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

Friday, October 31, 2008

Farewell to an independent voice in civilian oversight


(from beloblog)

A man standing in a roadway screaming at motorists became combative, assaulted a Riverside police officer and subsequently died at a hospital after police took him into custody Friday night, according to a Riverside police news release.

Marlon Oliver Acevedo, 35, of Riverside, died in the emergency room at Parkview Community Hospital Medical Center in Riverside after being involved in an altercation with police, according to a Riverside County Sheriff-Coroner's news release.

Acevedo had been standing in the 78000 block of Cypress Avenue creating a traffic hazard for motorists about 9:45 p.m., the release stated. He died at 10:37 p.m., according to the coroner's release.

Anyone with information about the incident is ased to call Detective Ron Sanfilippo at 951-353-7105.

More information included in the department's press release:

Officers arrived on scene and contacted the subject standing in the roadway. The subject became agitated with the officers and refused to comply with their orders. The subject became physically combative and assaulted one of the officers. The adult subject was taken into custody. Riverside Fire Department and American Medical Response personnel responded to the scene to provide medical aid for the adult subject. The adult subject was transported to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced deceased a short time later.

And so the backlog of another sort continues on the list of deaths the CPRC has been prohibited from investigating in any meaningfully timely manner. That current list stands at three in about two months.

"Any activities which could create a misperception that a management employee is engaging in independent community relations efforts would be entirely inconsistent with expectations regarding our reporting hierarchy to the city council and our clear deference to policy makers in matters of interaction with community."

Are these words to live by? That's a struggle taking place up north in San Jose and in other cities as well. The words above are very commonly used in arguments to weaken civilian oversight through hitting the chief positions whether they be auditors, directors or managers of those oversight bodies.

San Jose's city council voted to get rid of police auditor Barbara Attard behind closed doors. Just like that, one of the most prominent individuals in civilian oversight is out of a job.

Attard responded to the city council's vote at the NACOLE conference in Cincinnati.

(excerpt, San Jose Mercury)

"The council action to terminate my appointment undermines the independence of the IPA," said Attard, who held similar positions in San Francisco and Berkeley before coming to San Jose. "It sends a message to future IPA directors, to the community and the police department. That message is that if the IPA director makes serious or controversial recommendations, she does so at risk of losing her job."

And it doesn't take a crystal ball to figure out that the individual who will replace her as auditor will most likely be a rubber stamp of either the city council, the police department or both. That's what has happened in similar circumstances in other cities and counties which utilize civilian review mechanisms. It will no doubt continue to happen, now that civilian review has been around about 40 years and city governments are figuring out how to reshape it into something that makes them happy. Mostly this is done in attempts to expose the respective cities and counties (and their governments) to reduced civic liability in relation to allegations of police misconduct including the use of excessive force.

People who supported her and those who didn't both commented on her upcoming departure.


Bobby Lopez, the president of the Police Officers' Association, said that Attard had not given the department "a fair shake."

"She became an advocate for all the cop hate groups," Lopez said. "Her job was to go to the community and find the problems and help quell the problems. She actively incited people."

But she also had her fans. Attard was this year's recipient of the Don Edwards Civil Liberties Award, given to her by the ACLU and named after the retired San Jose congressman.

"I think the decision was a retaliatory act for her trying to be an advocate for police accountability and expanding the powers of the IPA office into a mechanism that could be useful for the community," said Raj Jayadev, director of De-Bug — a local cop watch organization. "The message to the next IPA director is 'Don't advocate for more police oversight or you will have a very short stint.' "

Short stint is right but that's true in many jurisdictions besides San Jose.

It's pretty sad when attending community meetings can actually be interpreted as "inciting" the city's residents as if city residents are unable to formulate opinions including ones based on emotion by themselves. After all, that would be like saying police officers were completely unable to formulate their own opinions on issues and were being incited by their police union leadership, or a higher ranking officer or someone in City Hall. It just shows how poorly Lopez views the communities that he and his fellow officers serve and protect even as many things that Attard did and advocated for during her stint as auditor were good for police officers.

Attard was a strong and necessary force for police accountability in San Jose, a city that's watched as its police department has weathered wave after wave of controversial incidents from racially profiling Latinos to problems with how its officers deploy tasers. But her outspokenness and drive to be independent while working with both the community and the police department without being a rubber stamp for either one of them ended up costing her any future she hoped to have as an auditor in San Jose.

It's a story that many people can relate to here in Riverside because after all, the city council here fired a former city manager in part because he spent too much time talking with community leaders and organizations rather than locking himself up in his office at City Hall. The 4-3 vote catalyzed the thankfully brief reign of what politics watchers called the GASS quartet. But the ending of George Carvalho's stint in Riverside was but one action taken in what would increasingly become what political watchdogs and others would call a City Hall that had built a wall around itself between it and the city's residents which it serves.

An interesting aspect of Attard's history that most people might not know is that there's a Riverside connection.

Before Attard was the monitor in San Jose, she actually served as the executive director of Berkeley's civilian review board. And that's how she was introduced to Riverside back when she attended a meeting of the Police Policy Review Committee on Oct. 21, 1999 according to this report. While attending that meeting, she provided information on both the Berkley model of civilian review as well as information about the Office of Citizen Complaints in San Francisco where she worked for about 10 years. At the time, the Berkeley model was one of the finalists in the decision making to determine which form of civilian oversight would be used by the city.

Of course, the Berkeley model didn't wind up being chosen as the template for Riverside's Community Police Review Commission. It was supposed to have been, because in a narrow vote it was picked as the model of choice by the PPRC to present to the city council. It alone would be included in the report of recommendations forwarded to the city council from the research ad hoc committee. But this being Riverside, of course that's not what happened.

What did happen is that during the city council meeting, then Councilwoman Joy Defanbaugh asked to see other models that had been part of the discussion if not the report and seemed to know a lot about one model in particular which wasn't included in the report and that was the one based on what's in place in the city of Long Beach. This request caused many in the audience of that city council meeting (and it was packed to the outer doors with people) to scratch their heads and wonder how Defanbaugh gained knowledge of this model given that she had never attended any of the PPRC meetings.

In addition, the PPRC included three city council members in its composition including Maureen Kane who chaired it. Only three city council members were allowed to be assigned to the committee in order for it to be in accordance with the Brown Act to prevent any possibility of any serial meetings being conducted where a majority of the city council would be involved in discussions involving an issue without conducting a public meeting.

People added the number of people involved in that process including the three on the committee and wondered if three plus one equaled four. Whether or not the serial meeting provision of the Brown Act was violated is something the public will never know but suspicions were high even among civic leaders and representatives who are held in high regard by City Hall that something sneaky had taken place. That feeling permeated the dialogue on civilian review for quite some time.

Members of the PPRC look back five years later and provide an interesting read about what some of them said during a workshop held with the CPRC in February 2004.

The city's hired three executive directors or managers for the CPRC so far but none of them outlasted the city manager who appointed them except for the first one, Former Houston Police Department sergeant, Don Williams. He was appointed after a hiring process by the remnants of the John Holmes/Larry Paulson administration but was ousted after the firing of Carvalho and the installation of interim city manager, Tom Evans.

Evans cut the position from full-time to half-time and except for a brief period in 2006, that's the status of where the position has remained since. Evans and interim Asst. City Manager Jim Smith appointed then Community Relations Director Pedro Payne to take the helm of both positions, that directing the Human Relations Commission and the CPRC. Many people in the community were skeptical that Payne could handle both positions but after being trained by retired police chief and former CPRC Chair Bill Howe, Payne proved his skeptics wrong (including this one) and led the CPRC through its golden period in which it would foster its strongest relationship with the community even as Payne met at least once with representatives of the Riverside Police Officers' Association and began creating measures to brief officers on the commission during roll call and newly hired officers in meetings with them as well. Commissioners were working together in disagreement rather than playing the political games including behind the scenes that they clearly are now.

What wasn't emphasized by the powers at City Hall was actually how strong an advocate of the police department Payne really was, in fact probably more so than anyone else currently at City Hall. Which admittedly these days doesn't necessarily mean as much given how low that bar is currently set given City Hall's recent actions in terms of its current staffing levels from bottom to the supervisory levels. I would put my money on someone like Payne or Attard for that matter wanting the best police department that could be had including one that's appropriately staffed and equipped long before I would ever put my money on City Hall which has left police positions both civilian and sworn frozen leaving work shifts staffed to levels not seen in decades and apparently even advocating the painting of non-squad cars to look like squad cars to provide the illusion that there are more officers driving around or parking cars than there actually are. All while saying publicly how much they support the police department.

This decision making as short-sighted as it is will result in consequences, just as it did a decade or so ago. And when that happens, the actions taken this decade will be just as scrutinized after the fact as happened with the 1990s during the period of the city's stipulated judgment with former State Attorney General Bill Lockyer.

And they should be.

Payne was concerned about officer safety, one thing that might be adversely impacted by lower staffing levels. Judging by City Hall's most recent attempts to undermine the operation of the CPRC, it's clearly more concerned about civil liability through lawsuits filed against it alleging either wrongful death or other allegations of police misconduct including but not limited to excessive force. Adequate police staffing and the continuation of many of the mandates that were included in the city's former stipulated judgment are much further down the list of concerns and if you don't know that, then take a good look around you. Of course, if you challenge a city employee's assertion that the police department is "fully staffed" through a CPRA request, what you'll receive is a written letter by City Attorney Gregory Priamos telling you to check a document on the Web site which doesn't include that information. His record at providing any useful responses to CPRA requests for public documents is currently at 0 for 2.

But while the city staffs police officers at less than 20 officers a shift (which artificially deflates the officer to supervisor ratios) to serve a large, growing city divided into four large (if unequally so) portions called neighborhood policing centers, individuals like DeSantis are still saying in public meetings with a straight face that the department is fully staffed. Even as lieutenants are working many more hours in some cases than they're accustomed to doing (which begins to mind hired consultant Joe Brann's cautionary message about the "fatigue" factor last June) because they don't get paid over time, the same sentiments are coming out of City Hall.

It's ironic indeed that Payne would be accused of favoring the community over the police department when he was the manager who made the most inroads and certainly the most efforts to do outreach with the police department from its chief and management level to its union's leadership and officers themselves. Still, it was clear from almost day one that City Manager Brad Hudson and his assistant, Tom DeSantis didn't care for the executive manager that they had inherited from the brief Evans/Smith administration and soon enough, they began acting accordingly and at least in one case, one of them stated clearly that he was acting on behalf of the city council.

When community members advocated and agitated for a full-time executive manager to perform what is certainly in most jurisdictions a full-time job, Hudson and DeSantis appeared to acquiesce and they worked out a contract which made Payne a full-time executive manager. They provided an "at will" contract to Payne, ended up pushing him out in about six months and then credited the community by telling them at meetings, that they were the ones who agitated for a full-time employee in that position. Judging by comments made afterward by individuals who attended those meetings, no one really bought into that argument.

What's so funny about the city's latest insistence in adhering and researching practices utilized by the more than dozen civilian review mechanisms (even including examples which aren't actually civilian review to the mix) is that they didn't extend the same philosophy to the issue of having a full-time executive manager. Most civilian review mechanisms employ an auditor, director or manager full-time. Riverside does not because as CPRC Chair Brian Pearcy put it, one of the first conditions provided by current Executive Manager Kevin Rogan is that he not receive too many employment hours to jeopardize his PERS pension from the Pomona Police Department. In fact at the annual report of the CPRC to the city council, Pearcy referred to Rogan as being "half-time".

But anyway, Payne began to be restricted by Hudson and DeSantis whenever he tried to carry out the duties which were included in his job description. The first target, was public outreach after the city manager's office forbade him from attending community meetings lest he appeared biased to the community. It didn't forbid him from doing any outreach with the police department even as the police department withdrew itself during this time period from some of its interactions with the CPRC. At no time does it appear that Hudson or DeSantis sent any notification to the police department's management that it should not do so. If the police department were to send liaisons to the meetings of the CPRC (as it did for years with the HRC), that happened a bit later on.

Tensions worsened after the sustained finding the CPRC reached in an 8-0 vote on the shooting of Summer Marie Lane and after it was revealed that Hudson had essentially issued a pocket veto of that finding (blaming it at community meetings on his relative inexperience on the job) or as one elected official put it at the time, "punked" the decision. Still, Payne continued to manage the commission as three more fatal shootings by Riverside Police Department officers occurred in 2006, including the controversial incident involving Lee Deante Brown who was shot and killed at the Welcome Inn of America less than two minutes after the first officer arrived at the scene. After that, was the incident involving Douglas Steven Cloud who was shot about 20 seconds after officers arrived at the scene.

The two investigations being done on those two shootings by the CPRC were suspended for a period of time in early 2007 by the city manager's office but by then Payne had resigned after being ordered to leave a heated meeting by DeSantis. But as you know, investigations into incustody deaths are pretty much indefinitely suspended now at least for months even years.

Payne was beleaguered by city management and the city council appeared to do nothing or say anything in terms of taking any position on this issue. Looking back to some of the actions in the past several months by some city council members who have clearly broke their silence, maybe they just didn't give Hudson and DeSantis any marching orders in a public setting. But Payne had a choice although not much more freedom to make that choice than was afforded to Attard. He could simply collect a paycheck and serve as the city manager and/or police department's rubber stamp (and interestingly enough, in cases like this one of the first actions taken is to discourage or outright ban directors and managers from performing community outreach) or he could do his job and remain independent but most likely get fired or be pressured to resign. By now, everyone knows what happened and that he resigned not by choice or to seek other career opportunities as the city manager's office announced in its press release, rather than to be a lap dog for City Hall. And last summer, Payne gave a presentation at the city's annual neighborhood conference, looking much happier away from the turmoil at City Hall.

It's indeed ironic that the Press Enterprise's editorial board used that term to describe how it saw the CPRC nearly two years after Payne's departure. It actually was borrowing the term used by former commissioner, Steve Simpson (who was also essentially ousted allegedly through efforts by forces at City Hall) in response to something that I said at a CPRC meeting. Simpson definitely proved during his short tenure that he was nobody's lap dog but then again, that's kind of related to why he had such a short stint. It appears that the city council gambled that his prior involvement with a city board and commission and his relationships with several elected officials would make him pliable and lost that bet.

It's not surprising that the editorial board (which is about as far from "liberal media" as you can get) saw it that way, just as they might see similarities in the treatment of Attard by the San Jose City Council. But after watching what's been going on with the CPRC during the years of Hudson and DeSantis, it's hardly surprising, as it's far from surprising to see what's been going on with the police department since the dissolution of the stipulated judgment as it's progressing in some areas and repeating mistakes in others and it's the former that makes the latter more unfortunate.

But it remains to be seen if that's a road that's firmly set. And whether or not the upcoming elections could impact the direction that road is traveling.

The State Supreme Court decided against hearing the speedy trial appeal case which means that the appellate court's ruling that Riverside County Superior Court judges don't have to send their trials to family courts still stands.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Prosecutors said a state law giving criminal cases facing speedy trial dismissal precedence over civil matters includes not only civil trial courts, where business disputes and malpractice cases are heard.

They believe the law means such criminal cases should also be sent to family law and probate court, as well as traffic court.

The upheld Orange County decision means criminal cases that have run out of constitutionally guaranteed time limits can be dismissed, if criminal and civil trial courts are not available. Judges do not have to send them to the specialized courts.

Records also show the ruling remains "published" -- binding on Riverside County courts. The two challenged dismissals were misdemeanors, one for vandalism and the other for illegal dumping.

"Even though it is a superior court appellate panel decision on misdemeanor cases, it is an opinion that has far-reaching impact in the practices of the court," said Assistant Public Defender Robert Willey.

A witness in the federal corruption trial of Former Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona broke down on the witness stand.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

Lisa Jaramillo was about 45 minutes into her testimony when the subject came up. She is the wife of former Assistant Sheriff George Jaramillo and served as a chief fundraiser for Carona's first two campaigns.

She lost her composure while answering questions about what she knew about the relationship between Carona and Debra V. Hoffman.

"The reason I'm having a difficult time answering this is, I wasn't a good friend to Debbie Carona and I know she's sitting out there," Jaramillo said, looking at Carona's wife in the gallery. "I don't know if it is appropriate or not, but I'm very sorry . . . for some of the stuff I have to say today, but I can't lie."

The chief of Palo Alto Police Department has come under sharp criticism for comments made about conducting traffic stops on African-Americans. Chief Lynne Johnson told her officers to stop African-Americans and find out who they are. Later, she denied that she was advocating racial profiling.

This is what she said in the earlier interview.

(excerpt, San Jose Mercury)

"When our officers are out there and they see an African-American, in a congenial way, we want them to find out who they are,'' Johnson told KGO-TV in an interview after Thursday's meeting.

"The one suspect around the California Avenue train station is wearing a do-rag,'' she said in the interview. "If my officers see an African-American who has a doo rag on his head, absolutely the officers will be stopping and trying to find out who that person is.''

This is what she said later.


"We do not want to create an environment of fear for people of color in this community, absolutely not,'' Johnson said at a community meeting Thursday night at Palo Alto City Hall. ''But on the other hand, we have to do due diligence in trying to apprehend the suspects who are doing this.'

In an interview with the Mercury News Friday, Johnson said her remarks were misinterpreted. She apologized in particular for her comments about stopping anyone "wearing a do-rag.''

She denied instructing her officers to make stops based on race.

A former Fallowfield Township Police Department officer was charged with stealing drugs.

(excerpt, WPXI)

Allen Pettit, 46, was a captain in the Police Department when he seized the drugs in February 2006.

"We do know that Mr. Pettit was the last custodian of record for the drugs," said Washington County District Attorney Steve Toprani. "It was cocaine and marijuana."

Toprani dismissed drug charges against a suspect when the drugs were found missing earlier this year.

"The defense requested the evidence, and we weren't able to produce it."

A special grand jury is examining evidence and hearing testimony of allegations that several New York City Police Department officers sodomized a man in a subway station. The police department denied the incident happened but a transit officer who was at the scene during the incident agreed to speak with prosecutors and a source in the department believed his account might be similar to that given by Michael Mineo.

The transit officer's attorney insisted his client didn't engage in any misconduct.

(excerpt, New York Daily News)

The transit cop arrived to see three officers from Brooklyn's 71st Precinct struggling with Mineo, who had allegedly been smoking pot near the station. His lawyer, Paul Martin, said he's spoken with the district attorney's office, and was "confident that the officer will do the right thing."

While the transit officer has not told his story to the district attorney, he has spoken about it with union leaders and a few colleagues, sources said.

"It is not good for the other cops," a source said. Another said the transit cop saw one of the other cops hit Mineo in the buttock with something.

Martin declined to identify his client or say what he might testify to, but insisted that if anything improper occurred, his client was not part of it.

"I categorically deny that he had any involvement in anything criminal at all," Martin said. "When you see allegations such as these and there's an inference in the press that he's involved - he's concerned for his family. He's concerned for his career," the lawyer said.

Another guilty plea by an Atlanta Police Department narcotics officer in connection with the murder of Kathryn Johnston, 92.

A former Pomona Police Department sergeant was arrested in connection with robberies

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

With all deliberate speed?

Some people have filed complaints with the Riverside Police Department or the city's civilian review board and then waited, and waited and waited as month after month went by and some of them have asked me this question in one form or another. The complaints seem at first to progress fairly quickly in terms of complainants being contacted by the investigating sergeant and getting interviewed if that's required but then the process appears to slow down and there's a lot of waiting by the complainant for resolution including the findings recommended by the Community Police Review Commission and that final letter of disposition mailed out by the city manager's office.

Did they lose my complaint? Did it get thrown away? These are common questions.

The answers most likely are no it's not lost and it's not thrown away. Part of the reason for the slowdown is that there's still a lot of work to do after the complainant and even the witnesses are interviewed and a lot of movement within the department involving the review of the complaint investigation.

Not that the police department wasn't unfairly accused by the former state attorney general of putting complaints in the circular file in the past but one of the actions taken as part of its five-year stipulated judgment was to create and implement a complaint system that was compliant with state law and the state's constitution. Hopefully, two years out of its stipulated judgment that is still taking place.

One of the major issues with the police complaint system in Riverside that's been one for the past several years is the length of time it takes for complaints to be disposed from the time they are filed.

Statistics that are part of the public record clearly outline how the average length of time has grown in the past several years. A lot of blame is allotted at the CPRC but the length of time that it took to investigate complaints really increased greatly about four years after the commission began receiving and reviewing complaints and incidentally after their was a change of the guard in the city manager's office from George Carvalho and Penny Culbreth Graft (the rising star who got away) to interim, Tom Evans, to the current city manager, Brad Hudson. One councilman, Steve Adams, responded to concerns raised about these investigation trends several years ago at a Public Safety Committee meeting by saying that the quality of the investigation is what matters more than the quantity of time that it takes.

There's definitely truth to that statement but after a certain point, that "quantity" might collide with state law. Adams also blamed the problems on the CPRC but the CPRC's mean review period remained much more steady during the past seven years, increasingly markedly during 2005 and 2006 (with the department's average investigation time increasing markedly as well) when the number of complaints and/or the number of total allegations per complaint increased markedly, which delayed the scheduling of dates for the commissioners to deliberate and issue a finding on complaint allegations.

In 2007, a backlog developed as far as complaints brought to the CPRC from the Internal Affairs Division because there was no full-time executive manager during the first half of that year and the commissioners managed to work through that backlog in a fairly short period of time but complaint time lines overall on the police department's end didn't appear to improve. Some linked the CPRC's backlog to the inexperience of its interim executive manager, administrative analyst Mario Lara, who had received little to no training on handling and processing complaints in comparison to his predecessors. When concern about his lack of experience was raised, Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis told the Public Safety Committee during one of its reviews of the CPRC that Lara had attended several meetings with Internal Affairs Division representatives which was what he needed.

Whatever. But how does the length of time complaints are taking to be investigated by the police department align itself with the policies and procedures governing these complaint investigation time lines?

In each annual report released by the CPRC including this one, it includes the entire text from the police department's policy #4.12 in the index. This policy governs the implementation of the department's complaint process from filing, to investigation, to administrative review, to outcome.

The language defining these guidelines for complaint investigation completion is the following.

The Department has established a goal of completing Category 2 complaint investigations within thirty (30) calendar days from the date assigned. The Division Commander then has five (5) calendar days to submit the completed investigation with a Memorandum of Finding to Internal Affairs. If additional time is required, the Division Commander will request approval for an extension from the Personnel Services/Internal Affairs Commander.

The Department has established a goal of completing Category 1 complaint investigations within sixty (60) calendar days from the date assigned. The Division Commander then has five (5) calendar days to submit the completed investigation with a Memorandum of Finding to Internal Affairs. If additional time is required, the Division Commander will request approval for an extension from the Personnel Services/Internal Affairs Commander.

(source: RPD policy #4.12 Part D (5,6) )

In contrast to the guidelines presented in that policy, is reality and that is that the average length of time that it takes the police department to investigate a complaint is much longer than what's recommended in this guidelines.

Interestingly enough, although the quarterly averages for each year exceeded the recommended guidelines without exception, the numbers didn't begin to really explode out of control until about 2005 when complaints reached their highest level in several years. Complaints were actually higher the following year but the number of allegations per complaint decreased overall. Still, the numbers crept higher.

It's easy to see that the average time it takes to investigate complaints has greatly increased and there doesn't seem to be any relief in sight. This leaves people who file complaints forced to wait months or longer than a year to receive their outcome and it leaves the officers waiting as well for complaints against them to be disposed. It also pushes any sustained complaints up against deadlines set by Governmental Code 3304 (d) which states that discipline must be given out within a year of when the misconduct was suspected although there is a list of exceptions to that rule. If a complaint is sustained and it's a year since misconduct was suspected (in accordance with one of City Attorney Gregory Priamos' several legal opinions of #3304(d)), then the police chief couldn't discipline the officer if that were his decision unless one of the half dozen or so exceptions was exercised during the investigative period.

In fact, it doesn't appear as if the situation is improving any time soon and if the department's doing anything to address it, it hasn't announced any information about that including at its community public forums that it's been posting at different locations this past year.

The only trend that's changed is that formerly, the statistical averages for category 2 complaints were even longer than those for category 1 complaints even though they are supposed to follow a shorter time line. That trend has reversed itself in recent years but the numbers for both categories are still high and while there's some fluctuation, the trend still remains that the average time spans for investigation are remaining high.

This also doesn't factor in internal investigations which are also conducted by the Internal Affairs Division. Earlier this decade, the department provided regular quarterly statistical reports on internal investigations to the Human Relations Commission but took a giant step backward when under the guise of redeveloping its statistical format, it simply opted out of providing these statistical reports altogether. It's possible that the issue is not citizen complaints at all, but it could be that the department has lost its ability to keep up with conducting its internal investigations in a timely fashion, either because the number of this class of investigations greatly increased or the number of staff delegated to investigate and process them has decreased. It could also be a combination of both factors coming into play if the problem originates or involves internal investigations.

Then news broke at a community meeting that the Riverside Police Officers' Association is planning to sue the city on the issue of the length of time it takes to investigate personnel complaints. It remains to be seen what the impact of such an action if it takes place will have on the department and its investigative process.

It will be interesting if measures are taken to improve this situation although it's very unlikely that the public will have any idea if this happens and if so in what form.

One place to start would be to utilize a two-prong approach to the problem which is similar to that used by the Riverside County Superior Court system when it was dealing with a tremendous backlog of old cases which jeopardized the time lines on many of them. What the courts did was assigned extra personnel, in this case current or retired judges from neighboring counties to handle the responsibility of reducing the caseload as much as possible depending on the idea that if you increased the number of experienced judges to handle cases, then the number of cases would be reduced.

However, the court system also created a task force to address the rooted problems which led to such a backlog in the first place and it devised solutions in the form of strategy to address these problems and reduce the caseload in that manner as well.

Riverside's police department could do something similar to that. They could temporarily assign several more personnel (including any who might be on light duty or unable to work field assignments if possible) who are trained and experienced in handling personnel investigations to process for a set period of time to address the cases which are the most challenging in part because they've already taken much or most of their statutory period of time under state law to investigate. They could create a triage system to handle the cases which are most in jeopardy of being compromised by statutory deadlines. They should also recognize that some cases usually the more challenging and complicated investigations can have their statutory period waived under G.C. 3304(d) including cases involving multiple officers, criminal investigations, investigations by multiple officers and so forth.

Then they could create a task force that's representative of different groups in the department to fully analyze and evaluate any potential problems (which are certain to exist in a situation like this) including evaluations of each stage of the process for administrative investigations to see where the problems are taking place during investigation and/or review.

They should then come up with a strategic plan with goals, both short-term and long-term to return the administrative investigation system including citizen complaints to a state where there's not as much of a backlog building. Any sergeants assigned to these complaints, both administrative and field sergeants, should be fully-trained and should be realistically able to devote a period of their scheduled work time to handling complaints assigned to them. One issue is that the current deficit of field sergeants may negatively impact this situation because one of their responsibilities is to investigate the less serious personnel complaints. In fact, the vast majority of these types of complaints are investigated by field sergeants and they remain a critical part of this process.

Since the CPRC handles personnel complaints, it should ensure that any new commissioners and its current ones are fully trained on the process that they engage in as well as that used by the police department when it conducts its administrative investigations including its own review process. This training should be periodic and ongoing. The high turnover of both executive managers and commissioners has created difficulties in creating a situation where trained and experienced commissioners are involved in the complaint process. The CPRC 's charter-mandated responsibility for handling complaints needs to be respected as well when examining the process of complaint investigation and review.

These suggestions might sound silly and maybe they are, but the fact is that the only way to successfully address this problem is to create a situation where the backlog of complaints particularly those close to statutory limits is addressed and reduced as well as to address the root issues leading to the tremendous backlog in the first place. Hopefully, the department has once again taken steps to do so, especially given that it will be sued. But what has been done in the past several years isn't working.

The statistics placed under each category are quarterly statistics during that year, meaning that each won is equivalent to the mean of the raw statistics for three consecutive months. There are four such quarterly periods each calendar year. They are based on statistics collected by the CPRC which are available through the public record which is after all, what the public has to work with when conducting any analysis.


Category 1 and 2: (date filed to date received by CPRC)

115 (average of quarterly period)

2001: (Day released by Internal Affairs to day reviewed by CPRC)



2002: Category 1 and 2: (date filed to date received by CPRC)


2002: (Day released by Internal Affairs to day reviewed by CPRC)


*case review deferred by RPOA attorney for several months

(source: 2002 annual report)


2003: Category 1 and 2 complaints (date filed to date received by CPRC)


2003: (Day released by Internal Affairs to day reviewed by CPRC)


(source: 2003 Annual Report)


2004: Category 1 and 2 complaints (date filed to date received by CPRC)


2004: (Day released by Internal Affairs to day reviewed by CPRC)


(source: 2004 Annual Report)


2005: Category 1 and 2 complaints (Date filed to date released by Internal Affairs)


2005: (Date released by Internal Affairs to date reviewed by CPRC)


(source: 2005 annual report )


2006: Category 1 and 2 complaints(Date filed to date released by Internal Affairs)

121 ( two months)
105 (two months)
342 (two months)

2006: (Date released by Internal Affairs to date reviewed by CPRC)

49 (two months)
62.5 (two months)
50.5 (two months)

(source: 2006 annual report )


2007: Category 1 and 2 complaints(Date filed to date released by Internal Affairs)

(no complaints)

2007: (Date released by Internal Affairs to date reviewed by CPRC)

(no complaints)


2008: Category 1 and 2 complaints (Date filed to date released by Internal Affairs)

403 (one month)
140.5 (two months)

2008: (Date released by Internal Affairs to date reviewed by CPRC)

71 (one month)
47 (two months)

(source: Monthly reports for 2007-08 )

If you're a Greyhound rider in Riverside, the city's announced that the station will be not close on Halloween but will remain open for three more months. The city government had defended its ouster by saying that its riders were nothing but parolees and other criminals. However, among the 85,000 passengers who ride the bus each year are many families, many people who are disabled and many elderly individuals.

Here is one of them.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Riverside resident Carole Murrell, 29, breathed a sigh of relief over the delayed closure.

She is in a wheelchair and her husband is blind and they have tickets to take the Greyhound to and from Las Vegas over the Christmas holiday.

Murrell feared they would have to cancel the trip, a birthday present for her husband, because of the extreme inconvenience of traveling to another Greyhound station, she said.

Now, Murrell said, "I do feel better."

City councilman Mike Gardner said this would give the city enough time to negotiate with Omnitrans Bus Company to extend its #215 to accommodate the disenfranchised riders who became casualties in the city's attempt to eliminate people from the downtown who aren't wealthy although the city's attempts to attract wealthy individuals from Orange County by attempting to build condos in the $475,000-700,000 range didn't exactly pan out. As for any crime problems at the station? Given that a lot of the criminal activity actually took place on the Riverside Transit Agency portion of the property, it will probably follow the RTA buses to their new transit center.

But trying to explain how an emerging metropolis as Riverside's been called by Mayor Ron Loveridge will actually lack a Greyhound station is fascinating if a bit embarrassing and it reiterated the belief that Riverside is a backwoods town behind Orange County without the modern conveniences in a way nothing could, not even that defunct television show, O.C.

Testimony continues in the federal corruption trial of Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona. Jurors even found out where he got his suits and how much they cost during trial testimony. Even his alleged love nest.

Interesting developments involving civilian oversight in Kansas City. Black city residents make up over 60% of those who file complaints.

(excerpt, Kansas City Star)

The Rev. Wallace Hartsfield, retired pastor at Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church, said most urban core residents doubt that the police take their complaints seriously.

He also points to the lack of minority patrol officers in Kansas City. Only 11 percent of the sworn officers on the force are black, but African-Americans make up 30 percent of the city’s population.

“The urban core really does not see — and I don’t mean everyone — the Police Department as being their protector,” Hartsfield said. “Whereas, in the majority community, they are seen as the protector.”

Hartsfield said there are suspicions that if four young black men are driving through a white neighborhood they most likely will be stopped by police, an offense known on the street as “DWB” or Driving While Black.

“I still would not want to live in a community where you do not have the police, where you do not have those who give protection,” Hartsfield said. “But at the same time you want it to be just.”

More from Kansas City:

Anatomy of a Complaint

How to file a complaint

The fatal officer-involved shooting of Julian Alexander continues to create questions that need answers,stated the Orange County Register Editorial Board.


Police safety has become paramount in police training. We, of course, believe that police have to take measures to protect themselves, but they need to also take measures to protect innocent members of the public. There's no excuse for some of the overly aggressive techniques we've witnessed in recent years and the excuse-making that accompanies these hard-to-fathom uses of deadly force.

The district attorney will investigate the matter, but no one expects that the officer committed a crime. It's more likely the result of mistaken identity, and an overly aggressive mindset that has snuffed out a promising young life and caused immeasurable pain to the man's family for no apparent good reason. We'll find out the police explanation when the department gets around to sharing that information with us, but given past experience we won't hold our breath waiting for any sort of justice for this inexcusable mistake.

Surely, the Anaheim Police Department and other local departments need to look at deadly force policies before other lives are unnecessarily taken. That would be the best way to honor Mr. Alexander's memory, by making sure such things don't happen again.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The two portraits of Officer Robert Forman

"It's always nice to hear about a young cop who's a go-getter. He's a guy I'd like to see come through the ranks. He did a good thing."

----Tom Callanan, president of the Exchange Club about Officer Robert Forman, its choice for 2002 Officer of the Year

"Forman came into contact with each victim while conducting his patrol duties,''

---Lt. Bob Meier, Central Investigations, October 2008

The first quote was taken from a Press Enterprise article written in 2002 when Tom Callanan, the president of Exchange Club announced that his organization would be giving Riverside Police Department Officer Robert Forman its police officer of the year award in recognition of the policing he had done in the Northside of the city during that time period. According to him, Forman had stood out as an officer who played an instrumental role in implementing what he defined as an expression of community policing and had made a difference in the neighborhoods in that part of the city.

The second quote is by Riverside Police Department Lt. Bob Meier, who heads the Central Investigations Bureau and released a statement to the media on behalf of that division which includes in its embrace, the Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Unit. That unit investigated allegations of sexual assault by Forman against three women he encountered while assigned to patrol duties in 2008. Evidently, it sent its findings and recommendations whatever they were to the county prosecutor's office which made its decision.

The two quotes which appear disparate enough to be in conflict with one another were made at different times and in different circumstances about the same police officer who now faces prosecution for serious crimes allegedly committed while onduty as a patrol officer. So which quote is reflective of Forman, the police officer? And is it a matter of choosing between two conflicting portraits of the same person that are shown by those statements? Does he represent one or the other, or both? And just as importantly, how do men and women view him, the same or different?

It's reminiscent of how it plays out in many cases like this where the accused is portrayed most often in markedly different ways by both those who accuse and prosecute them and those who represent and defend them, including most recently in the ongoing federal corruption case involving Former Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona. Prosecutors painted him one way while his defense attorneys portrayed him in a much different light. The jury will be left with the decision of which portrait fits.

Two different portraits which serve as exercises in contrast for only one person and never the twain shall meet as if that's how it always works. If only one portrait is genuine, which one's the veneer?

So is Forman a model officer, or a rapist? Is he something in between? And if you were to create an accurate portrait of him, what would it look like?

Is he a rapist who might police well enough on certain days to win awards by community organizations? If he is a rapist, does he win awards in spite of that or because of it? What if he's not guilty and just an aggressive officer who "cleans up" a neighborhood as some people might see him regardless? What if he's guilty as some people might see him regardless?

Is this the first time he's been the focus of these types of allegations or do state laws protecting the privacy of police officers keep any prior problems hidden? The public's not privy to officer misconduct even in its most horrendous forms which leaves it unprotected from society's designated protectors who cross the line leaving those who protect the privacy of officers who engage in this misconduct to become accomplices in situations where they might choose to (through the "code of silence") or be forced to do so (through state law) whether they want to or not. But they made their bed and the rest of us will lie in it.

Forman was lauded in the article by Callanan as an aggressive police officer making arrests. He was mentioned in the statement by Meier six years later through his "victims" meaning that he allegedly victimized women while he was policing. In cases where law enforcement officers assault individuals, the sexual assaults often occur not necessarily through use of force, but as coercion against women so they might avoid arrests, detention and/or deportation. Essentially meaning, you'll do this or you go to jail/get your car impounded/get arrested/get deported or something similar like perhaps your drug trade will be protected, placing the women in the position of not being able to consent to anything freely and much more importantly, to not consent to uninvited sexual misconduct from a law enforcement officer who's hired to serve and protect not to abuse. If an officer tries to coerce a woman or a man into sexual misconduct, there's really nothing that woman or man or girl or boy can do about it. There are no laws which protect them and their bodies at the instant it's happening. They have only a criminal justice system stacked them against them to turn to as a means of recourse after the fact.

The alleged incidents that Forman's charges are based upon took place on or about Feb. 20, 2008 and on or about April 2, the same year according to the criminal complaint issued by the Riverside County District Attorney's office. Forman was arrested on Oct. 15 at the police department's administrative headquarters on Orange Street in downtown Riverside, just like other officers including Adam Brown, Laura Digiorgio and Jose Nazario had been before him. He was booked at the nearby Robert Presley Detention Center and released on $50,000 bail shortly after. His mug shot adorned many a newspaper page and television screen. It's of a man starting into the camera almost defiantly. But like most pictures, the only guilt or innocence you see is what the viewer puts there.

Forman still awaits arraignment and presumably a preliminary hearing on three felony charges including two counts of Penal Code 288(A)K which is oral copulation under the color of authority and one count of 243.4(A) which is sexual battery. The alleged victims are nameless in the public record as is often the case in criminal complaints involving sex crimes. They are simply called "Jane Does".

The text of both laws in the state code emphasizes that there's allegations of force or power used against the women, either through physical restraint but often through threats of arresting, detaining, incarcerating and/or deporting the women if they don't cooperate with the officer or officers. It's a definition which makes sense in a way that separates sexual assaults under the color of authority from other types of sexual offenses. In most use of force policies drafted and implemented by police agencies including the Riverside Police Department's own policy #4.3, the first level of force is an officer's presence at the scene. Every other exercise of force used by an officer builds on that lowest level because that level is based entirely on authority without action.

But whether or not Forman abused his authority as a police officer to commit serious crimes might ultimately be decided by a jury if his case goes to trial. First, it will be left to a judge to decide whether the prosecution will present enough evidence to proceed to trial through a preliminary hearing process. That's unless the Riverside County District Attorney's office decides to sidestep the preliminary hearing and take the case to a criminal grand jury (which is an ironic twist to that process given its intended purpose) as they've done in other high-profile cases in the past although that doesn't seem likely in this case. And the women who testify against him as his alleged victims will most likely feel like they're the ones on trial if how women have been treated in similar cases is any indication at all.

It's been at least 15 years since the last publicized arrest of a police officer in the Riverside Police Department who was alleged to have sexually assaulted multiple women while wearing the badge and carrying out his professional duties. In between, two officers Adam Brown and Vince Thomas were arrested and prosecuted in connection with child molestation. Brown plead guilty and is serving life in prison while Thomas' criminal case resulted in two hung juries and was finally dropped after the San Bernardino County District Attorney's office declined to refile.

Thomas appealed his firing at the police department and was reinstated by an arbitrator, a Riverside County Superior Court judge and as of July 2008, the State Court of Appeals, which means that unless the city takes the case to the State Supreme Court, Thomas will either be employed as an officer in Riverside or paid off by the city to avoid that from happening. In fact, he could be back to work already if the city's made that decision of course, behind closed doors.

The last case involving a Riverside officer was a highly publicized one that still resonates for some people more than a decade later.

In the early 1990s, Officer Eric Hamby was arrested and charged with 19 felonies involving assault and sexual assault under the color of authority. He was acquitted of 15 charges with the remainder being dismissed. The police department fired him and although he reinstated that termination, it's not clear whether or not it was overturned. It's possible that years later, Hamby may still be working in law enforcement.

While attending a local conference, I met a man who was related to one of Hamby's victims and he shared his feelings on the situation about a decade after the events had played out. He didn't fault the internal investigations done by the department and felt they had been professionally done but he felt that the former officer had gotten away with committing crimes which left devastating scars on their victims. If Forman did commit these crimes that he's been charged with, what lies ahead for these three women?

Other law enforcement agencies have had their own problems with officers getting charged and even convicted of rape under the color of authority.

Several Riverside County Sheriff Department deputies including this one were arrested for sexual assault under the color of authority. Deputy John Wayne Lesesberg who was stationed in Lake Elsinore was charged with 18 assorted felonies and convicted of felony burglary and three misdemeanor counts of indecent exposure as part of a plea bargain. He had been sentenced to two years in state prison but served no time due to the time he spent in jail awaiting trial.

Another deputy from the same department, David Kushner was arrested for rape under the color of authority in Moreno Valley where he was stationed four years ago.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

Kushner, 33, faces three counts of forced oral sex, two counts of rape, one of sodomy and two of kidnapping with intent to commit rape.

“The allegations reflect the fact that Deputy Kushner used his position as a peace officer to force our two victims into sex acts,” said Riverside County Deputy Dist. Atty. Mike Soccio, who is prosecuting the case.

He was charged with 18 felonies and is still awaiting trial.

Not awaiting trial is former San Bernardino Police Department officer, Ronald Van Rossum who was sentenced to 34 years in state prison in connection with the rapes of women who had outstanding warrants. He drove them to the station where he was assigned and sexually assaulted them there. About a dozen women in a dozen years, before his arrest.

A Maywood Police Department officer was arrested in Riverside and charged with 12 felonies alleging sexual assault against three women while on duty.

This Bell Police Department officer sexually assaulted a woman during a traffic stop.

The list goes on and on and recently, an officer in the Riverside Police Department was added to it. It remains to be seen what happens next both in Riverside and just about anywhere else.

Fresh after taking on City Hall's micromanagement of the Community Police Review Commission, the Press Enterprise Editorial Board criticizes it for its handling of Towergate. That happened when the city's Redevelopment Agency subsidized the parking spots for a developer's office building project only to watch that developer sell it off to Riverside County where it will be used to house the Riverside County District Attorney's office.

Two city councilmen swore in the press that this would never happen again. The editorial board told them that it must not.


That arrangement hardly provides an economic spark for the downtown. Financial incentives might be a necessary tool for spurring development in the city. But Riverside can ensure that the money buys something better than parking for county employees.

A new development agreement for an office project on Olivewood Avenue prohibits the developer from selling the property to a government agency, for example. At the least, future deals should require developers to repay any city subsidy in such cases.

The Regency Tower will not provide the economic boost Riverside wanted. The city can do little about that reality other than learn from it -- and ensure that future development agreements fully protect taxpayers' investments.

A technical glitch was responsible for the audio going silent during a Temecula City Council meeting. So says City Hall but not everyone believes them.

A complaint alleging that campaign funds has been filed against a Moreno Valley city councilman who's running for reelection.

More information on the fatal officer-involved shooting of a man by an Anaheim Police Department officer.

(excerpt, New York Daily News)

Julian Alexander died after being shot twice in the chest by a police officer who was chasing four burglary suspects early Tuesday morning.

Police Chief John Welter said the officer ran into Alexander, mistook him for one of the four juvenile suspects and shot him.

"The last thing we ever want to do, No. 1, (is) take somebody's life," he said. "And we certainly don't want to take the life of someone who is mistakenly believed to be involved in some criminal activity."

Family members believed that Alexander, a newly wed with a pregnant wife was trying to protect his family.

(excerpt, Orange County Register)

Around 1:30 a.m., Tuesday, Alexander heard a commotion outside the home he shared with his pregnant wife and in-laws. He grabbed a broomstick the family kept by the door and rushed outside.

Minutes later, an Anaheim police officer, pursuing four juvenile suspects in a possible burglary, shot and killed Alexander.

For now, police officials are saying only that the officer was a 10-year veteran and is on paid leave – and that Alexander was not guilty or suspected of any crime. And it may take months to sort out exactly what happened in the darkness outside Alexander's Muller Street home.

But the family says no explanation will ease their pain as they mourn the loss of would-be father who will never hold his child.

His family members described the events that unfolded after the fatal shooting.

(excerpt, Orange County Register)

Michelle Mooney, 40, Alexander’s mother-in-law, said the family had been watching movies until just before midnight. Then everybody in the house went to bed. She said she believes Alexander must have gone out with the broomstick to protect her family from any danger.

She woke up to the sound of “two pops.” She said she looked outside and saw a police officer standing near a tree in the front yard with his gun drawn.

“Julian was already on the ground,” Mooney said, adding that the broomstick was next to him.
She said she asked, “What are you guys doing? That’s my son-in-law on the ground.”

Mooney said the officer ordered her and other family members to get back inside.

With its jury selected, the federal corruption trial of former Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona begins.

Attorneys for both sides gave opening arguments.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

"This is the case of the two Mike Caronas," Assistant U.S. Atty. Brett Sagel told jurors as the long-awaited corruption trial opened at the federal courthouse in Santa Ana. "There's the Sheriff Carona who went from underdog in 1998 to being sheriff of Orange County. . . . And this Mike Carona, who declared: 'We're going to be so rich. We're going to make so much money.' "

But defense lawyer Brian A. Sun said Carona was the victim of vengeful former associates who have wrongly accused him of accepting illicit cash payments and gifts to win leniency in their own corruption cases. The government's case, he said, relies heavily on the testimony of convicted felons and perjurers who victimized the sheriff in their quests for money and power.

"The evidence in this case will show the only people who made money, who tried to scam money, are the government's witnesses," Sun said. "Mike Carona made no money."

Eight subpoenas were issued in the grand jury investigation into allegations that a man was sodomized by several New York City Police Department officers.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Riverside City discusses ethics; Riverside County discusses budget

"Drew thinks he's a celebrity. I think that justice is coming. . . . That's what's important."

---Sharon Bychowski, Drew Peterson's next-door neighbor

The Riverside City Council held another meeting and discussed the review of the city's ethics code and complaint system which was included on its discussion calendar.

Mayor Ron Loveridge announced the item and introduced Governmental Affairs Committee Chair Frank Schiavone who then introduced City Attorney Gregory Priamos. Priamos did most of the talking, outlining the city's compliance with state mandates directed towards similar codes when it comes to training. Priamos mentioned that the code had been amended twice since its inception and explained the training that's been received by those who are under the code including elected officials.

He talked further about the annual assessment by the Governmental Affairs Committee which sends its recommendation to the full city council for discussion and vote. Priamos white washed a bit the fact that two meetings were necessary in order for the Governmental Affairs Committee to be in compliance with the city resolution necessitating that the mayor and the chairs of all the city's boards and commissions be invited to participate in the annual review. At the Sept. 3 meeting of the committee, Loveridge didn't know that it had taken place until after it was over and some people told him in the hallway outside the Mayor's Ceremonial Room. The fact that a second meeting was held on Sept. 12 might have been related to his displeasure at being excluded from the proceedings.

Here is the report of recommendations sent to the city council that were ultimately approved by the governmental body.

Three city residents spoke on this issue. Jennifer Vaughn-Blakely, who chairs the Group (the community organization which was warned by City Hall to tone down its conversations about the city at its meetings) requested that the city council consider extra items and lamented the lack of minutes in the packet received by elected officials so they would be aware of the public's comments (which aren't usually even included in the minute record). Vaughn-Blakely has been a key part of this process of bringing an ethics code to this city since before it was passed by the voters in November 2004 and she's continued to speak out on the issue.

She advocated more public outreach including a brochure to educate the public on the code and complaint process. She was happy that a consistent date for annual review was set. She once again recommended that an independent panel of non-council members perhaps three retired judges to remove any perception or reality of bias.

"Council members judging council members can be likened to the fox guarding the hen house," Vaughn-Blakely said.

She brought up her concern that there were complaints that weren't properly handled by the city against elected officials and that this must also be addressed. Only one ethics complaint that was filed against an elected officials even made it to the Mayor's Nomination and Screening Committee for a hearing while several others instead were sent to Priamos who mailed out rejection letters to the complainants. The latter is not the process outlined in the resolution.

"Acts like this violate the public trust in the process," Vaughn-Blakely said.

She said that the process itself needs to be explained more thoroughly to the public.

Linda Dunn, another member of the original research committee praised Vaughn-Blakely's role in the process. The committee along with her have been following the process in the past four years. One concern was that the code of ethics be "known and understood by the public". Some language needs to be clear including the access of the public to the annual review process as there's nothing in the resolution that specifically states that.

Dunn said she supported the recommendations that Vaughn-Blakely provided.

Karen Wright thanked the two prior speakers for their statements. She was concerned about the conducting of the two meetings by Governmental Affairs Committee. One on Sept. 3 which was without proper notification and the second on Sept. 12 where very little notice was given the public. They shouldn't rush through a draft that few people have had a chance to review.
She supports further discussion of the process even if it's referred back to the Governmental Affairs Committee for more thoughtful discussion and possible renovations.

Barbara Purvis, who heads the League of Women's Voters sent a two-page letter with advice.

Schiavone jumped in and suggested that City Clerk Colleen Nichols is out researching other forms of ethics code practices and after that is done, the issue will go back to the Governmental Affairs Committee.

"It's a work in process", Schiavone said that, "we will continue to deal with."

Councilman Andrew Melendrez asked a question about the complaint process and some statements made in the resolution. Priamos said it's a general statement but the procedures differ based on who the complaint is against then outlined what was included in the city's resolution.

Priamos outlined the process for complaints against members of the city's boards and commissions as an example Complaints in this situation will be dealt with informally in terms of coming up to a resolution then it gets forwarded to the Governmental Affairs Committee (which is not the appropriate committee but is probably a slip on Priamos' part).

Melendrez wanted further clarification on the process suggesting that a line be removed Melendrez thought the suggestion that an independent panel review complaints against city council members "was a very good idea" worth considering at the future Governmental Affairs Committee in the next six months. Alas, it appears his suggestion which would have been backed by many city residents was ignored. That's not surprising. When Vaughn-Blakely had first brought up the suggestion at the Governmental Affairs Committee's first attempt at its annual review, Councilman Steve Adams had smirked and rolled his eyes.

Councilman Mike Gardner supported Melendrez' suggestion about the statements needing to be clarified about the process of filing complaints. He supported Pervin's expansion of the time line due to it being too confined in time structure.

Schiavone responded by saying it had been reviewed in his committee already.

"I think we've made it as narrow as we can make it," Schiavone said.

Loveridge supported the idea of doing a "best practices" research project which would return to the Governmental Affairs Committee. After he spoke, the item went to a vote.

Schiavone made the motion, seconded by Adams and it passed 7-0 with only about three city councilmen expressing an opinion on this issue.

Priamos continued on with his reporting, by saying there were no reportable actions during the closed sessions that day.

There's been interesting reactions to a recent editorial published by the Press Enterprise about the micromanagement of the Community Police Review Commission by City Hall. Watch dog or lap dog, which will it be? I think the public knows by now which City Hall wants. The escapades of the past few months and certainly the past several weeks have made that abundantly clear.

Mary Humboldt talked during public comment about the first meeting of the Community Police Review Commission that she ever had attended. She said it was important to support the commission and it was a complicated process, much different than that of other boards and commissions in the city.

This commission deserves 100% of support for the city staff and city council. She noticed that some of the commissioners seem to be afraid to speak and that's troubling to her as it's a trend she's noticed in other meetings in the city that attempts are made to stifle public expression by city residents.

"They are words. They must not be taken as threats," Humboldt said.

To muzzle the commission is a big mistake, Humboldt said, referring to this Press Enterprise editorial on the commission and its micromanagement by City Hall. Living in Riverside, she had heard about the assault against Jose Martinez in 1997 by three police officers, an incident which stuck in her memory. She wanted to believe things were better than they were back then.

City Manager Brad Hudson dropped the shocker of all shockers after the public comment period near the end of the meeting. He announced that Paul Sundeen's retirement from his job as the chief financial officer of the city is just from the city employment roster. The city's hiring him to continue working part-time, most likely in a paid consulting capacity, to advise the city on its finances during these difficult times. Kudos to the dozen or so people who called this development correctly. It was hard not to see it coming.

More intrigue has emerged involving the beleaguered Parkview Hospital which was the beneficiary of a bailout of a different sort by the Riverside City Council only several years ago when it ran into extreme financial hardship due to horrific mismanagement by an administrator whose annual salary was around $300,000 a year at one point while the institution was going bankrupt. Now, it's back in trouble again, leaving one to ask were its considerable infrastructure problems ever addressed? Was the bailout a band aid and do serious problems remain that need to be addressed? How did it get itself back into trouble so quickly?

There's a lot of efforts by the city government to push itself into this situation, namely through an attempt to bring all the "parties" together in a Governmental Affairs Committee. To do what? If it's involving labor issues, then the authority of the Governmental Affairs Committee or the city for that matter is very limited. And while the city's in the mood to rescue hospitals, how about adding Riverside Community Hospital to the list? The abysmal stories that some of its employees related at a community meeting a year or so ago rival anything that's come out of Parkview Hospital. Bailing out one hospital won't help matters if the entire system is sickened.

Many hospitals, public and private, have hit some very hard times in recent years as part and parcel of a health system which is broken. Emergency rooms are crowded because there's a lack of clinics that can treat patients with less serious conditions including at night and weekends especially in Riverside. Doctors who are general practitioners, Ob/gyns and internists are in too short supply given how many medical students and residents are opting for higher-paying medical specialties. If the city wants to get involved, it should examine this issue from a much broader perspective than one hospital. Taking a more broader approach might actually allow it to do more that could have a positive impact.

Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco will vacate about a dozen buildings after he moves his employees into the Regency Tower in downtown Riverside. That's the building that if you recall, was subsidized (at least the parking places were) by the city's Redevelopment Agency and then sold to the county.

But Riverside County's finances are experiencing a budget crisis with layoffs anticipated in its work force. Huge budget cuts in the major departments are already under consideration.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

A primary reason is that the total assessed value of residential properties in the county could decrease 5 percent next fiscal year -- a dismal figure unequaled even in 1990s recession times.

The year after, it is not expected to grow at all.

This is down from just a few months ago when staff predicted no growth in assessed values next year and a 2 percent growth in fiscal 2010, Luna said.

By comparison, values in fiscal 2006 during the housing boom grew by more than 20 percent.

"These are collapses in revenue, not just declines that we're seeing," Supervisor Bob Buster said after Luna presented the county's first-quarter budget report. "It's a very, very serious situation."

In what might be viewed as a shocker, a Lake Elsinore elected official turned down a campaign contribution from a developer. Sure it was only a few hundred dollars but still, that's major news in these parts.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Magee, who set records when he amassed a near-$100,000 campaign chest this year, returned a $500 check to Joseph Huband, a real-estate investor from Yucaipa and one of the most vocal critics of the city's ongoing general plan update.

Huband gave the check to Magee's campaign a day after Magee voted for a change Huband was in favor of to the proposed long-term development plan.

"The committee ... holds just one fundraising event each year to avoid the perception that contributions are in someway tied to actions before the City Council," Magee's campaign treasurer Mark Carlston wrote in a letter to Huband.

Magee was one of three Lake Elsinore officials who over the past two years accepted contributions from developers within months or weeks of voting on their projects. Magee's campaign accepted one developer's contribution the day of a vote. While not illegal, political reform experts say these type of contributions raise ethical questions.

Magee said campaign contributions do not sway his vote. In the past he said he has returned contributions he considered suspect.

Hemet's city council candidates are disclosing their campaign contributions.

Redlands might be getting its new police station.

The controversies over various campaign fliers has been prevalent in elections in the Inland Empire's cities and now, more criticism of fliers in Colton with one of the critics being Mayor Kelly Chastain. They were circulated by Citizens for Colton First.

A police officer in Anaheim accidentally shot a man on his front lawn while they were chasing after other burglary suspects. Investigators believe that Julian Alexander who was shot twice had exited his house to see what was going on.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

"This is a very tragic situation," Anaheim Police Chief John Welter said at a news conference. "Julian Alexander was innocent of anything that was going on in the neighborhood at that time."

Paramedics treated Alexander at the scene in the 300 block of North Muller Street before taking him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Alexander's wife and mother-in-law said he went outside, believing that he heard possible intruders. The women heard two gunshots and tried to run outside but were stopped by an officer. From their window, they saw Alexander on the ground, handcuffed and bleeding.

"He was a good kid, trying to protect his house," said Michelle Mooney, his mother-in-law. "And the police, instead of asking questions, they just shot first. Somebody has to be held responsible for this."

The jury was finally selected in the federal corruption trial of former Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona.

The disappearance of Stacy Peterson, one year later is being marked by vigils held by her family members and those of Kathleen Savio's who was killed several years ago. Former Bolingbrook Police Department Sgt. Drew Peterson protests his innocence in both cases involving his current and former wives.

(excerpt, Chicago Tribune)

On Tuesday, the anniversary of Peterson's disappearance will be marked much the same way it began: Her family members will hold a candlelight vigil and her husband will be in New York -- again -- telling a national television audience he had nothing to do with her disappearance.

"I've been always trying to get my story out," Drew Peterson said in a telephone interview from his New York hotel, where he and his attorney, Joel Brodsky, were staying before his appearance on the "Today" show.

But investigators are still looking into Stacy Peterson's disappearance and Savio's killing.

(excerpt, Chicago Tribune)

"As long as it takes, we said we'd keep the faith, and we still have that and it keeps us going," said Pam Bosco, a family friend who will pass the day in private with Stacy's sister, Cassandra Cales. "That's still what we hope for to get us past this one-year anniversary."

They were encouraged last week when Will County State's Atty. James Glasgow released a statement saying, "I fully expect there to be a resolution in at least one of these investigations in the near future."

Through a spokesman, Glasgow declined to comment further. But in his statement, he said that the investigations into their cases, which include a special grand jury, have been "highly productive."

If that's what is happening, then most likely he's talking about the Savio murder case. Her death was initially ruled as an accidental drowning in her own bathtub by a coroner jury but after Stacy's disappearance, the case was reopened, Savio's body was exhumed and a second autopsy reclassified her death as a homicide.

Nevertheless, Peterson is back on the talk show circuit.

(excerpt, Chicago Sun-Times)

Appearing on NBC’s Today Show, Peterson also stuck by his contention that he had nothing to do with his wife’s disappearance.

Drew Peterson also released a statement that said, “There is not a single day that goes by that I don’t think about Stacy, so to me Tuesday is just another day of her being away.”

“ I realize this may be a significant event for the media, but it is not for me or my family. I won’t be participating in any vigils. Instead, I am giving one interview and then I will be far from the media spotlight spending quality time with my kids who need their dad now more than ever.”

He said in the statement that there is “no need to worry” about his kids.

“I am taking good care of them though I have to admit acting as both dad and mom takes a lot of work and patience,’’ Peterson said in the statement. “My son Thomas is first in his class at one of the largest and finest high schools in Illinois. His brother Chris is also doing exceptionally well in school and is involved in wrestling and other activities. My youngest kids, Anthony and Lacy are too young to be in school but both are happy and healthy and adjusting normally.”

He called on his wife to "show yourself".

Chapel Hill, North Carolina has some recent developments involving its foray into civilian oversight. The city government is considering the issue.

Not surprisingly, the city's police department including its labor union aren't too happy about this.

The Halloween the space ships were coming!

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Monday, October 27, 2008

PE Editorial Board: Stop turning the CPRC into a puppet show!

The Press Enterprise Editorial Board took to its collective keyboard again and hammered out this strong editorial that states that the Riverside Community Police Review Commission must be an independent panel and not City Hall's lap dog. It's merely putting in writing what many people out in the city have been saying during the past several months. When given the option of choosing between a watch dog and a lap dog, many people believe it's the job of the CPRC to serve as the former not the latter. But does City Hall disagree?


City officials said that requiring the commission to wait would ensure that the panel did not impede police investigations. Yet the city could point to no evidence of any past interference, making this rationale less than convincing.

And the city's refusal to fund any commission investigation not approved by the city attorney looks like one more way to rein in the panel's independence. The charter language leaves room for varying interpretations of the commission's powers, and a majority of commissioners disagree with the city attorney's view.

The Community Police Review Commission can provide a safe outlet for residents' concerns, improve civic communication and build public confidence in the city's police. But those benefits require a commission is an independent, credible voice, and not a mouthpiece for City Hall.

The Board hits some really important points here including several overlooked by the city and that is that other legal opinions on the charter language surrounding the CPRC exist besides that of the city's personal attorney, Gregory Priamos. In fact, one alternative opinion was provided by ACLU attorney Pete Bibring at a CPRC meeting several months ago.

But the editorial hits a very crucial point about half-way through which bears further discussion because it's a point that finds its way into an awful lot of discussions about the CPRC and recent actions against it by City Hall.


The city's Police Department has greatly increased its professionalism in the past 10 years -- which makes the current City Hall attitude toward the commission all the more baffling. A more professional police force has less reason than ever to fear a panel that has sided with police nearly all the time.

This is the single most critical point that's been raised about the public when it comes to why City Hall's seen fit to turn the CPRC from its executive manager on down into its personal puppet show. How does the active decision making that's clearly going on to dilute the CPRC's power and render it ineffective relate to the current status of the police department?

Because the message that the city government and its direct employees are sending through their actions, is that it doesn't trust it and they don't trust their own police department. It couldn't spread this message through its actions and even its words about the CPRC better if it tried. In a situation which may or may not wind up being very unfair to the police department, the city is transmitting its concern and downright distrust of how it's conducting its operations. Because the Editorial Board is correct, the healthier the police department is in term of its own operations, the less intimidated City Hall and the police department's management would be about the CPRC specifically and civilian oversight in general. In fact, City Hall and the department should be more welcoming of an independent form of civilian review than they were in the past. But that's clearly not happening right now. That much seems fairly obvious given how actions are speaking louder than words.

Why is it that the more the police department has traveled down its arduous path towards reforming itself, the more nervous the city seems to get with civilian oversight and the more that elected officials and their direct employees interfere with its operations? A rational person would think that the city would get less freaked out (enough so to engage in micromanagement in the first place) with the CPRC now than it was earlier in this decade, say during the early days of the city's stipulated judgment with former State Attorney General Bill Lockyer. But what's happening is in reverse and that just should not be.

So what's really going on here? What's behind this micromanagement?

Is it the increased payouts or in one case, offer of payouts in connection with both lethal force incidents and alleged examples of excessive force? Is it just the need to control independent panels to fit one's political agenda? Is the city council and/or its direct employees covering up for some really poor and short-sighted decision making going on about the department's staffing of civilian and sworn employees by weakening a form of civilian oversight that through several of its charter powers could challenge the city to the mat on those same decisions? Are there serious conflict of interest situations known and unknown that are influencing this decision making? Is it a combination of any of the above?

Only one person currently serving on the dais comes even close to supporting an independent form of civilian oversight and also supports the CPRC's efforts to continue doing independent and timely investigations of officer-involved deaths just as it always has. The other individuals have either signed onto letters or opinion pieces supporting the restricting of the CPRC's ability to carry out its charter-mandated responsibilities stated clearly in Section 810(d) or through their silence have allowed the opinions of the former to dictate their own stances.

The elected official who supports the right of the CPRC to do investigations the way it's been doing them represents a ward where Measure II passed the muster of the majority of ward voters in the November 2004 election. But then again, every elected official including Mayor Ron Loveridge also represent city residents including the majority of city voters who passed Measure II in their respective voting districts. The voters who placed the commission in the city's charter clearly recognized the importance of doing so to spare the commission further interference by the city council, interference which peaked when one of them, former Councilman Art Gage tried to push a motion in June of 2004 to defend the CPRC by up to 95% of its annual budget. Yet four years after the city voters sent that message to the city government, the city government is showing that it frankly doesn't give a damn and essentially making Gage look like a rank amateur.

The Board goes further and criticizes the actions taken by one of those elected officials last month.


Commissioners and City Hall have been locked in a dispute over the panel's authority for months. But the city has handled the controversy in ways that provoke public suspicion, and appear more aimed at political control than practical policy needs.

The latest twist came last month when a councilman wrote two commissioners, accusing them of acting disrespectfully. But in essence, the letters criticized the panelists for expressing disagreement with the city manager and city attorney, and looked like an attempt to stifle dissent.

At least somebody gets it. But that doesn't begin or end with the editorial board's words because many other people in this city got it too, that it was about chilling the opinions of commissioners that this elected official disagreed with. Many people in this city including those who weren't staunch supporters of the CPRC are very concerned about what they see as City Hall essentially turning one of its volunteer-staffed boards and commissions into a puppet show. The elected officials seem to believe that the populace of Riverside just isn't that smart. But what this controversy has done is essentially increase the probability that the micromanagement of this commission might become a pressing campaign issue in next year's round of city elections. Which might not be such a bad thing after all.

With the mayor's position and three city council seats up for grabs, issues like the city council's lack of proper enforcement of another charter-mandated procedure, the ethics code and complaint process along with the manhandling of the CPRC take greater precedence than they might otherwise. Not to mention the instructions given by individuals at City Hall to community organizations to tone down their discussions or else city employees wouldn't be allowed to attend future meetings. Not to mention that city employees are making allegations that they were retaliated against by elected officials and other city employees for their involvement in political activities. It's likely that these situations and others like them including surely more to come may cause people in this city to take a careful look at what exactly is representing them at City Hall.

Something to think about with Election 2009 not too far on the horizon.

Riverside Police Department Officer Robert Forman's criminal complaint is available online at the Riverside County Superior Court site. He's been charged with two counts of Penal Code 228A(K) which is the use of rape oral copulation under threat to incarcerate, arrest or deport. The alleged incidents took place on or around April 2, 2008 against Jane Doe #1 and Jane Doe #2. The third charge, 243.4(A), is sexual battery involving the touching of an intimate part of a person against the will of said person and why they are unlawfully restrained by the defendant or an accomplice. This alleged incident was against Jane Doe #3 and took place on or around Feb. 20, 2008.

Forman was arrested earlier this month at the Orange Street Station on $50,000 bail after an investigation was conducted.

Despite the bleak economic picture, the developers behind the office buildings in Riverside plan to move ahead to complete them.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Mark Rubin, who is planning the 150,000-square-foot Lime/University building, said he has faith the economy will be better in a couple of years and he has already spoken to two major law firms about leasing space.

"This meltdown is not going to last forever," Rubin said.

"I am absolutely bullish" on Riverside, he said.

The developer of the 10-story Regecy Tower, currently under construction in downtown Riverside, is selling it to Riverside County as the new headquarters for the district attorney's office.

Clayton Corwin, whose Stonecreek Partners is proposing the Olivewood project, made his view clear to the City Council on Oct. 7, when it approved a deal paving the way for the 75,000-square-foot Olivewood building.

"We view Riverside as a market that's underserved for some of what we would bring here," he told the council. "We're highly confident in what we're proposing to do."

Edward Fitzpatrick, executive vice president of the Shopoff Group, which has proposed the 80,000-square-foot Mission Inn Avenue project, appeared at an Oct. 2 meeting of a council committee, which recommended the Redevelopment Agency negotiate a deal with Shopoff. All but 10,000 square feet would be office space.

City Manager Brad Hudson said he's not worried there will be a glut of office space, although he has said the ailing economy likely would make it difficult to fill the 10-story 260,000-square-foot Regency Tower office building under construction on Orange Street between Ninth and 10th streets if it stayed in the private sector.

"They're all going to hit the market at different times," Hudson said.

Not surprisingly, the two top customers for office space for their law offices are two law forms including Best, Best and Krieger who have worked for the city.

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors are set to appoint a new treasurer.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Supervisors John Tavaglione and Jeff Stone have recommended Don Kent, McDonnell's second-in-command, for the post. Kent, the assistant treasurer-tax collector, has worked for the county for 11 years, and McDonnell supports his appointment.

McDonnell resigned his post effective Nov. 6 to become the county's finance director. He replaces Bill Luna, who was named county executive officer in July.

The treasurer-tax collector is responsible for billing, collecting and depositing more than $3 billion annually in county property taxes. The job also includes managing the county's multibillion-dollar pool of funds and overseeing a department of 120 people.

On Oct. 7, soon after McDonnell submitted his resignation, Tavaglione pushed for Kent's prompt appointment.

"I don't think we should skip a beat based on where the financial market is," he said. "We need individuals with firsthand knowledge of what is taking place in our treasurer's office."

In Colton, there's a new political firestorm erupting just in time for its election. Negative campaigning even mudslinging is the norm not the exception in a city which has constantly hit the news with its political intrigue including at City Hall.

(excerpt, San Bernardino Sun)

One mailer, paid for by California Citizens for Good Government, which only referred to Yzaguirre, went too far and made personal attacks against him and questioned his family values, Yzaguirre said.

"I didn't want to get into this, I wanted to stick to the issues, but I can't let this happen," Yzaguirre said. "When they put stuff like this out there it shows they can't talk about the issues. They're trying to steal an election through lies and innuendos."

Yzaguirre suspects his opponent Jeremy Baca is behind the California Citizens for Good Government mailers and has the help of his father, Rep. Joe Baca, D-San Bernardino.

"I have a good sense that he's (Joe Baca) behind the PAC in Sacramento," Yzaguirre said. "It's not hard to figure it out ... no one in Sacramento would have an interest in Colton politics or trying to defeat a councilman.

"As Democrats we need to question whether he has our interests in mind or his interests in building a dynasty."

Colton's police department is investigating several of its officers who were the focus of allegations of excessive force.

Former Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona tried to get the prosecutor removed from his trial on federal corruption charges.

That failed but will the governor be called to the witness stand?

(excerpt, Orange County Register)

In a hearing this afternoon, Carona's defense attorney, Brian Sun, said he might want the governor take the stand to answer questions about how he had once offered Carona the position of chief of his staff.

But it is possible Schwarzenegger might not have to come down – if prosecutors agree to stipulate that the governor offered Carona the job.

U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Guilford left open the possibility of the governor's appearance.

“We have subpoena power that extends to Sacramento,'' Guilford said.

In the Los Angeles Times, a veteran police officer looks back at a confession he elicited from a suspected killer which turned out to be false in what's an excellent commentary which includes strategies to address this problem which has been noted by different law enforcement agencies around the state.


Confident in our evidence and the confession, we charged her with first-degree murder.

Then we discovered that the suspect had an ironclad alibi. We subpoenaed sign-in/sign-out logs from the homeless shelter where she lived, and the records proved that she could not have committed the crime. The case was dismissed, but all of us still believed she was involved in the murder. After all, she had confessed.

Even though it wasn't our standard operating procedure in the mid-1990s, when the crime occurred, we had videotaped the interrogation in its entirety. Reviewing the tapes years later, I saw that we had fallen into a classic trap. We ignored evidence that our suspect might not have been guilty, and during the interrogation we inadvertently fed her details of the crime that she repeated back to us in her confession.

If we hadn't discovered and verified the suspect's alibi -- or if we hadn't recorded the interrogation -- she probably would have been convicted of first-degree murder and would be in prison today. The true perpetrator of the crime was never identified, partly because the investigation was derailed when we focused on an innocent person.

Now, the author is a major champion for videotaping interrogations of people suspected of crimes and teaches courses on interrogations and recognizing and preventing false confessions.

California's legislature passed measures in both 2006 and 2007 that would have mandated video taping interrogations, but both were vetoed by the governor. Last year, individuals tried to circulate a petition for signatures to put a similar measure on the election ballot.

Former Los Angeles Police Department Chief Daryl Gates debates Amendment 40. Which he co-wrote while serving as the police chief.

Another installment in the Los Angeles Times series of the Los Angeles Police Department vs organized crime in the mid-20th Century.

A federal judge criticized the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners for ignoring excessive force complaints.

(excerpt, St. Louis Today)

In the five years before a Marine Corps veteran alleges he was beaten by officers during an arrest in 2002, the department received 322 complaints of "physical abuse" but sustained only one, U.S. District Judge E. Richard Webber wrote in a court order.

That order came after Webber considered arguments and evidence the board presented seeking to have the man's lawsuit dismissed.

In it, Webber said: "This evidence is sufficient for a reasonable jury to find that the (board is) deliberately indifferent to the risk that officers are using excessive force."

The San Francisco Police Department needs to make some serious changes.

(excerpt, San Francisco Chronicle)

The report recommended "reorganizing staff" in the chief's office, the field operations bureau and the district stations, according to a statement released by the city.

Among the other key recommendations are:

-- Make the chief's position a five-year contract position "to allow the department to take on significant reform and provide consistent leadership." Currently, the chief is appointed by the mayor.

-- Staff district stations based on the percentage of their officers' time consumed by calls for service, which would allow staffing based on service need.

-- Realign the investigations bureau "to increase expertise and improve clearance rates," or the solving of crimes and closing of cases.

-- "Civilianize" the forensic services division, using civilians as crime-scene investigators, a job that today is done by sworn officers.

-- Allow officers to use stun guns when "hands-on" control of a suspect is needed and "an officer might otherwise need to use a lethal weapon."

-- Create an office of officer-involved shootings to address officers' use of firearms.

The SFPD report done by the Police Executive Research Forum is here.

The Oakland Police Department's internal affairs division is launching a probe of the sergeant who led the investigation into the fatal shooting of the editor of a local newspaper. Is it connected to that shooting? Police representatives won't say.

Six commanders in the New York City Police Department may be forced to retire because they have exceeded the mandatory retiring age of 62.

Also in New York City, the allegations by a man that he was sodomized by NYPD officers goes to the grand jury.

(excerpt, New York Daily News)

"On the basis of preliminary conclusions of the early stages of my investigation - and a review of the medical evidence concerning the allegations that Michael Mineo was brutally assaulted by four police officers - I have ordered a special investigative grand jury to be empaneled," said Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes.

Mineo told investigators the officers sodomized him with an NYPD radio Oct. 15 when he was stopped for smoking pot. He was hospitalized at Brookdale University Hospital for four days, and readmitted to Brooklyn Hospital last Thursday.

Sources said a Brookdale doctor concluded he had suffered an "anal assault" and rectal tears.
NYPD top brass have denied the assault took place, and the accused officers who arrested the 24-year-old tatoo parlor employee remain on duty.

Originally, five cops were thought to be involved - but officials now say it was four. The fifth officer, an NYPD transit cop, arrived after the alleged assault and is considered a witness.

The officers were placed on administrative duties and Commissioner Raymond Kelly said he welcomed the probe.

(excerpt, New York Times)

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said in a statement, “With differing accounts provided by witnesses and the complainant, we welcome efforts by District Attorney Hynes to establish the facts through an investigative grand jury.”

Meeting of the Tequesquite Park Committee will take place on Oct. 30 during 6:00p.m.-7:30p.m. at the Stewart's boathouse at Fairmount Park.

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