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, September 16, 2008

Building and budgets

"Her hands were shaking. She asked me to stand with her when she made the statement."

---Steve Whitmore, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to the Los Angeles Times about Metrolink Spokeswoman Denise Tyrrell.

There's going to be another public forum for the Central Neighborhood Policing Center conducted by the Riverside Police Department later this week at Arlington High School. It's part of the series of forums with local communities that were engineered through the department's five-year Strategic Plan. What is usually taking place at these meetings is that the command staff is introduced and some of the newer officers working in a particular NPC are as well.

Leading the meeting and any discussion or question and answer session is Chief Russ Leach. The first forum took place earlier this year at California Baptist University and involved the entire city. Another forum focused on the NPC West as part of those events which will focus mainly on residents living in a specific policing area.

Capt. Meredith Meredyth who heads both the Central and West NPCs spoke at a city council meeting recently about the forums when asked questions by Councilman Andrew Melendrez about future community forums within his ward. Meredyth said that there would be one either in the North or East NPC by the end of the year but that she wasn't aware if any dates had been set for that forum.

Some of the latest forums including a recent one in the Eastside were created to reassure people in the wake of the debate over the present and future of community policing in Riverside not to mention the present and future of what is or was the Community Services Division and its programs. Then there are the rumors that have been floating around since the apparent dissolution of the Community Services Division saying that it was done to try to fill gaps in the department's patrol division in the wake of hiring and promotional freezes and several retirements of sergeants and lieutenants in recent months. Not so, seems to be the department's response.

Its representatives have gone to a meeting here and there to reassure the public that it is simply decentralizing community policing and that there will have more officers than ever before (even though the department's currently in a hiring freeze) and that community policing lives. The latter would certainly be heralded as good news by the department and City Hall, but it's hard to believe that the department would be as quiet as it has been about such a great development.

It's hard to follow the adage of there being more officers than ever before, because there can only be a finite number of them mainly because of the hiring freeze that is currently in place and will be for an undetermined amount of time.

It's not like you can split one officer into two and you can't clone them at this point in time to create more of them. You can only move them around from one assignment to the next and that's what the department apparently did with the division that housed its community programs. It's the interpretations of that action which are different and in some cases, conflicting with each other.

But what has happened is that it's created a great deal of concern, not so much about any proposed changes to the format of community policing but whether or not the department has the numbers to accommodate this kind of growth. Is the answer yes or no? And who would be answering?

The department and city are selling the answer, "yes", to the city residents but have it even sold it within its own walls or has it bred more concern instead? How would morale be for employees working at levels where freezes are taking place including the supervisory levels?

At any rate, it will be interesting to learn what those in charge have to say about community policing in this city at this upcoming forum and any future ones down the road. It would be great if they could hold a public workshop or do a presentation before the city council at one of its meetings. But then it's not clear besides Melendrez whether any of the city council members or mayor are even asking questions about what's been happening inside the department for the past few months. It seems very quiet on different fronts on this issue unless all the noise is being made behind closed doors which is so very Riverside.

Speaking of the police department, its final budget for this fiscal year is here.

One interesting set of statistics is on page I-276 which shows the history of personnel in the department in recent years.


2005(06): 589.33

2006(07): 618.33

2007(08): 637.33

2008(09): 591.93

And if you look further, you'll find that in the field operations division, there are nine fewer employees and in special operations, there are 38.40 fewer, even as their budgets have increased slightly from last year's in both divisions. There's a lot of interesting information in the police department's budget. You should check it out.

There's also going to be the traffic safety fair at Castle Park on Saturday, Oct. 4.

The city manager's office has finally released its line item budget online for the 2008-09 fiscal year, essentially getting its act together at last concerning at least this front. But given that most of its upper management personnel are leaving or getting ready to leave their jobs at one time, maybe that is why it took so long.

That line item budget for the city manager's office includes the operational budget for the Community Police Review Commission, which is umbrellaed under its office. If you recall, the actual budget listings for the commission were missing from the previous preliminary budget which was put online after it was passed in June. A CPRA request to City Manager Brad Hudson's office led to a response from City Attorney Gregory Priamos which stated that the relevant information was included on the online preliminary budget report.

Well it was not, something Priamos would have been aware of if he had even bothered to check to see if it was indeed included before telling anyone to check out a link to a document where this information was not present.

Requests for this information to the CPRC led to requests for assistance from the city manager's office in terms of how this very public information would be released to the public. The word back was that Administrative Analyst Mario Lara (who once managed the CPRC on an interim basis) would post this information online by mid-September. Further requests led to a hard copy being issued out by CPRC Executive Manager Kevin Rogan several weeks before that.

Here are some budgetary numbers for the CPRC from one year to the next. As you can see, it took a fairly large cut this past year.


Actual 2005(06): $256,848

Actual 2006(07): $247,211

Budgeted 2007(08): $334,922

Budgeted 2008(09): $226,733

Part of the reduction in the budget is due to salary cuts because Rogan though listed as a full-time employee actually doesn't work full-time hours. He collects on a PERS pension from his years spent working at the Pomona Police Department and thus is probably restricted by his contract in terms of the maximum hours he can work and still retain his PERS pension.

CPRC Chair Brian Pearcy acknowledged this while giving the much belated annual report on the commission's activities by referring to Rogan as a "half-time employee". Most of the $100,000 cuts that actually took place during the last fiscal year came out of the commission's professional fund which went from $100,000 to about $12,000. Its currently budgeted for $50,000 but probably will spend a fraction of that given that those include the funds which have essentially been frozen by both the city manager and city attorney's offices. A City Hall decision which has the blessing of at least one elected official and the silence of the rest.

More discussion on the latest Riverside Police Department fatal officer-involved shooting of Fernando Luis Sanchez, 30, here, here and here. Not much more information from the police department and it's not clear when or if the police department will brief the CPRC on this latest shooting.

The Riverside Police Department received a $500,000 grant for DNA technology.

The Fox Theater Plaza project is right on schedule. So says the project manager.

Somehow in the middle of all the labor pains in San Bernardino, City Hall has not only managed to hang onto its police helicopters but managed to hold this discussion behind closed doors.

The veto of the budget in Sacramento has sent ripples to the Inland Empire with bills being stalled left and right.

What is Redlands doing to address its economy?

After a lengthy investigation, the Los Angeles Police Department has determined that 15 of its officers will face discipline for their roles in the incident.

At least three passengers who were on the Metrolink train that crashed in Chatsworth last week had survived another crash in Glendale which killed 11 people. This time, two lived, one died.

Former Metrolink spokeswoman Denise Tyrrell, did she do the right thing? A lot of discussion on this issue has taken place since her abrupt resignation after a board of directors meeting which took place behind closed doors.

An Albany, Georgia police officer has been charged with battery.

In Tallahassee, an internal affairs report for that city's police department is about to be released.

A Princeton Police Department sergeant has been indicted on charges of accessing a police database.

(excerpt, The Times)

Sgt. Kenneth Riley, a borough officer for 17 years, was indicted on two counts of computer criminal activity, two counts of unlawful access and disclosure of computer data and two counts of official misconduct, the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office said Friday.

Riley's attorney, Jeff Garrigan, said Friday that prosecutors will be met with a rigorous defense and a not-guilty plea. "I am still trying to figure out how this entire thing is criminal," he said.

The criminal charges stem from a police internal affairs investigation that led to the suspensions with pay of Riley, Sgt. Kevin Creegan and Patrolman William Perez in March.

Prosecutor's spokeswoman Casey DeBlasio said there was insufficient evidence to indict Creegan and Perez, but they could face charges in municipal court or internal discipline by the police department.

Officials familiar with the case say Riley accessed the footage of a drunken driving arrest of a man to show that the arresting officer inappropriately allowed him to urinate in a nearby bush.

Eureka's city council is looking at whether or not to appoint an independent police auditor.

(excerpt, Times Standard)

The vision is that the county and Eureka would each have independent advisory groups to field community concerns. Nielsen said he thinks the auditor would then work with EPD and the Sheriff's Office to review policies and procedures and internal affairs investigations.

Nielsen said he would fully support the new system as long as the right auditor is hired.

”I think that, potentially, this could be something very beneficial, not only for the community but also for EPD,” Nielsen said. “I think it would be another step in enhancing our credibility with the community and providing that transparency I think is so important for us. I think, potentially, this could be a very positive thing.”

Two Lakeland Police Department officers were suspended by the police chief amidst recommendations that they should have been fired.

A Chicago Police Department officer killed his daughter and himself, leaving his son critically injured.

(excerpt, Chicago Sun-Times)

The officer suffered a fatal self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head, department spokeswoman Monique Bond said.

It appears the officer shot the children, according to preliminary reports. There were two guns on the scene.

The boy was shot in the back of his head, a source said. His sister was shot in the front of her head and suffered a defensive wound, suggesting she tried to shield herself, the source said. The boy is being treated at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Police officials described the incident as a "domestic dispute" and did not provide further details about what led to the shooting. The officer and his former wife divorced three years ago, according to police officials. He was assigned to the Englewood District but was detailed out to an area team, officials said.

The officer previously had worked for a year as a Cook County sheriff's officer.
His former wife was not in the home at the time of the shooting.

Neighbor Dan Herold said he heard a commotion, and then saw the officer's home surrounded by police.

"I heard people screaming and yelling,'' Herold said. "I looked out my bedroom window, and I saw the place surrounded by cops from all sides.''

Herold said he was not aware his neighbor was a cop, but he had seen the kids playing in the neighborhood. "Why would somebody do that?" he asked.

Law enforcement officers are at very high risk of both suicide and these so-called "domestic disputes", a categorization which seems ridiculous here since it involved a man and his two small children.

In 1994, twice as many officers died from suicide as were killed in the line of duty.

One study of the New York Police Department showed the rate of suicide for its officers was lower than that of city residents even though the rate of suicide among female officers was higher than that of female residents.

Links which provide services.

A major report being released by the Independent Police Review in Portland, Oregon.



Date: September 16, 2008 Mike Hess
or Carol Kershner



Director Mary-Beth Baptista will present the report and highlight the
important and positive trends in the Portland Police Bureau regarding
police shootings and use of force complaints.

Director Baptista will also take this opportunity to introduce the
incoming Assistant Director Constantin Severe. Mr. Severe was a
criminal defense attorney at the Metropolitan Public Defender working
in the major felony unit.

What: IPR 2007 Annual Report

When: 10am Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Where: Rose Room, 3rd Floor, City Hall

1221 S.W. Fourth Avenue

Portland OR

There are rumors that five police officers spotted a UFO in Southern Illinois but it's not clear whether or not their sightings will be investigated. Who will do this since the not-so-heavily-anticipated X-Files movie tanked at the box office this past summer?

Call me Ishtar! I think that film made more money.

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