Five before Midnight

This site is dedicated to the continuous oversight of the Riverside(CA)Police Department, which was formerly overseen by the state attorney general. This blog will hopefully play that role being free of City Hall's micromanagement.
"The horror of that moment," the King went on, "I shall never, never forget." "You will though," the Queen said, "if you don't make a memorandum of it." --Lewis Carroll


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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Drops in the bucket but no rain in sight

For those living in District One of Riverside County and following the supervisor's race between incumbent Bob Buster and city councilman, Frank Schiavone, you're in incredible luck because the Voters' Registrar's office has sent out those lovely handbooks which include statements provided by both political candidates on what they have done or plan to do if they get elected.

Read them, memorize them and then ask questions of the candidates at the upcoming candidate forums. You can of course also staple them to the collection of political brochures that have been coming in the mail in between angst-ridden computerized phone calls from Frank Schiavone who has apparently been calling from Massachusetts to put in his two-cents about the Buster campaign. The sound quality's not great but every so often in them you can hear the words "development money".

The forums are really where it's at, where the candidates face off on the issues. Until someone is silly enough to start charging money for attendance and/or refreshments, they are still a means of getting to know candidates on the issues that's not costly. And it's one venue where public comment is not yet curtailed, restricted or banned. None of these things have happened in Riverside yet but right now, what's got some politicians so tickled that they've been boasting about it hopefully while they're not alas, pickled, is what's not been happening at city council meetings lately.

Suffice it to say, there are council members on the dais right now in Riverside who not surprisingly are thrilled that people have stopped hassling them with those pesky civic concerns at public meetings. The other thing that has got them caught up in a hyperbole of glee is how short the meetings have been running, which no doubt has people at the local watering holes happy as well. In a sense, shorter meetings might be helpful to the local economy if the decisions that are being made in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it fashion might not be. And if it's true that some elected officials are celebrating what's gone done and any role they might play in it, it's also true that election season Riverside style is just around the bend.

Here's two forums that have been scheduled according to this site.

The League of Woman's Voters is holding a candidate forum
at the La Sierra Library on May 7 at 7 p.m.


4600 La Sierra Ave.
Riverside, CA 92505

Residents' Association of Greater Lake Mathews are sponsoring a forum at Cajalco Fire Station 17650 Cajalco Road, Perris, CA 92570

May 21, 2008 at: 7:00 PM

A motion to dismiss manslaughter charges against former Riverside Police Department officer, Jose Nazario has been denied.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The defense argued for the first time in a criminal case that a civilian court should not hear a trial about a service member in combat.

Nazario, who has pleaded not guilty, is being tried in civilian court because he is no longer in the military.

His attorneys requested the case be dismissed, asserting that the law under which he was charged does not apply.

The judge did not agree. The law prevents a discharge from protecting a veteran from prosecution for crimes that occurred during service, Larson wrote.

"I can't say I'm disappointed or surprised, but it could have gone either way," said Kevin McDermott, one of Nazario's attorneys.

And so Nazario may be the first civilian to stand trial in court for criminal charges filed based on allegations of criminal acts during military service. Nazario is being tried for allegedly killing two Iraqi detainees in Fallujah while serving as a Marine sergeant and for ordering the killing of two others, after being told by a supervisor on the radio to get it done. The allegations were investigated after a former Marine provided an account of the incident while undergoing a polygraph test for a job in the United States Secret Service.

At the time he was charged, Nazario worked at the police department as a probational police officer having not had any issues with his own polygraph test where he had been asked questions about whether or not he had been involved in illegal conduct including unlawful killings, by the individual conducting the test. He was arrested by the Navy's version of law enforcement at the station last year.

In the wake of the arrest of a Riverside County Sheriff's Department deputy in Temecula for sexual misconduct, comes the news that a deputy based in Hemet has been sentenced to prison. There are at least four other cases that are at various stages of the prosecution process involving employees of that department. At least four that the public knows about at this point and time, because after all, some of these other cases probably went undisclosed, unreported or undiscovered for a period of time.

The medical complex that is to be built on what once was Chinatown could have detrimental effects, according to the Press Enterprise.

A public hearing will be held on this issue June 5 with the Planning Commission.

The homeless residents in Ontario who haven't been picked for the latest tent city are being forced out.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Leaving the Ontario homeless encampment, a trespassing citation in her hand, Sonia Smith was matter-of-fact as to where she would go next.

"'I need to find a place to shower and change clothes. ... I have to sell myself," Smith, 51, said. "What else am I going to do?"

Smith was among about two dozen people cited Wednesday for continuing to live near Ontario's homeless encampment, even though they don't have city-issued ID cards.

Homeless people that did not belong in the area were issued citations.
Ontario police Detective Jeff Higbee said the citations are only warnings, but they expect the squatters to move on by early next week. Officers will patrol today and Friday as well.

Last year, the city of Ontario tried to address its homeless problem by creating the encampment off Mission Boulevard and State Street, near Interstate 10. The camp grew exponentially when people from all over the county, state and even some from as far away as Florida heard about it and moved in.

Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton has declared that he will be doing a wide-spread investigation of police practices in his department. The decision to do so comes in the wake of statements released yesterday that not a single complaint involving racial profiling out of over 300 of them has been sustained. Some people found that assertion hard to swallow, as they did Bratton's assertion that there was no racism and no homophobia in his agency. Notice that Bratton in his blanket sweep statement of what wasn't in the department, didn't include sexism. But there's not much difference between what he mentioned and what he didn't, because it wasn't long ago that there was a Black officer assigned to the 77th Division who found a picture of a noose in the locker room.

His attempts to file a complaint about it through the process that all officers are assured is in place (and in fact, prominently posted) to help them led to an ancient allegation of insubordination against him being reopened by the department's internal affairs division.

It's not long ago that several officers in the LAPD who were gay men complained of homophobia in the ranks and in management to the Los Angeles Times.

Historically, the LAPD has addressed homophobia with emphasis which differs from one chief to the next.

(excerpt, IN Los Angeles Magazine)

For years, police headquarters at Parker Center, 150 N. Los Angeles St., represented lives ruined by harassment and arrest. Sgt. Mitch Grobeson’s lawsuit, alleging interal LAPD homophobia, revealed the venom wasn’t just against gay civilians. In the 1992 Christopher Commission Report, a message about gays read “NHI”—no human involved.

But under Chief Willie Williams, and then Chief Bernard Parks and Mayor Richard Riordan, attitudes started to change. Two open gays were appointed to the Police Commission and Dave Kalish was promoted to deputy chief. Chief William Bratton has had some missteps, but he sent an openly gay recruitment officer to the Gay Games.

There have been these "missteps" even after Los Angeles paid out $770,000 in litigation stemming from homophobia inside the police department. But then maybe Bratton hasn't read back that far in the LAPD's history books.

In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the District Attorney's office has amended its policy in officer-involved shootings but the Editorial Board of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal stated that what's needed is a citizen review commission.

One of the publication's columnists calls the whole system a joke.

A North Carolina law enforcement sergeant was caught on video kicking his canine.

(excerpt, The News and Observer )

Dog handlers for the State Highway Patrol have stunned dogs with Tasers, swung them by their leashes until they became airborne, and hit them with plastic bottles full of pebbles.

None of that was an issue until a trooper used his cell phone to record a video of a sergeant kicking his police dog repeatedly while it was leashed to a loading dock, its hind legs just touching the ground. The video was made public for the first time Monday, and it shows Sgt. Charles L. Jones kicking Ricoh, 7, a Belgian Malinois, five times, causing the dog to swing as much as two feet under the loading dock.

Jones, a 14-year patrol member, was fired last September after the incident became public. Now he is trying to win back his job at a hearing before a state administrative judge.

If it were California, he'd probably get his job back through arbitration, but in North Carolina, it might be a different situation.

The County of San Diego's Civilian Review Board is hiring.

Job Opportunity in San Diego: Special Investigator

The County of San Diego invites resumes from experienced investigators in the criminal justice field with demonstrated skills and abilities to provide technical, investigative staff support to the Citizens' Law Enforcement Review Board (CLERB) to include performing independent investigations of complaints within the Board's jurisdiction.

CLERB was established by charter amendment in 1990 to receive and investigate complaints about the conduct of peace officers employed by the County in the Sheriff's or Probation departments. The Review Board has jurisdiction over allegations of excessive force, discrimination or sexual harassment of the public, illegal search or seizure, false arrest, false reporting, criminal conduct, and misconduct. The Review Board also may investigate the death of any person arising out of, or in connection with, the activities of Sheriff's deputies or Probation officers.

Under the direction of the Executive Officer, the individual appointed to this position will be responsible for managing a large investigative caseload, including but not limited to: interviewing complainants, witnesses, and parties; identifying and obtaining evidence pertinent to the peace officer conduct at issue; researching laws, policies, and procedures controlling peace officer conduct; formulating recommendations for policy or procedure changes related to complaints; preparing comprehensive, high-quality, analytical written reports with recommended findings to the Board; meeting regular productivity and performance deadlines; attending monthly evening Board meetings; maintaining automated and manual records related to investigations; participating in periodic evening community meetings; maintaining effective working relationships with other County employees; and providing courteous and professional customer service to the public, Board members, County employees, and representatives of outside agencies.

Depending on qualifications, the annual salary at time of appointment is expected to be $56,558 - $63,212.

To be considered for this recruitment, please e-mail a current resumé to Resumes can also be mailed to the County of San Diego - Department of Human Resources at 1600 Pacific Highway, Room 207, San Diego, CA92101, or faxed to (619) 685-2458.

It's been a while since he's been heard from, but former Bolingbrook Police Department Sgt. Drew Peterson is offering $25,000 to anyone who can provide information on his missing wife, Stacey.

(excerpt, Chicago Sun-Times)

“Her mom left her and it’s clear that history has repeated itself and that Stacy does not want to be found either,” said Peterson, a former Bolingbrook police sergeant. “I don’t know whom she left with or where they are. Maybe the money will prompt someone to come forward with a lead. Her children miss her and people believe I have something to do with her disappearance.”

Stacey Peterson has been missing since last October. The death of Kathleen Savio, Peterson's third wife, has been reclassified as a homicide several years after she was found dead in her bathtub.

Who has the worst air in the country? The Inland Empire, that's who! Anyone surprised?

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

June Gloom coming early this year?

Another day, another Riverside County Sheriff's Department deputy arrested for sexual misconduct on the job. He joins about half a dozen other employees either out in the field or in corrections who have faced similar charges in the past several years. The latest incident took place out in Temecula.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Sheriff's Lt. John Schultz said the deputy called the woman after he finished his shift Sunday, saying he needed to come back to make sure everything was OK. Schafers returned to the woman's home about 4:30 a.m. and proceeded to touch her breast and place her hand on his body, Schultz said.

"She said she was tired and he needed to leave," Schultz said, and the deputy complied.

The woman later told her boyfriend what had happened and he took her to the sheriff's station Monday to file a complaint, Schultz said.

Investigations have been launched into the complaints and the deputy was arrested.

The Press Enterprise Editorial Board is signing onto the city's vision of the Marcy Library which sits in a corner of the Riverside Plaza complex.

Hemet's taking its complaints about the now legendary county court backlogs to the top of the state government, according to the Press Enterprise.


At the request of Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco, the Hemet council approved the resolution, similar versions of which have already been approved or are being considered by other Inland cities.

Councilman Eric McBride said hiring additional judges would help unclog the court system and get cases that have been mired in delays moving along.

"There's a huge backlog in criminal cases," said McBride, who said that since court priority is given to criminal cases, civil cases often get delayed indefinitely. "The civil cases need to be resolved, too."

Rachel Cameron, Schwarzenegger's spokeswoman, said her office has not yet received the resolution, but plans to "review it in good faith" once it is received.

"The governor understands the pressure of increased caseloads," she said. She said the governor has authorized the hiring of more judges, many of whose appointments have already started, but the 50 positions that were planned for the next fiscal year would likely be delayed until 2009-10 because of the tight state budget. She said it's up to a judicial council to decide where the judges would be sent.

A shelter in Riverside's getting $25,000 in contributions thanks to former talk show host, Jenny Jones.

The University of California, Riverside faced further roadblocks to getting a law school of its own.

Renowned attorney and current chancellor of a new law school at University of California, Irvine, Erwin Chemerinsky, mingled with local politicians and other movers and shakers at the Mission Inn yesterday, but alas probably to little avail.

Members of the Los Angeles Police Commission are speechless and who can blame them? Every single complaint of racial profiling against a Los Angeles Police Department officer was determined to be unfounded.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

It is at least the sixth consecutive year that all allegations of racial profiling against LAPD officers have been dismissed, according to department documents reviewed by The Times.

In 2007, the LAPD's Internal Affairs Group closed 320 investigations into allegations that officers stopped, questioned or otherwise confronted someone solely because of the person's race. Nearly 80% of the time -- 252 of the cases -- the claims were dismissed outright as "unfounded," according to an annual complaint report presented Tuesday to the civilian Police Commission. In the remaining cases, there was either insufficient evidence to reach a conclusion or no misconduct was uncovered.

"A big, fat zero," said a visibly flummoxed Commissioner John Mack, who is African American and the former president of the Los Angeles Urban League. "In my mind, there is no such thing as a perfect institution . . . I find it baffling that we have these zeros."

His disbelief, echoed by other commissioners, drew a quick response from Police Chief William J. Bratton. Unsolicited, he told the commission he would have his staff conduct a survey of other large, urban police departments, as well as the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, to back up his belief that the findings in the LAPD are similar elsewhere.

He can start in Riverside, California where the statistics released by the Community Police Review Commission regarding complaints of racial profiling are similar and there's been three or four reports (and another one on the way after a two year delay) stating there's no racial profiling.

What's interesting is when you read further in the article, is that the only way they can prove an allegation of racial profiling involving an LAPD officer is through a confession by that officer. Adding that explanation to the equation definitely clears up any ambiguities that might exist.

Current Chief William Bratton went further to claim that the LAPD wasn't racist nor homophobic but noticeably didn't seem to want to go there with sexist. Which is interesting because at least one of his Black officers believed the opposite, saying that no matter what anyone tells you (presumably including the chief), the LAPD is a racist organization.

Not to mention that investigations of how the LAPD conducts its investigations of citizen complaints haven't yielded very flattering results from the different outside entities who've focused their attention on the LAPD, which in June will enter into the eighth year of its five-year consent decree with the Department of Justice.

The Office of Municipal Investigations in New Orleans may not have much of a future.

(excerpt, Corruption Watch)

OMI's name rarely is mentioned in government circles these days. One city council member wasn't sure of the office's duties, and few in the community have heard of the office.

Adding to OMI's shrinking significance is the introduction last summer of a more powerful, better-funded Office of the Inspector General. That office, which now is an official law enforcement agency, can investigate any entity in city government with as many as 23 people on its staff and received a sweeping approval from city council last fall for a $2.3 million 2008 budget.

Meanwhile, OMI has several restrictions on who it can investigate. Its city charter exempts from its jurisdiction the mayor, city council members and their appointees, and parochial officers, including the coroner, clerk of court, civil and criminal sheriff and judges. OMI has a staff of four, according to 2008 budget documents submitted to the city council. The office received $266,483 in funding this year, a 100 percent jump from its 2007 budget of $108,000, but a number that pales in comparison to the IG's.

Some moves already are being made to determine OMI's place in the government and if it will be around in the future. City Councilmember Shelley Midura, for instance, is looking at the possibility of consolidating OMI's functions into the IG's office.

"I think the work [OMI] performs can be carried out within the office of the IG, if that can happen," Midura told "I would assume that for a while, [OMI and IG] will both be in existence and eventually one will become totally obsolete, which in my opinion is OMI."

In South Carolina, several state troopers are under investigation.

The State newspaper had obtained recordings taken from digital video recorders on its vehicles and found that there were incidents of justified conduct. But they found something else as well.


But the newspaper’s review of the material — all of which has been turned over to a special Senate panel investigating the Highway Patrol — also found that:

• Troopers’ discipline ranged from letters of reprimand to firing in eight cases caught on videos, and exoneration in seven others. In three incidents caught on video, outcomes were unknown or pending.

• Questions were raised in separate, unrelated cases not captured on tape, about the actions of two state lawmakers.

• Three troopers were arrested on misconduct charges — one was charged with kicking a handcuffed teenager after a high-speed chase, and two others were accused of stealing money from mainly Hispanic motorists.

The trooper charged with assaulting the teenager told The State on Friday that he was suffering from stress stemming from an earlier shooting in which he had been cleared.

• In three cases, troopers were disciplined for altering tapes or deliberately not recording their misdeeds.

“We had no idea it was this much out of control,” said Rep. Leon Howard, D-Richland, chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus. “This thing is much wider and broader than what we had anticipated.”

What's surprising is that the agency even examines what is captured by its video recorders. What usually happens is that police departments tape hours and hours of audio and/or video recordings which depict interactions between their employees and the public. The Riverside Police Department stores its recordings for a period of time, according to a department representative who gave a presentation to the Community Police Review Commission on the department's usage of audio and video technology as tools of accountability. However, according to this representative, the audio tapes are never listened to unless a complaint is filed in relation to them.

The department's policy governing the use of audio recorders is that all professional contacts initiated by the officer are to be recorded. Initially, there were issues with compliance to the point that the city manager's office had to initiate tougher enforcement beginning in August 2003. But apparently, according to this representative there are never any audits done to see exactly what is being recorded.

The presiding judge in the jury trial of the three New York Police Department officers charged in relation to the fatal onduty shooting of Sean Bell voiced outrage at the media outlets which descended on his neighborhood.

(excerpt, New York Daily News)

"I resented the fact that people came to my home on the weekend, bothering my neighbors; I'm really very upset about that," an irate Cooperman said by phone from his chambers in the Kew Gardens courthouse.

"I haven't accused anyone falsely; I did not spend $4,000 on prostitutes," Cooperman added, in an apparent reference to the media blitz that surrounded disgraced former Gov. Eliot Spitzer. "That's not journalism."

House Representative and Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee John Coyers promised a thorough federal investigation of the shooting.

(excerpt, CNN)

"We are going to be putting together the federal strategy," said Rep. John Conyers, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and a Michigan Democrat. "This is important."

"We want to make sure that justice is served and that a message is sent out, not just to law enforcement but to the young people of this country, that these kinds of tragedies have to end in this country," he said.

An interesting article on strategies to use for law enforcement officers who serve in the military and then come back, which has become very relevant to law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve with wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Just another brick in the Blue Wall coming your way

The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Officers met recently in Philadelphia and in a press conference said that racism inside law enforcement agencies was increasing. Some of the racist incidents reported were taking place in that city's department but others as well.

Whether it's racist (among other things) videos or racist (among other things) emails, the recent incidents have attracted a lot of concern.

The response to VideoGate is interesting and in many ways, disheartening as many of the respondants appear to think any investigation of racism, sexism and homophobia in a law enforcement agency is overkill and that it's management going after rank and file officers. The thing is that there's definitely merit to the point that management needs to be held accountable as well, because if you have rampant racism, sexism and/or corruption and other serious problems in a law enforcement agency, it's hard to believe that it can be done without the blessing of the management level. And if you want to look for the epicenter of many of these problems, that is where you look first, not last or not at all.

But those engaging in the behavior that creates a hostile workplace as well as impacts how the officers interface with communities, need to be investigated and held accountable for their conduct as well.

Hardly surprising from some responses that it's all about protesting that people can't take a joke and should lighten up, nothing's meant by it.

And the officials in Seattle appeared shocked at the extent of the racism and sexism in those emails. If this is indeed true, it's only because they weren't paying attention to what was definitely not hiding in plain sight. Maybe their own behavior encourages it.

But NOBLE has pledged to dedicate itself to addressing racism within wherever it is. Its action plan on how to do so has yet to be unveiled.

(excerpt, NBC-10 News)

The National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers cited allegations of racism in Philadelphia as examples of just a few incidents, of what's been happening across the country.

NBC 10 first reported that Philadelphia police officers accused one of their own of having a racist sticker in his locker referring to the Ku Klux Klan.

The officer said he never put the sticker in his locker.

But after a two month investigation, the department suspended the officer without pay.

"A heightened level of racial and cultural bias and indifference has integrated law enforcement agencies across the nation," Wilson said.

The organization also cited allegations of officers hanging nooses at a police department in upstate New York, along with other allegations in the Midwest.

"On duty, in uniform, cops posing as Ku Klux Klan members in Sandusky, Ohio," Wilson said.

The organization says fighting the don't-snitch attitude on the streets is what police also need to do inside their police departments.

"If you see something that offends you and attempts to intimidate you, being a person of color in this institution you need to report it," Rochelle Bilal, of the Philadelphia Police Guardian Civic League, said.

The sticker on the locker was that of a KKK member and stated, "blue by day; white by night".

Other police officers spoke out on the incident.

Elsewhere, racism inside departments has been in the news.

In Baltimore, 21 African-Americans in that city's police department have filed a racial discrimination lawsuit, according to the Baltimore Sun.


The lawsuit, filed at the federal courthouse in Greenbelt, accuses the department of condoning a hostile workplace, blocking black officers from promotion, levying uneven discipline and retaliating against officers who spoke out against discrimination. It also alleges that racism led to the firing last month of former police Commissioner Kevin P. Clark.

The group of officers seeks the appointment of an independent monitor over department discipline, reinstatement of fired officers, expunging of black marks from the disciplinary records of certain officers, payment of lost wages to plaintiffs who were suspended without pay or fired because of racism, and punitive damages and compensation.

The lawsuit names as its defendants Mayor Martin O'Malley, acting police Commissioner Leonard D. Hamm, former Police Commissioners Edward T. Norris and Thomas C. Frazier, Labor Commissioner Sean R. Malone and other city lawyers.

City Solicitor Ralph S. Tyler called the allegations "untrue" and said many - even if they were true - are barred by statutes of limitations.

"People who have serious issues to raise come in to present them, they don't issue press releases," he said. "What I know in the short time I've had to look at it is that a large number of plaintiffs are people who have had what we call 'troubled' histories in the Police Department."

The lawsuit also alleges that racist harassment took place in the workplace.


The lawsuit, in describing the alleged hostile work environment, states that black officers have found dog feces wrapped in an African-American newspaper and placed on their desks, endured racial epithets, had hangman's nooses placed in their lockers and had zebra stripes painted on pictures of their mixed-race children.

This lawsuit shouldn't be surprising if you remember that the Baltimore Police Department banned its employees from wearing several hairstyles, the majority of which are favored by African-Americans. Why? Because the department was afraid its officers would be blending in with criminals. You think they racially profile much?

Another day, another Riverside Police Department community policing program is packed away for the time being. A budget deficit has led to cuts in the city's vital services and now the citizen academy is the latest casualty. About 80 people had applied for the 40 spots but because most of those instructing the class do so on overtime, the academy has been suspended until the end of the summer.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The neighborhood watch and business watch programs will not be affected, she said.

"Unfortunately, our citizens academy, we weren't able to do," Cunningham said.

The decision to cut the citizen academy comes on the wake of the recent consolidation of the department's community services operations which had been supervised by Lt. Tim Bacon with a portion of the special operations division. Even though elected officials are claiming that no part of "vital city services" has been cut, it's probably about time for these elected officials to advocate for the police department's mental health crisis training program, which because of possible cuts in the county's budget impacting mental health services, could be detrimentally impacted.

Riverside's Marcy Branch Library is might be facing a move.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The idea of finding a larger home for the library came from Councilman Rusty Bailey, who said the branch was a topic that arose during his campaign last year.

One advantage of the Magnolia building is that it's next to Low Park, which could be used for outdoor library programs, Bailey said.

"The site that they found looks to be perfect to me," he said by phone.

Reject the recall!

So recommends the Press Enterprise Editorial Board in response to the June 3 vote to recall Colton Mayor Kelly Chastain.


No matter. Colton taxpayers will spend about $22,000 to decide whether to recall a mayor elected less than 18 months ago.

Voters concerned about the quality of Colton government should be looking for ways to build civic consensus and public cooperation on city issues, not widening Colton's already bitter political divides.

Personal clashes and political disagreements do not justify removing the mayor. Colton voters should just say no to the recall of Mayor Kelly Chastain, and to the politics behind it.

City residents in Greenville, New York want to bring civilian review to their city.

In Spokane, the conflict over civilian review there continues. Flawed oversight, is the question asked by Columnist Kevin Taylor of the Pacific Northwest Inlander.


The city announced two weeks ago that a tentative agreement on the authority of a civilian ombudsman had been hashed out in negotiations with the Police Guild.

Since then there has been a growing chorus of dismay that characterizes the agreement as "ombudsman lite," as the Center for Justice calls it in a Web posting, with powers that are less than those recommended by a consultant last year.

Attorneys Jeffry Finer and Breean Beggs of the Center for Justice contend the Police Guild gained too much influence over the ombudsman office during negotiations, citing the evaporation of independent investigative authority, and a new detail that the ombudsman be hired by a five-person committee that would include two slots for police.

Police oversight professionals in other cities give the tentative agreement mixed reviews questioning the lack of independent investigative authority.

But others — notably Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick, who has advocated for civilian oversight of her department — say, whoa, take a deep breath.

The tentative agreement is just that — tentative. The first test towards a permanent working model comes at an April 30 meeting of the Police Guild, called so that union leadership can present details of the negotiation.

In Shreveport, Louisiana, the struggle for civilian review in the wake of a study which showed that excessive force complaints to that city's police department have increased but the sustained rate for those complaints remains very low.

The Shreveport Times Editorial Board stated that people need an opportunity to be heard on the issue.


In an e-mail to The Times, Burrell didn't appear to drop the matter because of a lack of concern about police operations but rather the lack of encouragement he received from the mayor and the City Council. He also cited the lack of an increased "level of concern for a Citizen Review Committee" over the Garbarino case.

Burrell reported three of five council members who responded to his request for feedback offered unequivocal rejection of the citizen review proposal. They were Bryan Wooley, Monty Walford and Michael Long. Burrell wasn't sufficiently swayed by two others — Council members Calvin Lester and Joyce Bowman — whose response he took to be "not a bad idea" but stopping short of an "unequivocal 'yes.'" Bowman did write: "The minute that something starts up — we will wish that we had this." We agree.

While we credit Burrell for at least considering the measure, we would suggest that it's his job to introduce and push the legislation his conscience and/or need dictate. Let the City Council fret with their own consciences and the political consequences about whether to implement a citizen review process. Burrell's additional desire to give new police Chief Henry Whitehorn "an opportunity to clean up any possible issues 'in house' that may contribute to needing a Citizen Review Committee" seems to make its own point for the need for such a panel. And wouldn't an independent review process assure system integrity regardless of who is police chief?

Statistics can't tell the whole story whether the topic is baseball or police conduct. A low batting average, like an increase in complaints, can call attention to areas that need scrutiny. But absent a citizen review process, the team owners — the taxpaying public — not only are kept behind a thin blue foul line, they aren't even allowed in the ballpark.

A representative from the Fraternal Order of Police speaks out on civilian oversight. Not suprisingly he didn't like it much.

In New York City, people marched on Sunday in protest of the verdict in the trial of three of the city's police officers who shot and killed Sean Bell and wounded two of his friends.

The Reverend Al Sharpton planned to bring the head of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee to the city.

(excerpt, New York Daily News)

The Rev. Al Sharpton vows to ratchet up the pressure on federal prosecutors on Monday by bringing a powerful congressman to the Queens street where Sean Bell was shot dead by city cops.

Sharpton said Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, will meet Bell's family on Monday afternoon and walk from the Kalua Cabaret strip joint to the spot where Bell was killed and two friends were wounded in a fusillade of 50 shots from three detectives.

"We are going to take him to the scene," Sharpton told a cheering crowd at his National Action Network headquarters in Harlem as Bell's father and fiancée sat grimly nearby.

"We are going to walk the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee to show him how far the scene of the shooting was from the club," Sharpton said.

Meanwhile, Gov. David Paterson has disagreed with Sharpton's planned protests.

(excerpt, New York Daily News)

Paterson told the Daily News yesterday that he would not approve if the Rev. Al Sharpton, who organized the Diallo days of rage, follows through on his vow to "close this city down" with mass demonstrations in response to the Sean Bell verdict.

"I certainly would not be in favor of that," Paterson said of any shutdown - even if the protests are peaceful, as vowed. "People are trying to go to work. We're trying to conduct commerce here."

"From the perspective of management of government, you never want your city shut down," he added.

The governor, who admits to being "surprised" that, given the number of shots fired, the three officers charged in the Bell shooting were cleared, insists things are different in this case.

"I understand the historical significance of civil disobedience, and too many times that was the only way to effect change," he said. "However, in this case, there is a continuing federal investigation and interdepartmental investigation. ... We know a judge determined there was no crime. We accept that."

At the rally on Sunday, people participating or watching expressed their opinions.

Legal experts stated that the officers decision to opt out of a jury trial was a strategically wise one.

Meet Assembly Bill 2377. The latest attempts by law enforcement unions to keep people from finding out about police misconduct. They've got the money, the power, the legislators so it will pass but about 10 years from now, give or take a couple, it's probably the police officers who will be gnashing their teeth over supporting such a bill when they have seen the impact it will have on the integrity of law enforcement agencies because what the push for further secrecy in the state which already has in place the most rigid restraints on information on police officers in the entire country does is further the erosion of public trust in law enforcement. Especially since every day there's reminders of how unequipped the law enforcement agencies are to keep their own misconduct in check.

AB 2377? Just as some might say, another brick in the wall. And the wall has a name, it's called the Code of Silence.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

"It's not over..." and other responses to the NYPD verdicts

Penny Harrington and Kim Lonsway's book, Investigating Sexual Harassment in Law Enforcement is very comprehensive in covering the topic including how investigations should be conducted concerning allegations of sexual harassment inside law enforcement agencies.

That includes when the investigations are done, the decisions and are made and the outcomes are determined including what to do next. Professional agencies who take allegations of sexual harassment seriously do the following. It's difficult for an individual outside a law enforcement agency to know what's going on with a process that's entirely internalized. At least until a lawsuit is filed in federal or state court.

(excerpt, Harrington, Lonsway)

1) Impose appropriate discipline

2) Charge appropriately

3) Do not reward employee who harasses others

4) Hold supervisors accountable

5)Design other corrective actions

6) Protect complainant from retaliation

7) Use unsubstantiated complaint in a positive way

8) Address other problems

These are common sense guidelines one would think on top of being procedures that are important for dealing with sexual harassment in a professional manner. If sexual harassment is uncovered and allegations of it are sustained in an investigation, then the department needs to send the message to the harasser that what he or she did was wrong, a violation of policy, sexist and/or racist as well as sending the message that the department takes the situations seriously.

Unfortunately, from all the press coverage on sexual harassment complaints and lawsuits often involving multiple employees within an agency not to mention all the research studies done on the issue, it's clear that many law enforcement agencies either struggle to enforce their own sexual harassment policies adequately, they don't care about enforcing them or they don't even have policies and procedures in the first place.

The authors recommend that even in cases where the investigation isn't substantiated, it might be useful to use the opportunity to educate employees on the sexual harassment policies and procedures in the workplace. To ensure that everyone is aware of the harassment policy including how to file a complaint and maintain a working environment that's not hostile to women.

As for rewarding employees who have been found to have been engaging in sexual harassment, that's unfortunately not an uncommon occurrence at many law enforcement agencies. In fact, Michael Berkow, a former deputy chief from the Los Angeles Police Department was sued over allegations while he was heading the department's internal affairs division. Today? He's the police chief in Savannah, Georgia.

Harrington and Lonsway stated in their book that this practice can actually lead to sexual harassment lawsuits being filed against agencies. If the alleged offenders are promoted, assigned to special units, given special awards and other perks, it sends the message that sexual harassment is not only unaddressed inside of an agency but that it might actually be encouraged or so deeply entrenched in the department's cultural infrastructure that rewarding it is done almost unconsciously. On the outside, it's often called what must be the inside's ultimate joke.

There was particular emphasis on holding supervisors of sexual harassers in a law enforcement agency accountable as well. The book suggested at the very least, they needed to be provided with a copy of the department's sexual harassment policy and procedures so that they would be better equipped to address the situation next time. If they played a larger role, then they should face discipline as well because the supervisors and other leaders in a law enforcement agency set the tone for what will be allowed and what won't be tolerated.

"Riverside was facing an $11 million budget deficit in 2005. Frank's business experience on the finance committee created a record $16 million surplus in two years with no cuts in vital city services.

----Frank Schiavone for Supervisor brochure

Interesting quote in the flashy foldout but it's hard to know what to make of it given how the city government played with numbers particularly during the tenure of former City Manager George Carvalho. Just keeping up would inflict anyone who tried with motion sickness equivalent to taking a spin on the Whirl-a-Wheel.

It's also not explained in the brochure which city services are defined as "vital". Does this mean only public safety or does it also include other city services like parks, libraries, streets, museums and such? Maybe there will be some elaboration on this statement in the next round of brochure mailing or perhaps even the next phone call from Massachusetts which like the others before it will be the talk of the political version of the water coolers around town.

But what always amazes me is that outside election years, elected officials including those in Riverside always emphasize how well they work together as a body to ensure that progress takes place in this city. That's how they sold Riverside Renaissance and that's the reason given by several sitting city councilmen for endorsing two incumbents in the last cycle of city council elections last year.

Oh, but when it's election year for others, how things can change! The seven becomes the one. Instead of the united effort of all seven city council members or in some cases assorted majorities, it's all about how one single elected official did everything except part the Red Sea or in Riverside's case, the Santa Ana River.

Maybe elected officials on the dais are so practiced at thinking as one quasi-political organism that they have forgotten that in the translation from "we" to "I", that there were other individuals who worked alongside them. That goes for decisions that people agreed with as well as decisions that people didn't. After all, for those who sat at meetings or watched them at home, how many times did the votes wind up being 7-0? And didn't the consent calendar become more crowded with items including high ticket items particularly in the last several years? At least before the recent drop off in meetings in terms of them seeming a lot shorter in content and duration than they used to be. That's not by chance. That's by design.

But yes, there is a finance committee and last time I checked, it had three members not one and at least one other member serving on it has business experience.

As you know, between 2006-2007, Schiavone did serve on the committee and current Ward Two Councilman Andrew Melendrez serving on it. The committee was chaired by former Ward Three Councilman Art Gage who from what it sounds like in the brochure wasn't involved in his own committee.

Speaking of the Finance Committee, the city's Web site provides the following information on it for each year. Click the year that you're interested first, then click the links for "agendas", "reports" or "minutes" and you will be led to the list of documents by meeting dates to check out. Like most of the committees under the city council, you'll notice something right off the bat and that's how the number of meetings has dropped off. In the case of the finance committee, the number of meetings halved itself from 2006 to 2007.

Last year, you had three city council members claiming to be one-man movers and shakers in Riverside's government. This year, mercifully, there's only one. If you want to credit any one man for running the city, credit or criticism probably goes to City Manager Brad Hudson. It's possible that the reason there's fewer committee meetings in recent years (and that's not just in finance), say since 2006 which was Hudson's first full year in his position, is because the city council is relying on Hudson more than they've used prior city managers.

But now you have a councilman who's claimed he's single-handedly saved the city millions of dollars and delivered us all from the jaws of a deficit. Then there's the claim that Schiavone apparently single-handedly also took on the Big Two, meaning the Union Pacific and BNSF freight train companies which have been using this city's streets as their personal holding pins.

"Frank took them on and won..."

So states the brochure. Only the thing is, last year I believe it was Councilman Steve Adams who claimed that he tamed the Big Two when he ran for office, because he chaired the Transportation Committee. Of course, that committee tussled a bit with the issue against the Governmental Affairs Committee chaired by Schiavone. Next year, it will be the candidates in the mayor's election who will claim to either single-handedly have taken on Union Pacific, BNSF and while you're at it, toss in DHL as well.

But Schiavone goes further when he states that his actions forced the trains "to stop outside of town". Uh-oh. Does that mean that they're stopping in towns or unincorporated areas neighboring Riverside? After all, District One doesn't just claim territory inside Riverside's boundaries but stretches outside of it as well.

I was thinking about this when yet another train stopped, blocking the railroad not too long ago on Riverside Avenue by the Riverside Plaza. The truth is, that if the situation with both freight train companies has truly been alleviated then there are multiple parties involved and Schiavone is one of them. It would have been nice if he could have emphasized that team effort rather than use the singular pronoun. At the very least, it would show his acquired skills that would be important in terms of working well with other elected officials. That's a skill which some undecided District One voters have said they'll be looking at closely.

If the train problem is indeed solved or the companies have indeed parked their trains elsewhere outside of the city limits, then perhaps that solved another problem involving the numerous and very expensive grade separations which were included under the Riverside Renaissance. Not to mention the businesses that have been told they may face relocation and even eminent domain to build these separations. It's nice to know that they won't be needed or perhaps as many won't be needed.

In 2006, there were six meetings and no dissenting votes were cast.

In 2007, there were only three meetings including two in January and again, no dissenting votes were cast on the agenda items.

Schiavone did propose the majority of all the motions but then again on committees, chairs can't propose motions which precluded Gage from doing so. It seemed that according to the minutes, it was very much a three-membered committee save the meetings where one councilman was absent. But now it's a committee of one.

People say that election years can't be exciting but in Riverside, not only were we treated to an eventful, suspense-laden election year in 2007, but we're going to be treated to another one this year and not just in terms of deciding who will win the big show and ticket to the White House later this year.

More excitement to come, I'm sure.

UCR's School of Education has promised to address its problems with racial diversity. Latino activists and organizations have pushed the school to hire and recruit more men and women of color to add to its all-White faculty and to add mentorship programs and additional degree programs for students.

Allegations of racism and sexual harassment also needed to be addressed.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

A team of scholars visited the campus in January and interviewed more than 100 faculty, staff, graduate students and members of the coalition and community. The committee's report expressed concerns about the school's "intellectual community," which the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching found is central to the character and quality of doctoral training.

Yolanda Moses, UCR's associate vice chancellor for diversity and excellence, said the committee talked to only about 19 of about 280 graduate students, but enough issues were raised to warrant an investigation.

The university hired Daryl Smith, of Claremont Graduate University, to interview all faculty members about their experiences. An online, anonymous survey of graduate students is also in progress.

Bossert, who said he disagrees with the committee's findings regarding the school's intellectual community, met with three doctoral students over the summer to discuss their concerns that faculty and other students had made disparaging remarks toward them. All three had planned to take leaves of absence.

This department at UCR is not the only one that's been the focus of allegations of racism and sexism including harassment. It's just the latest one.

San Bernardino's budget crisis is complicated by its city charter language addressing public safety.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

In the current fiscal year, the fire department's budget is about $32.25 million and police department funding is $63.4 million -- almost three quarters of the city's spending plan.

Supporters of the charter amendment say Section 186 keeps San Bernardino competitive in the employment market for firefighters and police officers. That's a top priority in a city swept periodically by fires and waging a running battle against violent crime.

Skeptics say city officials shouldn't be bound by a rigid formula in any pay decision. It needs more flexibility as public safety takes a bigger and bigger chunk of the budget each year, they say.

"In other cities, there's an ability to discuss how to keep a good force on the street, but not lose the ability to help solve a budget gap when those are created," mayoral Chief of Staff Jim Morris said. "No private corporation would ever structure its budget this way."

But Rich Lawhead, president of the city police union, said San Bernardino's method for setting pay rates keeps them fair and realistic.

Under Charter Section 186, city officials must start all pay discussions by pulling the State Controller's Annual Report of Financial Transactions of California Cities with populations between 100,000 and 250,000.

Next, city and union negotiators take turns eliminating the highest- and lowest-paid cities from the list, until they arrive at the middle 10.

"Section 186 only keeps us in the average," Lawhead said. "The city has to be able to hire and maintain quality personnel. You have to be middle of the road as far as pay and benefits go. If we're not compensating our people, our quality people are going to go elsewhere."

Former Police Chief Warren Cocke said that's what used to happen, before voters approved the charter language.

"At the time, San Bernardino was about the lowest-paid police department in the area," he said. "We would hire people and they'd come to work, get a little experience and go somewhere else. Section 186 established stability."

Rialto's police department is adding some of its former units back even in the midst of a budget year that's hitting many cities and counties hard.

Bus, train or automobile? The record-setting gas prices have many Inland Empire residents playing multiple choice with their daily commutes.

Cassie MacDuff, the Press Enterprise columnist takes former Colton City Councilman Ramon Hernandez to task.


He came up with at least three stories when confronted about stays at local hotels and calls to phone sex services:

He blamed his nephew, who he claimed stole and cloned his city cell phone -- three times.

He blamed his behavior on being distraught at his brother's death.

He claimed he was being blackmailed by his nephew, then claimed he was being blackmailed by a male lover who had compromising videotape and forced him to use methamphetamine.

A probation officer concluded that his statement about blackmail "cannot be believed."

If you ask me, Hernandez cannot be believed about anything -- including his claim that he's sorry for his crime and the embarrassment it caused.

Hernandez pleaded guilty in January to 24 felony counts of misusing public funds and was sentenced Thursday to six months in jail, which he'll serve on weekends.

Politics and music mixed at a well-attended music festival held at one of Riverside County's Cities of the Festivals.

"If all three officers on trial had done what Detective Michael Oliver did - empty their clips, reload and fire again - nearly 100 bullets would have flown. Would that be considered reckless?

I pray we never have to find out."

----Errol Lewis, Columnist, New York Daily News

Nichole Paultre-Bell spoke out on her reaction to the acquittal of three officers of charges stemming from the fatal shooting of her fiance, Sean Bell.

"They killed Sean all over again."

(excerpt, New York Daily News)

Every march, every rally, I'm going to be right up front," Paultre Bell said, breaking her silence for the first time since the cops were cleared Friday.

"The justice system let me down," Paultre Bell said, her voice strong, her message clear. "They killed Sean all over again. That's what it felt like to us."

Her commitment echoed a vow made a day earlier by Sean Bell's father. At his son's graveside shortly after the verdict was read, William Bell gave his consent "to shut this city down" through a series of nonviolent protests.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who introduced Paultre Bell at Saturday's rally, said a massive citywide demonstration would occur within the next two weeks.

The focus of the planned demonstrations will be to urge federal law enforcement agencies including the United States Attorney's office to file charges of civil rights violations against the three officers.

One of the officers, Marc Cooper, told the Bell family he was sorry for the tragedy. Two others stopped short.

The president of the union which represents the NYPD's detectives said he was sorry for the tragedy after expressing his relief by co-opting a familiar commercial jingle.

(excerpt, New York Daily News)

That was left to DEA President Michael Palladino, who analyzed the evidence, ripped Bell's two friends who were wounded in the shooting, and piled scorn on the Rev. Al Sharpton.

"How do I spell relief? N-O-T G-U-I-L-T-Y," Palladino said.

"Our sympathies go out to the Bell family," he said. "We have been portrayed as insensitive murderers and I can tell you that we are not."

Bell's father responded to the verdict, to the New York Daily News.

"The judge spit on my face."

The defenses have already began.

The prosecutors defended their performance while people insist that the judge in the Bell case has jailed police officers. As for any federal prosecution? Legal experts doubt that's likely.

Columnists from the New York Daily News also check in.

Denis Hamill: Godlike judge delivers Sean Bell Verdict

Errol Lewis: It's our duty to protest Bell decision

Apparently, the New York Times Editorial Board was stunned by the verdicts, obviously not learning anything from the blanket acquittals of the officers who shot and killed Amadou Diallo.

Fifty bullets, no conviction

Reactions to the verdicts varied across the city and the question's being asked, should there be a special state prosecutor for police misconduct cases?

Thirty-one years ago this weekend, the Philadelphia Inquirer ran its Pulitzer Prize winning articles on what went down inside the interrogation rooms of homicide detectives at that police department and how far up in City Hall the corruption went.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

If public comment were always this trendy and other writings

There's been some interesting reading in the past day or so, what with Ward Four Councilman Frank Schiavone's mailer and an interesting if belated commentary from former Ward Three Councilman Art Gage in the Press Enterprise alongside that of Former Councilman Dom Betro.

Are these two men perhaps campaigning for higher office?

I guess Schiavone has broken up with his auto dialer company in Massachusetts and is beginning to leave more of a paper trail as he campaigns against incumbent County Supervisor Bob Buster in the District One contest. Even though this mailer will be stapled to all the others from the county's version of Election 2008 for future reading as this story unfolds, I did glance through it. The first thing I noticed was the photograph, of Schiavone with Republican presidential candidate John McCain. I guess that means that he's the Republican Party candidate, against Buster who's a registered Democrat, an interesting development in a political race that's purportedly nonpartisian.

After all, there's no pictures of him with Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. Though it's fascinating to even witness that federal political officials like Congressman Ken Calvert and election candidates are thinking of local politicians let alone saying nice things about them, it would be interesting to have read more quotes from those at the more local level. After all, he's also been endorsed by the majority of those sitting on the Riverside City Council dais including the following.

Mayor Ron Loveridge

Councilman Mike Gardner

Councilman Rusty Bailey

Councilman Steve Adams

Not to mention "retired" Councilman Ed Adkison and though it's not on this brochure, but on his fundraising invite, another "retired" councilman, Dom Betro.

As for the Board of Supervisors, Marion Ashley is endorsing him along with elected officials in cities outside District One.

Schiavone's also endorsed by "police and fire fighters" as his big sign on Alessandro Blvd states. Two labor unions from the city of Riverside and the Riverside Sheriffs' Association in Riverside County.

Further discussion of Schiavone's political achievements listed on the brochure will be coming in future postings. I was particularly interested in his sudden political stance on "illegal immigration" given some comments he had made to me on why he voted against Proposition 187 several years ago. Comments that had really impressed me with the level of introspection put into them and how they bucked the tide of Republican thought. But his comments on his brochure have made it clear on paper what he's really thinking or at least trying to sell to voters now.

Gage's letter commenting on a recent Press Enterprise editorial on open government is here. It sits under a letter by another former councilman, Dom Betro who wrote a very different view on the same topic. Here they are:

(excerpt, Readers' Forum)

Public bypassed?

The Press-Enterprise editorial on downtown renovation goes overboard in promoting a return to an era of second-guessing and lack of confidence in the future that for decades has held Riverside back from attaining greatness ("Stifling input?" Our Views, April 21).

Although it is perplexing why elected political leadership allowed staff to move forward on the Fox Plaza at this time, the editorial conveniently disregards the many public meetings of the City Council, development committee, Cultural Heritage Board and Planning Commission to discuss the project and to receive public input.

Does Riverside gather enough public input on projects such as the renovation of the Fox Theatre? Or do city officials avoid consulting with residents in order to speed plans along?

The editorial also misrepresents the Renaissance plan process, which requires any item of more than $50,000 to come before the council for public vetting. As for Tequesquite, the controversial inclusion of this park in the Renaissance allowed an opportunity for a very public discussion of a city asset that had long been ignored. That significant input led to a resolution that the public overwhelmingly supported.

The big-picture, visionary public benefits to be derived from such projects should not be lost to the many self-interests that have divided Riverside for too long.


Former member,
Riverside City Council

The Press-Enterprise editorial regarding the city of Riverside ignoring citizens' opinions was right on target ("Stifling input? Our Views, April 21).

As a councilman for the previous four years, I was a target of other members of the council and people in city administration over this very issue. There was a conscious effort to limit public input on issues large and small by rushing things through without adequate hearings, limiting public comment during open sessions, not allowing consent-calendar items to be pulled by the public and expanding the consent calendar to include significant items rather the usual routine business that doesn't require comment.

The attitude was one of "we know more than our constituents, so let's just do what we want." It has not gone unnoticed that council meetings are ending much earlier now, and people who previously were in attendance to keep the council accountable have just about stopped attending after being bullied by some members of the council during meetings.

These abuses should not be allowed. We cannot allow public business to be conducted in the back room or local pub. Let's open up the process to allow the public to have the input it deserves and that our laws mandate.

Former member,
Riverside City Council

First of all, I don't buy either these gentlemen as champions of public participation while they were serving as city council officials. After all, before you award Gage with that distinction, be mindful of this. When he ran for office, he claimed he didn't oppose the Community Police Review Commission even though he took over $10,000 from the Riverside Police Officers' Association. Yet, barely three months after he was elected, Gage tried to push a motion through twice to defund the CPRC by up to 90% of its annual budget not at a regular city council meeting but at a budget reconciliation hearing.

His record improved considerably however when it came to voting against measures to restrict public comment especially his lone dissent vote cast on July 12, 2005 against a motion made by Betro (with supportive comments from members of the Downtown Area Neighborhood Alliance) and seconded by Councilman Steve Adams.

The issues raised by Gage in paragraph one, were all issues raised in public comment by individuals like Marjorie Von Pohle, Mary Humboldt, Yolanda Garland, Terry Frizzel, members of the Group and countless other individuals. And how were they treated? Jennifer Vaughn-Blakely was subjected to the implication that she was a "liar", others were called liars and subjected to other negative comments. Some like Von Pohle who was 89-years-old at the time were barred from a meeting and escorted out by police officers. I don't remember Gage being too vocal when this was going on except on several occasions though he was never an active participant in this behavior. In fact, the only members who engaged in it were members of the mercifully shortly lived BASS quartet.

Yes, meetings are much shorter and yes, it's true many people no longer attend them. Why bother? The decisions aren't made at the meetings. They don't even appear to be made during subcommittees anymore because these committees as stated previously on this blog barely meet anymore. There's better things to do on a Tuesday night than sit and watch what amounts to reality television, where important civic business has become entertainment. Mostly in terms of trying to figure out which elected official, Schiavone or Adams, is going to try to gesture to the mayor to cut a speaker off during public comment, say a speaker has no class, integrity or ethics or gesture for a police officer to at least move closer to the podium if not try to remove somebody. The irony is that most of these police officers seem to be stronger supporters of public comments at meeting than elected officials.

The sly comments about "pubs" meaning Sire's Restaurant did begin late in the election cycle by Gage. Why not earlier?

Betro never was a strong supporter of public comment unless it was carefully controlled, conducted in private meetings or outside of public meetings and it's hilarious about how he writes that Riverside Renaissance has offered plenty of opportunity for public input because every item that is budgeted at over $50,000 has to come to the public city council meetings. But what he doesn't state for obvious reasons is that the majority of these items including high-ticket items wind up on the consent calendar. The same calendar that he himself pushed to ban city residents from pulling items off on July 12, 20005. Talk about self-interest? He's the candidate who had developers like Mark Rubin donating money into his coffer, developers who enjoyed the luxury of having the city's Redevelopment Agency act as the middleman in obtaining land for their development projects. Land owned by local businesses including some who had been there for years, including those years before downtown became trendy.

Don't believe me? Go to the city's Web site and look up the minutes record for the city council meeting on July 12, 2005 and read for yourself. It's from the evening session.

And what can you say about the rewrite of history regarding Tequesquite Park? That's why it's important to record history while it's happening.

But it's hard to see either of these gentlemen as advocates for public expression. Gage's record is slightly better than Betro's but the record of the city council in general has been quite poor.

And while pointing out that there are other meetings where public participation can be done, the naming of these meetings to argue against greater public comment including at city council meetings is just disingeneous. It's not just about addressing several council members on a committee (which by law, can't exceed the quorum level of the elected body) and commissioners, but the full council when decisions are being made. There needs to be more opportunities to be able to address those who actually cast the final votes in the decision making process, not less.

I guess we'll find out next year if either or both of these retired councilmen will be reentering the public arena, but it does sound like they're at least thinking about it.

A former councilman in Colton was sentenced to six months in jail in connection with the fraudulent use of city credit cards. His explanation for why this has happened has changed a few times.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

In the San Bernardino County Probation Department report, Hernandez claimed that his brother's death in 2005 led to him heavy drinking and a four-month affair with an unnamed man who caused him to use drugs. The report never identified the man.

"During this time, he was forced to use methamphetamine and became addicted," a probation officer wrote after interviewing Hernandez last month. "The man produced a compromising videotape and began to blackmail (Hernandez) with the tape."

Hernandez said he ran out of money and began to support his lover by paying his living expenses and hotel room bills. Hernandez charged hotel bills on his city-issued credit card.

The sentencing report, which summarizes the case and recommends punishment, challenged Hernandez's claim.

"His statement made in regards to blackmail cannot be believed and, even so, is no excuse for his behavior," the report said.

It also said, "It is likely that, if he was not caught, he would still, to this day, be stealing from the citizens of the community he was elected to serve."

Due to the silence being shown at Hemet City Hall surrounding the departure of a city manager, residents of that city are calling for an investigation.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

At least one resident has told the City Council that he will contact the California attorney general's office regarding a possible investigation. Without public explanation, the city has spent more than $330,000 on salary payouts and the cost of replacing Davidson.

"This was hush money," said Aladdin Masry, 61, of Hemet. He addressed the City Council this week demanding an explanation and warning council members that he would ask the state attorney general to investigate.

"It's a free country, and he can contact whoever he wants," Mayor Marc Searl said. "I think this thing has been beat to death."

Searl said he cannot discuss Davidson's departure because of a confidentiality clause contained in the separation agreement with Davidson.

Davidson, who served as city manager for 16 months, left March 11 after the City Council authorized paying him $233,080 as settlement for his departure. In January, he received a 10 percent pay increase for good performance, boosting his yearly salary to $253,000.

There was no letter of resignation or any council vote to dismiss Davidson.

How the Orange County Sheriff's Department handled its investigation into the suicide of the son of one of its lieutenants is itself being investigated by the District Attorney's office.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

The boy's death in January has drawn scrutiny from county prosecutors in part because homicide detectives were not initially sent to the scene, nobody kept track of who came and went from the home, and the body was removed before the detectives arrived, according to law enforcement sources and others familiar with the circumstances.

The gun, which was registered to the boy's mother, was among evidence collected by sheriff's officials and retrieved this week by county prosecutors.

The 16-year-old died Jan. 7 from a gunshot to the head, the sheriff's coroner confirmed this week.

In Florida, a judge tossed out a whole bunch of criminal cases, according to the Tampa Tribune. Why? Because these cases relied on the word of an informant with a multitude of felony convictions including those for violent crimes who was paid thousands of dollars by the police department and the FBI which used him for informative purposes.


Calling into question law enforcement tactics and Luis "Danny" Agosto's credibility, Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Daniel Sleet threw out racketeering and conspiracy charges against 23 defendants in the investigation of a suspected Tampa faction of the Latin Kings street gang.

Although defense attorneys argued prosecutorial misconduct, Sleet said he saw no evidence that the state attorney's office advocated, directed or concealed any wrongdoing.

Instead, Sleet used his 42-page written order to turn his ire toward law enforcement and the crimes of the 30-year-old informant.

"Rather than terminating their relationship with him, law enforcement excused these crimes and continued to employ his services and paid his monthly expenses," Sleet wrote. "Dismissal is an extreme sanction; however an extreme sanction is warranted to punish extreme conduct."

An investigation is going on in Maine after a video surfaced of a deputy being hogtied, tased and paraded around town purportedly during a bachelor party being held in his honor.

(excerpt, Associated Press)

“I can confirm that we are reviewing it for Sheriff [Donna] Dennison,” said Brian MacMaster, chief of the Investigation Division for the Office of Attorney General. “Beyond that, I can’t comment.

“We don’t comment on any of our investigations,” MacMaster added.

The weekly newspaper Village Soup obtained a video that shows approximately 10 men outdoors at what is believed to be a bachelor party when the Taser is used. The groom-to-be drops to the ground and the other men bind him before covering him with oil and feathers.

Dennison said the Taser didn’t come from the Sheriff’s Department. The agency doesn’t have any Tasers.

Interim County Administrator Jeffrey Northgraves said Monday that he, Dennison, Knox County Commissioners Mason Johnson and Anne Beebe-Center, jail administrator Maj. John Hinkley and Chief Deputy Ernest McIntosh were invited to the Village Soup office in Rockland on Thursday, April 10, to watch the video before it was released to the public.

“It was the first time any of us had seen it,” Northgraves said. “We didn’t think to ask how Village Soup acquired the video.”

An Orlando Police Department officer is under investigation for hitting a man who was handcuffed.

In Cook County, an officer charged with perjury and other offenses had over 150 DUI cases that he was connected with dropped.

A police officer working in Oxnard, California is on administrative leave amid allegations he raped a 12-year-old girl at a substation. He and his partner are also being investigated for alleged sexual misconduct.

(excerpt, Ventura County Star)

The allegations arose during the rape investigation. Polo is accused of raping a 12-year-old Ventura County girl on Aug. 14, 2006, in the department's Beat 21 substation at 3749 W. Hemlock St.

Investigators took DNA samples from the substation and removed computers from Polo's home, according to Crombach.

Polo was known within the department for taking pictures of women he spent time with, a city source said. After the investigation began, Polo implicated others who, he claimed, participated in misbehavior, according to the source, who asked to remain anonymous.

City manager won't comment

City Manager Ed Sotelo said he could not comment on the allegations because they involve personnel matters and pending litigation. But that hasn't stopped rumors from circulating.

As long ago as last summer, some of the more salacious allegations began to surface in the community, said Joe Avelar, past chairman of the city's Inter-Neighborhood Council Forum. A former code enforcement officer who worked with the Police Department for almost four decades, Avelar said he's been hearing details of the story at least since June.

In Baltimore, an off-duty police officer was shot to death by police officers. He had left a bar with brass knuckles and also a gun.

(excerpt, WBAL-TV)

Norman Stamp, 65, died in the incident, according to Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld. Stamp was a 44-year-veteran of the police force.

"Officer Stamp was a mentor to some and a friend to many," Bealefeld said. "This is an incredibly difficult time."

Stamp was shot after uniformed officers responded to a fight reported outside the Haven Place bar at Haven Street and Pulaski Highway shortly after midnight.

Highland is willing to pay higher taxes for more city services.

To the surprise of no one, a judge acquitted the four police officers in New York City of charges stemming from the 2006 fatal shooting of Sean Bell, according to the New York Daily News.

Until the next reckless shooting spree (nearly struck was a Port Authority police officer and residents of a nearby house while the supervising lieutenant hid beneath a dashboard) of an unarmed Black man or woman and give or take a year, there will certainly be another one unfortunately.

New York City reacts. Others by the hundreds marched to Bell's grave.

The New York Daily News columnist, Juan Gonzalez called it another version of the same script.


It's all become predictable - after much public fanfare, sometimes even a trial, our courts say no crime was involved in these heart-breaking shootings of unarmed black men.

Anyone who spent time in the Sean Bell trial knows the prosecutors were only going through the motions. The absymal New York Knicks had a better game plan this season, and far more desire, than the prosecutors of Detectives Michael Oliver, Gescard Isnora and Marc Cooper.

You couldn't help feeling they mailed it in, and Supreme Court Judge Arthur Cooperman only stamped it.

It does not matter whether Bell, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield were choir boys or thugs. The simple fact is they had no guns.

There was an altercation outside a strip joint. Words were exchanged. Bell and his two friends were clearly filled with alcohol, but they walked away. Whether one of them said he was going to get a gun or not was never conclusively proved.

As they got into their car, they were confronted by a man waiving a gun at them. Witnesses, even cops who took the stand, contradicted each other as to whether Isnora identified himself as cop.

What the judge said before issuing the verdicts.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Meetings and motivations

The Community Police Review Commission had its monthly regular meeting and included a packed agenda. It's taken upon the task to complete its regular meeting, adjourn and then reconvene as the community outreach committee which hasn't worked out very well.

The discussion of the timeline for the commission's investigation and review of the fatal officer-involved shooting of Douglas Steven Cloud which took place all the way back in October 2006, took off into an interesting direction when suggestions were raised by Commissioner Chani Beeman to access any depositions which may or may not have been given by the police officers to attorneys in relation to the lawsuit that was filed against the city over the Cloud shooting. That lawsuit as you know settled about a month or so ago for $800,000 making it the second highest payout in connection with an officer-involved fatality or shooting since at least the 1980s. Any additional statements by the involved officers and perhaps those who served as witnesses can only enhance the quality and depth of the CPRC's investigation and perhaps provide clarity on a shooting that has really disturbing undertones.

Who paid for the settlement of this shooting? The city residents did. Were any improvements made to put into place to perhaps address issues that surely arose during investigation into a shooting that the city paid a huge chunk of money out on so early in the litigating process? That remains to be seen as far as the public is concerned. Because after all, the city's legal and risk management divisions are loathe to part with city money and they parted with a rather significant sum in this particular case. What made them do it?

Here's the current standings for money paid out by the city for wrongful deaths or excessive force incidents.

Tyisha Miller (1998): $3 million settlement

Douglas Steven Cloud (2006): $800,000 settlement

Hector Islas (1997): $790,000

Derek Hayward (1994): $715,ooo jury's verdict

Jose Martinez (1997): $550,000 settlement

Summer Marie Lane (2004): $390,000

Anyway, when the suggestion came up to either request or possibly even subpoena depositions (and it was interesting how few people on the commission seemed to either know or remember the commission can use subpoena power) that were given particularly by the officers who had shot Cloud. It would be interesting to compare and contrast whether the statements the officers gave to investigators in the police department through the Officer-Involved Death investigation were the same accounts provided in the deposition. It would also be interesting to compare and contrast how officers answered questions or provided statements to civil attorneys for a wrongful death lawsuit compared to how they would do like to departmental investigators who in other shooting investigations have asked leading questions particularly of the officers, most notably in the case of the Summer Lane shooting.

If the commission is able to access the depositions, then it would add a new dimension to the commission's investigation of an officer-involved death indeed.

Cloud's still in the earliest stages of the review process and no discussion on that shooting has taken place yet on how to draft its public report. The commission has yet to be briefed on the progress of its investigation into the October 2006 officer-involved shooting of Joseph Darnell Hill.

The CPRC also included in its closed session agenda a discussion on a final finding to assign to the shooting of Lee Deante Brown investigation. Only they know if a final decision has been made in this case. If so, it was made 724 days after the shooting occurred.

Meeting number two of the Library and Museum Renovation Task Force held its second meeting on Wednesday. Its members appeared undecided on which direction in regards to renovating both downtown institutions they wanted to pursue.

What was interesting was that the city's hired consultant seemed to believe that they needed to anonymously create lists of things they didn't want to discuss out in the open. Not surprisingly, the list included at least one city employee on it.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Early in the four-hour meeting, consultant Jeffrey Scherer discussed what he called the "elephants in the room" -- big issues the task force might not be inclined to discuss openly but that everyone knows are out there.

At the task force's first meeting on April 11, he had asked panel members to write anonymously a short list of such issues.

Two of the people that task force members mentioned as "elephants in the room" in their anonymous comments were Hudson (mentioned in at least three lists) and former Library Director Judith Auth, who now heads the Committee to Renew the Library, a group that opposed the joint museum/library project as it was proposed. Somebody even wrote that one "elephant" is city employees who can be fired without cause and who therefore must speak the party line.

"There's a major amount of distrust in this room," Scherer said.

In a memorandum to the panel and again at Wednesday's meeting, he recommended members and the public try to move beyond bashing others involved in the process.

"I think it would be very helpful if we could get away from looking at a bad guy," Scherer said.

The next meeting will be held on May 19. Time, to be announced but likely during a time when few people can attend. It's important for those who are committed to the library, the museum and their proposed renovations keep paying close attention to what goes on during these meetings.

Ontario is presenting it's new version of tent city. Much smaller than the older version and this one's got a fence around it!

An Orange County Sheriff's Department deputy who molested a teenaged boy may have other victims. But Deputy Gerald Stenger killed himself in his squad car after charges were filed against him.

In Spokane, those who advocate for civilian review are critical of the current mechanism proposed by the city government.

(excerpt, Spokeman Review)

“The reality is, police problems in Spokane are severe enough that we’re not going to accept icing on a rotten cake,” said Pam Behring, a South Hill activist and League of Women Voters leader. Behring moderated a series of community forums at Gonzaga Law School on police misconduct issues after the 2006 death of Otto Zehm and other high-profile incidents.

Spokane City Council President Joe Shogan told the crowd packed into the council’s small fifth-floor conference room that they’d have to wait for a public hearing later this year to voice their concerns or to hear any detailed comment from elected officials on the proposal.

“If you expected more, you’re welcome to leave,” Shogan told the audience, saying Spokane Police Guild members need to vote on the tentative agreement. No public testimony is allowed at the monthly Public Safety Committee meetings.

And Shogun is welcome to vote along with Spokane's other city residents on a proposed civilian mechanism on the ballot. It's very difficult to do but sometimes at least initiating the process is enough to motivate city officials to make a little more progress with implementing civilian review.

The Reverend Al Sharpton said that if the three New York Police Department officers were acquitted of charges in connection with the shooting of Sean Bell and two of his friends, it would be like the Old South.

(excerpt, New York Daily News)

Sharpton, on the steps of City Hall, was rankled by a defense lawyer's claim that the 50-shot police fusillade that killed Bell resulted from the "attitude" of shooting victim Joseph Guzman.

"This smacks of Emmett Till, of reckless eyeballing," Sharpton said, involving the infamous 1955 slaying of a black youth for whistling at a white woman.

"Is that now what we're going to bring this city to?" Sharpton asked. "How do you justify self-defense against a non-threat?"

Sharpton led a rally in New York City today and Nichole Paultre-Bell provided her account of what she believe happened on Nov. 25, 2006.

The judge's verdict is expected to be announced on Friday, April 25. Judge Arthur Cooperman has already said that he's going to explain his reasoning behind the verdicts before announcing the verdicts.

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