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 16, 2008

Depositions and declarations

The press has finally broken the story on the latest City Hall scandal: ElevatorGate.

You know, those fancy smancy elevators that the city spent a small fortune on building to replace the archaic but functional elevators with the gold colored paneling and the mirrored walls. The same fancy smancy elevators that the city manager's office said that it had to find parts for on Ebay.

These elevators have had a high number of shutdowns since they have been installed. Many times, at least one, or two or even all three of them have been out of order, leaving people who are able to do so, climb up to seven flights of stairs. It's very healthy exercise if you can do so but if you can't due to health reasons or disabilities, then you're pretty much left on the first floor.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Load tests as part of a routine inspection led to the discovery that the elevators, installed when City Hall was built in the mid-1970s, were running on undersized pulleys that needed to be replaced without delay, Carter said.

Otis Elevator Co. recently refurbished the elevators and is providing the replacement pulleys at no additional cost, he said.

Workers have put a new pulley in one of the elevators and service was restored Monday. They were still working on the other two elevators Wednesday, Carter said.

Maureen Mitchell, 58, executive assistant to City Manager Brad Hudson, is one of the employees who plans to keep taking the stairs. She said she used to exercise her brain cells -- thinking about getting into shape -- more than her body.

"This just helped force the issue," she said.

Three days a week, she will walk up to the seventh floor instead of riding the elevators in the morning, she said.

"I have two precious grandchildren," she said. "I want to be around to enjoy them."

The ascent is arduous, Mitchell said.

"By the time you start going up the fifth flight, your legs start getting heavier and heavier," she said. "By the time you get to the sixth floor, you're wishing someone would drop a pulley down to pull you up."

A representative manning the lobby area of City Hall said that they were sending department employees down to work with people who were unable to use the stairs and that employees who were unable to do so would be temporarily transferred to other locations. But they should be fixing the elevators as soon as possible to accomodate those individuals who need to do business at City Hall or work there. City Hall is a public facility and a governmental hub of activity and needs to be accessible to all people. Not just those able to climb the stairs.

And the impact of the broken down elevator system on disabled individuals wasn't really even addressed in the news article at all.

At least Otis, the company that refurbished the elevators isn't charging to replace the outdated pulley system. Which means that at this point and time, the city's sewer fund is probably safe.

Not safe is the budget situation that's been ongoing involving the staffing of the police department particularly at the supervisory levels. Several city council members have told me that in the wake of an audit which warned of the consequences of allowing the staffing levels to slide, they have forwarded their concerns to the city manager's office. However, there's no evidence that the situation has improved.

After all, the city council has shown in the past that when it comes to getting City Manager Brad Hudson and his assistant, Tom DeSantis to carry out a direct order involving the police department, in this case the implementation of the monitoring of the strategic plan through periodic audits, its biggest talent is to first, drop the ball and second, to run interference for direct employees who drag their feet carrying out such directives. Instead of quickly landing a contract with the consultant who had been approved by the city council to perform the audits, the city manager's office dragged its feet for almost eight months. At the same time that its stellar actions in the closed sessions it held with representatives of the city's major bargaining units, allegedly led to one strike vote, three law suits and several rallies by employees at City Hall in 2006.

So is it surprising that in the wake of a situation which mirrors that of the 1990s, that nothing has been done to address the staffing situation of sergeants in the patrol division of the department. One lieutenant's position has been filled but if there's a promotional freeze that is going on, even this promotion (which was needed to alleviate problems with the watch commander staffing levels) created a vacancy at the sergeant level.

This behavior by the city council and its direct employees is irresponsible, at best and negligent at worse. And if there are serious problems that erupt because of this behavior and unfortunately history has shown time and time again that this what happens, then the buck starts and stops with them. Not with the city officials and management teams of past decades but with the current leadership. The problem is there's a lack of willingness from the dais to even take responsibility in this situation. After all, as has been stated before, there are no marquee signs that will be posted if you deal responsibly with staffing issues in the police department.

It's also too bad that the city government lacks enough direction to bring these issues to a public forum not that it's all that fond of airing out important issues in public. It might be very helpful to bring the staffing issues to a public workshop or the public safety committee chaired by Councilman Andrew Melendrez. The police department, the city manager's office and even the city council members could bring their own statistics particularly on officer to supervisor staffing ratios (as several different numbers have been cited) and representatives from the three labor unions who represent the employees at the police department could bring their statistics.

The labor unions should provide material to the public on the issues involving the staffing and what it means to have fewer people taking reports over the phone (which leads to longer delays) due to shortened civilian staffing and the difference between a small supervisor to officer ratio and a larger one, for example. What it means to trade an on-call sexual assault and child abuse detective for a budget cut.

This is an issue that pertains to the public which has been left for the most part in the dark on it. Thus for this and other reasons, the issues need to be discussed in a public forum.

No new elementary school for the Eastside until the economy improves.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The Latino Network and The Group, two social action groups, invited Beaty to update them on the prospect of building a third Eastside elementary school for 825 students. Last January the board voted to allocate $12 million to buy land for the $40 million project, but earmarked no money to build it.

Residents want a third Eastside community school to accommodate most of the 1,086 elementary students who aren't enrolled at the local Longfellow and Emerson schools and are bused to seven other district schools.

"We want a community school that children can walk to," said Ofelia Valdez-Yeager, co-chair of the Latina Women's Health Forum.

The argument against building a new one, Beaty said, is that the population is stable in the Eastside and elementary-school enrollment is not expected to increase.

"There are enough classrooms for the immediate future," he said.

The Riverside Cultural Heritage Board approved construction of a medical building on the site where one of the city's Chinatowns used to be. This is a critical issue for many including the city's Chinese-American community which has organized and been active in addressing this issue in a big way. Unfortunately, there are just city residents, not a developer who's dropped money into the campaign coffers of city officials.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

"We feel a sense of disappointment," said James Lu, chairman of the Riverside Chinese Culture Preservation Committee following the board vote, noting the site is considered a city landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Developer Doug Jacobs, who proposes building a three-story, 65,000-square-foot medical building there, said Wednesday he believes he has incorporated sufficient mitigation measures into the project and that the site will be something the entire community can be proud of.

Ralph Megna, a heritage board member who voted to support the project, said the community is better served by extracting the remaining artifacts and putting them on display. The lot has been vacant for too many years, he said.

The medical building proposal will be heard by the city's Planning Commission at 9 a.m. today.

The site is a 4.2-acre lot on the northwest corner of Tequesquite and Brockton avenues.

Reading through the depositions in the civil suit that was filed against the city in connection with the 2006 fatal officer-involved shooting of Douglas Cloud has been very interesting. The list of available documents on the case to read is here and the depositions are here.

The casebook from the Riverside Police Department on Cloud is a fairly large pdf file. It includes reports, diagrams and other information on the criminal investigation by the department which is later reviewed by the Riverside County District Attorney's office.

Officer David Johansen gave his deposition on Jan. 1, 2008 in Riverside, California. The Riverside Police Department is his second agency of employment and this was his third deposition as he had given others in two separate law suits filed against him while he was at the Riverside County Sheriff's Department's Indio station.

On July 19, 2002, an arbitrator awarded the plaintiff in one of them, John S. Sierra, $77,000 in damages, according to court records. Sierra suffered injuries to one of his hands after Johansen and other officers allegedly forced the garage door open despite him telling them he was trying to remove the pin.

In his deposition, Johansen who's been in law enforcement since 2000, said that he heard the "211" call broadcast over the radio and a description of Cloud's vehicle. He was eating lunch at a restaurant at the time. While responding to the call, he saw the crashed vehicle at the auto dealership. He was the third to arrive after Officer Brett Stennett and Officer Nick Vazquez. Cloud was in the vehicle and Stennett was apparently trying to grab his left arm. Cloud was pulling away. Johansen said that he was acting as "cover" officer but couldn't remember if he had his gun drawn at this point.

"I don't recall if I had it drawn, if it was in my holster, or if I was holding it down by my side. I don't recall."

He said that Cloud had pulled away from Stennett who had lost his ability to pull Cloud out of the window (as according to Johansen, no officer checked to see if the car door would open). Cloud moved the steering wheel back and forth with his left hand. The right hand was moving between Cloud's leg and the center console out of sight.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs asked Johansen if he fired his gun at that point. Johansen said no. Why not, the attorney asked.

"Because I just didn't see a weapon or something like that yet and I just didn't shoot."

Johansen said he never saw a gun during the entire incident. But this is what he said he did see.

"He reached down and started to come back out of that area with his hand, and as it started to come back up, I believed he was drawing a firearm and I fired."

Johansen said he had only seen the upper part of Cloud's right hand when he shot his gun. Johansen said that he was aware that Vazquez had also fired his weapon but said his decision to shoot his own wasn't based on what Vazquez was doing.

He said it was "10 seconds tops" between the time he saw Stennett try to pull Cloud out of the car and when he fired his gun at Cloud.

Officer Nicholas Vazquez gave his deposition on Nov. 21, 2007. The Riverside Police Department is his only law enforcement agency where he's worked and he had been there about 3 1/2 years at the point of the deposition.

Vazquez had been riding in a squad car with Officer Brett Stennett when he heard the call. Like Johansen, he was not given details about the armed robbery besides the call number and a general description. Cloud was described as a White or Hispanic male. When he got to the auto dealership, Vazquez parked about 30 feet away from Cloud's crashed vehicle. Like Johansen, Stennett and Vazquez were equipped with an older M26 taser which was some place in the squad car, perhaps in the drunk or the glove compartment. Both officers were the first ones at the crash site.

Vazquez went to the driver's side while Stennett was at the passenger's side of their own squad car. Vazquez yelled for Cloud to show his hands where they could be seen. Vazquez had his gun drawn at the time. Cloud looks over his right shoulder, then his left and then sticks his head out the driver's side window. Vazquez runs up to the left rear end of Cloud's vehicle. Vazquez didn't see the damage to the vehicle at this point and time.

"Let me see your hands. Don't go anywhere," Vazquez said.

While Johansen couldn't recall when he arrived at what point the vehicle's motor was running, Vazquez said at this point, the engine was off. Cloud had his hands up. After Vazquez told him to keep them up, Cloud put them down. His right hand moved towards where the emergency break was located, like he was looking for something on the center console. The attorney asked Vazquez why he didn't shoot if he thought it was possible Cloud was looking for a gun.

"I didn't shoot", Vazquez responded.

Stennett then walked to where Vazquez was and stood to his left, then tried to pull Cloud out the window. Stennett didn't try to open the car door but Vazquez thought that because Cloud was near his size (which was 5'10 and 150 pounds), it should be easy to pull him through the window. Johansen had arrived just after Stennett began trying to pull Cloud out of the vehicle and Vazquez said that Johansen began assisting Stennett but didn't elaborate as to how. Johansen had said in his own deposition that he never touched Cloud the entire time.

Cloud broke free from Stennett's grip and then turned the key to the ignition. He puts his right hand on the gear shift and then tries to put it into reverse or into gear. Cloud had his right hand on the gear shift and his left hand on the steering wheel. The vehicle didn't move but the tires spun in reaction, throwing up mud. Vazquez had his gun out with Johansen and Stennett to the left of him, all three next to the driver's side window. He said he was afraid that the car would gain traction and run them all over. He

Vazquez fired one shot at Cloud's upper chest and neck areas and then three more because Cloud didn't respond to the first shot.

Also giving depositions were Cloud's family members, Officer Brett Stennett, witnesses and a physician. The CPRC is currently in the process of discussing the case at its meetings before it will draft a public report. At the same time, it's reviewing its investigation of the Nov. 19, 2006 fatal shooting of Joseph Darnell Hill.

Accusations are flying inside San Bernardino's police department over whether arrests made during a narcotics raid were legal.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Patrol Sgt. Mike Desrochers' accusation against narcotics Sgt. Bradley Lawrence arose from the events before a July 2 raid on an Eastside apartment complex.

Seven men were arrested on suspicion of possession of cocaine base for sale, possession of marijuana for sales, street-gang participation and conspiracy to distribute narcotics, court records show.

In a recorded conversation before a drug raid at the apartment complex, Lawrence asked Desrochers to jail two men, whom he had just detained after a traffic stop and keep them from making phone calls so they couldn't warn other suspects.

Minutes after the raid concluded, Desrochers e-mailed San Bernardino Police Department Assistant Chief Walt Goggin, claiming Lawrence detained the two men improperly by neglecting to arrest them for investigation of a specific crime before ordering them into the back of a police car and taking them to the city jail.

In the memo -- a copy of which was obtained by The Press-Enterprise -- Desrochers says the action "constitutes an illegal arrest." Desrochers accused the sergeant of similar, repeated violations in the past.

In an interview, he called the alleged detention without charge a violation of state laws on arrest procedure and "a rights violation at the very least."

The family of a man in Louisville who died after being tased alleged that the police were covering up after the death.

An officer fired by New Orleans Police Department is suing the superintendent.

Former Bolingbrook Police Department sergeant, Drew Peterson is going to be allowed to leave the state with his children on vacation. He's currently out on bail in relation to a weapons charges case.

This autumn, the Drew Peterson drama will hit the book stores. The title will be Fatal Vows: The Tragic Wifes of Sergeant Drew Peterson.

One day disciplined for being intoxicated, the next day hailed by the chief as a hero in an off-duty shooting. So goes the situation with New York City Police Department Det. Ivan Davison.

From Portland, Oregon, the scene of much activity surrounding both its Independent Police Review and its Citizen Review Committee comes a job opening.

(Assistant IPR Program Manager)
Approximate Monthly Salary: $5,593 to $7,517


The Independent Police Review (IPR) Assistant Director is responsible
for providing high-level program and policy support and assistance to
the IPR Director of the Portland City Auditor's Office. The
Assistant IPR Director reviews citizen complaint intake investigations
and decides
whether to refer the complaints for formal disciplinary investigations,
non-disciplinary supervisory reviews, mediation, or dismissal. The
Assistant IPR Director reviews and approves Internal Affairs Division
(IAD) investigations, non-disciplinary supervisory reviews, and proposed
IAD declinations. As appropriate, the IPR Assistant Director corresponds
with complainants and Police Bureau officials explaining IPR decisions
and actions. Duties include participation in Citizen Review Committee
activities, monitoring Police Bureau and internal policies and
procedures, writing the IPR Annual and other public reports, and
managing the IPR office in the Director's absence.

The IPR Assistant Director is expected to carry out their individual
responsibilities with initiative, independence and creativity while
exercising sound professional judgment and problem-solving skills.
Persons appointed to this position will be designated as limited
duration employees whose appointment shall not exceed three (3) years
except for the extension of funding.

Applicants must possess and specifically address in a cover letter and
resume the following:
- Knowledge of and experience utilizing federal, state and local laws
and regulations and procedures applicable to internal police
investigations, whether administrative or criminal, and police review
responsibilities and jurisdiction.

- Experience defining factual and legal issues, analyzing problems,
evaluating alternatives and developing sound, independent conclusions
and recommendations in accordance with laws, regulations, rules and
- Experience evaluating and reviewing complaints, and planning,
conducting and evaluating the results of independent investigations and
review for a large municipal organization.
Please Note; you must also possess the following qualifications;
however, you are not being asked to address them in your resume.
• A valid state's driver's license and acceptable driving
record at time of appointment (see attached acceptable driving record
• Ability to successfully pass an in-depth background investigation
(see last page of this announcement) ;

An evaluation of each applicant's training and experience, as
demonstrated in their cover letter and résumé, weighted at 100%.
Only the most qualified applicants passing the cover letter and
résumé evaluation will be placed on an equally ranked eligible
list. Additional evaluation
may be required prior to establishment of the eligible list and/or final
selection. Some positions may require those placed on the eligible list
to complete and sign a criminal conviction statement before being
considered for employment.

Complete application packets must include:
- A City of Portland Scannable Application Form.
- Cover Letter and Résumé, specifically focused on your
qualifications for this position as described in "The Position"
and the "To Qualify" sections of this announcement. (In
accordance with instructions on the reverse side of this announcement. )

Applications will be accepted until a sufficient number of qualified
applicants have been received but no later than 4:30 PM, on Monday,
July 28, 2008.


Where to Apply in Person Where to Mail Your Application

Portland Bureau of Human Resources Portland Bureau of Human Resources
Application Center, Portland Bldg. Lobby, NE Corner 1120 SW 5th Avenue,
Room 404
1120 SW 5th Avenue Portland, OR 97204

To apply via the Internet, go to portland.

* NOTE: If applicable, completed Veteran's Preference Form with the
required documentation must be submitted with your completed application
packet. If you are applying via the Internet, you may mail your
completed Veteran's Preference Form and required documentation to the
address listed above; referencing the recruitment you are applying for,
or deliver it to our office in person.

Non-citizen applicants must be authorized to work in the United States
at time of application.
Minorities, women, and qualified individuals with disabilities are urged
to apply. If you wish to identify yourself as an individual with a
disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 and will be
requesting accommodation for the job testing processes, the requests
must be made to the Analyst(s) named below or to the Human Resources
Bureau of Human Resources Assistant IPR Program Manager - 7334
Allan Messer, Senior Human Resources Analyst, (503) 823-6821 Posted:
An Equal Opportunity Employer

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