Five before Midnight

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


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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Shake and bake

Oh my goodness, the shake and bake state! First we bake for four days, then we shake. First at 6:40 a.m. at about 2.8 and then more so at 7:19 a.m. Two big bangs almost like sonic booms and then some mild to moderate shaking.

According to this site, the quake was two miles east of Loma Linda and was 4.0. But if you live in the shake and bake state, these are things that are part of life. Of course everyone handles these quakes differently. Once while visiting my aunt, a quake shook the house, knocking pictures off the wall, chairs over, slamming doors and throwing bricks off the chimney as it whipped back and forth. About seven of us stood under two doorways while our heads kept hitting the top of them. Then it ended, and we walked down stairs to where my aunt was still preparing dinner in the kitchen as if nothing had happened, even though the kitchen was a mess.

Quake? What quake?

In Riverside, there's been a lot of discussion on the impact of the city's budget crisis, the freezing of law enforcement positions and the effect it may or may not have on several components that were enforced by the stipulated judgment with the State Attorney General's office and remained in effect after its dissolution. It remains to be seen what will happen and how retirements of supervisory officers will impact the department's staffing levels if those positions aren't filled.

This is an email sent out to the mayor and city council addressing this issue.

As you are aware, the police department and consultant Joe Brann will be reporting on the progress made by the agency in terms of implementing the strategic plan. The city is in the latter half of the strategic plan time frame and about half-way through the time frame of the plan from March 2006-2009.

As you are also aware, there were budget cuts citywide in response to the challenging deficit situation stemming from a state deficit, decreased tax revenues and .other reasons. The police department received a 5% increase for its 2008-09 budget. However, the department also instituted a hiring and promotional freeze and froze recruitment incentive funds in its budget.

Some of the positions frozen are apparently at the supervisory levels and consist of positions which were or will be vacated through retirements and are not scheduled to be filled. These include both sergeant and lieutenant positions. The exact number is not clear at this point.

If you are familar with the stipulated judgment which the city was under between March 2001-March 2006, you will recall several reform mandates which were included in that document. These were that the department is to establish and maintain a 7 to 1 ratio between officers and supervisors for field officers and that there would be lieutenant watch commanders on all shifts. According to documents, the department did a fairly good job at consistently implementing both requirements during the period of the stipulated judgment. It's not always possible at all times to adhere to these guidelines but it did a fairly good job.

In March 2006, the city council conducted a workshop to discuss how to implement the strategic plan and with a vote to 7-0, approved a plan to do that which is in place now which is regular progress reports. One of the recommendations by Brann when approving the dissolution of the judgment was to keep in place several key components including the two listed here. The city council agreed to do so at the workshop.

In the post-stipulated judgment period, the police department has been successful at maintaining the ratio. However, during the last audit, Brann noted in his presentation that the department was starting to show a slight increase in shifts without lieutenant watch commanders. It was listed as a development to watch to ensure it did not become a trend.

There's great concern that the freezing of the sergeant positions in particular might endanger this officer to supervisor ratio among both the police department (including I believe at least one of the police unions) and the community. There's also a lot of confusion as to whether or not there is a problem here and if so, what steps will be taken by the city and the department to address it. There are difficult decisions which are made in fiscally difficult times but there's concern too that once positions are frozen or removed, they won't be restored when the economical picture improves. Freezing lieutenant positions may or may impact the lieutenant watch commander guidelines, especially if they also include lieutenants with other "on call" positions (i.e. detectives) which have been frozen as well. "On call" lieutenants are those who if necessary provide backup on shifts utilizing sergeant watch commanders.

This was a serious problem with the police department in the 1990s and it was one of the problems which led the city and the department to the stipulated judgment in the first place. If these positions are to be frozen and if they do impact the officer to sergeant ratio, then there should be in place a timeline explaining how long this will be and when it will be reversed so that these positions don't fall by the wayside. And during the mid-year budget reexamination process, this subject needs to be readdressed and reevaluated. Steps should be taken if they haven't been already to perhaps come up with a strategy to ensure that the ratio is not negatively impacted.

The city has invested over $22 million in this process implementing reforms in the judgment and the Mayor's Use of Force Panel's own recommendations as of 2006 and probably more since. The very least that this investment both in the stipulated judgment and the strategic plan deserves is a public discussion on this pressing issue.

Thank you for your time

So far not much in terms of a response from the city government.

While one of Riverside's elected officials might be running for another term because he's eying the presidency of the National League of Cities, other cities like Canyon Lake can barely afford their membership fees let alone sending delegates.

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians which runs a casino entered into an agreement with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department for policing.

The Riverside County Sheriff's Department practices what it calls "zone policing".

A housing program for disabled military veterans is having its budget reduced by two-thirds.

Also, in housing, several cities are taking steps to arrest home foreclosures within their boundaries.

The arrests of three narcotics officers who stole drugs from dealers led to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department chief taking some drastic action.

The three officers were arrested on federal charges of drug trafficking.

(excerpt, IndyChannel)

An indictment unsealed Tuesday named police officers Robert B. Long, 34, Jason P. Edwards, 36, and James Davis, 33.

It described Long as a narcotics detective and the leader of a conspiracy this spring to possess marijuana with the intent to distribute.

All three officers were arrested by the FBI. It was not immediately known whether they had defense attorneys.

The indictment said the officers talked in code by telephone and that Long tipped a fourth defendant named in the indictment, Kabec Higgins, 31, about police plans to search his business, Ear Candy Muzik.

Long also seized a FedEx parcel containing up to 13 pounds of marijuana, the indictment states. About eight pounds were removed and sold for $4,000. Long then turned in nearly five pounds from the parcel to a police narcotics vault to cover up the missing portion.

The court document also indicated Long and Davis entered an apartment looking for marijuana, and the three officers took five pounds of the drug and $18,300 from a home during a June 4 break-in.

After that break-in, Davis "wiped the interior door handle and lock with his gloves in an attempt to clean off any fingerprints," the indictment stated.

It also indicated that Long and Davis illegally seized $20,000 from a person they thought was selling marijuana in March. Davis also was accused of "illegally stopping cars" to seize money.

"(The officers) reportedly committed acts in uniform, using police vehicles, displaying a bogus search warrant, breaking into private property and diverting seized drugs and cash to their personal benefit," said U.S. Attorney Tim Morrison.

The police chief in Okoee, Florida has been fired.

(excerpt, WESH)

The firing came after accusations surfaced that he took prescription drugs from a police department employee. He was also forced to take two days off without pay last year after Ocoee officials said he pointed a Taser gun at a coworker.

Reffett's wife said the allegations were unfounded, and she said that her husband was given an ultimatum either to resign or be fired.

"He's never been fired. He's never had anything like this ... to come to a little town like this and be asked to do a job, but then when he goes to do the job, they don't want him to do the job, no. He in no way deserves this," Reffett's wife said.

A lawsuit filed against the CHP by a former deputy chief settled for almost $1 million.

(excerpt, Sacramento Bee)

The $995,000 settlement was made public just as a new element of the department's treatment of former Deputy Chief Art Acevedo came to light. A private investigator hired by the state tailed Acevedo in early 2007 to find out whether he was leaking information to The Sacramento Bee, according to a sworn statement obtained by the newspaper.

"The CHP has some explaining to do," said state Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, a frequent critic of the department.

Acevedo, now police chief of Austin, Texas, bucked the CHP establishment in 2004 when he applied to become commissioner at a time when then-Commissioner Dwight Helmick was considered vulnerable. Helmick was forced out a few months later by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In his lawsuit, Acevedo said he suffered retaliation for trying to become commissioner and reporting questionable actions by the CHP, including allowing officers to stay on past the mandatory retirement age of 60 to spike their pensions.

Last January, the State Personnel Board agreed. It found that the CHP trumped up disciplinary charges against Acevedo, tainted his promotional exam and took other steps to discredit him. An administrative law judge called the retaliation "particularly egregious."

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