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

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Riverside: A war of words continues

"Good leaders must first become good servants."

---Robert Greenleaf

Who: Riverside Police Department vs Riverside County District Attorney's office

When: Summer, 2008

Where: Riverside

Why: Enforcement of the gang injunction

After the barrage of criticism from Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco on the enforcement of the injunction in Riverside, the police chief breaks his silence and responds.

Chief Russ Leach took issue with criticisms released to the Press Enterprise via press release by Pacheco about how his department's officers had not made any arrests on the injunction since it was made permanent by a judge earlier this year. Pacheco's comments came after the newspaper released an article on this issue on June 24 addressing that issue. Later that day, a person listed on the injunction was arrested along with another individual on June 27 and both were charged with injunction violations, according to a later article by the Press Enterprise. This is all interesting because you'd think that if there were an issue with the handling of the enforcement of the injunction that it would have been apparent long before it hit the newspapers and that Pacheco's response would have been to issue press releases earlier than this month. Was Pacheco's office paying any real attention to what was happening in the Eastside post-injunction? Why were the angry words and accusations only made public after the Press Enterprise's article? How long exactly has this war of words been going on?

Leach said he was offended by the comments of a man he had always vocally supported as being "law and order" in the past and that when he tried to call Pacheco, the D.A. did not return his phone calls. It provided an eyeful of how the relationship between the two leaders has been impacted by the firestorm started by the relevation in the Press Enterprise about the gang injunction's arrest record.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The notion that Rod (Pacheco) is going to bring in an army of law enforcement -- I find that offensive," Leach told The Press-Enterprise editorial board.

Leach said Monday he had sought the injunction against the East Side Riva gang.

Leach said that he was concerned that Pacheco's actions would jeopardize the work that community members and police officers had done over the past few years to address the problem. He had told leaders and community members at various meetings on the injunction that it would be used as one of many tools and not as a sledge hammer. But it's not clear how many or whether or not the officers he leads support him or his position. If Pacheco enforces the injunction in the Eastside through his county gang task force, then he will using the Riverside Police Department officers who work on the team, which would potentially place those officers in a difficult position with their chief.

On all levels, crimes had decreased in the Eastside, because of all the hard work being done there as well as other factors. Before Pacheco sends out his investigators to police the Eastside, he should actually go there and meet with community leaders, police representatives, residents and city leaders to learn more of what has been done, what's in the process but he's shown little to no interest in doing so or even going into the neighborhood he said is being "terrorized". That needs to change but that's not likely any time soon. His position on this issue just looks too much of political opportunism and his lack of interest in dialoguing with Eastside leaders just underlines that with each refusal he's made as does his nonresponse to Leach's response to his comments issued via press release from his office.

Pacheco is under a mandate and yes, he likely wants the state attorney general's office if his creation of a campaign committee for that purpose is any indication. But the police department is under a mandate too and that's towards implementing and following through with community policing. And community policing requires that all stake holders come to the table on serious issues like this one and Pacheco should consider participating in this effort himself. The city council has shown through its silence two weeks ago on problems outlined in a departmental audit involving staffing ratios that its collective memory on that mandate initially ordered by the state attorney general's office has been fairly short. It actually bought the argument by Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis that the police department was "fully staffed" even though the agency has put on ice at least temporarily its over-time detectives outside of homicide. It might actuallybelieve that the promotion of one lieutenant position (which led to the vacancy and thus freezing of said vacancy of a sergeant position) is enough to address serious staffing concerns raised by consultant Joe Brann in an audit two weeks ago.

What's interesting about Leach's comments is that before this latest brouhaha, community members and leaders at various meetings on the injunction had asked the question over and over of which law enforcement agency had requested it, the police department or Pacheco's office. At the time, the police department had said that Pacheco's office had done so and the police department had assisted him in his efforts. However, if you read the several thousand pages of work product put out by the police department including about 200 or so declarations submitted by the department's patrol and gang officers, you can see that the police department played at least a very large role in its development for at least a year before the temporary injunction was even filed in court.

The D.A.'s office pointed the finger at the police department, saying that this agency approached them to file the injunction. At least the police department's representatives remembered who they really work for and bothered to meet with community members, something that except on one occasion involving African-American leaders, Pacheco hasn't done so and that's a glaring omission in this situation.

When the Eastside Think Tank tried to meet with him, he asked for a list of attendees to give to his investigators for background checks so the community organization nixed the meeting in protest. The request for information to be used in background checks was ironic given that many or most of the members of the Eastside Think Tank have law enforcement and/or corrections background in an organization created by the police department after the murder of 13-year-old Anthony Sweat in 2002. Welcome to the world of being criminally profiled, some called it. but people asked why that organization was being subjected to such close scrutiny.

Local elected officials in Riverside also spoke out on the enforcement of the injunction.


City Councilman Andy Melendrez, whose district includes the Eastside, said Monday he stands behind the Police Department's enforcement policy for the injunction.

"They have kind of measured the use of the tool of the gang injunction," Melendrez said. "If the community is calm, it would seem to me there would be little use for it, but if it became intolerable, the injunction would be enforced."

When asked if he believes Pacheco should try to enforce the injunction himself Melendrez said, "I'm not sure what the district attorney has planned."

Mayor Ron Loveridge said Monday that he wants to have a meeting with Pacheco.

"My central premise is that we need to work cooperatively with the district attorney rather than see ourselves as adversaries," Loveridge said.

Comments are being left here as well to discuss it.

One issue that's arisen in the Eastside in recent years that's part of the gang violence yet also separate is racial tension between Latinos and African-Americans and support or opposition to the injunction filed against Eastside Riva shows that divide. Black residents are more likely to support it and its enforcement and Latinos are more likely to be in opposition to it and wonder why there was none filed against Black gangs in the neighborhood who victimize them. If the injunction were against the 12oo Bloc, would this flip-flop? If the injunctions had been applied evenly against opposing racial gangs in the Eastside, would there be support or condemnation or mixed feelings of both?

If it were against any of a number of outside gangs who are now marking up Eastside walls, signs and sidewalks with graffiti since the injunction's been filed, what would the attitude be? It's hard to miss when someone writes in huge block letters as they did last December that they're claiming a huge chunk of Eastside real estate and will "bang" anyone who opposes them. Or more recent writings from a gang from Santa Ana which refer to African-Americans with racial slurs and peacefully coexist on signs on University Avenue with graffiti from one of the gangs apparently umbrellaed under Eastside Riva.

These are difficult problems as I learned having lived in the midst of neighborhood gang violence some of my years in Riverside. Police came in with their mobile station trailers and did heavy suppression for a brief time and then after a a short dry spell, the violence came back tenfold because by itself suppression tactics don't work and are more likely to alienate neighborhoods than anything else. The one thing that has happened in the past several decades is that the violence still ebbs and flows and hits hard one summer out of every three and it's become more racial in its focus. Faciliated greatly by the abilities of gangs to redefine their infrastructure and broaden it on two different fronts, the streets and the prisons, in response to "tough on crime" laws passed in this state that target crime in general and them in particular. The streets have become the prisons.

And the only thing that seems to work in many cities is a multi-prong effort by everyone, including community organizations, religious institutions, police, city employees and most importantly, city residents and even in these situations, the gains are slow in coming. But does Pacheco's office even willing to work with these people before he marches in unilaterally? Which will garner him greater press?

And if there's racial animosity, how will the enforcement of an injunction against one racial group (because Pacheco and his men probably don't know the communities enough to tell one Latino apart from another) impact its relationships with others? Will it better those relationships or will it increase the tensions? Will it be an asset or an aggravating factor? Racial tension has been an issue both in gang violence as well as in the neighborhood including the schools in recent years. Some of the schools in the area (and the only schools actually within the Eastside's boundaries are Lincoln School and Longfellow Elementary School) have created study groups and even multicultural councils in response to past problems in the schools.

There will be much more discussion of this chain of events by different parties but how it will play out remains to be seen. Hopefully Pacheco will put his enforcers on hold until he has met with the community that he claims to be protecting and be part of the ongoing efforts that they are working on and not run counter to them.

More information on the county's gang task force is here

Press Enterprise Columnist Dan Bernstein seems happy that Loveridge has confidence in Leach but fears for his political future.


Now, this reversal, coupled with Friday's Mt. Rubidoux hiccuppy, on-off-and-on-again fireworks show, has left the mayor reeling. Riversiders don't ask much of their mayor. They don't expect him to lead or anything. But if he can't even preside over a smooth-running fireworks show on the Fourth of July or safeguard his own Starbucks Index, even the most loyal subjects might start mumbling about his fitness to serve, let alone occupy one of the highest offices in the land: president of the National League of Cities. He's barely a heartbeat away!

To be fair, the mayor can point to some pluses. Even as it hemorrhages Starbucks, the Renaissance city has (count 'em) two police chiefs.

One is Russ Leach, whom the mayor has praised for his handling of that outbreak of gang injunctivitis on the city's Eastside.

The second is Police Chief Rod Pacheco, the apparently under-worked RivCo DA, who refuses to "sit idly by" when it's such a snap to swoop in and do that other chief's work for him.

Just about a year ago, Pacheco pretty much led the righteous recall of honorary badges handed out to anyone with campaign money, a lapel or a pulse. But I'll be the first to say Police Chief Pacheco deserves an honorary RPD badge. He has earned it. At a time when Riverside Starbucks appear to be star crossed, it's comforting to know that the city's Police Chief Index stands at a robust two.

But I'm not sure even that will be enough to save MayorLuv.

Ouch! As you know, Loveridge is running for his own seat again next year against a still unnamed field of contenders. One of the attractions of going for yet another term in office is that he'll get a chance to run for the presidency of the National League of Cities, which is the crown jewel, the zenith in any mayoral career. But he's facing steeper odds this time around as there's speculation that he might be facing some interesting but challenging competition even though the deadline for throwing one's hat in the race is still months away.

People have been asking about the Governmental Affairs Committee meeting tomorrow at 3 pm. on the seventh floor of City Hall. On the agenda, is an item which would possibly push the placement of an initiative on this November's ballot to change the election process once again, this time to possibly eliminate runoff elections. To sell this plan, Riverside used a list of cities in the area that are much smaller population wise, which makes you wonder why it is that Riverside's power brokers claim to want to become a thriving urban center yet they opted to use smaller cities for comparison purposes in decision making.

Riverside's gone to war against some more trees. This time, the Shamel tree canopy.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

"We chose this neighborhood because of the trees," said five-year resident Joe Deem.

"You're glad to be home each night," said 32-year resident Vern Goodwalt.

With proper care, the weaker trees can be brought back and could last another 30-40 years -- until they're close to 100 years old, Roger said.

The city has a "clean and green" policy to be environmentally sensitive and should know that mature trees provide up to 60 times the environmental benefit -- such as producing oxygen -- of small trees, he said.

The impact of San Bernardino's budget cuts on public safety is the subject of controversy at City Hall.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The hour-long council debate ended with a 6-1 vote, with Rikke Van Johnson dissenting, to shelve City Manager Fred Wilson's newest layoff list, along with Police Chief Mike Billdt's proposal to hold off for a year on filling three sergeant's positions and three detectives' slots when they fall vacant.

The council did agree to accept an agreement in principal with the union representing upper City Hall managers and employees who handle confidential documents. The employees will take furloughs equivalent to a 5 percent pay cut.

The police and fire management associations, barred by their public safety roles from taking furloughs, also made concessions equivalent to a 5 percent pay cut, according to a city report.

Council members also accepted Wilson's proposal to increase revenues by raising parking citations, collecting penalties on delinquent business registrations and raising fees associated with building inspections and hazardous materials cleanup.

Wilson said the council action pares the deficit from $17.3 mil- lion to $5.6 million. The budget debate continues July 14.

San Jacinto appoints a new council member.

The leadership at Soboba Band of LuiseƱo Indians and the Riverside County Sheriff's Department have entered into an agreement.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

As part of the agreement, both sides agree to:

Identify specific individuals who will serve as the point of contact for the other side.

Meet regularly and keep lines of communication open.

Create a contingency plan for situations in which reservation residents are displaced by disaster or criminal incidents.

Support efforts to enroll reservation residents on a reverse 911 system, which would allow officials to reach as many people as possible in case of evacuation.

Help with the development of cultural training for deputies that outlines tribal history and practices. Tribal members will take part in the citizen's academy run by the department to learn about law enforcement practices.

Sniff said the agreement will have no practical effect on how deputies respond to 911 calls or on tactical actions taken when an officer is in jeopardy. But the agreement is an important step, he said.

At one point during the news conference, Sniff placed his arm around Salgado's shoulders and praised the longtime chairman and other tribal leaders.

Their regular talks have been facilitated by a mediator from the United States Department of Justice. But there's still more work to do, both sides have said even as they clink drink glasses.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

"We as law enforcement need to know more about the cultural history of the Soboba," said Lt. Patty Knudson, a sheriff's deputy who has been part of the negotiating team. "They need to learn more about law enforcement and why we do the things we do."

Both sides agreed to develop a training course on the history, customs and characteristics of the Soboba reservation. They said it would also address stereotypes. Salgado has complained in the past that some deputies treat innocent tribal members like criminals.

Officers also will train the tribal council on crime prevention, presenting seminars on subjects such as what tribal members should do if stopped by law enforcement. They will also look into getting federal law enforcement certification for tribal security officers.

Joint exercises will be held to learn how best to deploy resources during an emergency. In the event of another major crime, the agreement calls for a tribal command post to be set up to communicate with deputies on the scene.

Agreement in hand, Salgado said the state of war he once described between the tribe and law enforcement is over, but some battles continue.

"We would like people to know that we are good people here," he said. "There will always be tensions, but if they will meet us halfway, we will meet them halfway."

Former Orange County Sheriff Michael Carona's attorneys are trying to bar testimony at his trial about his sexual affair.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

Prosecutors say Sandy Trujillo's testimony would show that Carona has a proclivity to interfere with investigations. Among the corruption charges Carona faces is an allegation that he encouraged former Assistant Sheriff Donald Haidl to lie to a grand jury investigating the former sheriff.

Carona's attorneys contended in a brief filed Monday that Trujillo lacks credibility because she once submitted a sexual harassment complaint against Carona to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing in which she said she had rejected Carona's advances.

Federal prosecutors said Trujillo later told them that she and Carona had sex and that he told her to lie to investigators about it.

"Mrs. Trujillo's credibility is seriously in question," Carona lawyer Jeffrey Rawitz said in an interview.

"Even taking her statements at face value, they don't prove any material allegation in the indictment."

Assistant U.S. Atty. Kenneth Julian declined to comment.

The question's been asked. how will Carona's "charm" impact his trial on federal corruption charges?

Funeral information:

Eddie Dee Smith:

Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, July 9, 2008, 11:00 a.m. at Park Avenue Missionary Baptist Church at her request and Rev. Percy Harper, St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church will serve as the officiant. Visitation will be Tuesday, July 8, 2008 at Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church from 4:00-8:00 p.m.

Don Michael Hart (Councilwoman Nancy Hart's husband):

Funeral Services will be conducted Wednesday, July 9, 2008 at 10 a.m. in Faith Community Church, 4750 Challen Ave., Riverside, CA. A gathering of family and friends following the services in the Fellowship Hall. Interment at 1:30 p.m. in Crestlawn Memorial Park with U.S. Marine Honors. The family requests contributions be made to Alvord Education Foundation, Box 73, 10365 Keller Ave., Riverside, CA 92505 or Riverside Community Health Foundation for Arlanza Clinic, 4445-A Magnolia Ave., Riverside, CA, 92501, in lieu of flowers in Don's memory. ARRANGEMENTS Entrusted To The Care Of Riverside, CA. (951) 785-4071


The city clerk's office sent a response on the problems which have plagued the ability of city residents to access online city council reports during several weekends including the past one and the IT department is working on the problem.

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