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

Monday, July 07, 2008

Election 2009: Let the fundraising begin

The Riverside City Council's Governmental Affairs Committee is taking advantage of the slow summer months to hold a meeting on Wednesday July 9 at 3 p.m. at City Hall to consider pushing for another change in the format of city elections. This comes after voters passed another initiative in November 2006 adopting the current format that was used in 2007. City officials began grumbling about that format almost right away and that angst culminated in a Governmental Affairs Committee meeting late last year when changing the format of the elections was discussed by that committee including by one of the losing candidates of last year's elections. Only in that case, there were suggestions to have all city council ward runoff elections be done citywide, a move which would come close to stamping out grass-roots campaigns and turn the elections back into the fundraising competitions that they ought to be. Don't be surprised if that suggestion pops up again.

One of the possible changes would be whether or not to hold runoff elections at all. As you recall, the runoff elections were pivotal in the Ward One election last year and nearly impacted the race in the seventh ward as well.

If the city council had instituted election through plurality which is one of the options on the plate for consideration, then the person representing Ward One on the dais would be someone else. This is not an isolated example as there have been other cases where city election runoff elections yielded different winners than the preliminary rounds. In fact, for a while it was the rule that the results flip-flopped from the preliminary elections to the runoffs and that the eventual winner was usually the second-placed candidate during the first round.

Yet, the report seems to state that runoff elections are inconsequential due to low voter turnout. Instead of working on increasing voter turnout, the city seems more determined to punish the voters who do come out for the runoff elections by saying that their actions are inconsequential when the real problem is, their actions often mean everything. And with some key elected officials planning to toss in their hats to run again for their seats next year, it's difficult to look at this agenda item and not wish to examine it further. Think hard on why it's important to change the status of the runoff elections at this point in time. Actually, you shouldn't have to think too hard. It's hard not to see this latest ruffling of the papers as being unrelated to Election 2007.

Most of the changes on the report require a voter approved initiative to change the city's charter and if the city council does pass an initiative at its own meeting, it will be the second one to appear on the ballot in about five years. If we continue in the route that we're going, these ballot initiatives on how to format the elections could turn out to be an annual event.

Read here for more information on this potent discussion item. You are allowed to attend this meeting although when the members of the Governmental Affairs Committee don't agree or don't like what you're saying, several members may try to interrupt you and try to use up all of your speaking time by doing so. If this happens, just ignore them and keep speaking on your point. You have to exercise the patience that these individuals may not have and try to make your comments because state law affords you this right. If they make personal comments about you, if they compare blogs or bloggers to stuff that's flushed down that's brown, they are simply sharing an opinion. It's your three minutes and as long as you're being polite, let them throw a temper tantrum about what you're saying on their own time. After all, they are allotted plenty of time to do so already within the meeting and if they run out of time, they can always designate part of the written agenda for "temper tantrums" at future meetings.

Still since Governmental Affairs hardly meets anymore, it's always interesting to see the dynamics play out on this once vibrant body.

Speaking of city reports, as you know the city's Web site was putting out error messages which stated there wasn't enough storage space this past weekend if you tried to access the reports online. It was restored by Monday morning, but this problem which has happened before hinders the ability of city residents to access city council agenda reports sooner than one day before the meetings.

This agenda for this week's city council meeting has a lot of consent calendar items on it including one that's to put a spending cap on specific plans to undergo the second stage of the Metropolitan Museum expansion. Yes, it's important to save money especially in these trying fiscal times but it's hard to approve an item on designing the renovation plan for cultural institution when the blue-ribbon panel that was to provide recommendations for that renovation has yet to present its report to the city government. This situation is just one which is going to have to be closely watched by city residents greatly interested in the futures of the downtown library and museum. But people have been doing a great job at remaining involved with this issue, providing City Manager Brad Hudson with the crowded city council chambers he had asked for and then some. But it's not clear still which direction the city council will go. Will it go with the will of the people (who including the blue ribbon panel support two different expansion projects) or does it include the will of Hudson (who wanted a joint venture)? That's a tough one to call on any issue and no one's up for election this year.

It's hard to believe what's said at times because then you'd have to accept as true the line that the city manager's office gave out several weeks ago about the police department being "fully staffed" when it apparently doesn't even have an "on call" sexual assault and child abuse detective this fiscal year. Yet not one person is challenging that information that was provided on the dais or off of it or even asking for further explanation or enlightenment on how the staffing of sergeants and lieutenants in field operations is better than ever. The same attitude as elected officials adopted in the 1990s is playing out now. Some things never change.

Speaking of elections, the Michael Williams Company is putting on some fundraisers for some candidates pretty soon. It's never too early to start filling the campaign war chests for next year.

Ward Six Councilwoman Nancy Hart: Thursday, July 24 at 5:30-8 a private residence.

Mayor Ron Loveridge: Wednesday, Aug. 21 between 5:30 p.m.-8p.m. at Caio Bella restaurant.

If you can't make this Loveridge gig, he's hosting another one on Oct. 30 at 5:30-8 p.m. at the Citrus City Grill in the Riverside Plaza.

All of the parties are $125 per "regular" person, $250 per "VIP" and about $1,000 per table. So if you have the bucks to spend, the food at these restaurants is pretty good and it will just cost a bit more than you'd usually pay.

This organization also is putting on fundraisers for Ward Two Councilman Andrew Melendrez but as of yet, none are scheduled.

A lawsuit filed against Cornado by a professional football player who was shot by an off-duty police officer settled for $5 million.

Five Metro officers arrested in Indianapolis. Not surprisingly, people are concerned.

(excerpt, The Indy Channel)

The sex, drug and gun-related arrests are not endemic of a larger problem within the department, said Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, but they have given a black eye to the department, 6News' Derrik Thomas reported.

"The officers I've talked to really want the bad people caught," Ballard said. "This is about trust. The public has to trust IMPD, no question about it. I believe they should take comfort in the fact that IMPD is policing themselves. They are finding out and rooting out the bad apples."

Jeremy Lee, 30, was the most recent IMPD officer charged with a crime. He was charged Wednesday with felony aiding prostitution and was being held Thursday on $18,000 bond.

Jason Barber, 32, was charged earlier this week with selling a firearm to a felon. He was released after posting $5,000 bond.

Three officers who were charged with drug trafficking in a federal case -- Robert B. Long, 34, Jason P. Edwards, 36, and James Davis, 33 -- remain held without bond.

A Washington Post columnist stated that police officers need to do the right thing. An officer in Prince George County was killed as was the man arrested for killing him and was later found dead in his cell.


This is, of course, hardly shocking news. The Blue Wall, the vow of silence that binds law enforcement officers, is so strong that the few who feel compelled to inform on wayward colleagues become the stuff of Hollywood chronicles. Decades after Frank Serpico told authorities about widespread police bribery in New York, his name remains a curse word to many officers.

In a nationwide poll of police by the National Institute of Justice, 61 percent said officers "do not always report even serious violations by fellow officers," and 67 percent said whistle-blowers were likely to be "given a cold shoulder."

So why should bad guys and ordinary citizens pay heed when police and prosecutors lecture them about how it's their civic duty to come forward with information about crimes? If law enforcement officers won't think of themselves as righteous whistle-blowers rather than as rats or snitches, how can a system that depends on witness testimony possibly function?

Great questions. It'd be interesting to see what the answers would be.

Who is behind "Badge Wars"? A police department's internal division is trying to find out. This comes amidst the mayor and other politicians supporting the drug testing of police officers.

The New York City Police Department management has declined to take action against officers who had complaints against them sustained by the Civilian Complaint Review Board.

The NYPD's response is as follows.

NYPD Response to CCRB Report for 2007

Considering the fact that NYPD officers had approximately 23 million
contacts with the public in 2007, the number of complaints registered
with the CCRB last year, 7,559, was tiny. It also came at a time when
the CCRB has done an excellent job of making it easy to file
complaints against officers, through 311, the Internet and through
CCRB's own outreach.

CCRB's report for 2007 released today, July 5, 2008, is misleading in
a number of respects. The following NYPD comment highlights the
salient points:

Complaint Activity

The CCRB received 103 or 1.3% fewer complaints in 2007 as compared to
2006 (7,559 vs. 7,662).

• The CCRB asserts that the overall decrease in substantiated
allegations in 2007 "speaks to the care with which the agency and the
board take before finding that an officer engaged in misconduct". This
self-serving statement ignores the more obvious fact that uniformed
members of the Department are committing fewer acts of misconduct.

• In 2007, the Board substantiated the lowest percentage of all closed
cases (2.7%) and the lowest percentage of all closed allegations
(2.0%) than it has in the past ten (10) years.

• Over the past five (5) years, complaints were nearly seven times
more likely (10,297 vs. 1,434) to be closed as exonerated, unfounded
or unsubstantiated, than substantiated.

• Of the 7,924 closed cases in 2007, just 2.7% (217) had one or more
allegations that were substantiated, while 30.3% (2,403) had
allegations classified as employee exonerated, unfounded or

• In 2007, 62.1% (4,920 out of 7,924) of all cases closed by the Board
were truncated, the highest percentage over the previous ten (10)
years. Furthermore, the Board's truncation rate for 2007 increased
3.2% (62.1% vs. 60.2%) as compared to 2006 and increased 24.4% as
compared to 2000.

• The Board truncated over double the number of cases in 2007 than it
did in 2002 (4,920 vs. 2,446).

• Although the Civilian Complaint Review Board claims that Findings on
the Merits were made for 62.4% of all allegations that received a full
investigation in 2007, only 2.0% (505 out of 24,811) of the total
allegations closed by the Board during the period were actually

• In comparison to 2006, the rate at which the Board has substantiated
allegations has declined 25.9% (2.0% vs. 2.7%).

• Of the 2,796 cases closed where the Board conducted a full
investigation between January and December 2007, 85.9% (2,403) were
classified as employee exonerated, unfounded or unsubstantiated.

• Of the 7,179 allegations closed with Findings on the Merits by the
CCRB during the January through December 2007 time period, 93% (6,674)
of the allegations were either unfounded or employee exonerated.

• The proportion of substantiated Stop, Question and Frisk-related
allegations as compared to the overall number of SQF reports prepared
by the Department in 2007 is an infinitesimal .0004% (186 out of 468,932).

• The CCRB substantiated only 63 allegations, or 1.7%, of the 3,770
Force allegations closed after a full investigation in 2007.

• The CCRB substantiated only 44 allegations, or 1.7%, of the 2,585
allegations of unnecessary use of physical force closed after a full
investigation during 2007.

• The Board was 43 times more likely to dispose of these allegations
as either exonerated (1,548) or unfounded (365).

• During the five-year period of 2003 through 2007, the Board
substantiated a total of 447 Force allegations. During this same time
period, a total of 10,608 allegations of this type were classified as
unfounded or employee exonerated, nearly twenty-four (24) times more
frequent than the number of substantiated allegations.

• The Department's use of Instructions as a disciplinary penalty has
increased as the types of allegations substantiated by the Board has
changed. In 2007, just 12.5% of substantiated allegations involved
Force, a 26.5% decrease from 2003 when 17% of allegations
substantiated by the Board were Force-related.

Police Department Dispositions

• The CCRB asserts that 90 out of the 645 officers who received
instructions as a disciplinary penalty received another complaint with
the same allegation.

• Intentionally omitted from this assertion is the fact that these
"repeat" allegations were not substantiated by the Board for 83 of the
90 officers.

• Of the seven officers who did receive instructions on a second
occasion, four officers had received their first set of instructions
prior to the establishment of the Department's practice to only issue
instructions on one occasion for the same act of misconduct, one
officer had two substantiated allegations for incidents that had
occurred within a two-day time period that was treated as a single
disciplinary case and one officer was counted twice.

• In referencing the quality of cases sent to the Department by the
CCRB, the report mentions the fact that four (4) attorneys were hired
to review each disciplinary case. The report clearly omits the fact
that these new attorneys were not hired until the last few months of
2007 and most likely did not review any of the 2007 cases closed by
the Department.

• The NYPD does not tolerate provable misconduct by police officers,
even in situations where they have a good faith belief that their
actions were proper. The Department Advocate's Office analyzes cases
that it receives with one issue in mind - did the police officer
commit provable misconduct? If so, the officer will be the subject of
some form of disciplinary action.

• The Department Advocate's Office agrees with CCRB that the "good
faith" defense does not preclude disciplinary action against a police
officer. However, when it is clear that the officer acted in good
faith, fairness dictates that it be considered as mitigation by the
CCRB investigator and the panel, and should favorably impact
evaluation of the officer's credibility.

• The Department Advocate's Office disagrees with the CCRB conclusion
that the law of search and seizure is clearly established,
well-articulated, and understandable under the DeBour decision. The
fact that there is a plethora of Appellate Division cases that modify
and/or further explain the case supports this belief.

• The Department Advocate's Office believes it is most appropriate to
evaluate the totality of the circumstances for each individual case
when considering whether a police officer violated the DeBour
standards, which clearly allows police officers to use their judgment
and experience in determining whether there is criminality.

• The report presents profiles of three (3) cases in which the
Department declined to institute disciplinary action against the
subject officers. The Department stands by its decision to not
prosecute the officers in these cases, each of which is based upon the
Board's faulty legal analysis and clear anti-police bias.

Profile #1 - Whitestone Stop and Frisk

• In the first case, titled "Whitestone Stop and Frisk", the profile
conveniently omits several significant facts:

• The officers did not conduct a forcible stop. Rather, in an action
that was completely justified, the officers conducted a stop under the
common law right of inquiry.

• While the CCRB intimates otherwise, race was never indicated by the
CCRB investigator as a basis for determining that the stop was unlawful.

• The initial interaction occurred due to the fact that the civilian
subjects were walking down the middle of a street, late at night, in a
desolate area that had been experiencing a high rate of burglaries.

• The frisk of the individuals was conducted on the basis of their
consent, which is fully permissible under New York State law. The
Board failed to take this into account in their analysis and
conclusion that the officers committed misconduct.

Profile #2 - Car Stop

• In the second case, titled "Car Stop", the Board criticized the
actions of three (3) anti-crime officers who performed a car stop
where the occupants had reportedly displayed a firearm.

• In this case, the officers received a radio transmission indicating
that 2-3 male blacks in a silver Infiniti had displayed a firearm and
driven away. The transmission further stated that the vehicle was
heading in the direction of the officers and that the vehicle had
Massachusetts license plates. The location of the incident was in the
same precinct in which the officers were located and was in relatively
close proximity to the officers' location.

• When the officers initiated the car stop (of a gray Infiniti with
Florida plates), they observed the male sitting in the front passenger
seat turn around, look at the officers and then reach under the front
seat as if trying to conceal something.

• The CCRB determined that the car stop itself was legally justified
but that the subsequent frisk and vehicle search were not. The CCRB
chose to ignore the fact that the officers, who had reasonable
suspicion that the individuals were armed, were well within their
rights to frisk them for their own safety. (See, Barry Kamins, New
York Search and Seizure for Law Enforcement Officers, Fourth Edition,

• The vehicle search was also justified, given the totality of
circumstances in this case. Although probable cause is required to
conduct an automobile search, New York courts have created an
exception where the facts present an "actual and specific danger" to
the officer's safety, which clearly existed in this case.

Profile #3 - Bronx Stop and Frisk

• In the third case, titled "Bronx Stop and Frisk", involved police
officers responding to radio transmission of a suspicious male. The
CCRB found that the stop of this individual was justified but that the
subsequent frisk was not justified.

• The position of the CCRB in this case does not make sense. According
to their theory, the officers had sufficient reasonable suspicion to
conduct a forcible stop of the complainant, but had insufficient
reasonable suspicion that the complainant was armed.

• This viewpoint ignores the fact that the individual stopped was
reportedly seen in front of a Laundromat, late at night, acting as if
he was casing the location for a burglary or robbery, was wearing a
bulky winter coat with his hands in the pockets, gesturing as if he
had something secreted therein, was identified by two separate
witnesses and was combative and uncooperative with the officers once

• The reference to the officers' actions being conducted within a
two-minute time frame, which in and of itself is not proof of
misconduct, does not specify how the CCRB was able to conclusively
make this determination.

• The CCRB particularly questioned the credibility of the sergeant in
this case, citing a previously substantiated force complaint. Aside
from being completely unrelated to this incident, the report omits the
fact that the complaint being referred to occurred ten years ago and
that the sergeant had no other substantiated allegations.

• By contrast the complainant' s credibility is highly questionable. In
CCRB case #200510488, this same complainant was found to have engaged
in criminality (loitering and trespassing) , a determination with which
the CCRB investigator of that case agreed.

• It is readily apparent, as shown in this case and others, that the
CCRB has a double standard when it comes to analyzing credibility,
repeatedly showing a clear bias against uniformed members of the

Meanwhile, the department's academy graduated 1,000 new officers.

(excerpt, New York Daily News)

This police graduating class is among the academy's most diverse ever. About 30 percent of the graduates are Hispanic, 14 percent are black, 5 percent are Asian and 49 percent are white. About 17 percent are female.

One of Orlando's police officers was taken off active duty because he might face criminal charges for getting caught on camera pushing a woman down a flight of stairs.

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