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, July 30, 2008

Aftershocks and afterthoughts

"It is a very unfortunate set of circumstances. It is one of ours. We are desperately trying to unravel what happened."

---said one high-ranking LAPD official who requested anonymity about an incident where an LAPD officer who was off-duty was shot and injured by Long Beach Police Department officers.

Riverside and the rest of the Inland Empire are moving on after the 5.4 earthquake struck Southern California leaving rattled nerves and some minor damage in its wake which includes numerous aftershocks.

City Hall's still struggling not with quakes but with temperamental elevators. Gone are the rather curious golden boxes with mirror lined walls and in their place are bland metal crates which have been running with fits and starts when they've been running at all. The latest problem has to do with unexplained breakdowns in the elevators' pulley systems. When Otis, the company that did the renovation installed the pulleys which are integral to the system, about 10 out of 12 of them failed within several months for no apparent known reason. These failures have people mystified including the suits at Otis because apparently, these pulley systems haven't failed in elevators elsewhere around the country. But at any rate, the company and the city decided to repair all three elevators by reinstalling the pulley systems.

One bright spot is that the city's not paying for the repairs and replacements because Otis is footing the bill even as it's trying to find out what's going wrong with the new elevators. So the sewer fund is safe for now.

Does the Riverside Police Department provide sexual harassment training for its field training officers? If you're a member of the public, you're not allowed to know if the individuals staffing these critical positions for one of the police department's most important programs have received this training and when. Even though it's the tax dollars of residents who pay for any training, who pay the employees receiving such training and any tax dollars paid out in civil litigation and/or settlements or verdicts in relation to sexual harassment in any of the department's divisions or programs, the residents aren't allowed to know whether or not this training is being done and whether or not it's timely.

The civilian and sworn supervising and management employees have been receiving their sexual harassment training under Assembly Bill 1825 since at least 2007 but the department is more reticent on what's going on with the field training officers stating that it's shielded by two state laws.

What does A.B. 1825 require?

Here are its provisions.


The basic provisions of California's AB 1825:

50 or More Employees. AB 1825 applies only to organizations that regularly employ 50 or more employees or regularly "receive the services of" 50 or more persons. (Independent contractors and temps are included in the 50+ number.)

Two Hours of Training Every Two Years. The deadline for the first round of AB 1825 training was December 31, 2005. Thereafter, employers must provide two hours of sexual harassment training to each supervisory employee, every two years.

New Hires and Promotions. New supervisory employees must be trained within six months of their assumption of a supervisory position, and thereafter, every two years.

High Quality Training Required. The training mandated by California's AB 1825 must be of a high quality, conducted via "classroom or other effective interactive training" and must include the following topics:

Information and practical guidance regarding federal and state statutory laws about sexual harassment.

Information about the correction of sexual harassment and the remedies available to victims of sexual harassment.

Practical examples aimed at instructing supervisors in the prevention of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.

Failure to Comply Opens the Door to Harassment Lawsuits. A claim that an employer failed to provide AB 1825-mandated sexual harassment training does not automatically result in the liability of an employer for harassment. Plaintiffs will argue, however, that the failure to meet the new training mandates is evidence of an employer's failure to take all reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment.

In translation, that means that if an employee or employees sue for sexual harassment and the training isn't being done, then the city might as well hand its checkbook over to a trial jury to fill in the dollars and cents amount for a payout.

Text of A.B. 1825

Plans for the new power plants in Riverside have been put on hold by a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge which has required that further studies on environmental impact to the region be done. The city's objective was to build these plants (with money coming in part from the rate hikes that were voted into place, rescinded and then restored in some sense) so that there won't be any rolling blackouts in Riverside beginning next year.

One of San Bernardino County Assessor Bill Postmus' employees plead not guilty to felony charges which include allegations that he destroyed public records.

San Bernardino Police Department officers went to the house of Ward Two Councilman Dennis Baxter after a woman made allegations of battery against him. No arrests were made.

Meanwhile, the union from that police department voted against making over $1 million in concessions to help balance the city's budget.

The tribal leadership of Soboba reservation has responded to Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff's comments about bringing the feds in to close the casino down.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

"If he wants to pay that money -- taxpayers' money -- to arrest somebody that stands up for their rights, are they going to arrest everybody that stands up for their rights?" Salgado asked while seated in a brown leather chair in the tribe's meeting room before a bank of cameras and microphones.

Sniff drew Salgado's ire when he announced Tuesday at the Riverside County Board of Supervisors meeting that he had asked the federal government to close the tribe's casino. Sniff said the tribe's policy of delaying deputies when they arrive at the guard shack on the reservation puts tribal members and Soboba Casino employees and patrons at risk.

Sniff's criticism came just weeks after the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians and the Sheriff's Department signed a memorandum agreeing to work cooperatively in the wake of two officer-involved shootings.

The shootings left three tribal members dead in May.

Despite the memorandum, the two sides still disagree about federal law and how much access it gives deputies to the reservation.

Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens has announced that she's recalling over 400 special badges given out by her predecessor Mike Carona, according to the Los Angeles Times.


"I will lose some who are in it for the badge," she said. "Hopefully, I will keep the ones who do a lot for us."

The new sheriff revealed her plans on the same day she took further steps to distance herself from indicted former Sheriff Michael S. Carona. She named people from outside the department to her executive staff and released a draft copy of a new policy governing the issuance of concealed weapons permits. Carona had issued the permits to about 1,100 people, several of them political supporters.

"This is a momentous day for the Orange County Sheriff's Department. This is another sign we are moving into the future of the Orange County Sheriff's Department and not looking back," she told reporters as she introduced her top management at a news conference in Santa Ana.

Hutchens named retired Los Angeles County sheriff's Division Chief John Scott as undersheriff and retired Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Mike Hillmann as one of her four assistant sheriffs.

Scott, 60, retired in 2005 after 36 years with the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. He most recently served as division chief overseeing its jails, the largest local jail system in the nation.

That experience will be critical in Orange County, where the jail system was the focus of a scathing district attorney's report that found some deputies at Theo Lacy Jail -- the county's largest -- napped, watched television and exchanged text messages as an inmate was beaten to death by other inmates.

An off-duty Los Angeles Police Department officer was shot and wounded by onduty Long Beach Police Department officers after he allegedly brandished a gun in their presence. The officer who is the son of an LAPD lieutenant was arrested on charges.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

Few details were released Wednesday as both Long Beach and Los Angeles police started investigations. As Long Beach detectives continued their investigation -- which included obtaining a search warrant for Geggie's home -- investigators from the LAPD's internal affairs group launched a personnel inquiry into Geggie. The Los Angeles County district attorney's office also dispatched staff to conduct an independent investigation, which is common in cases involving police shootings.

Long Beach police said they responded about 12:30 a.m. to a 911 call reporting a man brandishing a firearm and walking the street near Termino Avenue and 4rth Street, close to the city's tony Belmont Heights area.

Officers found Geggie, who matched the description provided by the caller, on the 200 block of Mira Mar Avenue and confronted him, said Long Beach Police spokesperson Sgt. Dina Zapalski. Geggie tried to flee, Zapalski said, but the officers quickly caught up to him and ordered him to drop the shotgun he was holding.

"He refused and that is when the officer-involved shooting occurred," she said.

Los Angeles County is paying out $3.3 million in claim and lawsuit settlements including $850,000 for a case connected with the Sheriff's Department.

The St. Louis Police Department chief has finally resigned after a lot of political turmoil which put him in the hot seat. Another police chief in Iowa is trying to get his job back with the Creston Police Department.

The Police Benevolent Association who represents officers in the New York City Police Department said that the officer caught on videotape rushing up to a cyclist at a rally and shoving him to the ground was just doing his job. Not surprising, others disagreed.

(excerpt, New York Daily News)

"This officer observed the reckless actions of a specific individual weaving in and out of traffic and creating a hazardous condition for the public and took action," Policemen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said in a statement.

But that version was quickly dismissed by Mayor Bloomberg, who said the videotaped attack appeared "totally over the top and inappropriate."

Officer Patrick Pogan, 22, of the Midtown South Precinct, has been stripped of his gun and badge and banished to desk duty since the stunning video of the incident surfaced on YouTube.

Internal Affairs investigators are probing the incident, which occurred Friday during a Critical Mass bike ride through Times Square.

"I have no explanation," said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. "I can't explain why it happened."

If this incident wasn't enough to try Kelly's patience, another video surfaced on television which showed an officer beating a man with his baton. Police said the man was drunk and hit the officer.

(excerpt, New York Daily News)

Cephus' attorney Steven Orlow told the station that his client did not have any liquor, was not intoxicated, did not strike the officers and should not have been arrested.

"I would never strike an officer," the station quoted Cephus, a former truck driver, as saying. "Why should I get beat up? Why should anybody get beat up?"

Channel 4 said the officer wielding the baton, Maurice Harrington, 31, had been stripped of his gun and badge and placed on desk duty while the incident was investigated.

"Without question the force utilized to effectuate that arrest was far beyond anything that was justified," Orlow told the station.

And then proving the third time's the charm, yet another video has surfaced of police officers hitting a handcuffed man with a baton. The officer even took a call on his cell phone for over a minute then went back to beating the man. What he didn't know is that a surveillance camera caught the incident on tape.

(excerpt, New York Daily News)

"He takes a cell phone break, then turns back to tuning up the [suspect]. He did it while the building security camera was rolling," a source said.

London and his partner stopped Walter Harvin, 28, as he tried to enter the DeHostos Apartment on W. 93rd St., where Harvin's mother lives, about 1:15 a.m.

"I told him don't close it because I don't have the keys," said Harvin, a vet who was discharged in 2004 for posttraumatic stress disorder.

"As I walked into the elevator he grabbed my arm. That's when I pushed him," Harvin said. "I was on the floor and he kept beating me with the stick. He sprayed me with Mace. While I was on the floor, he handcuffed me. I don't remember too much about it."

Security video from the building showed London beating Harvin after he was cuffed and on the ground, a source said.

"You are not supposed to beat a man once he is cuffed, but the video shows the [suspect] down on the ground, cuffed. They even stand him up in the corner and beat him with the [baton] some more," said a police source familiar with the security video.

When truth and video collide, an article written by the New York Times, also discusses what happened with hundreds of arrests made during the 2004 Republican National Convention which was hosted by that city. They had to be tossed because video taped evidence contradicted police reports or cast serious doubts on their credibility.


At the New York Public Library, a small group holding a banner against one of the stone lions was arrested and charged with blocking traffic in the middle of 42nd Street, although video showed they were on the steps, and nowhere near the street.

In another case at the library, a police officer testified that he and three other officers had to carry one protester, Dennis Kyne, by his hands and feet down the library steps. Videotape showed that Mr. Kyne walked down the steps under his own power, and that the officer who testified against him had no role in his arrest. The charges were dismissed; the Manhattan district attorney’s office declined to bring perjury charges against the officer who gave the testimony.

Dozens of complaints were sworn by police officers who said they had witnessed people violating the law on Fulton Street and near Union Square, but later admitted under oath that their only involvement was to process the arrests, and that they had not actually seen the disorderly conduct that was charged.

An assistant to District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau wrote to the Police Department to stress the importance of officers’ not swearing to things they had not seen for themselves. The prosecutors said the confusion surrounding mass arrests made it hard to bring perjury charges.

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