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


My Photo
Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"The Commission needs its own attorney..."


Another fatal officer-involved shooting by the Riverside Police Department occurred on Sept. 11 at 8:45 p.m. in the Arlington area.

"I don’t agree that I’m brash. I am direct, however. I try to temper my criticism in a way that it can be heard and received."

---Former Euguene Police Auditor and soon-to-be Atlanta Citizen Review Board Executive Director Cristina Beamud

The Press Enterprise Editorial Board scolded the city of Riverside and told it to give the Community Police Review Commission its own legal counsel already.


The panel has to rely, however, on the advice of its legal counsel -- the same city attorney who represents City Hall, the City Council, and other city operations. So when Priamos told the commission it could not investigate, who was he representing? The commission and its interests? City Hall, which evidently opposes the investigation? The Police Department? Who knows?

Trying to serve all those conflicting viewpoints at once hands the city attorney an impossible task. A consultant's report on the commission in February recommended the panel use the city attorney as counsel, but the current dispute shows that advice no longer makes sense.

The commission needs its own attorney, not one shared with the rest of city government. Riverside cannot settle the disputed boundaries of the commission's power fairly or credibly by making the city attorney do double -- and conflicting -- duty.

It's not rocket science to come up with this type of analysis, it's called pointing out the obvious.

However, the one thing about this editorial board is that it always *got* the CPRC, the dynamics of the power players who manipulate it and what it's intended to do. The editorial also rightly pointed out that there's no language in the charter about delaying an investigation for an extended period of time nor did it express any doubt that the commission was supposed to investigate deaths such as those of Martin Gaspar Pablo.

Will the powers-that-be at City Hall pay it any mind? Of course not. Half of them are too busy being apathetic due to being loathe to criticize or even be perceived as criticizing either the city manager or city attorney let alone reining either or both of the in and at least one, Councilman Frank Schiavone, backs City Manager Brad Hudson's edict. Of course, you have to remember who backs Schiavone?


And what's next year? Another election year, with some interesting candidates being mentioned as possibilities in Ward Four including former city employees. But if Schiavone and they all run, they can't all share the same campaign funding pot, can they?

At the Sept. 10 meeting, Commissioner Jim Ward put a motion on the table that was really out there but only because what's now is much different than what was then. Then, being several years ago when the commission actually had the fortitude to be independent. His motion to essentially initiate an investigation (that technically had already been initiated before being shut down due to lack of funds) and if the city blocked them, to sue it.

*pin drop*

It was so quiet in the chambers especially on the dais that this is what could have been heard. Naturally, being "now" and not "then", Ward didn't get a second. Instead, it almost appeared for a moment if someone was going to have to whip out the smelling salts. The counter motion was to inform the city council and Mayor Ron Loveridge about the troubles that their direct employees, Hudson, Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis and City Attorney Gregory Priamos had been inflicting on the CPRC, apparently with the assumption that they didn't already know what's been going on the past month or so.

They do know. The Press Enterprise wrote about it, first a reporter and now the Editorial Board. Former CPRC chair and current Ward One Councilman Mike Gardner does know, in fact he was quoted in the article. Schiavone clearly knows because he defended Hudson's actions and then sent his legislative aide to the Sept. 10 meeting. The rest of the elected government probably picked up on what was going on when people started speaking on this issue at city council meetings. Their $39,000 a year or so legislative aides can always keep them up to date if they fall behind the news.

But the interesting thing about the editorial is that it comes closest to supporting Ward's actions, the actions which apparently repelled even those commissioners who only minutes earlier had been gnashing their teeth over it (and rightfully so) and the realization that their own executive manager was just another bureaucrat on the city's roster to alternatively argue with with a careful eye out for flying strawmen.

Watching commissioners and an executive manager fighting was very enlightening of what the power balance is currently involving the CPRC, because essentially it's the commissioners arguing with 1) the city manager or 2) the city attorney or 3) the police department. It's almost as complicated as trying to figure out who runs the police department on a given day. And you thought the city attorney wore a lot of hats.

Anyway, this drama is currently ongoing and there's sure to be more of it to come. And Thursday, saw the latest fatal officer-involved shooting involving the Riverside Police Department that occurred near Van Buran and Wells. It's the second one this month and it will likely be the third potential investigation by the CPRC that the city tries to stop it from conducting in a timely manner.

The police department was set to brief the commission on the Martin Gaspar Pablo death incident about two months after it actually happened, in two weeks at the CPRC's general meeting. Now, it may have to add another briefing to the latest incident to its schedule as well.

Doug Jacobs, developer and frequent city council campaign donor has won his appeal to not incorporate cultural elements of the former Chinatown in his medical building. The Planning Commission which consists of city residents said he had to but the Land Use Committee which consists of city council members ruled in his favor.

There was an outcry by one committee member that there's a desperate need for medical offices. Actually, though having enough medical offices is important, what the city needs is more urgent care clinics for people of all economic backgrounds to utilize during nights, weekends and holidays. That would be awesome and a great public service especially in light of the medical school coming to the local state university. The problem is that when city residents who are passionate about accessible health care point this out to city council members at public meetings, the reactions usually include eye rolls and deep sighing.

Now here's some shocking news. The city of Riverside has gone off and hired two more consultants this time to help out with the whole "City of the Arts" image makeover for the city. It's going to have two more supervisory positions in the police department remain vacant and other positions frozen in the police department and elsewhere in the city but there's still plenty of money to hire consultants to help the city launch another meaningless campaign to buy another title it will drop in six months or so anyway.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

While the initial focus is on Riverside, the idea is to do cultural plans later for other cities in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, said Jim Erickson, executive director of the Community Foundation. The plans would be tailored to each city.

The nonprofit organization received a $60,000 grant from the James Irvine Foundation and $10,000 each from the Bank of America and the city of Riverside for the initial plan.

"We feel very strongly we have excellence in the arts here," Erickson said of the Inland region.

Mayor Ron Loveridge called for branding Riverside the "City of the Arts" in his annual state of the city addresses in 2006 and 2007. In October the City Council unanimously voted in favor of the mayor's proposal.

"This plan is how to take the mayor's words and make them happen," Yorba said.

Loveridge said he would recommend keeping the plan short.

"In my own judgment, the more you have, the less you get done," he said.

How about arts first, titles second? I know it's a bit of a travel down the unbeaten path but it's usually the way that the big cities who can really lay claim to the "City of the Arts" do it.

The new chief of Corona Police Department took the helm.

For four hours behind closed doors, the San Bernardino Police Officers' Association ordered the city council and mayor to oust the police chief.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Rank-and-file officers recently passed a no-confidence resolution against Billdt.

"What I told the council is, the chief is outside. We've closed the door," union President Rich Lawhead said. "We don't want him to come back in. We don't want a 'Kumbaya' talk. We're done. We've done everything we can to negotiate with this guy. We're done."

Lawhead said the union wants Billdt removed, and an interim chief brought in, with an audit of Police Department and management practices.

Councilwoman Wendy McCammack, one of four council members who attended Tuesday's meeting, said she supports an audit.

"Something's going to have to change," she said. "You can't have that many employees in any government agency as unhappy as (police officers) claim to be and not do something."

Mayor Pat Morris said he also may support an external review. "These are labor-management issues that need to be addressed, and we need a search for best practices. Perhaps an outside expert can assist us," Morris said.

Any such review also must consider the need for police officers to be accountable to the public, Morris said.

In New York City, attorneys working for an independent review board will be assisting prosecutors in cases involving police officers within the department.

(excerpt, New York Times)

Under a pilot project, lawyers from the agency, the Civilian Complaint Review Board, will serve as “second seat” prosecutors at the trials, according to a joint statement by the board and the Police Department.

The announcement deals with a key area of disagreement over the years between the review board and the department. The civilian board has said that the department does not prosecute enough of the cases of misconduct that the board has substantiated. The Police Department, in turn, says that its standards of proof are different from those used by the review board’s lawyers, and that only department lawyers have the expertise to decide which cases to prosecute.

The Police Department has trial rooms on the fourth floor of its headquarters at 1 Police Plaza and its own judges and lawyers. While some of the cases originate from the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau, others are referred by the civilian board, which investigates allegations of police brutality or discourtesy. Departmental trials of officers can result in penalties and in some cases firing, and are separate from criminal trials.

The police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, said in the statement that the pilot project was expected to strengthen the officials’ “mutual efforts” as cases go to trial. The board’s executive director, Joan Thompson, said that the project was a foundation for cooperation on cases that her agency had substantiated.

The extent of the civilian board lawyers’ involvement in a trial will be at the discretion of the lead prosecutor. A review board spokesman, Phil Weitzman, said it could include raising objections or questions, and trial preparation.

“We are working out details as to the extent of the collaboration,” he said. “The issue of the prosecution of our cases has been a longstanding one.”

In New York City, the shooting rates of police officers there decreased in 2007.

(excerpt, New York Times)

Paul J. Browne, the department’s chief spokesman, said of the 2007 data, “The report shows restraint on the part of police officers and that police-involved shootings comport with the overall demography of crime.”

The total number of cases in which an officer or officers fired their weapons — including the shooting of dogs and accidental discharges — dropped to 111 last year from 127 the year before. The decline in police shootings was reflective of an overall drop in crime.

The total number of shots fired by police officers, however, increased, as did the number of shots — 478 — fired during confrontations. But the report noted that the increase was skewed by one running gunfight in Brooklyn when “five officers fired a total of 136 times at a subject who had assaulted a woman, carjacked and crashed several autos, shot a civilian, shot at emergency personnel responding to the scene and actively engaged officers in an exchange of gunfire.”

The 2007 report lists more categories of data than reports from previous years.

For instance, the report includes the race of the firing officer and of the person who was shot, facts that have not appeared since the 1997 report.

“There is more information in this report than in previous years,” Mr. Browne said, adding that information about the race of people shot by the police was a subject “being asked about by the press and others, and so we included it.”

The Chicago Police Department already has enough problems, serious enough to require it to hire a police chief who once worked for the FBI. Now, it turns out that the department is hiring people with criminal records to police its streets, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.


"If you have a tendency to steal or commit a theft, there is a chance you will do that again. You are not honest. . . . They might be fine to work at Home Depot, but they should not have a job carrying a gun and being exposed to all the opportunities [for misconduct] on the street," Woods said.

Woods said he does not think the Human Resources Board has followed a consistent set of rules.

"They did not have any real hard, documentable evidence of what makes someone hirable or not," he said, pointing out that he and former Chicago Police general counsel Sheri Mecklenburg met with the Human Resources Board in 2007 to discuss their misgivings about the appeals process.

"If you are rejected by another police department, we shouldn't hire you," Woods said. "There are people that got on [the Chicago Police Department] that I question."

People who sold drugs, did drugs or were gang members were restored to hiring lists that they had been disqualified from while applying to be hired including officers rejected by other law enforcement agencies. Many of them had relatives or friends in the police department to speak on their behalf. Nepotism, it seems, rules just about everywhere.

What was the breakdown of reinstatements by offense?


• Eighteen were former drug users. A woman said she was a cocaine dealer at age 12. Others gave seemingly far-fetched excuses: One man, whose father is a Chicago Police sergeant, said he was in Mexico and smoked a cigarette but stopped when he realized it was pot. A woman said she only smoked pot in Amsterdam, where it's legal.

• • Five, including a former Calumet Park cop, were arrested on domestic battery charges. One of them admitted hitting his daughter with a watch during a spanking and was accused of abusing a child in the Cook County juvenile detention center. Another man admitted striking his mother.

• • Four were arrested for battery, including a man who slashed someone with a knife in a bar fight, a man who pushed a teacher down a stairwell as a youngster, a bar brawler and a Cook County Jail guard accused of beating an inmate. He kept his jail job after criminal charges were dropped.

• • Six were in the military and ran into disciplinary problems, including a man who admitted he was diagnosed with a personality defect in the Navy, a man with a "troubling history" in the Navy that previously barred him from the Chicago Police Department, a woman who failed to show up for National Guard duty and a man who was absent without leave.

• • Four were rejects from other police departments, including a woman forced to resign from a Michigan department, a man who failed a Milwaukee Police Department background check, a man who failed an Elmhurst police polygraph and a man who failed a Phoenix Police Department polygraph.

• • Three were tied to gangs in the past, including a Cook County correctional officer who said he was a former Two-Sixer and failed to disclose a disorderly conduct arrest.

• • Two were fired from jobs, including a Cook County sheriff's deputy fired from two security jobs.

• • Two were relatives of crooks, including a woman whose husband is a convicted murderer and member of the Vice Lords street gang.

• • Others were involved in theft, reckless driving, turnstile jumping and underage drinking.

Here's a question for Chicago. Ever heard of Maywood Police Department? Maybe they should Google it.

In Inglewood, seven of that city's officers were placed on administrative leave.

This is after four shootings in four months, three of them involving unarmed individuals.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

"We could have done a better job tactically," Seabrooks said of Sunday's shooting in which officers fired as many as 47 rounds, killing the man and wounding a motorist as well as a dog. "I would have preferred that far fewer rounds would have been fired."

Seabrooks, who has been chief of the 190-officer department since last year, said the shooting was "very disturbing to the community, to the administration, the Police Department."

Her comments, in an interview with The Times, followed the release of a statement by the Inglewood City Council calling on Seabrooks to consider "a sweeping training program" for the entire department.

Controversy has surrounded the auditor in Atlanta, Georgia, but she is used to firestorms. Maybe if it's calm there, she can stop by Riverside.

Labels: , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older