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, September 17, 2008

Raindrops on roses and bill boards on buses

It doesn't seem like city council gets covered much anymore in the daily newspaper, unless it's news briefs days later or occasionally an article so other items will have to be discussed in its stead.

The names of the Riverside Police Department officers who were involved in the fatal shooting of Carlos David Quinonez, Sr. have been officially released. They are Officers Juan Munoz and James Heiting. According to the article, Heiting has a history which includes working for the Orange County Sheriff's Department. Munoz has a history as well but it's a bit harder to explain in a press release except for this shooting.

A portion of Munoz' history has been erased first in arbitration and then by the city council which reinstated him back in April 2007. That's how things often work in the state of hiring, firing and rehiring in California.

The names were released earlier last week during a briefing on the Quinonez shooting that was given by Asst. Chief John DeLaRosa in front of the barely-there Community Police Review Commission.

The department or the city has also decided that it won't release the name of the officer who shot and killed Fernando Luis Sanchez last week for safety concerns, the first time the department refused to release a name in the wake of State Attorney General Jerry Brown's ruling on this issue. When and if the department briefs the CPRC, will they refer to him or her as Officer X?

Of course, the first question to answer is whether or not the department will provide a briefing on this shooting at all. In his directive, City Manager Brad Hudson said that the department would do so in future incustody death incidents and the department did in the case of Quinonez. It is also scheduled to give the long-awaited briefing on the July 11 death of Martin Gaspar Pablo at its next meeting.

Originally, Chief Russ Leach had said he would do all future briefings himself but so far hasn't even attended a CPRC meeting let alone done a briefing at one.

Two individuals want to be hired by the Riverside Police Department but is the department taking applications? Is the hiring freeze still on? The jury seems to be out on that one even when vacancies are popping up for a variety of reasons. But is the city really considering releasing more entry level positions?

The city's human resources department posted these three job announcements addressing law enforcement positions.

Entry level police officer

Lateral police officer

Police officer trainee

At the police department's own Web site, it states that it is not accepting applications at this time for officer positions. Then again, the site also states that it is accepting applications for an upcoming citizens academy even though the program has been suspended until further notice. So maybe they need an update.

Press Enterprise Columnist Dan Bernstein made up for lost time tackling a lot of local issues including the CPRC.


I guess I missed Spay-Neuter Week, but I hear the Riverside Community Police Review Commission is recovering nicely. (No one performs this procedure better than the city manager and city attorney.)


The Riverside County supervisors have called for an independent audit of the election process.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The board endorsed an audit after a presentation at its meeting by Save R Vote, a Temecula-based citizens group known for its opposition to electronic touch-screen voting machines.

"Save R Vote is going to continue to come and make their allegations whether they are correct or incorrect," said Supervisor Jeff Stone. "I think that the only way to restore confidence in voting in Riverside County is to have an outside consultant come in and review from top to bottom the procedures that the registrar is entrusted to deliver and report back to the board."

Supervisors instructed staff to prepare a proposal for an audit that the board could consider as soon as Sept. 30. They agreed an audit could likely not be completed in the limited time before the November presidential election.

Registrar Barbara Dunmore told supervisors that Save R Vote's accusations were "inflammatory" and contained distortions and misrepresentations. Her office welcomes an audit and would comply fully, she said.

About 15 Los Angeles Police Department officers face discipline in connection with the incident that took place in MacArthur Park in May 2007 that injured many people. Chief William Bratton also announced that he wants to fire four of them.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

In general, LAPD Deputy Chief Mark Perez said, officers were being punished for excessive use of force, failing to rein in other officers or lying to investigators during the inquiry. Citing personnel privacy rules, he and Bratton declined to name any of the involved officers or publicly elaborate on the officers' transgressions during a presentation Tuesday to the Police Commission, the department's civilian oversight board.

Four of the officers have been notified of Bratton's desire to fire them, Perez told the commission. Under the city's charter, the chief does not have the authority to summarily kick an officer off the force. Instead, Bratton must send the officer before a three-person disciplinary panel known as a Board of Rights. After considering the evidence in a case, the panel can find that the officer should be fired, suffer a less severe punishment or be vindicated. The chief can accept the panel's recommendation or impose a lesser punishment, but he cannot seek to increase the discipline. The four officers facing termination would remain on duty pending the disciplinary panel's decisions, which are probably months away, authorities said.

Among the other 11 officers involved, one has been issued a 10-day suspension, two were suspended for five days and five were suspended for three days. Three officers received official reprimands. The suspended officers can elect to appeal their penalties to the Board of Rights or accept their punishment.

Three of the 15 officers facing discipline will also have their salaries cut to a lower pay grade, and four will be transferred out of the department's elite Metro division.

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa voiced support for Bratton's decision, saying he was "satisfied with the chief's actions."

"I can say with confidence that the process has worked and is working, and today the integrity of the LAPD is not only intact, it's stronger than ever."

A police officer in Pennsylvania was charged with driving drunk while onduty.

(excerpt, The York Dispatch)

According to state police, Utter was driving a 2005 Crown Victoria cruiser in the 2000 block of Mount Zion Road about 7:12 a.m. Aug. 23 when he sideswiped a stone wall owned by Allison Kissner.

Holman said Utter was just coming on duty when the crash happened.

Utter escaped injury, but the cruiser sustained "moderate" damage along the length of the passenger side, state police said.

The allegations: According to charging documents, Utter called township Cpl. David Kennedy on a cell phone, told him he'd struck the wall and said he was driving the cruiser back to the police station. Kennedy met him there.

While interviewing Utter, Kennedy smelled a strong odor of an alcohol on the officer, police said.

"He asked the defendant how much alcohol he had been drinking prior to his shift and the defendant stated, 'not much,'" the charging documents state.

Police said Kennedy alerted his superiors, then drove Utter to Memorial Hospital for a blood test, which determined Utter's blood-alcohol level to be 0.123 percent. In Pennsylvania, an adult is driving drunk at 0.08 percent.

Several elected officials in St. Paul, Minnesota have expressed concerns about the conduct of police officers during the Republican Convention.

(excerpt, New York Times)

In a city with a history of good relations with its police, some people have found the strategies employed during the convention discomfiting, said Dave Thune, a St. Paul city councilman, who received complaints from residents arrested in police sweeps or engulfed by clouds of gas.

As a result, Mr. Thune is organizing a meeting to discuss just what took place.

“When clearly the bulk of the peaceful people weren’t joining in a riot, why did we have to go to the extent of using tear gas and percussion grenades?” he said. “People weren’t supposed to get trapped by police or forced into situations where they could be arrested.”

The last two Republican conventions, held in Philadelphia and New York, were also marked by arrests and recriminations. New York City still faces more than 500 federal court claims stemming from police tactics.

While 1,800 people were arrested at that 2004 convention, there were a proportionately high number of arrests in St. Paul, where the protests were much smaller. In addition, critics say, the use of chemicals have set this convention apart.

“It was an unprecedented show of police presence and display of force,” said Bruce Nestor, the president of the Minnesota chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, which is defending many of those arrested. “Minnesota has never seen this level of militarization of local police.”

Portland, Oregon has seen fewer officer-involved shootings. The trend is being noted by some watchers as being positive.

In Actworth, Georgia, a police officer resigned in connection with inappropriate onduty conduct. When a female motorist first complained that Officer Michael Strickland followed her and made inappropriate comments to her, the police department was sure it was unfounded and the woman was a liar. But then it finally put its bias aside for a moment and did some research on its own officer's history. And sure enough, another similar incident emerged.

(excerpt, WSB-TV)

"Every once in awhile we come across something where it seems to be something there and we have to move forward in our process. That appears to be what happened in this case," said Chief Michael Wilkie with the Acworth Police Department.

What solidified that belief, according to officials, was Strickland's file with the Woodstock Police Department. Strickland had been punished for a similar incident nine years ago involving two young women.

Nine years ago, the two women told the Woodstock Police Department's internal affairs investigators that Strickland was in his squad car, in uniform the day they met behind a strip mall. The women said Strickland exposed himself to them. Internal affairs investigators said they found the complaints credible and Strickland was suspended for three weeks.

Strickland later resigned from the Woodstock Police Department over another incident, officials said. Wilkie said Strickland was hired in Acworth before he took over as chief and they were not aware of his Woodstock file.

"We'll put some things in place to make sure future applicants to the department don't put us in this position. We already do that now in our screening process," said Wilkie.

Sexual harassment, lies and blogs

And sorry for the brevity but Blogger's gone haywire again and it's not publishing properly and won't until someone at Google fixes it...again. I will make up for it if Blogger's ever functioning properly again.

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