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

Monday, March 31, 2008

April showers and what they bring

It might be raining tomorrow because after all, April's the month of spring showers. The spring flowers have already started to bloom in Riverside, returning from a year's absence because this year there's been much more rain than the paltry 1.92 inches that fell last year.

For those who haven't been downtown, the the portion of the pedestrian mall on Main Street has been torn up for renovation to the tune of at least $12 million. Although renovated by the Downtown Neighborhood Partnership some years ago, this project is being paid out as part of Riverside's renaissance.

The past renovation that had been done on the mall utilized business tax collections from the downtown businesses including those that no longer exist or will exist due to threats of eminent domain. That was when the partnership had promised these businesses that their turn would come when the tax money collected would be used to renovate Market Street. But it never did come. Instead, came the day that they would have to sell their properties to the city so that the city could hand them to private development firms outside of Riverside.

The city seems to believe the mall will be completed ahead of schedule.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

City officials originally said they intended to do the Main Street renovation in two phases -- one to be completed before this year's Festival of Lights, which begins the day after Thanksgiving, and the second to be done after the festival ends in January 2009.

Though the issue remains open, now all five blocks might be completed by Thanksgiving.

"We are still considering an expedited schedule to have it all done by the Festival of Lights," Beck said.

David St. Pierre, who owns the Delights & Invites gift and stationery store on Main Street between Mission Inn Avenue and Sixth Street, said he'd like to see the project finished in one fell swoop.

"Just to get it over with," he said outside his shop.

That sounds like an enthusiastic response from the downtown business community indeed but you can't blame them. Being in the middle of construction is never good for business so it's important to remember that they are there and support them amid the din of jackhammars and cement mixers.

Even as the governor of California threatens to close Citrus State Park due to budget cuts, more trees are being planted there.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Sector Superintendent John Rowe said workers are planting despite the threatened closure because the park would not be closed forever.

"Instead of having barren fields, it's better to plant as planned," he said.

Osbaldo Hernandez plants lemon saplings Monday at Citrus State Historic Park in Riverside. Plans to replant the grove include a few exotic varieties, 20 acres of lemon trees and 10 acres of grapefruit.

In the late 1900s, Riverside had more than 25,000 acres of citrus, Rowe said. Current estimates put the number at about 4,000 acres.

Another mini-session of the Riverside City Council will be held tonight. Here's the agenda. People have committed on the trimmed down meetings of recent weeks. But given that the minds of elected officials are pretty much made up for they come to the meetings, it makes a lot of sense to trim the time spent down a bit. It's also great for the local bars and restaurants where people can hop to after meeting's end and help out the local economy.

Dinner and a show, or a show and dinner. Not bad for a night's out and the city council meetings are still free.

Among the highlights, are the naming of the 25 remarkable teens and the presentation of a proclamation to head librarian, Barbara Custon. One hopes that Custon didn't have to receive special written permission from her boss's office to even accept this award, given the policy against speaking that was instituted on the rest of the library's employees even when it comes to explaining policies to visitors.

There will be a local business appreciation reception being held for local businesses. Most likely those not on the invite list are those local businesses who were threatened with eminent domain if they didn't agree to be purchased by the city to be handed off for private development. Maybe they'll hold a separate appreciation reception for them.

A former Riverside County Superior Court who was removed from the bench by the Commission on Judicial Performance last year, removed his name from an election ballot. The judicial races coming up are shaping to be exciting ones, which isn't usual given that most judges run for additional terms unopposed.

Speaking of Riverside County's judicial court system, it figured prominently in the State of the Judiciary speech given by California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald George. The Press Enterprise Editorial Board again pushed for the funding of more judges. You know the judges that were promised the Inland Empire this year? Well, their arrival has been delayed until at least 2009.


Riverside and San Bernardino counties need, and have been promised, more judges. Yet judicial hiring was one of the first places Gov. Schwarzenegger and legislators looked for savings in the mid-year budget cuts that legislators enacted in February. The cuts delay the hiring of 60 judges and construction of courtrooms to house them until 2009. Of the delayed judges, 13 were bound for Inland courtrooms to relieve crushing caseloads of about 6,400 cases per judge per year. The average for the rest of the state is 4,600.

San Bernardino County has 84 judges. George cited a National Center for State Courts assessment that found it needed 145. The corresponding numbers for Riverside County are 76 and 133.

Those numbers mean that justice is being delayed in the Inland counties, often for absurdly long periods of time. Riverside's civil courts have been essentially closed for most of the past two years as those judges were reassigned to criminal cases. George last year assembled a 12-judge strike force to help clear the backlog. But the crush is still more than 1,000 cases deep, and George said Tuesday he would not budget the task force for another year.

This ongoing crisis has been one that's gripped the Inland Empire particularly Riverside County in the past several years after the District Attorney's office changed its procedure for handling major felonies, bringing more trials to an over strapped court system that's been more than a few judges short of a full load for years.

The Riverside Sheriffs' Association has reached a tentative labor agreement with the county's board of supervisors. Their members will be getting about a 12% increase over three years beginning with a retroactive raise back to January.

The family of a woman who died in police custody at Phoenix Airport has filed an $8 million claim but the city has vowed to stand by its officers.

(excerpt, Associated Press)

Gotbaum family attorney Michael Manning wrote in the claim that police erred by putting her alone and shackled in a holding room.

"In the process, they ignored the warning signs that their own policies, procedures and training materials told them could result in Carol's death," Manning wrote.

Police have contended that Gotbaum's death was accidental and that officers who took her into custody did nothing wrong.

Wednesday's letter from the city's legal department to Manning said the claim that police should have responded differently was wrong.

"The thrust of the Gotbaum family claim is that the City of Phoenix police officers should have been more supportive than Carol's own husband, more knowledgeable than her own family, and should somehow have known that she suffered from a private condition that she deliberately hid from the public," said the letter signed by attorney Stephen Craig.

"But the Gotbaum family has publicly admitted, not only that Carol hid her medical and mental condition, but that the officers responded to Carol exactly the way her husband knew they would respond because they did not have critical information known only to the Gotbaum family," the letter continued.

The city letter included transcripts of phone calls Noah Gotbaum made to the airport the afternoon of his wife's death, telling officials he was concerned about her whereabouts because she was depressed and suicidal.

The Phoenix Police Department will probably refuse settling in any way, said Sgt. Andy Hill, a spokesman for the agency.

"The promise that was made to the police officers involved by the city legal unit when this all began was if those actions by those officers were justified and were professional, that they would go to the furthest extent possible to protect those officers," Hill said. "That is what's happening today."

That's what cities and counties always say in cases like these and that they'll stand by the officers and they do, right up until the point they settle these lawsuits for major dollars behind closed doors. And more often than not, the city through its attorney will insist most ardently that it will on the cases that end up yielding the highest dollar amounts.

Riverside's justified the shootings of Summer Marie Lane in 2004 and the shooting of Lee Deante Brown in 2006 and likely will do the same with Douglas Steven Cloud, another 2006 shooting. Yet, by the time the settlement is announced and finalized in the Brown case, the city will have paid out nearly $1.5 million in settlements with still two lawsuits filed by Terry Rabb's family members not included. One would think that if the city was really standing behind its officers who use lethal force, that the payouts would come closer to equaling $0. But then again, it's clearly not the city manager's office or more accurately, the police department that's making the final disposition on these officer-involved deaths, it's the city council.

That's why it's not going to be surprising to hear months or a year from now, that Phoenix will be quietly paying out a settlement to the family of this deceased woman behind closed doors.

This editorial appeared arguing in favor of an independent police review board in DeKalb County, Georgia. It arose in response to a review that showed out of 12 officer-involved shootings that occurred in the county last year, 11 were justified.

(excerpt, Atlantic Journal-Constitution)

The close working relationship among police, crime scene investigators, the medical examiner's office and the district attorney's office illustrates why large police forces need independent oversight. Counties in metro Atlanta rely almost exclusively on internal investigations of police shootings, followed by grand juries if there is evidence a shooting was unjustified. Those procedures rarely result in a review that helps police determine whether the shootings could have been avoided.

Independent civilian review boards —- like the one being formed now by the city of Atlanta —- provide a better framework for examining police use of force and learning from the incidents. They can study procedures and policies, spot trends in how the department handles confrontations and bring persistent complaints to the attention of department commanders and public officials. That's why more than 100 large American cities and counties have adopted citizen-review panels or hired professional monitors to examine police conduct.

Since the 2006 spate of shootings, DeKalb police have been involved in only one fatal confrontation with a suspect. But two DeKalb officers were gunned down this year by a man they were trying to search.

By going outside the thin blue line and adopting independent oversight of police actions and procedures, DeKalb County may minimize the number of suspect shootings and save the lives of officers in the process.

IN White Plains, there's a crime wave, but it's police officers being arrested.

(excerpt, Associated Press)

The cluster of cases over the past year in Westchester County may be an aberration, but even a partial list seems shocking in this relatively affluent and quiet New York City suburb:

-A Mount Kisco officer was charged with manslaughter in the death of a homeless, drunken immigrant who had suffered a blow to his abdomen. The officer has resigned and is fighting the charge, but the case has raised tensions about immigration and revealed a practice of police departments "dumping" their undesirables in neighboring towns.

-A New Rochelle sergeant, husband of a local TV anchorwoman, has been charged with forcibly raping a 17-year-old girl.

-The Justice Department is investigating allegations of brutality in Yonkers and Sleepy Hollow, where officers used a stun gun on a 16-year-old suspected of stealing a bicycle.

-County officers killed an armed, off-duty Mount Vernon cop who was trying to make an arrest in White Plains. A grand jury cleared the officers, who apparently did not know Officer Christopher Ridley was a policeman, but some black leaders say he might not have been shot if he were white.

-Two off-duty New York City officers were accused of assaulting a man outside a Yonkers bar, and two colleagues were accused of attempting a cover-up.

James McCabe, who retired from the NYPD as an inspector and now teaches criminal justice at Sacred Heart University, said the litany of cases "certainly sounds alarming, but we don't know enough to say if this is a trend." Serious police crimes are very rare exceptions, he said.

Trent Benefield, one of Sean Bell's friends who was also shot by New York City Police Department officers took the stand in the trial of three NYPD detectives.

(excerpt, New York Times)

The testimony from Mr. Benefield, 24, appeared to contradict the grand jury testimony of the detectives, none of whom have said they shot at him as he ran away. Mr. Benefield said he was first shot in both calves in the back seat.
Asked what happened next, he said: “Opened the door and jumped out. Started running.”

“I got shot again,” he said. Asked where, he said: “My thigh. My left thigh.”
He said a man in plain clothes approached with a gun, so he put up his hands. “I told him I didn’t do nothing,” he testified. “I was just shot.”

Mr. Benefield’s sworn account of what happened outside the Club Kalua in Jamaica, Queens, on the morning of Nov. 25, 2006, was given to grand jurors last year, but had not been heard publicly until today.

Benefield provided his account of the shooting on the witness stand.

(excerpt, New York Daily News)

Testifying for the first time at the trial of three detectives on trial for killing Bell, Trent Benefield said moments before he was sitting in the back seat of his slain friend's car when a "dark skinned" man suddenly appeared.

"He was in the front of the car, closer to the passenger side," Benefield said. "He had a gun pointed towards us. He had it pointed at the car. He had it pointed toward 'S'."

Benefield, who was badly wounded in the shooting, said he didn't recognize the man, whom prosecutors have identified at Det. Gescard Isnora. He said he did not see any police badges displayed.

"Joe told 'S' to go, drive," Benefield said, refering to Joseph Guzman and using his nickname for Bell. "He started to drive, I felt a collision ... I covered my face like this."

And as a packed Queens courtroom looked on, Benefield balled his fists and held his forearms in front of his face.

"I heard shots," he continued. "I felt myself get shot. My two calves, both. I opened the door and jumped out on the drivers side. I started running."

Benefield said he didn't get far.

"I got shot again, my right thigh, I fell to the ground," he said. "When I looked up, I saw a man walking up to me. He was tall, heavyset, dark-skinned guy. I was on the sidewalk."

Benefield said the man told him to "stay down."

"I told him I didn't do nothing," he said. "I'd been shot."

White Power.

Blue by day, white by night

These were on racist stickers that were posted by two narcotics officers from Philadelphia's police department. These officers were disciplined, according to the San Francisco Examiner.


Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey this week personally punished officers Scott Schweizer and Eric Dial, transferring the pair out of the Narcotics Strike Force to routine patrol in districts where they started as rookies. The officers were also each suspended for 20 days without pay and prohibited from using vacation days toward the unpaid leave.

The disciplinary action punctuated a two-month internal investigation that began after two racist stickers were found inside Schweizer's locker. One sticker read: "White Power." The other depicted a cartoon of a man, half as an officer in uniform and half as a Klansman, with the words "Blue By Day - White By Night."

Ramsey described the discipline as "harsh" but "just" and said he stopped short of firing the officers because they "had no histories that would indicate that they engaged in any racist type of activities."

"We live in a diverse society . . . Police officers can't harbor prejudices," Ramsey told the Philadelphia Daily News in a phone interview. "We do have to serve everyone equally and fairly."

Here's an interesting job opening in the field of mediation.

The New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) anticipates
a future opening for the Director of Mediation position. The CCRB is
a mayoral agency that provides independent civilian oversight of the
New York City Police Department. It is the largest civilian police
oversight agency in the United States. The CCRB is independent of
the NYPD and is empowered to investigate and mediate complaints
against New York City police officers involving the use of force,
abuse of authority, discourtesy or offensive language. The agency's
staff is composed entirely of civilian employees. The CCRB receives
approximately 7,500 complaints each year. The Mediation Unit
processes approximately 500 of these cases each year, making CCRB's
mediation program the largest of its kind in the country.

The incumbent oversees the agency's mediation program and reports
directly to the Executive Director. Duties include: (1) managing
the Mediation Unit; (2) working with the Board's ADR Committee,
senior agency staff, and NYPD executives; (3) implementing ADR
policies and procedures developed together with the ADR Committee and
the Executive Director; (4) training CCRB investigators in agency's
mediation program; (5) recruiting and training outside mediators; (6)
assessing and maintaining the quality and diversity of the mediation
program and of the mediators' roster; (7) providing continuing
education for mediators; and (8) representing mediation program
outside the agency by using media, public presentations and outreach.


Candidates must have: (1) significant experience and training in
facilitative mediation; (2) strong analytical, interpersonal and
communication skills; (3) experience in developing and managing
programmatic initiatives; and (4) either (a) a master's / doctoral
degree from an accredited university in a related field (dispute
resolution, law, business, public administration, etc.) and at least
2 years of satisfactory full-time executive, managerial, or
administrative experience, OR (b) a baccalaureate degree from an
accredited college and at least 4 years of satisfactory full-time
professional experience, including 2 years of executive, managerial,
or administrative experience. New York City residency within 90 days
of appointment is required.

SALARY: $70,000 - $80,000 plus excellent benefits.

DEADLINE TO APPLY: April 25, 2008. Early submission is encouraged.
Resumes received after the deadline may not be considered.

SEND RESUME AND COVER LETTER (referencing "Director of Mediation"
position) to:
Beth Thompson, Director of Personnel
Civilian Complaint Review Board
40 Rector Street, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10006

by mail -OR-
by fax 212-676-6037 -OR-
by e-mail (as a PDF or Word attachment) to ccrbjobs@ccrb.

Additional information concerning the CCRB is available at gov/ccrb
CCRB is an Equal Opportunity Employer

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

City of the Festivals: Who would win the crown?

On Saturday, Riverside hosted its annual air show at its municipal airport. Over 93,000 people attended the event, the city's second most attended after the annual celebration of the City of the Lights.

Airplanes flew in from all over and some of them did more than fly in a straight line from Point A to Point B. Some flew sideways, backwards and one pilot even flew way up, turned off his plane's engine and glided in silently for a landing amongst a hushed crowd. There were wing-walkers dressed in bright colors, sky divers, police helicopters and plenty of buffalo wings to be found. A lot of people were having a good time on a nice warm day, with good flying weather. Why does that sometimes feel like a bad thing in Riverside?

For some reason, I thought of the late Orange Blossom Festival which used to attract crowds but is now gone. The promises by the city council to replace it with something more in tune with honoring what's left of city's citrus heritage, unfulfilled. That's too bad. The festival had its problems and needed a closer look but what it didn't need was to disappear from the city's vernacular to fade off into the sunset with the city's citrus heritage. Perhaps some day it will return when the city's under more experienced management and with a different crowd on the dais. To start with? Schedule it not in May, but earlier so that the University of California, Riverside can return with the most popular feature, its citrus fruit taste testing booth.

It's ironic that the City of the Orange's honorary festival implodes while that desert town, Indio, City of the Dates, can keep its own celebration event running strong. Indio's also the seat for the county fair, and it has monster trucks.

The smaller city of Gilroy, City of the Garlic, can keep its own celebration festival running strong year in and year out.

There's Temecula, City of the Grape, which hosts its annual wine festival which attracts huge crowds each year.

It's funny that Riverside's city council has designated itself City of the Arts when it's actually both Temecula Valley and Palm Springs host highly successful international film festivals. Riverside needs to get in line behind these two cultural power houses just to keep up in the Inland Empire's cultural game.

Riverside started its own film festival several years back that's pretty cool. It's coming next month and will be announced at this week's city council mini-meeting. But except for this time of year, you don't hear much about it.

Riverside's not the City of Baseball either because the minor league season starts without us. Riverside's not seen a Single A baseball team since the Riverside Pilots, an affiliate of the Seattle Mariners, picked up stakes in 1995 breaking its contract with the city in the process.

That's the problem when you have a city, Riverside, that keeps piling up titles whereas many other cities actually don't put the cart before the horse and work on areas of living and then let their records in these areas speak for themselves and then wait while they attract these titles through their records not through governmental resolution.

Hopefully, since we're busy creating more ad hoc committees and task forces, perhaps one can be created to study the issue of why this city government keeps doing so and if not, then perhaps create one to study the future of the Orange Blossom Festival like our city government promised when they axed the old one several years ago. It would take some real leaders with real vision to bring a festival back, which honored the citrus heritage, but is there any to take it on?

Of course, maybe now the city can't afford it, even as it continues to borrow more against the futures of the next generation to finance its renaissance because after all, these folks won't be in management or on the dais when these bills all come due.

But if the same course is followed that's been used in the past, there will be a city council resolution declaring Riverside, City of the Festivals and then maybe we'll think some up.

Not that there's not good ones. Several music festivals. Dickons Festival, Harvest festival. Black History month festival and parade. The Multicultural Festival, which was a good one. Actually, you'll have to scrap the last one because it's been canceled until at least 2009. But we need a really, really festival celebrating what's left of what once was, City of the Oranges.

Perhaps it will return some day. But it would be nice to see its return before the last citrus tree is pulled out from the ground.

In the Eastside, more families are receiving computers through a program set up by the city.

"Old Friend" hasn't been back since firing an email off calling me a "bitter cunt" apparently showing me through example what it's like not being a "bitter cunt" through succulent, well thought out, vivid and very succinct prose. The visitor on my site at the time this email was sent had tried to leave a comment on the same posting that was sent by email, about three minutes before the email was sent. It was an ISP that was based in Germany, different from the one this visitor used on March 24 which was also German based. Harassment at the global level from all the way around the world?

Perhaps, but the computer used had as its local time, Pacific Standard Time which isn't the same as the local time in Germany which kind of threw up a red flag. At any rate, it's just another rock-dwelling coward to add to the list of them if it's indeed even a new one.

It's difficult for Colton to go for very long without adding another chapter to the exciting book which defines the political climate at City Hall. Ousted police chiefs, city manager's sending racist emails, indicted councilmen and recalled mayors are only appetizers for what is turning into quite a cauldron of political intrigue.

Now at the center of controversy is the city's practice of deleting work-related emails after 30 days, an action that some say violates the state's public record act. The city's emails have become a subject of great interest ever since several city employees including the city manager were caught calling people "chamber monkeys" and "urban idiots".

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Gary Grossich, a restaurant owner and one of the leaders of the Colton watchdog group Citizens For Colton First, filed a complaint with the San Bernardino County district attorney's public integrity unit, saying that Colton is withholding public information.

Also, attorney Cynthia Puertas filed a writ of mandate on March 11 for her client, Henry Aguila, owner of El Sombrero nightclub in south Colton. Puertas is seeking a court order to force the city to release the e-mails.

Both parties are in litigation with the city. Both parties made their public records requests in February, looking for correspondence that might help their cases.

A hearing is scheduled for May 22 in a Needles courtroom -- the only San Bernardino County court that hears administrative writs, Puertas said.

Colton City Manager Daryl Parrish said Colton's e-mail policy does include retention of documents in hard copy, but it is up to the individual employee to decide what is work product and what is not.

"Looks like we're changing policy on the fly," Grossich said. "I've made requests and never had a problem. Now all of a sudden, they're closing ranks. I think due to the embarrassing e-mails that got out, they're withholding e-mails."

Stay tuned for more out of Colton because after all, there's always something.

In Riverside Superior Court, a sitting judge clashed with a supervising prosecutor after the dismissal of two criminal cases due to lack of available courtrooms. This time, it was Judge Helio Hernandez who had an exchange of words with Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Rushton.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Rushton told Riverside County Superior Court Judge Helios J. Hernandez II that his office believed two courtrooms were available Thursday afternoon to take the cases, thereby avoiding dismissal.

Hernandez said he had determined those courts could not take the cases.

"You are making an assumption judges are doing nothing," said Hernandez, supervising judge for the criminal department in western Riverside County, located in the downtown Hall of Justice. "That is not reality."

Rushton said his office was not suggesting judges had nothing to do, but "whatever they were doing was not as important as taking a case to avoid a dismissal."

Expect the crunch in the courtrooms to get even more severe after the District Attorney's office likely adds Hernandez to its boycott list where current judge (for now) Gary Tranbarger and former judge, Robert Spitzer have been placed. That's one way to deal with problems stemming in part from a shortage of judicial officers I suppose, to limit the pool of available judges to hear trials including those which might face being dismissed.

Taking the justice system a bit more seriously were the high school students participating in the state-wide mock trial finals which continue onward.

How do Riverside and San Bernardino's buildings stack up if there's a major earthquake? A seismologist's responds. San Bernardino has its separate problems with how its restaurants are rated by the health department. Is that restaurant that you just ate at there graded with an "A" or a "C"? In that city, they're not required to tell you their grades on health inspections.

More than 50 people have resumed the search for Stacey Peterson, the wife of a former Bolingbrook Police Department sergeant, who's been missing since last October. Her disappearance is being investigated by the police department and a grand jury, with her husband being the primary person of interest.

Also reopened for criminal investigation is the re-classified homicide of Peterson's third wife, Kathleen Savio, who was found 2004 dead from drowning in her bathtub.

(excerpt, Associated Press)

"Right now we're looking for a body," said Cassandra Cales, Peterson's younger sister. "We're looking for grave sites ... anything."

An interesting article about Avalon, Catalina Island which is about 70% Latino but all of its elected officials and most of its power brokers are White.

Dith Pran (Sept. 27, 1942-March 30, 2008)

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

TGIF and guess who's back

Ah, yet another anti-fan letter has arrived, this time through one of my email accounts.

This email account was the same account that received a harassing email sent by the unidentified sociopath traced back to the city's very own ISP last summer. This latest person (if it's indeed a different person) however considering themselves much smarter utilized a different means of communication which still involved them knowing my email address. This person did so to harass me because they can no longer do that through the comments function which have been turned off for nearly a year now because of harassing comments. As far as mechanisms of harassment go, is it original? Perhaps. Was it smart?

Actually, no it wasn't.

It didn't take long to pick out an ISP that today made its first appearance in quite a while, the same day that I happen to receive a harassing email. The last comment likely posted from this particular ISP in 2007 was one in which I was called a "whore" apparently from a different individual based on the use of different spellings of one particular word present both in this email and that earlier comment. This ISP which is consistently Verizon posted quite a few comments in late 2006 and early 2007 that used servers located around the cities of Pomona and Upland. It's curious to see its return then followed by harassing activity. The city that its server is based in did provide some clues.

It was joined by another PacNet account which showed up several hours earlier that used a server based near Los Angeles and Whittier that was used by the individual who authored the last approved comment in May 2007 bashing Mexicans or more accurately, justifying the bashing of Mexicans at McArthur Park by Los Angeles Police Department officers on May Day. This PacNet account still shows up once or twice daily, most days and tried to leave a comment several weeks ago. As long as this ISP along with three other flagged ones appear, comments will remain closed. And as always, hard copies will be kept of any harassing email or posting.

It's interesting that this individual who possibly has harassed me quite extensively on the internet including here in the past has now chosen to do so by email. After all, comments have been closed since May 2007.

Of course, maybe it's the person who had harassed me through email last summer (through a city-based ISP account). That unidentified individual later inadvertently appeared on my site through the ISP they used in sending me an "apology" email (through a Riverside-based Charter account) while doing a search on a well-known blog search engine for one of the city's departments. One of the city departments that I blogged about yesterday as a matter of fact. One that's now the center of controversy because of disagreement about plans to renovate it from different factions of City Hall. It's interesting to receive a harassing email within 24 hours of blogging on that issue and think, is it from the individual who was so interested in finding out what any blogger might be writing about that city department? What was just as interesting was the city's nonresponse to my inquiries about why an email traced back to it was sent as harassment, several days before I received that "apology" email.

If it's not this individual (and most of the tips I received on last summer's email pointed to one individual in that case), then when did this latest harasser by email obtain my email address and how? Was it recently and that's why it took that long? Most likely, it was an individual who didn't want the email traced back to the ISP they were sending it from. Oh well.

The link that was emailed back to me was for the posting which discussed among other things, the City Hall evacuation and the sale of a liquor store in the Eastside. It's posted below.

There was obviously something in this article he or she didn't like and indeed taking a second look at it, there most definitely is something in there that could have upset some folks. Something several sentences long that was referenced once before, something very few individuals know about but something that still unleashed four angry and disgusting comments in the autumn of 2006 by someone or some people using a Road Runner ISP based around Highland and Fontana including two that were so vile they didn't pass the moderation test including three under a particular moniker.

Just another city hall evacuation day

Of course it could have been the article below that pissed him or her off as mentioned previously.

City Hall: Lead, follow or get out of the way.

It's hard to say with these cowardly sociopathic misogynists, what rock they crawled out from under and why. The interesting thing is that they think using my full name gives them power, because they've kept their own hidden. But if by harassing from beneath a rock perhaps because others can't stand them either, that gives them power, then that's pretty damn pathetic indeed.

At any rate, this latest sociopathic loser calls himself or herself "Old Friend" and drops off the following endearment. As far as monikers go, it's not very original and probably not that accurate. We're most definitely not friends. If we've even been introduced or interacted in real life, only the coward knows this and he's too busy poking out from beneath his rock to tell anyone who he or she is and probably lacks the gonads to do so. Perhaps because I might know who this person or people are and why they insist on ejaculating on my blog or through email.

This is what he or she did blurt out:

Mary Shelton: You're still the same bitter cunt that I knew back when. Some things never change...

Okay, I'm thinking if it's true that I'm the same "bitter cunt" that he or she knew back when, how could we possibly be friends? I mean, doesn't that say a lot about unidentified sociopath's taste in friends? It certainly wouldn't say much about mine but I don't customarily befriend cowardly misogynists like this person.

Anyway, what can I say? Unfortunately, this blog does attract cowardly misogynist losers and blogging about Riverside is going to attract them because there are people who out there who would much rather someone didn't blog about this city. Still, blogging produces greater rewards. And this guy or gal or plural has been possibly harassing for what, possibly up to 2 to 2 1/2 years now? The longer this person harasses, the shorter the list grows of people who it could possibly be. Maybe that's what they mean by "old". They certainly have a high level of endurance for harassment which in itself is telling. That's probably all they have.

Some people say it's best to ignore people like this and not "encourage" it. But to that, all I can say is that with one particular individual, I did that for several years and he escalated his behavior to the point where I had to take action. No, consider this a written record of the harassment that I'm keeping in case any of these people move their sick behavior up a notch including potentially harming me or my family in any way. If I were being harmed on the street, would I be silent? No, I would draw attention to the person trying to harm me. Consider this a similar situation because silence doesn't protect anybody only the sociopaths who engage in sick behavior. For all I know, perhaps it's a form of silence which has allowed them to continue engaging in this behavior this long.

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Is it worth over $500,000 to save Grant Elementary School? That question is being asked and answered. So if you have something to say about it, check it out.

With only three months to go until the filing deadline, the election involving the Western Municipal Water Board is already heating up. The more the merrier, so if you're thinking about running to do some good or use it as a springboard to move up in politics, go ahead and think about throwing your hat in the ring.

Speaking of election years, ad hoc committees and task forces are really the rage during election season. It's a bit early, but there's already one set up by Mayor Ron Loveridge to discuss and offer recommendations on the planned renovation of both the downtown library and museum. But since its creation, the city manager's office has apparently declared end game, picked up its latest toy and gone home so it's not clear exactly what this task force filled with quite a few of the mayor's choices will be doing. If the latest power struggle at City Hall has you confused, go check out some early childhood studies classes at the local college and it will all make sense soon enough.

One committee addressing the military tradition of Riverside was established during an election cycle four years ago and will be presenting this report of recommendations at the city council meeting on Tuesday, April 1, at 6:30 p.m. This was a joint creation of two elected officials who had reelection bids that year and have paved out different political paths for themselves for upcoming election cycles.

It's the only discussion item on the incredible shrinking city council meeting, so I guess everyone meets, greets, discusses, votes and then runs off to the eating spot and/or drinking hole of their choice. Sire's restaurant is a popular one for elected officials in the days of GASS. Art's Bar and Grill was another for the common folks, especially given that it's Taco Tuesdays which coincides real nicely with city council meetings, short or long.

In related news, although there's no civic elections until next year, there's a sure sign that governmental officials are aware that one is on the horizon because you're already seeing as mentioned a flurry of proposals to create ad hoc committees or task forces for various projects. Ideas for future ad hoc committees will be forthcoming in future postings of this blog. There will also be a Task Force Watch set up to keep an eye on all future ad hoc committees and task forces, which are sure to come.

In Riverside, the Community Police Review Commission met this week and discussed implementing changes including the dissolution of the long-standing Policy and Procedures Committee which had floundered in the past several years. Given that it hasn't met regularly since 2006, it was hard to miss it. The Outreach Committee on the other hand was expanded to include all members of the commission and will hold its meeting after the commission has concluded its business at its general meetings. The trouble with that is that the meetings tend to run long especially when the review of officer-involved deaths is included on the agenda so the Outreach Committee discussions will take place when everybody wants to go home.

It's not clear how that will work out given that the CPRC barely had a quorum by the time it had reached the point in its meeting when it was receiving a report by Outreach Committee Chair Chani Beeman.

What was most controversial was a proposal for the commission to host quarterly forums in different neighborhoods to hear comments about police-related issues. Several commissioners supported it, but several others had reservations about it.

Commissioner Jim Ward called it an "explosive issue" but that it would provide an element that he felt was missing from the commission. He said that he felt commissioners were examining complaints from the officers' perspectives. The commission wasn't established because the community was concerned about how the officer was represented, he said, but out of concern by the community in regards to how it was represented in that process.

Commissioner Sheri Corral said it was about "going back to the basics, back to the beginning" which was when there were meetings conducted at local churches years ago to provide information about community members' accounts of encounters with police officers in Riverside.

"That's what it's all about, " Corral said, during discussions which looked back at the commission's earliest days.

Newer commissioner Ken Rotker was concerned about the issue.

"Have we bitten off more than we can chew," he asked.

That's hard to question unless you like, hold one of these forums.

The commission also voted 5 to 2 to receive a return visit from consultant Joe Brann to answer questions on his report on the CPRC which he presented in February. Brann also was the monitor who worked on the stipulated judgment which State Attorney General Bill Locker imposed on the police department.

The Los Angeles Times wrote this editorial about the furor around the Rate My Cop site and urged more open dialogue about the proposed changes to the department's SWAT division.


Indeed, intimidation flourishes at precisely the point where public scrutiny ceases. Here, the Protective League has taken a more constructive stand, urging that Bratton's touted transparency be applied to the department's SWAT deliberations as well. It's a reminder that not only does the public benefit when police open themselves to examination -- police often do too.

Corona's city council received some bad news about its economic picture. They actually needed to pay a hired expert to tell them that things don't look so good.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Though home sales and prices are down, many homeowners have continued to overprice their homes, and the market appears poised to continue its slide, Inland Empire economist John Husing said. Still, homes remain unaffordable for much of the region's labor force. Unemployment is up, office and industrial building vacancy rates are up, and retail sales are down, he said.

"I think '08 will be the worst year," said Husing.

The good news is that an economic recovery could come in 2010, and the drop in home prices will make the area more affordable and attractive to companies, he said. City leaders could use this downturn as an opportunity to plan for more affordable housing options and to encourage a shift in the labor force from largely blue collar toward more of a white-collar work force, Husing said.

Over the next months, Husing plans to study and report on economic factors specific to Corona. The regional picture he painted for city leaders this week was bleak.

But some experts are undecided about whether the glass is half full or half empty.

More court proceedings are being heard at local schools. No, it's not more backlogged civil trials, it's Outreach Plus.

Was Sean Bell's eyesight compromised when he was shot by New York City Police Department officers. This question was addressed during testimony by Bell's optometrist.

(excerpt, New York Times)

The optometrist, Daniel Friedman, testified that he examined Mr. Bell on May 18, 2006, six months before his death, and that Mr. Bell had less than 20/400 vision in his right eye. Someone with that vision could see less from 20 feet what a person with 20/20 vision can see from 400 feet.

Mr. Bell — who was hit by four of 50 police bullets fired that night — had 20/30 vision in his left eye, better than the 20/40 minimum in one eye required for licensed drivers, Mr. Friedman said.

But if Mr. Bell had used only his right eye, he would not have been able to read the largest letter on the standard vision test from the normal distance, Mr. Friedman said, adding, “He wouldn’t know it was an E.”

Testifying at a criminal grand jury proceeding in Will County was the pathologist who did the autopsy on Kathleen Savio.

The grand jury is looking into the 2004 drowning of Savio in her own bathtub which was initially ruled an accident but currently is considered to be a homicide after a second autopsy was done on Savio's body after it was exhumed.

(excerpt, Chicago Tribune)

Dr. Larry W. Blum is the forensic pathologist who performed the Nov. 13 autopsy. In his report, he determined that "compelling evidence exists to support the conclusions that the cause of death . . . was drowning and further, that the manner of death was homicide."

Savio was the third wife of former Bolingbrook Police Department sergeant, Drew Peterson and her questionable death received a second look after the disappearance of Peterson's current wife, Stacey, last October. Stacey's family announced recently that they will resume their search for her.

The Derby Dozen

True love didn't last. Petra has returned to the paddle boat.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

City Hall: To lead, follow or get in each other's way?

More confusion about the future of the main library downtown has struck City Hall perhaps to the surprise of those churning up the waters in the hallowed halls of power in response to being faced that a large segment of the city's residents essentially vetoed the Hudson Plan at a joint meeting held by the Metropolitan Library Board and Board of Library Trustees earlier this year.

Perhaps if the city had actually hired an experienced and well-qualified city manager team instead of an experienced economic development team, the city would actually have some clue about what direction to head into regarding the expansion of city facilities. At least a well-experienced city manager team would be willing to comment on the issue rather to "decline" and go back into the office to wait for the storm to die down. Not to mention that it's ironic that a former public information officer for Riverside County who has had to speak on behalf of the county during such episodes as the 1994 debacle at Riverside General Hospital involving the handling of the death of Gloria Ramirez would be unable to respond to simple questions about a proposed project under his own boss's office.

But this latest episode is beginning to resemble other debacles like the long, hot summer of labor union contract negotiations in 2006 which was filled with missteps until allegedly one individual was removed from that process and benched for a while.

Anyway the mess continues and it will continue and the city's officials are all over the place on this issue from admitting it makes them look a bit out of the loop to believing that there might not actually be a need for an expansion of the library downtown after all. If at all possible, they seem more inept on this issue than the city manager's office does. But then that's a commonly asked question: Who's in charge of the city, the city manager or the city council?

It's pretty clear from this latest mess what the answer to that question is.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

City Councilman Mike Gardner, whose ward includes the downtown library, said City Hall isn't looking good.

"It does make us look like we don't know what we're doing," he said.

Also unclear is why, two months after the city still was moving forward with the planning for a proposal by City Manager Brad Hudson to build a joint expansion of the downtown library and the Metropolitan Museum, Custen suddenly called for a years-long delay.

Assistant City Manager Tom DeSantis, who oversees the library system and was active in planning the joint expansion, said the library issue now is a policy matter for the City Council. He declined to discuss the confusing state of affairs.

After seeing what the city management team has done to the Community Police Review Commission in the past two years, it's not at all surprising to see what's going on with the library and museum futures. But now that the city manager's office has for whatever bowed out of this process like a petulant child showing off its tremendous leadership and management skills in the process, it's left up to a divided city council to ruminate through the debris left behind.

Recently, City Councilman Mike Gardner and Mayor Ron Loveridge created a "blue ribbon" panel which was filled with a lot of Loveridge's key supporters and the only clarity it added to this muddled situation is to make it clear that Loveridge is probably going to seek reelection once again in 2009. If that ruffled the feathers of a city manager's office, it shouldn't have. It's part discussion, part election ploy. It's not like this has never happened before. It's just happening a little earlier in the schedule than is usual. But let the tantrum begin regardless.

It's not like elected officials really care what community members think when those residents disagree with their agendas. That's why the concerns of over 300 residents about the projects who packed City Hall in the middle of an afternoon were brushed aside so easily. It's likely that with the panel the folks at City Hall also hoped that there would be agreement there as well. But like columnist Dan Bernstein said, it's all probably moot because the whole thing has been scrapped by "petty bureaucrats" who have taken their toys and are going home in response to the "blue ribbon" panel which might have been a step in the right direction but it's so top-heavy with the mayor's peeps (as talented and dedicated people as they are), it gets you thinking more of his political campaign ambitions than it does any meaningful dialogue on either the museum or the library. And it's often easier in the minds of some elected officials to push their agendas by using special panels of carefully vetted individuals over having to deal with city residents who are more representative of a cross-section of this city's population.

Oh yeah, sure as one elected official said, community residents can talk about it, amongst themselves, to each other or in front of the joint boards addressing this issue or the fancy-smancy "blue ribbon" panel that's been so carefully chosen and is filled with Ward One interests (which is not exactly inclusive considering the main library serves all city residents even those who live near branch libraries), but especially as stamped by this latest action by City Hall, all they will be doing is spitting in the wind if it interferes with the city manager's office's directive.

Even the city council is either too intimidated or too directionless itself to issue a direction to its city manager, a problem which isn't actually without precedent if you consider another directive involving another city department which the city manager's office failed to carry out when ordered to do so by the city council. In that case, for several months rather than hold the city manager's office's feet to the fire, several city council members appeared simply to make excuses for the inaction of one of its direct employees. In fact, one now former councilman even gave false and misleading information at a community meeting about this issue which I knew was false because everybody and his mother had contacted me on this particular issue because they were concerned with what the city manager (and by extension, the city council) wasn't doing or how what was really going on was being misrepresented by the parties who weren't really interested in doing anything on an issue.

But it's not about doing anything but running interference when these elected officials should expect that a directive voted by them and issued to a direct employee would be carried out.

Will the same thing happen here?

Unless the city residents object to this latest embarrassing episode and call the city government on the carpet for not following through with the directive to expand and renovate both the library and the museum, the answer is yes.

Bravo to Press Enterprise columnist Dan Bernstein for this column which presents the relatively short but already sorry history on how the city's handling its planned renovation of its main library and museum particularly in the wake of a meeting where supporters of the library and museum did exactly what City Manager Brad Hudson had allegedly dared them to do-filled a city council chambers.


Suddenly, this wasn't a Seventh Floor toy anymore. Lots of people didn't even like what Santa Hudson, his Library Elf, Tom DeSantis, et al had concocted. They thought the library had been short-changed on space, that the muzeem and library should return to their original state: separated at birth. By then, a new councilman had deposed the old one. And just days ago, the City Council, in effect, whapped its go-to guy on the snout ("Bad city manager!") by creating a citizen panel to help figure out what the next generation Main Library and Metro Museum should look like.

Hudson had lost his grip on the project and skeptics predicted he would try to kill the library expansion.

Which brings us to Monday's astonishing meeting. Poor Library Director Custen has been reduced to carrying tainted water for Hudson and his concealed-weapon crony, DeSantis. She told library trustees that planning for the library expansion could wait five years. (Or three.) She said it would take that long to assess the impact of other library projects in the city.

How odd that this didn't come up a year ago. Either the City Council/Seventh Floor was moving too fast and never should have signed that $2.2 million contract with the LA architect. Never should have unveiled that library-muzeem combo. Or the Custen power point was a high-tech sandbagging job orchestrated by the boys who lost their toys.

Either way, the library and muzeem boosters, that blue-ribbon panel and even the City Council are now on notice that they can't trust city "professionals" to give them credible advice. Too bad, but better to have it out in the open than to be suckered by petty bureaucrats with concealed agendas.

Concealed weapons are scary enough.

Indeed. And I'm still scratching my head as to how DeSantis managed to receive one from the Riverside Police Department even though he didn't actually reside in Riverside which caused his conceal and carry permit to be revoked when it became clear that the Press Enterprise had gotten wind of this. One would think that the address of an applicant in terms of eligibility would be one of the first things and perhaps the easiest to check out before granting an ineligible person a permit. But this one will probably always remain an unsolved mystery given that at this site it appeared that the Riverside Police Department had a very strict policy in place for conceal and carry permits. Then again, most of the time it's not the boss who's asking for one. It shows how different the dynamics can be if an appointed police chief is asked to sign off on a permit as opposed to an elected county law enforcement head whose "boss" is the electorate.

If you're concerned about the futures of the library and museum downtown and want to talk some sense into your elected officials, you know the drill.

Call them at (951) 826-5991 or send them an email at:

Attend the meetings of the Metropolitian Museum Board and Board of Library Trustees and keep abreasted of what's going on with the institutions under their respective jurisdictions and keep their feet to the fire.

The Metropolitan Museum Board meets on the second Tuesday of the month at 4 p.m. in the museum conference room across the street from the main library. For more information, call Toni Kinsman at 826-5273.

The Board of Library Trustees meets the fourth Monday each month at 4:30 p.m. in the library board room on the second floor. For more information, call Heather Firchow at 826-5388.

And stay tuned for further exciting installments in this ongoing saga of city government and management in action. They are sure to come with more and more players climbing up on the stage.

Will low test scores doom Grant Elementary School? The County Office of Education seems to be looking for excuses to shut the campus down. Some say it's money and low enrollment, while others say it's money and the fact that the County Office of Education is eying the land across the street for use to expand its administrative headquarters.


The district also faces a $23.6 million shortfall in state money in 2008-09.

Closing Grant would save the district at least $510,325 next year, officials said.

Then, at a March 17 public hearing, school board member Lew Vanderzyl sparked a furor among Grant parents and teachers by bringing the issue of test scores into the mix.

He challenged the assumption that a small-school setting is conducive to improved learning because students get more attention from their teachers -- as Grant parents and teachers have argued. Vanderzyl wanted to know how well Grant had performed on the state's Academic Performance Index and whether the school's test scores justified keeping such an expensive operation going.

"Their loyalty to the school, I think, is admirable but we have to look at things in a little colder light," Vanderzyl said during the hearing.

That's one way to deal with low test scores. Throwing out the baby with the bath water. But far from just looking at the question in a "little colder light", punishing students for low-test scores by closing their schools and farming them out into an already jam-packed school system (which isn't exactly conducive to improving test scores) just makes one wonder about the leadership skills of this particular elected body.

San Bernardino can't come up with ways to address its budget crisis.

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein is asking the Department of Justice why it's closing its public integrity unit in Los Angeles.


In a letter released to news agencies Wednesday, Feinstein, D-Calif., asked Attorney General Michael Mukasey why the change was made and who made the decision.

"I have serious concerns about the potential impact of this change," Feinstein said.

Actually, it makes perfect sense if you have a presidential administration that believes that public employees and elected officials are above the law and don't need to be held accountable by a federal agency when they break it.

It's getting hotter in Eugene amid the controversy about whether or not the independent police auditor should be investigated for misconduct. In an article in the Eugene Register-Guard, two high-ranking officers in the Eugene Police Officers' Association said yes.


They claim that hiring an independent investigator would have been a waste of taxpayers’ money. Are they kidding? What a deplorable smokescreen! The police auditor’s office has an annual budget of upwards of $1 million. Talk about a waste of taxpayer dollars.

The editors then scold Poling, Solomon and Clark for sending the message that future complaints, warranted or not, will find some traction on the council. What a joke!

Future complaints should find traction with the council. Isn’t that what this whole system is set up to ensure? It’s supposed to be a neutral, transparent and balanced oversight system.

That’s what the voters approved. The voters didn’t give this mayor and council majority the green light to manipulate executive sessions to ensure lopsided and dirtied results.

The mayor, the council majority and The Register-Guard have stripped the current complaint process of its last strand of credibility. Are we now to assume that our represented membership will be held to the same standard as the police auditor?

Once a complaint is deemed noncriminal against one of our members, they now simply write a rebuttal to the complaint and submit it to the chief, who in turn can exonerate the employee, based solely on their document. No administrative investigation necessary. No need to interview any witnesses or obtain any facts.

Hey, what’s good for the goose is certainly good for the gander, right?

Throughout this entire complaint against Beamud, the mayor and council majority have shown their true colors. They view the police as simply the necessary evil. We get zero support from this infested bunch.

This recent debacle points to either bias or corruption on the part of the council majority. The mayor told The Register-Guard on March 13 that the council’s decision to exonerate Beamud should not be viewed as pro-auditor and anti-police.

So, if her statement was intended to downplay bias, what then does that leave our community with?

Cathy L. Lanier, the police chief of Washington, D.C.'s department and her controversial "safe homes" program were scrutinized in a Washington Post column by Courland Milloy.


For Lanier, the opinions that count most are those of the most-vulnerable. But there are skeptics among those people as well.

"When I talk about the Safe Homes Initiative with community groups, there are some who stare at me with crossed arms, some who are not sure where I'm coming from," Lanier said. "But there are always two or three nodding in agreement."

During our ride together, Lanier was reminded of the social barriers confronting her when the patrol car stopped for a traffic light. A group of teenagers, no doubt some being raised by grandmothers, was standing at a bus stop.

"How are you doing?" the chief called out.

The youngsters looked away without answering.

"They hate talking to me," the chief said, sounding disappointed.

But when she saw another group standing at the next bus stop, she brightened up and got ready to try again.

"I'm going to get them talking to me, sooner or later," she declared.

Just like a big sister.

City Limits did an excellent article on how the New York City Police Department is reexamining how it polices the mentally ill population. In the article, the writers converse with different mental health experts about different models used by law enforcement agencies to interface with mentally ill individuals including the Crisis Intervention Team model.

(excerpt, City Limits)

Will Crisis Interventions Teams work in NYC?

Melissa Reuland: I am struck by Fred’s statement that there has been a committee to say CIT, yes or no, why or why not? I want to ask and broaden the discussion from just CIT. When I say that CIT may not work in New York City – like it has probably not worked in L.A. and probably not worked in Houston, and it remains to be seen how it’s working in Chicago – I don’t suggest that therefore the police do nothing. There are lots of other options and variations, adaptations on essential elements of the police responses that may be very appropriate for very large and, by the way, very small communities.

But some of the very large departments do have very particular problems. CIT has worked beautifully in medium-sized communities all over the country. But if you talk to Houston and you ask them how many of their CIT calls actually get a CIT officer dispatched to them, and we all would agree, they have been doing fabulous training, they’ve trained their dispatchers. They have more than 25 percent of the department trained. They have found that of the calls they know a CIT officer should be dispatched to, only 25 percent of them actually get one there.

That’s because of deployment problems. Because of the size of the city, the sheer geography that they have to deal with, and getting the CIT-trained officer who is or is not on shift, is or is not in the middle of a call, can or cannot make his or her way in the 15 or 20 minutes it’s going to take in traffic to get to that call. There have been some tragic shootings in Houston in the last year or so that have prompted the mayor and the City Council to reinvigorate their discussion about what they are going to do.

My philosophy and the way I approach this is, I think that the community’s response needs to be related to what the problem in the community is. Once that problem has been identified, then you need to sculpt a response that’s based on the problem that you are experiencing. You’re going to have to be creative and you’re going to adapt what other people have done and make it your own.

Riverside's police department is engaging in its own crisis mental health intervention training, providing about 30 hours of training for most of its officers by December 2008.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Just another City Hall evacuation day

Riverside City Hall had one of its regular unscheduled fire alarm drills caused by all the construction, this time allegedly on the second floor. So everyone in the 'Hall had to leave and walk off enmasse to a communal gathering at White Park before heading back to City Hall, navigating the labyrinth caused by the ripped up pedestrian mall to crowd the elevators going back up again. This exercise to be repeated in its entirety again, as more dust from more construction creates problems with the smoke alarm service.

The evacuation of City Hall left many city residents who had come downtown to do their business confused and with no idea what was happening.

Soon after, the city council announced that the Redevelopment Agency had purchased the Discount Liquor Store on University Avenue in the Eastside, an action supported by nearby residents. Other Riversiders were urging the Riverside Unified School District not to close Grant Elementary School which is located downtown.

Some district officials say it's not economical to keep the school open while other individuals say that the Board of Education's administrative offices has its eyes on the property for expansion. As for the space that will exist after the demolition of the liquor store? Expect it to cater to another business or two that appeals not to Eastside residents including those who live close to the liquor store, but to the students at UCR down the street. Because after all that's what gentrification's all about and as I heard about three city employees and/or elected officials say yesterday, University is the "gateway" neighborhood connecting UCR with downtown. There wasn't any mention of the Eastside in that scenario nor was there any room for it.

Today, a liquor store which was the epicenter of neighborhood crime was on the list of "undesirables". Soon enough, it will be the neighbors who complained about it themselves because that's how gentrification works. After all, when UCR unveils its long-range development plan to meet up some day with the downtown, there will only be pockets of what used to be called the Eastside left. You hear a lot of the same sentiment and often the same language used by employees and elected officials at City Hall, in that the University corridor is a "gateway" to the downtown. It's only reference to the Eastside that's ever used by any of these folks is when talking about the crime.

When there's crime on University and there is, it's always paired up with the Eastside neighborhood even though the street stretches through at least three neighborhoods recognized by City Hall. When it comes to talking about the positive elements of University, then it's a conduit, a gateway between the two jewels of Riverside, the main university and downtown, with nary a mention of the Eastside.

The city's always had a strange relationship with this predominantly Black and Latino community that goes a ways back probably to the time it was first settled by the city's founding Black families and Mexican laborers who worked in the citrus groves back when the city still had some. Today, there are pockets of those same groves which began to dwindle down even before the city began its love affair with titles.

City of the Oranges.

City of the Trees (but apparently not citrus trees)

City of the Arts (because the trees themselves are nearly all gone as is the annual festival which celebrated them)

And the latest on one of the mayor's pamphlets:

City of the Awards (not to be mistaken for the City of Modest Politicians and nary a tree in sight)

It's hard not to see the parallels between the disappearing citrus groves and the Eastside because if the powers-that-be in this city and those at UCR have their way, the Eastside itself will be a pocket neighborhood here and there just as the groves are in smaller and smaller pockets in the city on their way to extinction.

Still, it's interesting to hear politicians discuss the Eastside.

While teaching political science at UCR, Mayor Ron Loveridge used to teach a course to students on how they would handle the Eastside. Yet several times in recent years, the Highlander newspaper from UCR has interviewed students there who have made derogatory and even racist comments about the neighborhood to their west. But then they also have made comments which express an extraordinary amount of entitlement towards the University neighborhood with many saying that the neighbors who object to their partying loudly until the wee hours of the morning shouldn't, because after all it's a college student's right and rite to party. This *right* leads to at least 400 "loud music" calls to the police every year. Yet although the university student population is a proven drain on police services, there's been no crack down on rental properties in their neighborhoods nor has there been much said about addressing one of the largest populations in the city of underage drinkers. Perhaps on a neighborhood level, but not on a city-wide level.

Still it was interesting listening to Brad Hudson, the city manager, wax on about how closing a liquor store would free up police resources to better serve the city without discussing or even mentioning that the problem that's draining the police department is inadequate staffing of officers in a city that's growing faster than its public safety departments. Perhaps Hudson's waiting for the budget hearings later this year to have that discussion.

Will the university students lay a similar claim to the Eastside? There were discussions to put the medical school smack in the middle of the Eastside, along with rumors that fraternity (and sorority) rows would be relocated smack in the middle of the Eastside. When the city decided to turn a cluster of rental properties into its own home owner association in the Linden Square area, there was talk by a consultant hired all the way from Tennessee to landlords on how to rent to appropriate people which caused a stir in the Eastside when it became clear what population that was and it became clear that this plan by the city wasn't to improve living conditions for Eastside residents living in the rental complexes and homes, but to pave the pathway for university student housing.

It's interesting watching the progression of businesses up University from the University Village, which apparently is not a strip mall but actually "UCR West Campus" as is stenciled on the back of its buildings aligning the freeway. Jobs that the builders and the city had promised would be available for Eastside residents including young people were retracted and denied. Eastside residents are routinely profiled at the Village and in fact when one former restaurant held a poetry night, Eastside residents were denied admission. Discounts including at the movie theater are given to university students but not Eastside residents and families.

This is interesting because when the Village was being designed and built, the city argued that it was there to serve both populations, the university population and the Eastside working class population. Oh if only that were true. But the transformation of University Avenue on that end has been interesting.

Mexican restaurants are being replaced by sushi bars and other Asian restaurants. While the Eastside has a large Latino population, UCR's student population is over 40% Asian and Asian-American. Gone will be most of the liquor stores and the motels which have been strongly associated with the Eastside and not either downtown or the university when in actuality, they were marketed towards not only university students (and their parents who stayed in the motels while visiting) but also the long-since-closed auto raceway which was located where the dying Fredrick Town Center in Moreno Valley stands today.

Denny's restaurant which has served as a convenient scapegoat for the crime in the Village and surrounding areas (when it has more to do with the nightclubs in the area and the Village's proximity to them) is apparently facing pressure to cut down its hours of operation.

The Eastside is a neighborhood whose neighbors have won awards for work they've done there given to them by a beaming city council all the wiser.

It's a neighborhood where people who have demeaned it through words have also won awards for good service given to them by a beaming city council none the wiser.

It's a neighborhood with one overcrowded elementary school, no high school (because North High School isn't located in the Eastside) and a lot of busing of students to other schools in the city.

The liquor store won't be greatly missed. There are too many of them in poorer neighborhoods. But the step taken further into gentrification isn't as easily missed.

More on this to come because gentrification is after all, a slow process.

Other actions taken by local governments in Riverside County that held meetings on Tuesday night are here including those of the Riverside City Council at another blink-and-it's-over weekly meeting. Good for Sire's Restaurant no doubt, but good for city residents?

Making an appearance at the afternoon session was a returning Asst. Chief John De La Rosa, who has recovered from an illness that put him on the sidelines for about two months.

Banning wood burning fireplace use to alleviate smog is one brewing controversy according to one local columnist. Less controversy on whether California really has seasons or not.

The Los Angeles Police Department plans to equip all of its squad cars with digital video cameras.

(excerpt, KTLA-TV)

In-car cameras were recommended by the Christopher Commission, which investigated the LAPD following the 1991 beating of Rodney King. The panel found that in addition to investigative benefits, the cameras could save money on court costs, litigation and officer misconduct claims.

The cameras will also satisfy a requirement within the federal Consent Decree that was agreed to by the city in the wake of a scandal involving misconduct by anti-gang officers in the Rampart Division.

"We know how much and how important it is to have transparency in our police department. It is important for our officers. It is important for the public," police Commissioner Andrea Ordin told the Public Safety Committee.

"The use of in-car video is going to be an excellent tool and one which is extraordinary persuasive to the (consent decree) monitor and to the judge," she said.

Actually, purchasing the cameras suddenly received a lot of attention in Los Angeles after it became clear that the department was struggling mightily with implementing several key reforms in the consent decree including the development and implementation of an early-warning system. In 2006, a federal judge refused to dissolve the consent decree because this and other key reforms had not been implemented let alone in place and working for the two years that was required before they could each be considered satisfactorily completed. The earliest the LAPD can be released from the consent decree is June 2009 and it's not clear whether that will happen or whether the decree will be bifurcated as was the case in the city of Pittsburgh several years ago.

Meanwhile in Riverside, the city council had voted to allocate $500,000 from the city's general fund to outfit its entire fleet of patrol cars with cameras in early 2006 but as of now, the cars remain unequipped, minus the 13 cars which were equipped with cameras during the period of the city's stipulated judgment with the state attorney general's office.

The latest completion time period thrown out by City Hall for the camera installation was around April this year. Will the city meet this deadline? Will the RPD beat the LAPD? Will the city manager's office stop dancing around this issue? All this remains to be seen.

But the LAPD has other serious problems. More of its officers die at their own hands than at the hands of others, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In the past 10 years, 19 officers in the LAPD killed themselves compared to seven who were killed by other people on the job. Strangely, these deaths have drawn very little attention much less than they should. But the stigma of suicide remains a strong one obviously.

The other memorial wall.

Resources for police suicide are here and here.

In Austin, an audit of public safety provided a list of recommendations including that the department improve its communication and that the city strengthen its form of civilian oversight.

(excerpt, KVUE-TV)

Among the key recommendations, the auditor's office concluded that the Austin Police Department should, among other things, improve coordination, cooperation and communications within its own organization, with other police groups and with external stakeholders.

The audit also found that the city's police oversight functions would be strengthened by providing the Police Monitor's Office with better access to APD data and by providing the Citizen Review Panel with adequate training and preparation prior to reviewing cases.

"There's not anything in it that we're not happy with -- it's about the recommendation itself," said David Carter, first assistant, APD chief of staff. "You say, 'Hey the way they've recommended it, the structure of the department or the way to respond to certain areas makes perfect sense, and then there's some areas that they say may have a little bit of a problem maybe we should tweak it.' Well, maybe these are some things the officers and police association and ourselves and agreed and have maybe gone in a slightly different direction in terms of the reorganization. It doesn't mean were not happy with that recommendation, it just means we've chosen a different route to get to the objective."

The San Jose Mercury News Editorial Board urged more transparency in police investigations and discipline in the wake of the tragedy involving two cyclists who were struck and killed by a deputy in Santa Clara County.


SB 1019, sponsored by Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, would undo some of the court's damage by re-establishing the laws and the policies of individual police departments that Copley overturned.

For the county sheriff's office, that means internal investigations would remain confidential. But peace officers who appeal disciplinary actions to the county personnel board would have public hearings. If they choose the alternative of binding arbitration, the arbitrator would determine whether the public would have access.

SB 1019 was passed by the Senate last year but is facing heavy opposition by law enforcement, including the California State Sheriff's Association, which Smith leads as president. The bicyclists' deaths should cause her to rethink the group's position.

Council is suspected of having fallen asleep at the wheel. But the facts aren't known, and the initial handling of the investigation raised questions of objectivity. The sheriff violated a protocol that requires prompt notification of the district attorney's office when an officer's action may have caused death. Council reportedly was advised not to talk to witnesses and was driven from the scene to a sheriff's substation.

Accountability to the public demands impartial investigations, fair and thorough disciplinary proceedings, and public disclosure of what officers have done and how they were dealt with. Passing SB 1019 would be a small, first step toward rebuilding confidence in a state where secrecy around police conduct is pervasive. Local law enforcement officials, mindful of the need for public trust, should support it.

Corruption 101. Otherwise known as the sad history of Adelanto.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

Tom Thornburg was appointed mayor in 1994 despite having served a year in prison on federal drug smuggling charges.

Former Police Chief Philip Genaway was sentenced to four years in prison in 1997 for stealing $10,000 from the department's canine unit. Two other officers were jailed for beating a handcuffed suspect and forcing another to lick his blood from the floor. Another officer was convicted of child molestation.

In 1996, the mayor and two council members were recalled after promoting a gold-mining operation in town that would have used deadly cyanide in the leaching process. Cuban-born Zoila Meyer, a City Council member, resigned last year because she wasn't an American citizen. She pleaded no contest to voter fraud.

When Tristan Pelayes became mayor in 2000, he said several council members pulled him into a room and told him that although he was the mayor, they ran the town.

"I was highly offended by that," said Pelayes, a lawyer and former San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy. "I thought at first it was a normal city, but then I realized I got a corrupt council and a corrupt Police Department. Once I began learning more about the town, I was amazed. The first thing I did was disband the Police Department."

It was an ugly fight, and Pelayes said he was targeted with death threats and recall petitions. One police officer, he said, tailed him around town.

Scarpa opposed getting rid of the police.

"I think our old police force did an adequate job," she said. "We didn't have any problems. Well, we had some problems, but not many."

One of Sean Bell's friends testified that someone had threatened Bell with a gun not long before he was shot at by New York City Police Department officers including four who are currently on trial.

Former Bolingbrook Police Department Sgt. Drew Peterson is speaking out on well, just about anything but his two wives, one who's missing and one who's death has been reclassified a homicide.

(excerpt, Chicago Sun-Times)

Peterson retained Florida-based publicist Glenn Selig, but he insisted Selig wasn't pulling the strings as far as recent changes in his behavior or grooming. Peterson was sporting longer hair and a beard before getting shorn a couple weeks ago.

"It's just me being me," he said. "It just didn't work, with all the gray."

He's toned down his comments in recent interviews, Peterson said, in part because he realized many people didn't understand his sense of humor.

"All of a sudden you're thrown into the middle of a circus. Humor was my defense mechanism," he said. "I was scared to death. I'm still scared. But it's my world now."

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Monday, March 24, 2008

From Acorns to Oaks: Let the fireworks begin

The Eastside doesn't have a skate park and residents there want to change that. And now as a result, a new one will be built at Bobby Bonds Park.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

When a group of Eastside skaters were told by city staffers to stop skating the stairs at Bobby Bonds Park, they raised a valid point.

"Where should we go?" they asked.

"That was a good question because there really wasn't a place to go," said Parks and Recreation Director Ralph Nuñez.

The city's only skate park is at Hunt Park, about a 15-minute drive from the city's Eastside neighborhood and not worth the gas, the skaters say.

The staff at Bobby Bonds suggested the youths pitch their cause for a skating facility.

The teens immediately got to work organizing a meeting with fellow skaters and city staff. They papered the neighborhood with fliers and posted information on MySpace, a social networking Web site, to get the word out. More than 50 skaters attended the first meeting in support of the facility.

The library system including the expansion of the downtown library continues to be a major concern after the current library director, Barbara Custon presented a report that stated it would be difficult at this time to predict the library system's future needs.

Custon as a city employee who heads a department has to walk on egg shells to express any opinion on any issue related to her department given the measures and memos imposed on the library's employees. But then the other library employees, are they allowed to speak up at all? Who can forget this directive distributed by Custon to the other employees in her department? As you can see, what happens in Riverside has been noticed and commented on elsewhere.

(excerpt, Library Journal blog)

No Talking, Please

May 17, 2007

As some of you who pay attention to such things know, I write LJ's How Do You Manage column, and have been for about ten years now. It's kinda sticky because I'm not a librarian and have never worked in a library. I'm just a guy who can put one word in front of the other in a way that makes sense (most of the time, anyway). I create these sticky little situations, and don't know if I'm off the mark or not.

For the June 1 column, I wrote a scenario about librarians being forbidden to speak to the press or write anything for publication or public consumption—everything from ALA panel speeches to book reviews—without their material first being vetted by their supervisor. The librarians, of course, are rightly pissed off and bitching to their director, who hates the idea as much as they do.

But not all directors are alike.

Along comes this pleasant little story from California's Riverside Library, where director Barbara Custen reportedly has forbid her staff from talking to the media and patrons about the library's policies. The memo sent to staff informing them to shut up says "it is not appropriate, nor acceptable, for staff other than the Department Head to speak with the media or customers regarding policies...deviations from this policy will be cause for discipline." Isn't that nice.

So, I guess my How Do You Manage story isn't off the mark at all.

Custen swears that she is "not in any way trying to stifle the staff's freedom of speech" (it doesn't work both ways, lady, the staff can talk or they can't) and admits that the "words in the memo could have been chosen better." Gee, ya think?

Some very interesting points here from a blogger who's spot on, but blaming the director for the "no talking" policy is a bit unfair. After all, the directive most likely came from the seventh floor at City Hall and the choice most likely is to abide by it or find another job. The librarians should consider themselves lucky if they can choose where to shelve their books.

Not long after the Riverside County Temporary Assignment Program employees decided to unionize, a study was released that found that the county was increasing its reliance on part-time employees, to provide its city services. Surprise, surprise though actually apparently it is to a few people in the county.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The San Diego-based Center on Policy Initiatives conducted the study and will present the findings today at the Board of Supervisors' meeting.

The county shouldn't use the employees to do the same work as permanent workers, said Donald Cohen, executive director of the nonprofit research and advocacy organization.

"When we say temporary, we should mean temporary," he said.

Riverside County officials called the study's numbers and conclusions inaccurate Monday, saying the Temporary Assignment Program has proved effective and can improve the level of services.

The county created the program a decade ago after the amount it was paying to private employment agencies began to skyrocket. The cost in 1997 was more than $5 million.

The release today of the Center on Policy Initiatives' study comes on the heels of an effort this month by the Service Employees International Union to organize workers in the county's Temporary Assignment Program.

The union's Local 721 represents 80,000 government employees around Southern California.

In addition, the Legislature's Joint Audit Committee voted this month to require California's state auditor to investigate the use of temporary workers in local government. The audit will examine six counties, including Riverside, Kern and San Joaquin.

Ron Komers, Riverside County's human resources director, called the move "politically motivated."

In Riverside, the city, it's always been known that the ranks of its temporary employees (who enjoy lower wages and no health benefits) were disproportionately represented by men and women of color. For example, in 2002, even though African-Americans made up about 5% of all permanent full-time employees, they made up about 22% of part-time employees. The disproportionate representation of men and women of color appears to be prevalent in TAP as well. Almost all of the employees who marched up to the Human Resources Department to turn in their signed union cards were Black and Latino.

Though a big concern for Riverside's labor force also appears in at least one city department under fire lately, is the use of its volunteers to do the jobs usually done by those in paid positions.

The bulldozers have come to what used to be the tent city set aside for homeless.

[the disembodied head of the Cheshire Cat appears]

Alice: It's the Cheshire Cat! Oh, hello, Cheshire Cat.

Cheshire Cat: Hello. How do you like the Queen?

Alice: Not at all. I don't like that of losing my head. Would you?

Cheshire Cat: I could hardly afford that.

---Alice in Wonderland

The political fireworks sparked at a March 19 workshop on the future of civilian oversight in Portland continue to reverberate according to The Oregonian. The sparks are stemming from a report that was commissioned by Portland's City Hall to examine the city's form of civilian oversight, a hybrid model consisting of an auditor's office and a citizen review committee. The whole episode in Portland's recent history has been fascinating to follow and well covered in the local press there.


The debate comes in the wake of an outside consultant's report that found the public lacks confidence in Portland's system of police oversight. Consultant Eileen Luna-Firebaugh, a University of Arizona professor who worked for police oversight agencies in San Francisco and Berkeley, Calif., also found that many Portland residents don't know how the system works and the citizens involved in the process aren't allowed to use the powers they have.

Although the Independent Police Review Division, the intake center for complaints against police, has the power to initiate its own independent investigation of complaints instead of referring them to the Police Bureau's internal affairs division, it hasn't done so since it was set up in 2001. Firebaugh recommended IPR conduct its own investigations where the "complaint is one of public import."

Police union president Sgt. Robert King, who took notes on his laptop during Tuesday's council work session, derided Potter immediately after. He said the union would use grievances or lawsuits to fight any effort to broaden the citizen committee's role in investigations.

King also called Potter's "pandering to community's perception of police" dangerous.

Another of Potter's concerns is how less serious complaints are handled. IPR received about 700 complaints in 2007. Of those, 90 were routed to the Police Bureau as service complaints, meaning they involved what IPR calls "minor rule violations" and are referred to an officer's supervisor for review. These complaints don't result in discipline. A person who files such a complaint can't appeal the Police Bureau's handling of it and sometimes feels the response was inadequate. Potter thinks that should change.

"I think all of those citizens deserve a process. I know you're not going to make everybody happy," Potter said. "But I think we should strive to make more citizens satisfied with the result."

So there's conflict between Potter, the mayor and Gary Blackmer, the city auditor who until just recently oversaw the IPR, before it was removed albeit temporary to be placed under Potter's office. There's also some conflict between King and Potter as well, which is interesting because before he was mayor, Potter was the chief of the Portland Police Bureau.

Traditionally, there's usually lots of saber rattling between police chiefs and union leaders but the fact that Potter is now an elected official adds an interesting layer to the political picture in Portland in general and involving this process with the IPR in particular.

King? He's also playing his role in the ongoing role to perfection. It's a role that's being played out in other cities and counties as well on this issue. Only the faces change. And it will probably more than anything galvanize the support in the community for stronger, independent civilian oversight. You go King! That is what every supporter of civilian oversight in Portland should be saying right now.

The people are lining up to challenge Blackmer's assertion that the city's average annual payouts on police-related lawsuits have decreased because of the Independent Police Review. Some including CopWatch alleged in reports that the payouts by Portland have actually increased by at least 97% in the last several years.

Meanwhile in Riverside, the Community Police Review Commission continues on through its process of continued micromanagement by City Hall. The commission is discussing more changes to its meetings in upcoming meetings including the proposed dissolution of its policy and procedures committee which has barely met in the past two or three years. It's not like there's much left to miss out of that committee but still, it's interesting that the intent is to knock off a subcommittee that played a key role (at least when it met) in terms of one of the commission's powers which is to create policy recommendations.

If that power is done instead through the general meetings of the CPRC, then not much work will be done because about 90% of what the commission meets on has more to do with keeping books rather than discussing substantive issues. In order to accomodate the discussion and decision making processes involved with policy recommendations, the meeting format will require a significant change.

Also, there was some announcement on the upcoming agenda that there will be a discussion of the "diversity" on the CPRC. That's an issue that's arisen lately given that seven out of the nine current members are White and that all but three of them are connected to either law enforcement or the Riverside Police Department in some manner. Prior attempts to address this issue were met with a high level of defensiveness from several White commissioners and one commissioner commented that there weren't any qualified Latino candidates, essentially blaming the lack of ethnic and racial diversity on "low numbers".

One commissioner said there had been more Latinos on the commission and there has been about five during its eight-year history and in 2005-06, they were all serving on the commission at the same time. However, one of those commissioners, Bob Garcia, had termed out and three others resigned mid-term within a short period of time. Not one commissioner has brought up the issue of these sudden resignations, which isn't surprising given that it's not likely to be brought up by one of the White commissioners.

Several commissioners mentioned that there are other forms of "diversity" including sexual orientation which is true. But even within sexual orientation, there is also ethnic and racial diversity and it seems that when other forms of "diversity" are represented, those representatives are still older, middle-class or wealthier White people. People whose contact with police officers is more likely to be social than professional.

Is there a commissioner younger than 40-years-old? Is there a commissioner who's even working-class (i.e. "blue" or "pink" collar) or are most of them if not all of them white-collar professionals? Are there any commissioners without political ties to elected officials?

Are any of the commissioners representative of the demographics of those who get stopped for busted tail lights or other traffic violations often used in pretext stops by patrol officers, sat on the curb, handcuffed and put in the back seat of the car while their vehicle is searched? No, didn't think so and not nearly as likely.

So it's intriguing that this discussion of "diversity" has been put on the meeting agenda to in a sense, put the commissioners on notice that it will be addressed in some form. That's all well and good if it will actually be discussed, because the only thing that's arisen when people have raised concerns about it so far (which have been brought to them by community members), is to be chided as bringing up what's essentially a nonissue. But suddenly is an issue. It's been an issue, is this a sign that the commission is beginning to understand that it's been an issue?

What was interesting is after being chided about it as being wrong about this issue, the chair of the CPRC, Brian Pearcy, spoke on this same issue during the annual report before the city council last month. So suddenly it's an issue, or a perception of an issue or something like that. It's enough to make your head spin.

Stay tuned and we'll find out exactly what it is in future meetings.

Over 400 police officers in the Los Angeles Police Department might be moved from their desk jobs to patrolling the streets.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

The 203-page study comes as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Police Chief William J. Bratton continue their aggressive push to hire 1,000 officers by 2010 despite a severe budget shortfall facing the city.

Bratton largely endorsed the report's findings but made clear he was girding for a fight with City Council members, whom he expects to use the review as a justification to slow down the hires.

"Let's make it perfectly clear, I have no intention, the mayor has no intention, of retreating back from the hiring," he said at a news conference with Chick. "We actually need 12,500 police officers. . . . Even with the 1,000, we're still short almost 2,500 police officers from what we need in this city."

The study, conducted by an outside consulting firm for Chick, identified 565 jobs in the Los Angeles Police Department -- many administrative in nature -- that are now assigned to sworn police officers and should be phased into civilian posts over a three-year period.

A witness in the trial of three New York City Police Department officers charged in the fatal onduty shooting of Sean Bell said that he believe a man who turned out to be Det. Gescard Isnora was a police officer.

(excerpt, New York Daily News)

"He just came up on the car out of nowhere," Johnell Hankerson said at the trial of Isnora and two other detectives accused of gunning Bell down with a barrage of bullets. "I looked, I said, "Oh s--t, he's got a gun."

Hankerson said "I remember his face" and then pointed at Isnora and fixed him with an icy glare. He said he spotted the cops in the Camry before he spotted Isnora.

"They were moving kind of slow," he said. "They were very observant, looking at people on the right side of the street. I was trying to figure out why would there be a white and a black man on this dark street this time of night."

Detective Marc Cooper, who along with Isnora and Detective Michael Oliver are charged with killing Bell, was one of the officers in in the Camry.

Hankerson, said he was watching the Camry when "another individual approached Sean's car with his gun brandished."

He said he recalled thinking, "If these guys are police officers, he's got a gun out. Things could get really ugly out here."

Moments later the shooting started, killing Bell on his wedding day and badly wounding his buddies, Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman

The Associated Press interviews Drew Peterson at his home five months after the disappearance of his wife, Stacey.

A job opening in Orange County.

Executive Director Office of Independent Review

Orange County, CA: Seeks an executive with 3 years experience in conducting
oversight of law enforcement personnel & departments with active membership
in the State Bar of CA (no imposition of discipline). Under policy direction
of the OC Board of Supervisors will review, monitor, assist, oversee & advise the
Sheriff-Coroner in the investigation of selected internal & citizen
complaints, & selected incidents of death or serious injury occurring to persons while in the custody of employees of the Sheriff's Department.

Compensation Package: Salary up to $216,000 annually DOQ plus a
comprehensive benefits package.

How to Apply: Please submit a resume and cover letter online at or via fax to the attention of Marguerite Adams at

If you have questions please contact Marguerite at 714.834.6199.

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