly the kind of thing people wouldn't like to come forward with, but there is strength in numbers.''

Officer Murphy, 36, was arrested Thursday night at the Eighth Precinct station house in Levittown. The police said that after a witness came forward with information this week -- prompted by other recent allegations of assaults by police officers -- they interviewed a woman who said that in December 1999, Officer Murphy ordered her to follow his police cruiser in her car to a wooded area in West Farmingdale, where he sodomized her.

Officer Murphy is also under investigation by the Nassau Police Department's Internal Affairs Unit about a woman's claim of a similar assault last August, when, she says, she was forced to perform oral sex on a plainclothes officer in exchange for her release after a drunk-driving stop, the police said. Although the department would not call Officer Murphy a suspect in that case, it placed him on administrative assignment this week. It is also investigating why the woman's complaint was not looked into immediately by the Internal Affairs Unit but instead languished for five months.

Driving While Female and miscarrying

In Kansas City earlier this year, Sofia Salva miscarried after she was arrested and thrown in jail. She's shown on video pleading with the two officers, who were later suspended, to take her to the hospital because she's bleeding.


The suspensions came two days after police released a videotape showing Sofia Salva telling officers during her arrest last year that she was three months pregnant, bleeding and needed to go to a hospital. The tape shows officers ignoring her pleas.

After the ninth request, the tape shows, a female officer asked: "How is that my problem?"

The officers' behavior is "inconsistent with the values and policies of this department and inconsistent with the training they received in the police academy," Chief James Corwin said at a news conference Thursday.

Driving While Female and murdered

Then there was Cara Knott, the young woman who was strangled to death by a California Highway Patrol officer during a traffic stop in Craig Peyer was convicted of the murder and had before his arrest, been chosen to provide televised safety tips for women after Knott's murder. Recently, Peyer declined the requests of a prosecutor to submit a sample of DNA to be tested against evidence.

Studies have been conducted by researchers examining the "Driving While Female" behavior shown at law enforcement agencies and whether it's truly a case of "rogue" officers or "bad apples" or a systemic problem. It's probably a combination of both. Every law enforcement agency had officers who feel it's their right to abuse their power and public trust to commit misconduct including criminal conduct against women. But it's how an agency handles it or doesn't handle it that determines the systemic nature of the problem and many agencies have practices that encourage these officers to flourish even as they are committing serious misconduct including crimes on the job or even off of it.

Dr. Samuel Walker and Dawn Irlbeck, from the University of Nebraska, Omaha drafted an amazing research paper called Driving While Female: A National Problem in Police Misconduct

An Indianapolis Police Department officer for example had his statistics for his traffic stops broken down by gender and it was discovered that 89% of the motorists he stopped were female. Not surprisingly, he wound up getting into serious trouble for misconduct against women and is no longer in law enforcement.

The study done by Walker and Irlbeck discusses strategies for addressing problems in police departments that involve crimes and other serious misconduct committed by women by their officers. One of the most pressing issues, the study stated, was addressing what it called the sexist culture that exists in most law enforcement agencies. Signs of a sexist police culture include the following.


(1) employment discrimination against women, including the failure to promote women to supervisory positions;[14]

(2) tolerance of sexual harassment within the department;[15]

(3) a systematic failure to investigate domestic violence incidents where the alleged perpetrator is an officer in the department;[16]

(4) inadequate policies regarding pregnancy and parental leave.[17]

Because police departments in general tend to have isolated, insulated cultures, it's hard for people on the outside of them to know how they fare when it comes to identifying a sexist culture, let alone addressing one.

Recommendations from the study were to collect statistics involving race and gender of motorists pulled over on traffic stops. One clue to look for in these stops is to see whether or not the officers disproportionately stop women, given that women are much less likely to be stopped by a police officer than men are.

An Indianapolis Police Department officer for example had his statistics for his traffic stops broken down by gender and it was discovered that 89% of the motorists he stopped were female. Not surprisingly, he wound up getting into serious trouble for misconduct against women and is no longer in law enforcement.

Also having adequate supervision of police officers while they are working in the field. Having a complaint system in place that is implemented properly and increasing the number of female officers through all the ranks in a police agency, because women are at much lower risk of this type of behavior than their male counterparts.

Tracking complaints is also useful. An agency can ask itself this. Do you have an officer or officers who's primarily getting complaints filed by women, for different allegations? How are these investigations conducted and do the complaints keep coming in from different women even if an officer is exonerated? Do you have officers who tell sexist or sexual jokes or engage in such banter out in the field? To other officers, male and/or female? To women out in the field that they encounter? If a supervising sergeant is out in the field and witnesses this banter, how does he or she respond? Does he or she respond?

How does the agency handle sexual discrimination and sexual harassment complaints filed by its employees? Does it investigate them as thoroughly as it recites those policies so quickly on request? Does it instead ignore, retaliate, terminate, or blackball those female officers when they try to get employed elsewhere. Does it tell the women who complain how unhappy it is that they did complain?

Do the racial discrimination and harassment policies have teeth? Are the sexual discrimination and harassment policies enforced? Are they simply pieces of paper with writing on them? Are those who harass women in law enforcement and in the field seen as the problems or are the women who complain seen as the problems? Does an agency educate its employees on filing complaints of harassment and then turn around and punish them when they do? Does an agency educate the public on how to file complaints of harassment and then punish them when they do?

To the officers, who witness misconduct by other officers, one could ask this. Do you tell the officer to knock it off and why? Do you report it to a supervisor? Do you stand there in silence and do nothing? Do you participate? Are you one of those problem officers?

Training officers, the ambassadors to the department's culture, do you train your officers not to engage in this conduct through your own example? Do you educate your officers on the harassment policies? Do you accept their complaints and not treat them badly for doing so? Are you the problem officer?

To supervisors, if an officer in their rank is making sexual or sexist comments, what do you do? Do you tell that officer to knock it off and why? Do you report that officer to their supervisor? Do you sit there and do nothing? Do you engage in it? Are you the problem?

To the management, do you mandate and promote an environment that discourages racism and sexism on your watch? Do you create and implement policies in this area which actually have teeth to them? Do you encourage people to use the policies or do you punish them after the fact? Do you engage in this bad behavior or do nothing? Are you the problem?

These are some questions from which to start.

But members of the public have to step up and report the conduct too, and though I didn't back then, I would certainly do so now if the complainant was willing to do so. The problem is when filing a complaint on someone else's behalf as a witness is that you don't know what will happen to that person as a result. Will they be fairly treated or will they be punished?

For a civilian witness, it's not the same thing because if officers report this conduct, their word is given greater credence by investigators and taken much more seriously. That greater credence given to officers is shown by the much higher rate of sustaining investigations generated inhouse than those by complainants. It's very difficult listening to complaints of misconduct for example and trying to respect people's wishes to not file complaints due to fear for their safety or that of their families. It's sad that the only prayer that women who are victimized by police officers often have is that a brave officer will do his job and report that officer, thus putting a bit of a dent in the code of silence philosophy that still pervades most law enforcement agencies.

Both have happened to women who do file these complaints in terms of being treated fairly or being treated badly.

One obvious problem is that many women are too embarrassed or too fearful to report sexual misconduct whether it's a joke that makes them uncomfortable or worse so a lot of this conduct probably goes unreported. They fear retaliation if they do come forward or having to deal with an agency that often looks at them as less than human and backs its own. So what often happens is that these officers who engage in this misconduct like Van Rossum do so for years, before they finally get caught.

But not always.

One woman who alleged that she was raped by a police officer working for an Orange County agency reported the crime while being contacted for a customer satisfaction survey for another law enforcement agency. When the person conducting the survey heard her story, an investigation was initiated by the involved agency and criminal charges were filed against an officer

Sista II Sista is planning several strategies to address police misconduct against women of color at meetings it's been holding.


Isabel Gonzalez spoke next, emphasizing that the "solution to violence against women does not lie with the cops." She said, "In our experiences, the police sexually harass women in the community and women get harassed by the cops [when they are victims of] domestic violence because of the patriarchal structure of the police department." She added that "the cops can't protect girls from harassment by other boys," when they are doing the harassment themselves.

She said they have been working on alternatives to fighting violence against women without involving the police department. They have also been working on a campaign to publicize police sexual harassment of women: in a program they call "CopWatch," in which they will videotape incidents of police harassment of girls in the 831 precinct and then take the videotape to the precinct headquarters to show it to police. They will also hold a press conference to show the videotape to the media and hope to display the video in other places around the community.

More on the issues of gender and policing to come in this continuing series on these issues.

Riverside's city government will be holding public meetings at various occasions to receive input on how the latest round of Community Development Block Grant funds should be spent. They've been handling it through this system since the city council voted to dissolve the community organizations which oversaw the dispersion of funds in their CDBG zones.

The decision of scheduling judge, Gary Tranbarger of the Riverside County Superior Court to dismiss several misdemeanor cases due to a lack of courtrooms to hear them was upheld during its appeal, according to the Press Enterprise.


The judicial panel's decision sided with Tranbarger and Riverside County court administrators, saying the absence of precise language in Penal Code 1050a about civil courts means the courts can use discretion in applying it.

"The trial court is permitted to consider the circumstances of each case in exercising its discretion in determining whether to give a particular criminal case precedence over a particular civil action or proceeding," the decision said.

"I can't comment on a pending case, but we will continue to comply with all orders of the court." Fields, the presiding judge, said Monday.

The ruling will not make a change in how cases currently facing dismissal are argued, said Assistant Public Defender Bryant Villagran.

"This gives guidance to parties as to what the appellate position might be, but it doesn't get rid of the problem," Villagran said. "So each side will continue to assert their position until it plays out at the appellate level."

In Orange County, the sheriff there, Michael Corona has been indicted by a federal grand jury

The blog, Inside Riverside more than hinted about these latest developments in that episode.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Canary in the Mine: A tale of two masters, part one

As stated, the cool, damp weather on Saturday helped with the fire situation in Southern California including the Inland Empire, but more Santa Anas are on the way.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

"This is a kind of blessing," said meteorologist Valerie L. Meyers at an evening briefing in Running Springs.

Even as something approaching normality returned to many areas, firefighters worked feverishly to take advantage of the comparatively low temperatures and light breezes. Some forecasters were predicting that the fire-triggering blasts of Santa Ana winds would return, although perhaps not as severely, at week's end.

In all, 1,997 houses had been listed as destroyed by Saturday night -- an increase of 222 from the total listed on Friday -- as officials continued to assess damage.

At the 27,521-acre Santiago fire, a cliffhanger that was still threatening dozens of homes in Orange's County's Silverado Canyon, a sprinkle of rain raised the hopes of weary firefighters and frustrated residents. At least 16 homes have been destroyed overall in the arson-triggered blaze.

"The threat is diminishing day by day," said county Battalion Chief Pat Antrim, himself a resident of the canyon for 46 years. "We're getting a little drizzle, which is better than hot wind."

The rain fell in Riverside too, surprising many of its residents. With La Nina on her way, the rain should be enjoyed while it lasts as it's been anticipated by everyone from meteorologists to the Farmers' Almanac that this region will have a winter that's both warmer and drier than normal.

"We have to look out for our own because the others do."

---What a woman said an officer said to her on a traffic stop after deciding not to give her a citation.

Was this an example of racial profiling or a response to it? Definitely one of the strangest stories I ever heard for why a police officer apparently decided not to issue a traffic citation, according to a Black woman. I'm not sure what to say about what was told to me by this woman including this quoted statement. It's probably a good subject for a future posting.

"No man can serve two masters: For either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.”

---Jesus Christ

The Community Police Review Commission's report is out. I noticed that it had a section labeled, "Police/Commission Relations" but it didn't have a section on "Community/Commission Relations". Why this is emblematic of problems in the CPRC especially those that have erupted since the city decided it didn't like it when this body reached sustained findings of excessive force on officer-involved deaths would take a series of postings to address.

In addition, the city's charter has a requirement that the commission "advise the mayor and city council on all police/community relations issues" and this section doesn't provide any information on those issues, just a summary on its outreach efforts.

When addressing police/commission relations, the report discusses the commission's program initiated by former executive director, Pedro Payne to hold meetings between this office and new hires, including 21 last year, to discuss and ask and answer questions about the CPRC. The CPRC director also held meetings with the police department's internal affairs division to discuss "differences of opinion" about complaints that are on hold and resolve those cases. Although, it sounds like according to the complaint statistics, the city manager's office and the police department are more in line with each other than either is with the commission, particularly on which allegations to sustain and which they decide are unfounded.

Many community members are still unsure of what the commission does, don't file complaints because they say they fear for themselves and their families and many still wonder about its independence from the police department and City Hall considering how many of the most recent members of the commission are political appointments. Police officers still distrust the commission, probably not much less now than when it started. After all, only one Riverside Police Department officer has ever publicly professed his affection for the commission during its entire history. Not a very impressive number, in an agency of nearly 400 sworn officers. Still, from little acorns, mighty oaks grow, so even one individual is a small but hopeful start.

But given that there are more police officers and city employees at meetings these days than community members, it's clear where the focus of this body has gone to win the hearts and minds of those who will never surrender them. On the other hand, the commission assumes that community loyalty is its birthright and has let outreach to this sector of the city fall by the wayside, but if you have a city manager's office banning public outreach by an executive director because it gives a perception of bias against the police and of course in its mind, if you're for outreaching to the community, you must be against the police department, what can you expect?

Still, it's important to work as hard with community outreach as the commission has with the police department even if the barriers the city appears to erect particularly in recent years are higher.

Candidate X who was interviewed for the executive manager's position and now may be hired by the city in a consulting role commented on the high percentage of current and past police officers on the commission. Then there are the commissioners who for all practical purposes are city employees whose employers are contracting with the city manager's office. Another took campaign contributions from the police union's political action committee while running for a county seat. Another alleged that a councilman threatened him with removal if he didn't "tone it down". At the time, he was asking questions about whether or not the commission could retain its own attorney.

Mere weeks later, Commissioner Steve Simpson resigned.

No commissioners from the Eastside, Casa Blanca or Arlanza communities serve on a commission that was created in large part because of community activism in all three communities.

No big surprise there, with the current bloc on the city council who sees downtown as the major jewel and predominantly White neighborhoods too "special" for things like homeless shelters and the creation of low-income housing. Only one African-American commissioner serves on the commission and one Latina in the sea of White faces on the commission, including three from Ward One.

Councilman Dom Betro's candidates on the CPRC have been as White as the faces on the two park advisory task forces for Tequesquite and Fairmount Parks in his ward. But the other elected officials, even if they don't stump on their respect for diversity as much, have records which aren't any better. One of the main questions that I receive on the commissioners is what the ethnic, racial and gender breakdown is on the panel, but the truth is, even the police department which has struggled in this area, is more ethnically and racially diverse than the CPRC.

The latest trend in the CPRC is to cloak as much of its operations into closed sessions as possible including get this, policy recommendations coming out of officer-involved deaths. In what can only be described as coming from River City's very own version of Wonderland, the city is rewriting state law and mudding the waters even further between the department's officer-involved investigation and its administrative review by hoping that no one in this city has a memory that's goes back far enough.

But it's interesting that it wasn't until the fatal officer-involved shooting of Lee Deante Brown that the rules began to change and take effect. Secret findings. Secret policy recommendations. This and more coming from different corners of City Hall. The fact that this shooting has attracted attention and resulted in litigation filed by one of the top civil rights law firms in the country has nothing to do with all this intrigue of course.

Next up on the docket, is the fatal shooting of Douglas Steven Cloud which is over a year old at this point.

Also in litigation, also receiving attention is Cloud, who if you recall was shot to death by two police officers after crashing his car into a palm tree and a truck after driving at a high speed away from the Home Depot where he tried to steal a cleaner. This one should provide an interesting chain of events, but the sentiment is, it's the Joseph Darnell Hill shooting that might actually be the most question-filled journey of the trio of 2006 shootings of men who at least initially, were unarmed.

“I won't go into details about my expenses throughout all this. It's been a complete challenge on my life. But my constitutional rights are not for sale. My daughter needs a full and intact Constitution.”

---Ken Stansbury, to the Inland Empire Weekly regarding the state's court of appeals decision to uphold Riverside's right to sue people who circulate ballot initiatives.

The article is here.


On Nov. 16, 2005, attorneys for the city sued Stansbury and Riversiders for Property Rights. The plaintiff's case in the City of Riverside vs. Ken Stansbury et al , didn't mention what the city of Riverside was really pissed about, which was that Stansbury et al stood in the way of all those dreamy condemnation lawsuits it planned to file (18 by the close of 2006), and it sure as hell didn't mention all that developer money funneling to Betro and Adams (more than $40,000, last we checked). Instead, City Atty. Greg Priamos (with some help from the powerful law firm of Best, Best & Krieger) held forth that Stansbury's proposed initiative was unconstitutional because it conflicted with state law.

That argument flew not at all with Riverside Superior Court Judge E. Michael Kaiser, who agreed with Richard Brent Reed, Stansbury's attorney, that the city's lawsuit was a blatant attempt to block the signature gathering, and tossed the suit out. Perhaps the fact that constitutional concerns didn't stop Anaheim, Dana Point and Newport Beach from enacting laws similar to the one Stansbury proposed helped influence Kaiser's decision.

But unfortunately for Stansbury, he doesn't live in Anaheim, Dana Point or Newport Beach. He lives in Riverside, where the only rights you have are the ones left after a team of high-priced lawyers get through with you. The city felt so strongly about its constitutionality claim that it appealed Kaiser's decision, but not so strongly that it was above buying off Riversiders for Property Rights, which it did for $11,000 with the sole proviso that the group promise to keep its filthy hands off Riverside's precious powers of condemnation.

Isolated and with no bottomless city trough to dip into when his resources ran low, Stansbury didn't have a chance. The three fools on the appellate court swallowed the city's argument whole and ruled that their lower-court colleague had erred.

“I expected the decision,” Stansbury says. “This court is known for being protective of government powers and of being the most pro-government court in the country.”

Allegations of racism in the School of Graduate School of Education at the University of California Riverside have hit the campus, according to the Press Enterprise.


Currently none of the graduate school's 13 full-time tenured faculty is from an underrepresented minority group: Black, Latinos or American Indians.

The groups called for the UCR chancellor, the University of California Office of the President and the UC Regents, among others, to investigate the situation and take action.

"They need to respond to our demands and our demographics," said Barbara Flores of the Inland Empire Latino Coalition Education Task Force and the National Association for Bilingual Education. She made her comments at a campus news conference last week.

Dr. Manuela Sosa, a retired dentist and UCR alumnus, said the Graduate School of Education is only one example of a wider problem of lack of diversity at UCR.

"These are issues we've been dealing with for a long time," Sosa said.

Acting UCR Chancellor Robert Grey said in a statement the campus needs to work harder to increase the number of minority faculty members. Blacks, Latinos and American Indians totaled 51 out of 564 full-time tenured faculty in 2006. Asians are not included in the underrepresented minorities designation.

"Our faculty needs to better reflect the diversity of the citizens of today's California and, especially, of the people of Inland Southern California that we're here to serve," Grey said.

UCR is the third most ethnically and racially diverse campus in the system when it comes to its faculty, sitting behind the La Merced and Santa Cruz campuses. But given that its student population is among the system's diverse in the wake of the passage of proposition 209 in 1996, its percentages are still very low.

TENURED FACULTY(source: Press Enterprise article, 10/29/07)

The number of tenured, full-time faculty at UC Riverside in 2006:

American Indian










Speaking of UCR, Mayor Ron Loveridge, who still teaches political science there, wrote this about the city's recent designation as a "City of the Arts" in the Press Enterprise.

An interesting point made by Loveridge is that in the 20th Century, Riverside was all about being a "city of the trees" with a "heritage" related to the orange groves that used to populate the city until recently. But as we know, few of those groves are still standing.

Will the same fate await the arts in Riverside when the 22nd Century arrives?

Inland Empire home buyers are shunning the bigger is better principle, according to the Press Enterprise. Staying in Riverside will be the bird farm that was in danger of being ousted until it got a reprieve a according to the Press Enterprise.


The order was suspended after Harris contacted Councilman Art Gage, who interceded at City Hall on his behalf.

Under the plan that will be sent to the Planning Commission, Harris' 3-acre property would be rezoned "rural residential."

The World War II veteran expressed relief this week that he would get to keep his birds, and he criticized the city officials who came after him in the first place.

"The folks at City Hall don't care anything about what happens here," Harris said as he sat on his back steps. "I already got rid of my roosters. Now they found something else to complain about. It's always something."

His ducks and geese and the pond they swim in, dubbed "the bird farm" by locals, have delighted generations of neighborhood children and their parents.

Gage said his office was inundated with telephone calls and e-mails after news reports that Harris might lose his birds.

"There's been a tremendous response and not just from Riverside," Gage said.

You've got to love election years. But after the ballots are counted in November, the stagecoach and horses could be turning back into a pumpkin and a pack of mice.

There are some local endorsements of city council candidates here and here.

Even as a report came back that stated that his police department had systemic problems involving the application of its use of force policy, Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton was sworn in for a second term, according to the Los Angeles Times.


The 60-year-old Bratton became the first chief to be reappointed since charter reform arose from the 1991 beating of Rodney G. King and the riots that followed when four Los Angeles Police Department officers were initially acquitted of brutality. By law, this will be Bratton's final five-year term.

The second act, the chief vowed to the audience, will be better than the first.

"We have saved thousands of lives over the last five years," he said, alluding to the 31% drop in major crime recorded over his first term. "So crime is down and will continue to go down. Fear is down, and we hope that it will continue to go down, as will disorder."

It was an emotional ceremony that reflected Bratton's Boston roots and Hollywood ties. It was conducted on the athletic field of the storied Los Angeles Police Academy in the heart of Elysian Park. After taking the podium, Bratton thanked everyone present, including an elementary school buddy, his police academy classmates, a cadre of colleagues from his tenures as chief in Boston and New York, as well as his wife, Rikki Klieman, son and father.

The Two Michaels

While a scandal may be emerging in New York City's City Hall involving one of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's top aides, the police department's labor union head, Michael Palladino who backs the officers involved in the Sean Bell shooting according to the New York Daily News.


With Detectives Michael Oliver, Gescard Isnora and Marc Cooper set to go on trial in January, Palladino has been holding press conferences after every court date, meeting with reporters and editors at major newspapers and turning up regularly on TV to discuss the case.

In addition, his union has spent tens of thousands of dollars to make its case in newspaper ads and radio spots and is paying a portion of the cops' legal fees.

"I thought it was very, very important to set the record straight," Palladino, 49, said. "I feel very strongly they did not act with criminality in their heart or in their mind that night."

Palladino denies he has been smearing the victims, only advocating for the cops. "Quite frankly, I don't think they can get a fair trial here in New York," he said. "I think [the jury pool] has already been poisoned."

For that, he blames the Rev. Al Sharpton and his National Action Network, whose advocacy on behalf of Bell's fiancée and the shooting victims has infuriated the Detectives' Endowment Association. "Sharpton is a master of deception and a misleader of the public," Palladino said.

At issue is whether police were justified in firing at Bell, 23, and his friends as they left his bachelor party at Kalua Cabaret in Jamaica, Queens, on Nov. 25, 2006. Trent Benefield, 24, and Joseph Guzman, 32, were wounded.

"The only issue here is why Sean Bell was killed, why the two men were wounded. There's no gun found, there's no motivation explained," said Sharpton in response. "That's all we have said. That's not a distortion. He can have the playing field all to himself if he can explain why these men have bullets in them and this man is dead for no reason."

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