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, December 30, 2008

People, places and things as 2008 nears its end

" I'm very ashamed. People always used to say to me: `Oh, you live in Hamilton? Do you have horses?' Now I don't want to tell them where I live, because they'll say, `Oh, you have the crooked police department."'

---Lois Davis, resident Hamilton, Massachusetts where the police department's erupted into scandals.

At least nine law enforcement officers were arrested and charged with crimes in the Inland Empire in 2008, according to the Press Enterprise. And most of the charges faced by these officers involved sexual battery or sexual assault under the color of authority. Before anyone claims that I'm obsessed with these crimes, it doesn't sound like I or anyone who blogs on this issue is the problem. It sounds like it's those who engage in this misconduct that have raised this and other misconduct issues to the level of needing to be addressed are the ones with serious problems.

One of those arrested this past year was Riverside Police Department Officer Robert Forman who has since been fired by his agency after being arrested in October and charged with three sexual misconduct felonies. He was arraigned several weeks after that and plead not guilty to two counts of oral copulation under the power of authority and one count of sexual battery. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 23. The allegations raised against him came about after an investigation into incidents involving three separate women who came into contact with Forman while he worked as a patrol officer.

Not surprisingly, a lot of the focus was on the recruitment and hiring process involving law enforcement officers including the conducting of background checks, which is the stage where experts believe the problems that erupt later on, may actually start.


Prospective officers' criminal, civil and credit histories are checked. They face physical, medical and mental exams. Their friends, neighbors and siblings are interviewed.

No felony convictions are allowed, said Bob Stresak, spokesman for the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training. The commission sets minimum standards for screening and training.

Sniff wants the commission to add an integrity test.

"There is a lot of trust we put in these folks to do the right thing even when nobody is watching," Sniff said.

Riverside police Capt. Michael Blakely, who oversees training, police personnel and internal affairs, said troubled histories help identify most problem applicants.

"What they have done in the past is the best indicator of what they will do in the future," Blakely said.

Sniff said people fresh out of college or high school sometimes slip through because they have not had enough life experience to reveal their true character. That is why he would like the state to implement an integrity test that would probe the candidate's ethics.

About 10 percent of candidates make it to the academy, where they receive at least 664 hours of training, Stresak said.

Capt. Greg Bottrell, the head of training for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, estimated at least 40 hours are dedicated to training that orders officers to report any criminal activity or serious break in policy by colleagues.

"That is their first lesson," Bottrell said.

2009 begins a new year and hopefully, there will be fewer similar problems with law enforcement officers in the upcoming months. Of course, the majority of law enforcement officers don't get themselves into trouble like these nine apparently did. But do they speak out when they see this kind of misconduct or hear about it or do they remain silent? And what happens to them if they do speak out?

The economic crisis will have a negative impact on the budget picture of many cities in Riverside County. However, most cities are probably not going to raise taxes. At least that's what they say right now.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Riverside, Corona and Norco officials outlined spending cuts to bring budgets in line with lower revenue.

Riverside's general fund revenues dropped from $228 million in 2007-08 to less than $205 million projected for the current year, Assistant City Manager Thomas DeSantis said.

Riverside and Norco are freezing most positions as they become vacant, with exceptions for public safety, DeSantis said in an e-mail.

For instance, when Norco's city clerk left for another job in Rancho Cucamonga, the city manager's secretary assumed the city clerk's duties as well as her own, Azevedo said.

Norco also is considering reducing some nonpatrol positions it contracts from the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, such as community service officers performing administrative duties, Okoro and Azevedo said.

Riverside plans to impose "minimal layoffs," DeSantis said. Some projects will be postponed, as well.

Corona laid off 69 employees and eliminated 43 vacant positions in October. Mayor Steve Nolan said he believes the city is in good shape now.

In the city of San Bernardino, the gang intervention program, Operation Phoenix will be expanded even as Riverside cuts its own back including firing two of its community outreach workers not long ago.

So far DeSantis has underreported those "minimal layoffs" as he did when he said that during one week in December that the city had laid off only a civilian employee in the Fire Department while in reality, the city had also laid off Community Relations Director Yvette Pierre, Riverside Police Department public information officer Steve Frasher and a female employee in the city's general services division. So unfortunately, you have to kind of take his words with a grain of salt.

And it's great news that DeSantis stated by email that there will be no freezing of public safety positions. That surely means that he will also be lifting all the freezes in public safety which must surely mean the officer, sergeant, lieutenant and civilian positions which have been frozen for months now. I'm not sure why he's apparently speaking for Norco as well.

The discussion on the 10th year anniversary of Tyisha Miller continues on various venues at the Press Enterprise.

"Crazy Horse" and "Shockwave" continue to lead the brigade, as they have on earlier threads, defending what they claim is their profession. The only problem is that probably without intending it, they're doing the opposite by confirming some of people's fears of it. Particularly, its insulated, "us versus them" culture. They're fairly distinctive because they pull out every defense mechanism in their bag right down to the use of personal attacks using derogatory terms commonly used against disabled individuals to try and prove their arguments. It's not like it's not been said before.

On the latest article, "Crazy Horse" discusses armored vehicles and anatomical body parts. Notice how quickly rather than providing a comprehensive and well-structured argument on the issues brought up by other individuals, he descends into making personal attacks. Often, they either infantalize (the use of "little boy") or emasculate their critics who are believed to be male and the women? They may resort to using gender slurs which mercifully enough hasn't happened so far.


Actually, when LAPD came out with their 'rescue vehicle", I was one of the first group of guys to see it on an operation. So yeah, I know they exist. The Tyisha Miller caper isn't the appropriate application for such a vehicle.

You reveal the depth of your ignorance when you flap your lips about that which you know nothing. You weren't at the scene and you have never been called upon to make decisions under that type of pressure. Run along little boy.

I guess Ralph is the boy in the plastic bubble. Tyisha Miller was nothing but a no good robber and a gangster. Only reason for a girl to get hopped up on Ecstasy, weed, and liquor and ride around at midnight with two guns given to her by a parolee is because she's looking to commit a crime. I personally, based on years of throwing these losers in jail, believe she was going to commit an armed robbery.

Only thing those officers did that night was do society a favor. I don't care if she's deceased. I call it straight and factual. All these flowery b.s. things her family and gangster friends say about her are vomit-inducing.

Ralph, take the exhausting exam process for police officer before flapping your lips. Take a ride through Belltown and Rubidoux. Maybe the graffiti is still there that says "R.I.P. Terrible Tyee."

Your wonderful human being Tyisha was a full fledged member of the Westside PJ's.....a notorious Crips set.

"Shockwave" uses the same tactics and calls someone else a "moron". He hasn't called anyone a "whore" yet but the conversation's still young. It's not that his initial sentences don't sometimes make some sort of sense and have merit, it's just that he shoots himself in the foot ( which is a bad pun), by then using his status defined through those sentences to engage in personal attacks including the use of "moron" which is considered a slur to disabled individuals and their communities. Something the law enforcement agency which employs him should keep in mind when crafting its cultural diversity training program because he also loves the word "idiot" which is another offensive word to these communities.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

JWB..Your the moron! Police Officers "put" themselves in a position to be shot everyday simply by going to work. Your just a typical idiot who can't seem to understand or appreciate the danger those officers, and others, are in everyday. Morons like yourself love to shoot your mouth off when you (and those like you) have absolutely no idea what your talking about. That makes you "stupid". You don't like the fact most of the officers received retirements?? Awww,,,too bad. Get over it!

Not that it's not in a way fascinating seeing remnants of the old police culture fight for recognition and survival in venues like this one, but are they on this site because no one in their crowd wants to hear about it, or because they view themselves as the spokesmen for that culture, which includes pimping the difficult aspects of being a law enforcement officer to justify their own name calling in lieu of rational and well-thought out arguments.

And unlike with women and men like Miller, the state laws constrict the rights of city residents to know any misconduct that police officers become involved in until it spills out in the public arena usually through the media. Meaning that the vast majority of what there is to know about law enforcement officers is shielded from the public by state laws. And if they are what they say they are and conducting themselves like this, what else are they doing?

What's ironic about these comments is that one of these individuals tells people to "get over it" when what's abundantly clear is that it's these individuals who are still freeze-framed in December 1998. It's interesting in its own way but it's sobering in another.

After reading some of these comments against Miller, you have to ask yourself, are these authors all self-identified law enforcement officers revealing the best sides of themselves, the worse sides or what's the truth about what kind of people that they are or is like the first sentence of the article on Miller?.

... life cannot be summed up tidily.

And it might be useful to have forums like that at the Press Enterprise for them to express themselves, because for one thing, it provides an insight into a side of some law enforcement officers that they usually keep hidden from plain sight.

Attorney Virginia Blumenthal was voted the president of the Riverside Community College Board of Trustees by the other members.

One major question in Orange County is being asked. Why didn't former Sheriff Mike Carona take a plea bargain?

After two weeks out on holiday, closing arguments will be delivered to end the trial phase of his federal corruption case.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

So Carona stayed in his seat, hoping for . . . what?

That jurors would dismiss Haidl as a self-serving liar? Or, perhaps, that even if he gave Carona money, it wouldn't strike jurors as having a corrupting effect?

A former prosecutor I interviewed earlier in the trial talked about the "no harm, no foul" defense, in which jurors come to accept that the public was not wronged by alleged misdeeds.

Maybe jurors will sign off on some or all of that.

More realistically, Carona needs only one juror to hold fast to that position -- enough to create a hung jury and no conviction.But what a risk.

And that's what I don't get. Not so much that Carona didn't testify, but that if he knew he wasn't going to -- leaving Haidl and the tapes largely unchallenged -- why not settle this case long ago and presumably get a better deal than a conviction would land him?

The government is always willing to barter. It's pretty standard that defendants who reject plea deals get tougher sentences if convicted.

And just as it was more than a year ago, not taking one may prove the biggest mistake Mike Carona ever made.

Comprehensive coverage of the Carona case and trial is here.

The number of officer deaths declined in 2008 which is very good news. According to the news article, this was attributed to better tactics and training. But keep in mind, many departments across the country are in danger of reductions in training due to budget cuts which might have an impact on the upcoming year.

However, one of the areas where deaths increased were those involving female law enforcement officers with 15 being killed this year.

(excerpt, Associated Press)

Gunfire deaths dropped to 41 officers this year, compared to 68 in 2007. The 2008 number represented the lowest total since 1956 - when there were 35 - and was far below the peak of 156 officers killed by gunfire in 1973.

Traffic-related deaths also declined, with 71 officers killed this year, compared to 83 in 2007. It was the 11th consecutive year that more officers were killed in traffic incidents than from any other cause.

More than 61 percent of this year's fatalities involved accidents and 39 percent resulted from criminal acts.

The only downside was deaths of women officers: 15 in 2008 compared to 6 a year ago. More women officers than before are in harm's way, the groups said, because they're taking on the same dangerous assignments as men.

Craig Floyd, chairman of the Memorial Fund, said in an interview that officers are getting better training and equipment.

More than 70 percent of policemen use bullet-resistant vests compared to fewer than half a decade ago, he said.

And officers are making better use of Taser stun guns and other non-lethal weapons that keep them a safe distance from violent offenders, Floyd said.

To avoid traffic deaths, officers are better trained in high-speed and defensive driving techniques. Police vehicles now have better safety equipment, including side air bags and a substance installed near the gas tank to suppress fire when the vehicle is struck.

In coverage, the deaths of officers in traffic accidents is often deemphasized compared to those who die through firearms, even though until this year the trend had been that these led the causes of deaths. Improvements in training including the use of defensive driving hopefully has turned the tide.

A supervisor with the Denver Police Department is in hot water after being busted for taping himself having sex with subordinate employees.

An officer in New Mexico got caught being a "peeping tom" while off-duty.

(excerpt, Albuquerque Journal)

A friend of the woman told police he confronted Officer Adam Gallegos, 37, at the scene and tried to keep him there until officers arrived, saying whatever the officer was doing "wasn't cool," according to police reports.

"It just wasn't right," said Luis Flores, 28, a Santa Fe construction worker and bartender. "Honestly, it's pretty creepy. That dude should not be a cop."

Deputy Police Chief Benjie Montano told The New Mexican that the department is awared of the allegations against Gallegos and is conducting an investigation of the incident.

The corruption in Hamilton, Massachusetts involving the police department has scarred the city and is having a domino effect.

(excerpt, The Boston Globe)

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health suspended the license of Hamilton's police-run ambulance service earlier this month after an investigation revealed that a majority of the town's officers, including the chief, participated in a scheme to falsify emergency medical technician training and certification records.

That enabled them to continue to run the ambulance service - and receive thousands of dollars in bonus pay as officer-EMTs - despite the apparent widespread failure to keep up with mandatory continuing education and refresher training designed to protect the public.

"I could see if a few got away with it, but all the way to the top? That's unforgivable," said Anthony DiFrancisco, a 74-year-old architect. Like Davis, he was interviewed at the Shoppes at Hamilton Crossing, a clapboard-covered plaza near the Wenham line where all the stores, including the Dunkin' Donuts, have signs of carved wood and polished brass.

"The hardest thing to swallow is that it's so widespread," DiFrancisco added. "That's the thing that's really scary."

With his retirement pending and his roughly $80,000-a-year pension in jeopardy, Chief Walter Cullen was recently placed on paid leave, along with Sergeant Donald Dupray. An independent, selectmen-commissioned investigation found that the two had misappropriated a $6,100 federal technology grant.

Dupray declined to be interviewed. Cullen did not return calls seeking comment.

The last few minutes of the Columbia space shuttle. NASA releases a lengthy report on the ill-fated mission.

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