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

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What it means to blog in Riverside

I've received some interesting feedback on the individual who whined earlier at Craigslist about my writing about the case of Riverside Police Department Officer Robert Forman. At least I think that's what he was talking about. He changed topics a bit in his latest rant, which was less focused than his previous greatest hits list. Maybe the "spirits" that he has difficulty exorcising are those of the alcohol variety.

As stated earlier, I'm fairly sure I know who wrote it. If I'm indeed right, it's not someone I really know or have come into much contact with which leaves me both puzzled and repulsed at the same time by this creature. And when I have crossed paths with him, it's not like he called me a "whore" or ranted about my "tweeker features" and how I was wearing a Jesse Jackson special shirt or joked about the LAPD beating up Mexicans at MacArthur Park. He didn't say, I saw you where, and when wearing what and then rant something disgusting. He was actually pretty unremarkable in terms of his physical appearance. If I hadn't spent a lot of time being scared of him and the others, it would almost be funny.

Also, he was quiet. Didn't say much at all if anything. Obviously still waters run deep with this disturbed individual so desperately in need of professional help. God help anyone who gets on his wrong side if what he writes is any example. And that goes for his two friends who've made a pattern and practice of circulating false stories about me going back at least five years, who likely constitute the "we" now and the "we" when this maladjusted individual was posting here. Of course it's always possible that the only "we" that exists is inside this gentleman's head.

This "we" circulated stories about how I was abused as a child, burning flags, hated them, crazy, evil, the anti-christ and so forth. The individuals who were on the receiving end were only too happy to tell me who told them these things, in one case several minutes after one of the "we" people told them that I was responsible for all the crime in Riverside. It's difficult when people who wearing law enforcement uniforms are engaging in this behavior because with the badge and uniform comes the expectation of honesty but unfortunately, there are individuals who either have no clue or no concern of what that means. I was stopped by officers twice in a two day period last year while walking, just so they could ask me if it was true I was "homeless" as they had heard. It's annoying even though the gentlemen were very polite just curious, but it's a downside for paying too much attention to the department and writing about it in this city. The bottom line is that some people are going to be very unhappy and even angry about it.

I doubt these individuals constitute any type of majority. There's more than enough for most people to worry about that impact their own lives and most law enforcement officers I've encountered are very polite.

But enough on this guy and his latest ranting. The best way to deal with his ilk is to try to keep myself safe because I have only myself to do so and to just keep blogging. Because unfortunately individuals like this one serve as litmus tests of issues that probably need to be written about more often. And just as this guy has stated he's prayed for me on numerous postings, I'll say a couple for him that he does get the help that he desperately needs and that anyone who his path crosses doesn't experience negative experiences because of his untreated sociopathism.

I do hope whatever wrote this stunning prose is not anyone associated with Forman because if this person is associated with him and is writing such vitriol about me for blogging about Forman, then imagine what vitriol any women who files a complaint of sexual misconduct could face from similar parties. Hopefully, in this case no one's being harassed who filed a complaint against Forman.

The best and most emotionally sound way to support Forman is to do it in public, raise money for his defense if necessary or support him in court. That's what happens in other cities in similar situations as this one when officers are prosecuted for crimes. Not to creep around on the internet and anonymously write such garbage supposedly on his behalf. Because that's really not about helping him, it's about getting your rocks off using someone else as your excuse to do so.

What's interesting is it's the officers who get into serious trouble, bad enough to attract criminal charges who always are the beneficiaries of the rantings of these individuals who advocate in a manner of speaking so ardently on their behalf rather than the good ones. But that's how it often is and there's a reason that which shouldn't be too difficult to figure out. It has something to do with birds.

More bad news emerging on the economic front at the city, county state and national levels.

The city's still freezing positions inside the police department including supervisory ones during a time period when violent crime is increasing. Currently frozen are one management position, one lieutenant's position, four sergeant positions and an unknown number of officer positions. In addition at least 25 civilian vacancies haven't been filled by the city including many in support positions.

Disagreements exist between the officers and their management in terms of how many officers are actually assigned to the department's three daily patrol shifts with the management unwilling to provide any public documentation of its numbers saying that any existing records are only for their use.

Working a lot of unpaid overtime are the city's lieutenants. And sergeants have been transferred out of several divisions including special investigations to fill supervisor positions in the department's patrol division. A lieutenant has been temporarily transferred to the Internal Affairs Division to help alleviate the backlog there in its investigations.

The city's decided to pull the brakes a tiny bit on Riverside Renaissance although it looks like the city's parks and a public utilities plant are taking the major hits. One of the departments anticipated to take the greatest hits when the city undergoes its midyear budget review in January will be the Park and Recreations Department. Layoffs are heavily anticipated to begin possibly as early as January after the city spent a year boasting that it wouldn't be doing layoffs like has happened in other inland cities with Hemet being the most recent addition to this list. In fact, there are independent contractors who've already been laid off. Some say that the most vulnerable employees are those in temporary and part-time employees. Statistically, at least for part-time employees, African-Americans are disproportionately over-represented in these statistics so they may be hard hit as they were during the last round of layoffs over 10 years ago.

The city of Riverside is upset because the fire station it planned to demolish has just been declared a state historic landmark which means they can't bring in the bulldozers for demolition of the historic fire station until they go through an extensive process first.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

It is now, without question, historic," said Jay Correia, a commission staff member.

However, the city is not planning to change its plans for the site, interim Assistant City Manager Belinda Graham said Wednesday. The fire station is at Lime Street and Mission Inn Avenue. The city is planning to build a new fire station directly behind it, at Lime Street and University Avenue, then demolish the existing structure. The demolition would make way for a proposed office/retail project on Mission Inn Avenue from Lime to Lemon Street.

Local architectural historian Tanya Sorrell, who runs, a Web site dedicated to modern architecture in Riverside, nominated the fire station for listing on the state register.

Sorrell devoted as much as 80 hours of work to researching and writing the nomination. She addressed the commission at its hearing in Sacramento.

"I felt like somebody had to do something about this," she said by phone Wednesday.

And so they did. But what of the bulldozers? What will happen to them? And didn't the city plan to demolish the fire station and the dreams of the Metropolitan Museum Board to put the new museum there, so they could give the land to a developer to build an office building?

This comes just as the plans for Riverside Renaissance are getting a trim in the budget long after every city department has faced serious cuts in their operational funding, not just a trim.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

City Manager Brad Hudson said the five-year program is moving ahead on many fronts but will probably cost $1.6 billion instead of $1.8 billion.

A formal list of projects to drop has not been assembled yet for the City Council to consider.

Hudson and his staff are looking at several changes, partly in response to the economic crisis and the reduction in revenues it's causing, and partly because some projects are likely to take longer than originally expected.

When the City Council approved it in October 2006, Renaissance had a $785 million price tag but the city added numerous projects later.

"We'll complete or have under contract at least $1.6 billion" in projects by October 2011, Hudson said.

"People understand ultimately that we have to cut back here and there," Councilman William "Rusty" Bailey said.

Press Enterprise Columnist Dan Bernstein hits two for two taking on the apparent struggle between Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco and Riverside County Public Defender Gary Windom over shared office space, which probably won't be happening in this century.

Then it's off to the arena where the latest round of Riverside's City Council vs Greyhound is playing out.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Hi boys and girls! In Tuesday's installment of "The Little Bus That Couldn't," Riverside Councilman Mike Gardner said he'd be "perfectly willing" to talk to Greyhound about staying in Riverside, but "Greyhound won't talk to me."

Really? Abby Wambaugh, who speaks for Greyhound ("Speak, Greyhound! Speak!"), said she'd talked to the four key peeps in the Greyhound-Riverside saga. None had received a call from the councilman. But she said Greyhound wants to stay in Riverside. Values its customers. (Good dog!)

Since Greyhound wants to stay (Stay, boy!) and Councilman Gardner is "perfectly willing" to talk to anyone, are the hound's key peeps going to sit by their phones and hope for a call? Or will one of them screw up the courage (it couldn't be worse than asking for a prom date) and call the councilman?

Abby: "I don't know."

Or could it be that the councilman and the dogs don't care enough about Riverside riders to make a call at all?

(Roll over. Play dead.)

About 85,000 riders each year, most of which aren't the criminals and thugs that some city council members have tried to portray them as but are families, seniors, disabled individuals and military veterans. That's a lot of constituents not to care about, even though they might not be part of the traffic the city had hoped to attract from neighboring Orange County.

Postmus still won't answer, states Cassie MacDuff in her column.

Ward Four city council candidate, Paul Davis is hosting his first meet and greet this Sunday, Nov. 16 at noon-4 p.m. at 1091 Crestbrook Drive in Riverside. He's announced that he's running against Councilman Frank Schiavone and any other challengers during Election 2009 which will host its preliminary round via mail-in ballot in early June.

Rumors are flowing of other Ward Four candidates possibly coming out of the woodwork and so far, all of them appear to be Republicans. Still, the election season hasn't even begun to get started yet so there's still plenty of time for this epic event to get underway.

Wildomar elects its first mayor. Congratulations for achieving full cityhood and completing this major milestone.

The trial of a former Murrieta Councilman continues with more testimony. Most cities had elections in November. Murrieta? This city had elections and a corruption trial.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Prosecutor Richard West asked Osmond whether Enochs ever said anything about his job prospects in Murrieta.

"He asked me to sign some document. ... He said something to the effect that I wouldn't work in the city again unless I said what he wanted me to say," Osmond testified.

What did that mean, West asked.

"It was no big deal," Osmond said. "It wasn't a threat to me."

Enochs also demanded Osmond fire the employee suspected of having a liaison with his then wife, Osmond testified.

"I told him (Enochs) that I fired him ... just because I knew what he was going through ... to make him a little happier."

When questioned by Enochs' lawyer, Virginia Blumenthal, Osmond said while he lied to Warnie Enochs, he did not lie to Julia Enochs.

In Hemet, it looks like police officers and firefighters will face layoffs due to budget cuts there. Interviewed was Chief Richard Dana who used to be a commander in the Riverside Police Department.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The police and fire chiefs, whose departments make up the bulk of Hemet's general fund expenses, say they have no choice but to make reductions. They said they would encourage employees who are planning to retire, transfer or resign to do so in order to avert as many layoffs as possible.

"We've been over and over this with Len, and that's the truth; we're looking at a plan for a deficit that has to be made up," Police Chief Richard Dana said.

"I'll be laying off police officers," he said.

The final number is still being finalized, Dana said, but he said he believes it could "easily" be 12 to 16 officers, or "even more." The department employs more than 80 police officers.

"Certainly cuts are going to occur at any rank. ... We're looking at management personnel, supervisors, detectives, officers, all of them," Dana said.

Fire Chief Matt Shobert said firefighters are nervous, and he's not able to give them much assurance.

"Cuts are going to be deep enough to cause some concerns about our ability to respond to the needs of the community," Shobert said. "I will be closing a fire station, at least."

More millions of dollars being paid out in Los Angeles stemming from retaliation-based litigation. This time, a veteran officer who worked in the canine bomb squad at Los Angeles International Airport won $3.6 million from a jury in a case where he alleged he was demoted for supporting a colleague's sexual harassment claim.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

Officer Donald Bender was stripped of a rank and kicked out of the department's canine bomb unit at LAX after he came to the defense of the only woman in the unit, who was subjected to lewd jokes and innuendoes and excluded from training sessions, according to Matthew McNicholas, Bender's attorney.

Wednesday's verdict marked the second multimillion-dollar jury verdict in the last three months resulting from retaliation claims. In September, a jury awarded $3.1 million to a Los Angeles Police Department officer who said he was penalized for reporting a superior's racial epithets and possible embezzlement. Additionally, the City Council is scheduled to vote next week on yet another large payout to settle the case of Patricia Fuller, the female officer whom Bender said he supported. A person close to the matter said the figure was in the millions of dollars.

"There is a history of this type of situation, where we're losing millions of dollars in these hard economic times," said Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine, a former LAPD sergeant and member of the council's Public Safety Committee.

Zine said the verdicts were an indication that there were gaps in investigations by the department's professional standards bureau and internal affairs. He called for the Police Commission's civilian watchdog to investigate the problem.

"How does this happen if it's all done properly?" he said.

In Sierra Madre, the police chief there is not too concerned that many officers voted no-confidence in her performance.

(excerpt, Pasadena Star News)

"We are going in the same direction," said Diaz, who was unavailable for comment earlier this week when the Sierra Madre Police Officers Association announced the no-confidence vote against her.

"We are moving forward," the chief said, "and I am as confident and as committed as ever to move the department ahead to work together."

The SMPOA's attorneys announced the no-confidence vote Wednesday, citing complaints about increasingly "vindictive" internal affairs investigations authorized by Diaz and alleging harassment by her, among other complaints.

"Primarily, it is Chief Diaz's lack of leadership, hypocrisy, and expensive paranoia that has led the small and once close-knit cohesive department to render such a damning indictment regarding her failure," the announcement read.

In response to the SMPOA's allegations, Diaz said she believes the union's claims are the result of a backlash by some officers against her drive to implement a more professional culture within the department.

"I think this is nothing more than resistance from people reluctant to embrace more professional standards," Diaz said. "Changing the organizational culture is difficult for some people - in any organization it's difficult for people to embrace change - and I thinkQuantcast

that's all this is."

The Virginia Beach Police Department did address the use of racial slurs by officers. So said a captain there while testifying at trial.

(excerpt, The Virginian Pilot)

Capt. Tony Zucaro, in charge of the department's second precinct, testified in a federal civil rights suit filed by the Oceanfront bar Hammerheads. He said he had never before heard or been made aware that some officers might be using the "N-word," as it was described in court, or other racially derogatory terms.

But once he did, in August following the deposition of a police officer, he said, he "took immediate action."

"I instructed staff to attend roll call and talk about this issue and talk about protocols," Zucaro said on the stand. He said he lectured the officers on the "values and courtesy" that should be afforded "all members" of the public.

A city police officer said in a deposition in August that he and others, including his superiors, use racial epithets to describe black people. The officer, Steven J. Kennedy, is expected to testify at the trial.

Meanwhile in Richmond, California, the officer who posed with another individual dressed up like a member of the Ku Klux Klan at a party has resigned.

(excerpt, Contra Costa Times)

A reader forwarded two photos to the Times in an e-mail Tuesday morning, both apparently depicting costume-clad people at a Halloween party. A man identified by multiple sources as Richmond police Officer Ben Murdoch appears in both photos, dressed as a rock star.

Another, unidentified man also appears in the photos, dressed in the white sheet and conical white hat of the Ku Klux Klan. In both photos, those depicted are raising their hands in an apparent mock-Nazi salute.

Police Chief Chris Magnus said he could not comment, other than to confirm that he placed Murdoch on paid leave Tuesday afternoon, when he learned of the pictures, and that Murdoch and the city parted ways Wednesday.

"If proven, that would be a punishable offense, up to and including termination," Magnus said. "It would show a complete lack of judgment, maturity and sensitivity. That is uncharacteristic of this department's personnel as a whole."

Murdoch, 27, was sworn in to Richmond's police force in January. The city Web site shows that he was assigned to the patrol division, working in a beat east of Carlson Boulevard and south of Ohio Avenue, including the Laurel Park and Richmond Annex neighborhoods.

"He has the right (to free speech), but he understands that his exercise of that
right creates an image of him, and of the police department," said attorney Michael Rains, who represents Murdoch. "He feels terrible. He told me, 'People don't know who I am, they don't know what I stand for.' He is sincerely sorry."

Two Minneapolis Police Department officers were fired after being charged in an incident which was another example of why alcohol and guns don't mix.

(excerpt, Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

Scott Mars, 34, and William Thornbury, 28, who were off duty when the alleged acts occurred, have been on paid administrative leave since the May 28 incident. They were fired in October.

On Wednesday, Lt. John Delmonico, head of the police federation, questioned why the officers were fired before their criminal cases were complete, and said a grievance has been filed over their firings.

"In 99 percent of the cases in which officers are charged with a crime, the police administration waits before handing out any kind of discipline because the case outcome will have an impact," he said.

Police Chief Tim Dolan would only say that the two officers were no longer employees of the city. In response to Delmonico's comment, he said it's the federation's job to defend its members.

A fight over police records in Worcester.

And in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, at least 5,635 rape kits haven't been tested.

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