Five before Midnight

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


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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Election 2008: Two days later

Election 2008, at least at the county level is now a memory. So in the accolades of victory and the ashes of defeat, what was learned?

In the wake of Election 2008 in the Inland Empire, some trends were noted.


Bob Buster, Jeffrey Stone: It is interesting to note how differently incumbents fared in the county elections in Riverside County as opposed to what was faced by those in the most recent city elections in Riverside. Both these men swept their elections, but two Riverside City Council members would not. What does the future hold in Election 2009?

Kelly Chastain: Chastain avoided a potentially embarrassing ouster through a recall vote and gets to stay in office at least a while longer.

Massachusetts: Though thousands of miles away, this state benefited from the use of autodialers which beamed audio recordings from various elected officials and public service employees to thousands of households. Shop Riverside for your campaign services? Don't think so.

Riverside County District Attorney's office: This agency was 2 for 2 in the judges races.

Residential renters: After some initial activity, Prop. 98 sunk like a rock, due mostly to the provision within its language attacking rent control laws.

Democrats: They were wooed by both candidates for votes in the District One supervisor race including most notably


Riverside Renaissance: This program pushed in the city of Riverside by the powers-that-be and their city management team has now failed to get candidates elected in two venues, River City and County.

Trees: This election saw the usual onslaught of mailers from most of the campaigns. Fortunately, for most of them, the sacrifice of the trees did not go towards the support of good literature.

Mel Albiso: If voters had ousted Chastain in Colton, Albiso would have been mayor. It was not to be.

Small businesses: Due to the passage of Prop. 99 which doesn't protect them, expect more of them to be picked up by cities and counties and handed off to development firms often by elected officials who would no doubt howl in protest if it were their businesses who were impacted.

Undocumented immigrants with brown skin: Unfortunately, the participation of management from the Riverside Police Department in the Schiavone campaign might make it more difficult for this group of individuals to report crimes including domestic violence in the home (and there's amnesty visas and other programs under VAWA act for undocumented immigrants who are crime victims) or perhaps being beaten by White Supremacists or that they've witnessed crimes.

Part of a problem when law enforcement gets intertwined with a political candidate's ambitions. What makes it even more confusing is that the police department until this election didn't have a public policy on these issues that the communities are aware of except for encouraging people in communities to report crimes to the department. Add to that, comments by Riverside Police Department employees during Election 2007 that immigration was a "federal issue", when criticism emerged against the campaign of Ward Five Councilman Chris MacArthur.

Now, apparently it does not consider it a "federal issue" at least not during this election, but if that's the case, then the communities of Riverside should hear about it through other channels than audio-recorded telephone calls or political advertisements during an election. There should be attempts by the police department's management preferably those who recorded the political advertisements to explain exactly what the department's position is and what it's practicing. Is its position similar to that taken by the Los Angeles Police Department or more in line with several Orange County cities including Garden Grove?

In the Middle

Election 2009: The dust is still settling, but what will the impact of this election be on the Riverside local elections next year? Did the field for the greatly anticipated mayoral showdown just get larger?

Press Enterprise Columnist Dan Bernstein talks about the election.


RivCo Supes Jeff Stone and Bob Buster waltzed (though not together) to re-election.

Stone won 71 percent of his district's vote promising: Two chickens in every pot and one waterless urinal in every can.

Buster, accustomed to winning his elections by 17 to 35 votes, creamed Riverside Councilman Frank Schiavone by more than 5,000! Buster is said to be so embarrassed by the magnitude of victory that he plans to place all but 17 votes of his winning margin into a Surplus Vote Habitat Preserve. These votes could then be used, on an as-needed basis, in future, more competitive races.

Schiavone chalked up his defeat to voter apathy. Ex-Assemblyman Russ Bogh, who lost a nasty, costly state Senate race to Assemblyman John Benoit, blamed low interest in the election. We always hear this from losers. Just once, I wish a winner would say, "I attribute my hard-fought victory to extreme voter disinterest."

Welcome Menifee! RivCo's newest city. Voters also wisely decided to name the city "Menifee" instead of "Menitax", "Menilevy", "Menisurcharge" or "Menirevenue-enhancement."

Voter apathy? Towards particular candidates in an election contest perhaps. Hence the large margins of victory for the winners.

If you're from Menifee or interested in the events and politics of Riverside County's newest city, here's the blog.

The Orange County Sheriff's Department has never had a female sheriff in its history. Is it ready for one? It's too bad in this day and age that this question even is being asked or should be asked because one of the two finalists for that position is a woman but there are still relatively few women who lead law enforcement agencies. Will Sandra Hutchens who currently heads a division in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department be next?

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

You could say she's got a 50-50 chance, but some other numbers apply too.

Of the 3,084 sheriffs in the United States, only 42 are women, says Fred Wilson, director of operations for the National Sheriffs' Assn. And that number is nearly twice what it was just seven years ago, he says.

The reasons for the small numbers aren't mysterious.

In a historically male-dominated profession, women didn't rise to the upper ranks of sheriff's departments from which they could legitimately make a run at the top spot.

Not until the 1970s and '80s, Wilson says, did women start entering the profession in significant numbers and begin what have become lengthy careers in the last decade or so.

Beyond that, it's probably not a stretch to surmise that voters -- almost all sheriffs are elected -- have continued to see the job as a male domain. Sort of like, uh, the presidency.

So, I find myself wondering if Orange County is ready for a female sheriff.

Or, frankly, whether the question is even relevant.

Unfortunately as long as you have law enforcement officers who say that they don't believe women as a gender could ever be as good as male officers and they don't like female officers anyway, then it will continue to be a relevant question.

Latinos are more impacted by the economic recession than other groups, according to the experts. In the District One election, it wouldn't be surprising if Latino voters were the most likely to stay home, due to "apathy". After all, when your racial group is the target of the campaigns of both candidates, who do you vote for? Because after all, we know that all undocumented immigrants are Latinos from Mexico, which the Schiavone campaign helpfully informed everyone through including a faint outline of a map of Mexico with the word "Mexico" on it.

In Eugene Oregon, residents are urging city officials to implement civilian review. In many ways, the struggle to implement and keep civilian review in this city mirrors that in Riverside.

(excerpt, Eugene Register-Guard)

A group of Eugene activists gathered at City Hall on Tuesday to speak out against recent attacks on the auditor, the review board and city officials who support the system. They decried recent attempts to shut down or weaken the auditor’s office and a caricature of City Councilor Bonny Bettman that appeared on the police union Web site before it was taken down.

They pointed the finger at the police union and former Mayor Jim Torrey — who is running against Mayor Kitty Piercy, a proponent of the oversight system — as ring­leaders in the effort to dismantle the system.

And they called for Torrey, Piercy and Police Chief Robert Lehner to state publicly their positions on external oversight, while urging Eugene residents to contact their city councilor and the mayor to voice support of or opposition to the auditor program.

Charles Dalton, former president of the local NAACP, said Tuesday’s event was not about bashing the police but about working to heal the rift of trust between the police union, the police auditor and the community. He said voters created the oversight system after a “long history of questionable events by the local police department” to increase accountability and transparency in government.

“This is about a group of citizens giving vocal support to the police auditor and the civilian review board that were the creation of the bulk of us voters,” Dalton said.

But before people can get too excited in Eugene. As it turns out, mayoral candidate Jim Torrey opposes civilian review. But if they have to have an independent auditor, he or she should report to the city manager not the city council. But when they tried it that way, the Eugene Police Department had a major sexual abuse scandal within its ranks that finally came to light after years of being ignored by the police department.

The Philadelphia City Paper asks whether firing the officers involved in excessive force cases is the best solution.

The researchers and police department both weigh in.


"Philadelphia has a terrible reputation when it comes to use of force," says Sam Walker, professor emeritus of criminal justice at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. It's an issue, he says, that dates back a long time. Even today, though, at least the perception that police too often use excess force persists in Philly.

According to the most recent numbers released by the Police Advisory Commission, the civilian oversight arm of the department, complaints against officers have increased 26 percent from the first five months of 2007 to the first five of 2008. And while police perform a difficult and often dangerous function — as the recent tragic deaths of Officer Charles Cassidy and Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski showed — doling out corporal punishment isn't in their job description.

People who research police behavior and policies are divided about the usefulness of firings as a remedy for this problem. Some see firings as necessary to calm angry citizens. Craig Futterman, clinical professor at the University of Chicago Law School, sees Ramsey's move as "a good and obvious step" toward "addressing the long-standing racial tensions between police and communities of color in Philadelphia."

David Klinger, criminology professor at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, emphasizes the deterrent effect of individual discipline.

"We have a fundamental understanding that if people are punished for doing something, they tend to do it at a lower rate," he says.

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