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


My Photo
Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Sunday, November 30, 2008

City Hall Blues: Should the CPRC become LEPAC?

"AIDS is a disease, not a dirty word. That's not my quote. Those were Ryan's words."

---Jeanne White-Gilder, who's son Ryan contracted HIV, died from AIDs but was never a victim.

"Mary, wake up. cprc has no authority or power! I think they learned that themselves when their attempt to ILLEGALLY force an officer to give a statement failed. (And no I did not accidentally type cprc in small letters)."

--- Not one of the CPRC's fans, November 2005

As you can see from the quote here that was posted on this site in November 2005 by an unknown (at least to me) individual, there are some people who clearly don't like the fact that civilian oversight came to Riverside in April 2000. This commenter was referring to the time in late 2004 when the Community Police Review Commission issued its first subpoena of a police officer in its history. This took place in the shooting case of Volne Lamont Stokes who was shot and killed by two (now former) police officers in May 2003.

During the investigation by the CPRC of this shooting, it became clear through written records (not to mention a lawsuit filed by the Riverside Police Officers' Association against the city) that one of the officers, Tina Banfill Gould did not give a voluntary statement to detectives from the Officer-Involved Shooting Team but only gave a statement to Internal Affairs investigators when compelled to do so to avoid being terminated from her job. She was suspended for refusing to give a voluntary statement by Chief Russ Leach.

Months after all that, she was at first asked to voluntarily give a statement and answer questions to the CPRC. She didn't agree to do so the commission voted 8-0 with Commissioner Jack Brewer abstaining to subpoena her. At her first appearance with her attorney, Michael Lackie, she refused to be sworn in and left.

Leach responded through the Press Enterprise that he would discipline her if she didn't give a statement. The police union at one point threatened to sue to challenge the commission's right to subpoena police officers under state law. The city council voted to sue and charge Banfill Gould with contempt of court, asserting its right under the city's charter to assign subpoena power to the city's boards and commissions.

The situation in a sense resolved itself when Banfill Gould returned with her attorney and the CPRC was provided with its own attorney during the proceeding. Banfill Gould was sworn in but exercised her Fifth Amendment rights for each question asked, except her name.

So her appearance before the CPRC was not "illegal". It was never litigated in the courts by any party though Banfill Gould was the focal point of the RPOA's lawsuit filed in 2003 which challenged other portions of the police department's policy for parallel investigating officer-involved shootings. The argument in the litigation filed appeared to question whether or not the investigations were truly independent and parallel or whether the administrative and "criminal" investigations collided during the interrogation process for involved police officers. The city and the police union settled that lawsuit around the time Banfill Gould left the police department. But the settlement while it appeared to favor the police union actually kept the status quo firmly in place by assigning discretionary power over voluntary interrogations up to the same supervisors who were creating some of the difficulties. '

That was one of many chapters from the history of the CPRC since its formation by city ordinance in 2000. There are more to be written including the latest episode, most of which appears to be taking place behind closed doors at City Hall.

There's not nearly as much record online regarding the CPRC's predecessor, the Law Enforcement Policy Advisory Committee or LEPAC which isn't surprising given that the subcommittee of the Human Relations Commission was dissolved at the same time the CPRC was enacted.

Here's one mention of LEPAC in a statement released by then Police Chief Jerry Carroll in 1999.

(excerpt, RPD press release)

"We want to assure the community that the investigation of this incident will be complete and thorough. Our ongoing investigation is three-fold: criminal, administrative and a tactical review."

"The Riverside County District Attorney is conducting an independent investigation of this incident. The City of Riverside Human Relations Commission's Law Enforcement Policy Advisory Committee (LEPAC) has reviewed and approved the Riverside Police Department's Use of Force Policy. At the completion of our departmental investigation, we welcome any review by an outside agency."

As for "review by an outside agency", the police department received that and then some, as federal and state agencies took Carroll up on his offer as did the Riverside County Grand Jury. According to its final report issued in April 1999 (and available for purchase at City Hall), the panel recognized LEPAC as a "form of civilian review". The report raised the argument that because Riverside had already instituted a form of civilian review (albeit one set up to fail as one critic stated), it must create a system that actually works.

Why did LEPAC fail, the panel asked and then answered that it failed because the city's administration had too much power over its implementation and in fact, exercised that power.

One of those reviews which was done by individuals was done through the Mayor's Use of Force Panel which mentioned LEPAC in its examination of civilian review in Riverside which led to its recommendation that City Hall research and review different models of civilian review to see which best fit the city.

Why does LEPAC matter now, years later in 2008? It matters for two reasons.

The first, is that it showed how miserably a weaker form of civilian oversight over the police department failed in its mission to promote better relations and trust between the Riverside Police Department and the city's residents. Its origins are somewhat similar to those of the CPRC. It was created in 1984, in response to civil unrest surrounding a controversial incident involving a canine officer whose dog was sent into a residence and attacked a woman with
Parkinsons disease. LEPAC might have quelled the tension created by that incident somewhat but it proved to be an ineffective mechanism.

In the 1990s, the problems with LEPAC continued even as city residents inquired in 1992 about creating a civilian review board with more teeth to it. There was a series of meetings which addressed many of the same concerns and issues which would arise later on, including citizen complaints and the need for more community-based policing.

In 1993, the Public Safety Committee sent a notice that stated that "LEPAC is viewed as ineffective and primarily reactive in its scope and authority." The report stated that the issue of civilian review was "outside the scope of LEPAC's role and responsibilities" and offered the following recommendation:

"Therefore, we recommend that any initiation toward implementation of a Citzen's Review Board consist of a collaboration of community-based organizations, police and the greater community, at the direction of the Mayor, City Council and City Manager."

What did the city council do in response? It "received and filed" the report. Do these words sound familiar? They should if you paid attention when Mayor Pro Tem Rusty Bailey on behalf of the city government repeated those same words after receiving a six-page letter from CPRC Chair Brian Pearcy asking for direction from the city council on a directive issued by the city manager's office.

The city council never actually responded to its own subcommittee's recommendations, the Use of Force Panel discovered after reviewing over 800 documents from LEPAC. What this massive work product showed was that these recommendations on civilian review were never followed up on nor were they responded to by the city.

The Use of Panel in its report stated that it was concerned about comments made by an unidentified police department representative in 1996 that the department viewed the community as a threat not an ally to the extent that it refused to explain any of its policies including its use of force policy.

LEPAC had also submitted many policy recommendations which were called "outstanding" but then ignored including changes to the department's complaint policy and process. Of course as history showed, it would be less than five years until allegations would be raised by then State Attorney General Bill Lockyer that the department's complaint policy violated state law and thus would have to be amended under his office's settlement with the city approved in March 2001.

The second reason which is the more important one is that there are elected officials who seem to be very nostalgic about the days of LEPAC as seen in this op-ed article signed by three city council members and published on Sept. 19, 2008 in the Press Enterprise. And it seems that these elected officials view the CPRC as being something a lot more similar to what LEPAC was than how the city's charter actually defines it. How is this made clear? Through the choice of words used in that op-ed article signed on to by Council Members Frank Schiavone, Steve Adams and Nancy Hart.

This section makes that clear.

(excerpt, Schiavone, Adams and Hart)

The commission reviews officers' actions to ensure consistency with departmental policy and to suggest policy revisions.

The trio of authors (or more likely, its ghost writer) chose its language very carefully when they state what they believe to be the commission's purpose, which clearly is to be a policy reviewing and recommendation machine. That's not how either the city charter and the city ordinance outline its powers and roles. These elected officials are essentially rewriting the commission's roles and responsibilities which means that they're essentially rewriting the city charter's section 810. What they likely hope is that very few city residents including those in their respective wards are aware of what language is included in both the charter provision and the municipal ordinance section. If you read both of these sections which are linked above, you'll find that in reality, the CPRC's scope of powers are much broader than what is mentioned in the op-ed article.

The following sentence below is not a false statement but again, it's an incomplete definition of the scope of the CPRC's powers while posing as its definition. The commission does indeed review officers' actions but offers recommendations on findings regarding whether the officers' actions comply or violate department policy. The definition provided of the commission reviewing actions to ensure consistency is more applicable to a civilian oversight mechanism that provides an appeal process to the complainant. In addition, the three elected officials neglect to mention that the CPRC can also investigate complaints if it chooses to exercise that option. In fact, these elected officials seem to conveniently forget that the commission has any investigative powers at all. But when you're re-imaging LEPAC (which though in language and theory given investigatory powers was never able to utilize them), that's not that difficult to do.

Here's another similar section which besides being the most ridiculous example of a straw man arguments out there, includes language redefining the CPRC as an entity that is a "policy reviewer" rather than a civilian review board.


It is utterly inconceivable that anyone would suggest that criminal investigations be jeopardized by allowing civilian policy reviewers to tromp through crime scenes or contaminate witness statements.

The statement above would be hilarious in how ridiculous it is if it weren't three elected officials entrusted with governmental power who signed their names to it. To even state that anyone suggested that these "civilian policy reviewers" (meaning commissioners) tromp through crime scenes is not only false, it's an insult to any city resident who's given up their time and energy and made sacrifices to serve on this commission. It's throwing out accusations of obstructing investigations against innocent parties who never even sent an investigator to a crime scene. The police department, nor the city employees nor the elected officials themselves including the three who signed on to this diatribe has ever been able to cite one single case where any such behavior happened. These same individuals also fail to cite, through choice or ignorance, that the CPRC's own investigator uncovered witnesses that the police department had not located or interviewed and provided that information to department investigators.

But putting all this embarrassing nonsense aside, the council members' choice of reducing the roles of CPRC commissioners to "civilian policy reviewers" is again, ignorant of the CPRC, what it does and the language pertaining to it in the city's charter while at the same time, these individuals have assigned themselves the task of speaking for the city council (yet not consulting with other council members beforehand for obvious reasons) on the city's interpretation of the charter language governing the CPRC.

These are intelligent and diligent individuals which shows that ignorance and false information likely provided by parties who didn't sign on to this op-ed article inspired them on what to write.

The three elected officials invoke that strategy of confining the CPRC's role to that held by LEPAC by using this term "Riverside's policy review process" to parallel the commission's objectives in its investigations of officer-involved deaths with that of the police department. But the charter doesn't state that the sole reason why the CPRC does these investigations is for policy review. It places equal weight on both the "review" process which is the CPRC's receipt and examination of the police department's often scant preliminary information and then its investigation.

The charter also recognizes that the "reviewing" and "investigating" are not sequential and not in that order of events because then the language would be more along the lines, of "reviewing then investigating". Instead, they are parallel. It clearly recognizes the practices of the CPRC by launching parallel inquiries into both reviewing policy and issuing a public report as well as making recommendations on findings directly in relation to the officers' actions. The police department launches its own parallel investigative (officer-involved death investigation) and reviewing (in the form of an administrative review by the Internal Affairs Division) process

And finally, so does this statement which formulates the article's conclusion.


And we urge the commission to refocus on reviewing the policy issues before it and get back to professionally carrying out the public's business.

It looks like there are some elected officials who need to educate themselves on the CPRC and its role before they make any policy decisions regarding its operations. To narrowly define the commission as "professionally carrying out the public's business" in the scope of "reviewing the policy issues before it" shows how imperative it is that the city council as a body educate itself on this commission. Eight years into its operations and there are still statements like the ones above being made about it by elected representatives.

The commission's always been professional when it carries out its policy review and recommending powers. It's professional and has been very much so when initiating the independent investigations into 12 officer-involved deaths without receiving any complaints from City Hall, certainly not in a public arena. It's been professional trying to carry out its charter-mandated responsibilities amid the rewriting of both the commission's history and the charter which is clearly going on at City Hall. And City Hall must be embarrassed about what it's doing because so little of it, except for a misinformed op-ed piece here and there, is being done in private. Very little of what's transpired has been done in a public forum where the city's residents can actually bear witness to the city's decisions and participate in the discussion.

This is reminiscent of a large part of LEPAC's own history as stated in the records diligently analyzed by the Mayor's Use of Force Panel in its report and the only difference is the following. Back in the 1990s, the city government at least wanted to appear that it viewed public involvement and participation in the process by its constituents was very important to that process. Nearly a decade into a new century, it's clear that the city government no longer even values transparency over this process, even if only in words.

So why does it seem like LEPAC's making a revisit?

To be continued...

Jeanne White-Gilder, mother of Ryan appeared at the Kansas Avenue Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Riverside to speak about HIV and AIDS and how they impacted the life of her late son and others.

Kansas Avenue has taken a lead in addressing AIDS/HIV awareness. This event is part of a two-day World AIDS Summit. It will continue on Monday Dec. 1 from 8 a.m to 4 p.m. and is jointly sponsored between this church and The Grove Church.

Further resources:

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

A Riverside center offers AIDS Support, provides showers for the homeless and more.

What: Kansas Avenue Resource Center

Where: 4491 Kansas Ave., Riverside

When: 9 a.m. to noon Tuesday, and the first Monday and second Friday of each month.

Information: 951-823-1209 or

San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos outlines his goals for the future.

(excerpt, San Bernardino Sun)

Like other San Bernardino County departments, Ramos has had to find ways to address a growing list of needs with manpower he already has in a tough economic environment. Adding more people just isn't an option.

Ramos announced a hiring freeze three weeks ago but has avoided layoffs, he said in a telephone interview last week. Nevertheless, the county's top prosecutor believes he already has the people to tackle new goals in the new year.

For example, Ramos wants to expand the number of attorneys in his Cold Case Unit, from just one today, and use either a centralized or regional approach. Local police departments are putting more focus on unsolved cases, and Ramos anticipates an increased caseload.

"It's never a cold case to a family who has lost a loved one," Ramos said, recalling his last trial as a prosecutor, in 2002. In that case, 44-year-old Phillip Perry of Upland was found shot to death in the backseat of his car in Tijuana in 1992.

The city of Columbia, Missouri moved another step closer to forming its civilian review board. The article talks about what the city wants which is an appeals board for their department's own investigation system and it talks about what the police officers want.

But the city's residents? Maybe next time.

(excerpt, Columbia Tribune)

Staff is concerned with the need to "honor and respect the rights of the complainant … as well as those of the police officers," Hertwig Hopkins said. "Then we have to look at the existing city structure and how we make this fit."

The legal and human resources departments will provide input, said Hertwig Hopkins, who has scheduled a meeting with the Citizen Oversight Committee that studied the issue and made a recommendation to the Columbia City Council. The committee’s final report in October recommended formation of a citizen oversight board to review complaints against police.

At a council work session this week, members of the police department and the oversight committee met with council members to discuss the way forward.

"I have to recommend that the Professional Standards Unit will play a vital role as it never has beforein terms of reducing the likelihood that these cases will go before a citizen oversight board," said Jeffrey Williams, co-chairman of the oversight committee. "These two entities have to complement one another in a sense, … work hand in hand to improve better relations with the public."

Latinos in Long Island protested that this city's police department doesn't adequately investigate assaults against them by White perpetrators.

(Associated Press)

Labels: , ,

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Canary in the Mine: The players and their parts

I receive questions regularly from readers about the latest situation involving the Community Police Review Commission and specifically whether or not their elected officials support it or oppose it especially since this city's coming up on an election year with the council seats in even-numbered wards and the mayor's seat up for grabs. The best way to find out for yourself the answers to your questions is to talk with elected officials. That's true of any civic issue that is of concern.

Here's some contact information from the city's Web site to help you.

Riverside City Council

phone number: (951)826-5991

email addresses:

Mike Gardner:

Andrew Melendrez:

Rusty Bailey:

Frank Schiavone:

Chris MacArthur:

Nancy Hart:

Steve Adams:

If you're not sure who is your elected representative, the "city council" link provides you with the means at the bottom of the page to sort that out.

Also, this city has an elected mayor who also has contact information.

Riverside City Mayor Ron Loveridge

phone: (951) 826-5551


But since very little discussion about the CPRC by elected officials takes place out in the open or in a public forum these days, it's kind of a guessing game to determine who thinks what about the beleaguered panel at any given time. It's almost like some of them don't want the city residents to know what they're thinking let alone what they're doing. The following analysis is as good as any, until the city council members and the mayor are ready to take a step into the public spotlight and actually engage in a public forum that's not one-sided at best.

There are three current categories of positions held by the elected officials on Brad Hudson's directive (hence onward called the Hudson directive) and there are different elected officials included within those categories. They are listed below.

Those who support Brad Hudson's directive, no questions asked:

Mayor Ron Loveridge: Loveridge authored a letter that was never released to the public in its entirety dictating to the commissioners on the CPRC that they had to follow the directive. The letter which was also signed by Mayor Pro Tem Rusty Bailey was sent in response to an oral directive passed by the majority of commissioners asking the mayor and city council to provide some sort of response to the Hudson directive. Loveridge's feelings about civilian review have evolved over time but not really progressed, surprising considering his political science background. Back in 1999, he viewed it as a "symbolic gesture" but in the spring of 2004, he did something he's hardly ever done as mayor and that's threatened to veto the GASS quartet if it backed then quartet member and councilman, Art Gage's motion to defund the CPRC by up to 95%. He also backed Measure II publicly by endorsing the measure.

But it's not clear whether he's supporting the restrictions on the CPRC's independent investigations of officer-involved deaths or he's just supporting Hudson because well, he's Hudson.

Rusty Bailey: Bailey's name has appeared at least twice in connection with supporting the Hudson directive. First in a letter cosigned by Loveridge that was sent to the commission without a copy being provided to the public even though it was most likely written on the city's letterhead. The second, through an 11th hour phone call made at 3:30 p.m. to CPRC Chair Brian Pearcy on Wednesday, Nov. 19 a scant two hours before the public portion of the monthly meeting began. He told Pearcy during this phone call that he was affirming the directive. What's intriguing about Bailey is that his responses so far has been under his hat as mayor pro tem and not as a councilman.

Frank Schiavone: He supported the Hudson directive through writing an op-ed piece with two other council members that was published in the Press Enterprise in September. This might provide some clues to the origin of a directive by a high-ranking city employee who as one elected official, said was equivalent to a wind up toy that you point in the direction that you want it to go. Schiavone's been heavily backed by the Riverside Police Officers' Association during at least two of his election runs at the city council level and his recent unsuccessful foray into county government.

Steve Adams: Adams, a retired Riverside Police Department officer's never been shy about his disdain for the CPRC and to date, is the only elected official to complain about the commission's independent investigations into officer-involved deaths. He did this at a Public Safety Committee meeting in January 2007 and insinuated that even the CPRC investigators would be arrested for obstruction if they were at the crime scene (which by the way, has never happened as no investigation was initiated the day an incident happened).


City Manager Brad Hudson: On his own accord or more likely through having his strings pulled by some of his direct employers, Hudson shut down the initiation of independent investigations into officer-involved deaths by the CPRC for the next several months, even possibly over a year. He issued a written ban threatening the CPRC that if it did initiate investigations, then City Attorney Gregory Priamos would withhold its spending money. Doing this left Hudson in his office issuing memos (or more likely Hudson telling his assistant city manager to issue memos) and put Priamos in the hot seat for criticism, which was a pretty brilliant move.

It's not the first time that Hudson and Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis tried to put the breaks on investigations having suspended two officer-involved investigations being done by the CPRC while they were in mid-stream during 2007. At no time were these city employees or any of the elected officials issuing them directives able to provide compelling evidence why it was necessary to do so in 2007 or now, in 2008. Nor has any city employee or elected official ever been able to cite either a police investigation compromised by a CPRC investigation or investigator nor has it cited any prior history of complaints against the CPRC about this happening.

City Attorney Gregory Priamos: Although placed front and center in this controversy for a while by Hudson's actions, Priamos has supported the directive and is the agent being used to keep the CPRC from initiating any independent investigations through being appointed the holder of the CPRC's budget funding that can be allotted out or denied depending on how Priamos sees fit. Some say he's not very happy with being in the hot seat for the Hudson directive while Hudson remains in the background. And less happy with being challenged on his own turf by an ACLU attorney as happened while he was out of town.

CPRC Executive Manager Kevin Rogan: Whether it's just following the orders of his direct employer, Hudson, Rogan has refused to follow any orders issued by vote from the CPRC. When a commissioner asked him if he would have to take the issue up with Hudson or DeSantis, Rogan said at a recent meeting that it wouldn't have to go that far because he agreed with the directive anyway. As a retired captain at the Pomona Police Department who once fielded a job offer as a litigator for one of the top police defense law firms in Southern California (albeit one currently experiencing internal strife), it's probably a given that he would support it regardless especially if he said that publicly. At any rate, he's probably the only noncommissioner who's presented his position on the Hudson directive in a public forum so far.

Still, his comments especially in light of the turmoil surrounding the "resignation" of his predecessor only two years ago, it's hard not to believe that part of it's about remaining employed. The bottom line? If Hudson and DeSantis pull the strings and he doesn't dance their dance, he's most likely out of a job. Faster than most heads can spin. And if they did that, they'd probably freeze that position citing low sales tax revenue.

However, this situation illustrates a concern raised by community members if not city employees which is how can a commission like the CPRC have a management employee set up to serve two masters when it's so clear he has only one? The answer is, it cant.


Peter Hubbard: His automatic support of the Hudson directive is really easy to understand because Hubbard is a manager and franchise owner of America Medical Response in this region, the ambulance company currently enjoying a lucrative contract with the city in general, and the public safety division ( which is under Hudson and DeSantis ) in particular. If he says the wrong thing, would it endanger his business relationship with the city? Possibly and even if it didn't, Hubbard's not inclined to disagree with anything the city or police department does in any situation. In fact, he's so hostile to public comment, he tried to push an agenda item to reduce it from five to three minutes per person. Alas, he attends so few meetings that he missed both the meetings where it was to have appeared on the agenda so it got pulled both times. But not before former commissioner, Gloria Huerta delivered a brilliant speech opposing it.

How a de facto city employee was able to get on the commission despite a huge conflict of interest is merely a symptom of the political football that this commission has remained since being voted in the city charter in November 2004. It's not even really a question except in a rhetorical sense.

Sheri Corral: Although not a frequent attendee at meetings in the past year, Corral has come down in favor of following the directive at the meetings she has attended since it was issued especially since she was elected vice-chair of the commission. In the past year, Corral has taken a 180 degree turn stunning many community members and even criticized fellow commissioner and Riverside Community College District employee, Chani Beeman in a letter last summer to Councilman Frank Schiavone. Putting Chani in a similar position that she herself was in not too long ago. She's smart, passionate on the issues and a good thinker but she also clearly knows what side her bread is buttered on, being a police officer in Riverside where she has to work with police officers from two agencies who may be unhappy with her involvement with the CPRC.

Kenneth Rotker: Rotker has been a staunch supporter of the directive mostly because he said he's accountable mainly to those who appointed him to the commission, a comment that raised eye brows on the commission. His comments seem to be largely based on the fear that if the commission initiates independent investigations in the face of the directive, it will be committing "insubordination" (a comment that seemed to get a here, here response from Councilman Chris MacArthur's legislative aide who was in the audience). Rotker was very displeased with the direction that the commission's ad hoc committee (which was created by Chair Brian Pearcy to come up with recommended guidelines for investigating incustody deaths) was taking and took his displeasure back to the main commission leading a vote to dissolve the committee altogether.

However, Rotker expressed disappointment in the dismissive response the city council gave the CPRC via Bailey to its letter authored by its chair. He added that he had expected better from the city council.


The Riverside Police Officers' Association: Like many other police associations and unions from coast to coast, this organization has a history of opposition to civilian oversight, the CPRC and has made that clear since the CPRC's formation. Earlier in the CPRC's history, they financially backed through their Political Action Committee candidates for city council who opposed civilian review including current members, Schiavone and Adams who just happen to be two of the elected officials who signed on to the op-ed article. Lately, it's been either sitting on the sidelines keeping out of the affair or sitting back on the sidelines letting other people do its work for it. Politically astute move whatever the reason turns out to be.

On the fence:

City Council:

Andrew Melendrez: Melendrez historically has been supportive of the CPRC during his tenure on the city council. Unlike several of his colleagues ( Bailey coming to mind), he took his campaign promises and put them into action after being elected. While chairing the Public Safety Committee, he received regular reports on the CPRC. However on the issue of the directive, he's been more tentative. He is one of only two elected officials who currently want to host a public dialogue on the issue between elected officials and city residents. He was unaware that Bailey had called Pearcy on the city council's behalf until after it had been done.

Chris MacArthur: MacArthur took no strong stance either way on the CPRC while running for office but has been watching the events surrounding it since he took office. His legislative aide probably has the highest attendance of all the legislative aides working for sitting council members. Not all the body language coming off of MacArthur's aide has been all that positive, but MacArthur has discussed the CPRC with other council members including those who are highly supported of it. He's not publicly declared himself either way.

Nancy Hart: While it's true, she co-authored the op-ed piece with Schiavone and Adams supporting among other things the restrictions on the CPRC, she's been known to change her mind on an issue fairly abruptly and the CPRC is no exception. She's come out in support of it on several occasions, including her endorsement of Measure II and also her support of one commissioner, Sheri Corral when she was targeted for possible removal out the back door through the introduction of a proposal to take a more broadly defined issue to a subcommittee for further discussion. She's participated in discussions involving the CPRC at the Public Safety Committee meetings and once made some comments expressing concern about retaliation against complaint filers at one of those committee meetings, which shocked at least one other committee member.

Yet now by authoring the op-ed piece, she's come out on the opposite side of the issue. Many people who read the op-ed article were fairly shocked when they discovered that her name was attached to it.

Some say she merely attaches herself on to what the last elected official said, but Hart's got some depth to her and when allowed to have some space to think issues over, her views often become more nuanced. Her body language shows that she's not as firmly in Hudson's case on the directive as the others who were involved with the op-ed article. In fact, for all anyone knows her support might be more a political move in anticipation of a difficult reelection bid next year than anything else. If that's true, then any static surrounding that should dissolve as the city moves further into its next election cycle.


Brian Pearcy: Pearcy, the commission's chair, has been all over the place on this issue. First he promotes the creation of an ad hoc committee to create recommended guidelines for investigating officer-involved deaths, then in the face of the directive, he contacts the commission while in transit out of the country to continue its work but when push comes to shove, he joins with other commissioners to disband the committee. He has voted in support of several key moves to initiate investigations involving officer-involved deaths including the vote taken to initiate three of them at the Nov. 19 meeting. But at any given meeting, it's difficult to see what side of the discussion he's going to come down on.

Linda Soubirous: Though she's been a proponent of the directive, she showed a shift in her voting at the Nov. 19 meeting when she asked questions which indicated she viewed the fatal incidents involving Carlos Quinonez, Sr., Fernando Luis Sanchez and Marlon Oliver Acevedo as falling under the purview of the CPRC for investigation than the earlier death of Martin Gasbar Pablo. She voted to support the initiation of independent investigations into the three most recent incustody deaths.

Art Santore: Santore's been a proponent of the Hudson directive, but the refusal of the city council to open a dialogue led him to push for the motion to initiate independent investigations into the three most recent incustody deaths. He said he was doing it largely to force the ball back into the city council's court to see whether or not it would continue to be dismissive towards the CPRC or respond to it.

Not automatically supporting the Hudson directive

City Council:

Mike Gardner: Gardner's the only one on the dais with prior experience on the CPRC including the three years that he chaired it. He along with Melendrez are the only two elected officials who support a public dialogue between elected officials and the city's residents. Gardner is vocal in his belief that the past status quo of how independent investigations were initiated and conducted created no harmful or problematic situations and says he has yet to be presented with any evidence to conclude otherwise. He's interested in bringing the issues pertaining to the CPRC's investigations of onduty deaths to the Public Safety Committee which he sits on. He said that he'd spoken to Bailey in passing asking him if he read Pearcy's letter and Bailey had said he was still digesting it. Then Bailey made the phone call on behalf of the city council and Gardner like Melendrez was unaware that Bailey was doing this until after the fact.


Chani Beeman: She has been very vocal on challenging the city employees who have placed the restrictions contained in the Hudson directive on the CPRC to the point where one councilman sent her and Commissioner John Brandriff letters stating that they could be removed from their seats on the commission. She's initiated motions or tried to do so involving initiating independent investigations into the last four incustody deaths, all of which have taken place since July 10, 2008.

John Brandriff: Brandriff has also been vocal at challenging the city manager and city attorney on the restrictions placed on the commissions that are contained in the Hudson directive and has paid the price for his candid speech. Since receiving the letter, he's not been as active but has said that medical reasons kept him from attending a couple of meetings. Since he's been back, he's been equally vocal on the issue.

James Ward: Ward is probably the most staunch proponent on the CPRC who's concerned about the commission's ability to initiate independent investigations in an effective and timely manner. Some times, he gets more support from his colleagues on the commission than at other times. But other commissioners on the panel have taken to marginalizing him even more than usual during the past several months.

And so, these are the cast of characters, not in one of Shakespere's plays but something almost as interesting and certainly equally as dramatic. The latest chapter of angst, intrigue, politics, alliance building, alliance dismantling and power plays in the ongoing saga, As the Commission Crumbles, All My Commissioners, The Young and the Puppeted, Days of Our Micromanagement and One Commission to Dismantle all rolled into one.

***Organ Music***

To be continued...

The Chief of Mental Health in Los Angeles County said he hoped to rely less on law enforcement officers to handle mentally ill people who can't go to overcrowded hospitals.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

Marvin J. Southard, called before the Board of Supervisors after news reports highlighted the problem, told the board he is in talks with county health officials to find better options.

"This issue is really an issue of indigent care at the county hospitals," Southard told Supervisor Mike Antonovich during questioning. "We contract with private hospitals to provide indigent care, but there are some patients only county hospitals will accept."

Mental health workers have increasingly turned to law enforcement officials to handle emergency calls because hospitals are required by law to take emergency mental health patients transported by police. If a county mental health worker brings people in for treatment, facilities are not compelled to accept them.

As of last month, there were 2,562 beds available for mental health patients in Los Angeles County, records show, and only about 200 of them were at county hospitals, which are required to admit poor and uninsured patients.

According to department records, mental health staff responded to 10,003 calls this year, down 20% from 12,722 calls last year. The increased police response to mental health emergencies was first reported this month in the Los Angeles Daily Journal.

Critics of the current emergency response system for the mentally ill, including law enforcement officers, said Southard's response Tuesday amounted to a continuation of the status quo. They faulted county supervisors for not demanding a more immediate fix.

A political watchdog testified in the federal corruption trial of former Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

Shirley Grindle, a former aeronautics engineer who has devoted her retirement to enforcing county campaign rules, said she sat down with Carona in her living room in Orange on Jan. 13, 1997, after he called and asked for a meeting. She still has her calendar from that year, and it was displayed on courtroom monitors for everyone to see.

"I explained to Mr. Carona that he should be aware of and suspicious of [certain] contributions, particularly those that came in from numerous employees from the same company. . . . He should question them or have his treasurer question them," Grindle said. "I explained to him this is a serious violation."

Grindle was one of six witnesses to take the stand Wednesday in the trial of Carona and his former mistress Debra Hoffman, who are charged with trading the powers of the sheriff's office for their own profit. One of the allegations against Carona is that he knew Newport Beach millionaire Don Haidl laundered at least $30,000 during his first campaign by reimbursing check-writing contributors with cash.

Three Houston Police Department officers were taken out of patrol to be investigated for an assault against an NFL player's father.

(excerpt, Houston Chronicle)

Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt released a statement, saying, "We take allegations such as these very seriously and will conduct a thorough investigation into the matter and be transparent in our findings, whatever the conclusion."

Marvin Driver's relatives said they were pleased with the decision to reassign the officers.

"Harold Hurtt has done the right thing," Michael Driver said outside the home where his father was arrested.

Police have not commented on the allegations, noting that the HPD Internal Affairs Division is conducting an investigation.

None of the accused officers has a sustained complaint on his permanent record.

All three are members of the Houston Police Officers Union and are eager to return to work, union President Gary Blankinship said.

"I've been told that this thing is being expedited," he said of the ongoing investigation. "And we support the officers 100 percent."

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Holiday links and places

"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages."

---William Shakespeare

"The road to the City of Emeralds is paved with yellow brick."

---L. Frank Baum

Last week, this blog posting detailed news that the city has laid off between four to six of its permanent employees amid the ongoing insistence by city management and elected officials that Riverside wouldn't be resorting to such drastic actions being utilized by surrounding cities to offset their budget deficits being created by shortfalls in city revenue from property and sales taxes.

Now, the Press Enterprise has announced that information about the layoffs is "just in". Belo Blog states that the city has laid off two contract employees and given 30 day notices to four more full-time employees. Two information technology employees, one museum employee, a library employee and two Park and Recreation employees who worked on Project Bridge. It's ironic that at a time when gang intervention and prevention programs are very important with the city's increasing violent crimes rate that two outreach workers have been laid off.


In the city of Riverside, the only previous layoffs had been of 30 part-time library pages on July 1.

The two contract employees let go last week worked with Project Bridge, the city's gang intervention program. They were not permanent employees covered by union contracts, DeSantis said.

Permanent city employees have taken over their duties, he said.
The four employees notified last week that they will be let go on Dec. 19 include the library's fund development manager, a museum curator and two computer system operators.

But actually, this might not be technically correct. It appears that two of the laid off employees might have been contracted out which means that according to their most recent MOU, they would have required a 60 day notice, not a 30 day notice if this is indeed the case. Fortunately, there are labor mechanisms in place to put this situation right if it's done incorrectly by those hired to be put in charge of making labor decisions.

If these individuals were not given adequate notice according to a binding labor agreement, then this city might need to have its employees who make the decisions to lay off individuals take a crash course in Labor Contracts 101.

It's part of any management degree program from an accredited institution which I'm sure anyone placed in an upper management position in this city has satisfactorily completed.

The really bad news is that these layoffs may just be the beginning especially since next year is expected to be much more difficult than this year has been so far. And this fiscal budgetary year is still quite young.

The tussle over Riverside's civilian review board's future is expected to continue into the new year, possibly impacting the next round of civic elections. One person has declared his candidacy so far in the Ward Four race and appears to be supportive of the CPRC. Still, it remains to be seen through further discussion and action if that's indeed true. After all, some of the city council members who appear to be the most interested in diluting the commission albeit behind the scenes had claimed in the past to support it as well if only to respect the wishes of the voters.

One might wonder if a pro-CPRC candidate could emerge and succeed in a Ward Four election and it's possible that if he or she is well-rounded, he or she could do very well. After all, Measure II performed much better in that ward during the November 2004 election than the current council representative did in his most recent foray for elected office earlier this year.

The latest editorial by the Press Enterprise chastises City Hall for its role in spinning the current melodrama involving the eight-year-old commission which has seen barely a moment of peace since its birth into a campaign of behind-the-scenes discussion leaving the city residents which are the voting constituents if not the paying ones out in the cold once again.

Only two elected leaders, Councilmen Mike Gardner and Andrew Melendrez, seem to favor moving it into a discussion at the subcommittee level which could be very beneficial but could actually place it at even further risk of inhouse machinations especially if it's sent to the Governmental Affairs Committee (which consists of at least two of its firmest opponents and one who seems similarly inclined). Still, putting a public spotlight on what some elected officials clearly wish to remain private could allow any further discussion and resultant actions to hopefully become more public as they should be and have not been. And most importantly, the people who make decisions at the polls to elect their representatives can watch as well and make more informed decisions. It's very difficult to know what exactly it is that your elected representative is doing or not doing if too much of what government does is taking place behind closed doors. And some issues, perhaps some of them are counting just on that.

Still, the attacks against it became somewhat more pointed after the majority of the city's voters passed Measure II which placed the commission in the city's charter purportedly to prevent or minimize its use as a political football by City Hall. The passage of this important measure stalled the forces at the 'Hall who wished to dilute its power for a little while but they came back in early 2006 and have been fairly active ever since. Several elected officials even criticized then Councilman Art Gage for threatening to push a motion in June 2004 to defund the CPRC's annual budget by up to 95%. At the time, that motion received only a tepid second by Councilman Steve Adams but looking back at history, many people believe that these councilmen were upset with Gage for a different reason besides the most principled one and held him responsible for the resultant action of the commission being placed in the charter beyond easy political reach. Meaning that perhaps they don't believe the CPRC would be in the charter if it hadn't been for Gage's attempted actions against it only months before the vote took place.

Combine that with the aversion that the past several city governments including most recently the BASS quartet have had to having to listen to any public comments they don't like and what's left is a cauldron of angst, intrigue and petulance that if Shakespeare were still hanging around, he would most definitely recognize as kin to his own observations of civilized society's political food chain.

The CPRC's struggles to remain true to its charter-mandated powers and responsibilities is one that's becoming more well-known across the nation and its current situation is being compared to those impacting civilian review mechanisms in other cities. One thread that is apparent in responses I've received from other cities is how similar the situations have become from one city to the next. What's happening in Riverside to its form of civilian review is happening in other cities and counties across the land.

"I want a recount!" That's what one Colton councilman said,according to the Press Enterprise who saw his planned recoronation bid fall short by about a dozen votes.

One of the outgoing councilmen in Moreno Valley issued a few words of warning to his successor.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Charles White, who was defeated in his re-election bid Nov. 4, noted that developer Iddo Benzeevi and real estate broker Jerry Stephens donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Moreno Valley Taxpayers Association. The group, which is headed by city Planning Commissioner Michael Geller, campaigned strongly against White and Councilman Frank West.

"Because of developer and real estate broker relationships with the planning commissioner and council, I am concerned that money has taken control of our city," White said at the end of Tuesday's council meeting. "I believe conflicts of interest do exist."

Tuesday was the last regular council meeting for White and West, who represented the 1st and 3rd council districts, respectively, for the past 12 years. New council members Jesse Molina and Robin Hastings will be sworn in Dec. 9 at the next regular council meeting.

None of the council members responded publicly to White's concerns.

Riverside County has begun offering early retirements to its employees in the wake of huge cuts in its operational budget midway through the current fiscal year.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The Board of Supervisors approved a plan last week that would boost retirement benefits to retirees 50 and older who have worked five or more years for the county. They must retire between Jan. 1 and March 31 to qualify, according to county documents.

The county will save money by reducing the number of longtime employees, who generally earn more than less experienced employees with the same job title. Department heads would not be permitted to hire new people to replace them.

"The goal is to reduce the cost of county government substantially over the next couple of years," said county Human Resources Director Ron Komers. "This will accomplish that by elimination of positions, by allowing restructuring, by paying the people less who perform the work."

More than 3,400 county employees would be eligible for early retirement. The county is offering to subsidize their medical plan rates until 2011 and increase pensions by giving early retirees credit for two additional years of service.

One retirement that will take place by the end of the year is that of the county's legal counsel.

Received this one from San Jose Police Auditor Barbara Attard, who was not appointed to a new term by that city's city council. That decision struck a blow for independent oversight everywhere. Riverside's hardly the only city experiencing a crisis involving its form of civilian oversight.

But kudos to this woman for taking the more courageous if difficult path rather than the easier one. Hopefully, she'll reemerge at a civilian oversight mechanism near you. Oh, the fits she would give the micromanaging element at City Hall here! But then she wouldn't be here. the price tag for what she brings to the job is much too low.

(excerpt, IndyBay)

So this is the awkward moment in history San Jose finds itself in. As the rest of the country is making historic strides forward in racial equality, San Jose, a minority-majority city, is retreating backwards, literally finding ourselves burdening with same problems we had in the previous millennium. And what is even more surprising is that our city, which prides itself its innovative and cutting edge technology, relies upon an outdated and proven lacking technology in terms of law enforcement oversight. Since its inception in 1993, cities across the country have adopted newer oversight models to address the needs of their changing landscapes. Along with independent civilian review boards, there are independent police auditors that are equipped with investigators and subpoena powers, hybrids of IPA's with civilian review, even special counsel to county Board of Supervisors to ensure independent investigation. In comparison to what's out there, San Jose's Independent Police Auditor model likens us to using a pager in an age of cell phones. It may have seemed like a good idea at the time when there was no other option available, but now seems tired and out-of-step.

But we are also in a moment of tremendous opportunity for change. With the council decision not to re-instate Barbara Attard as the Independent Police Auditor, the new task force on the drunk in public arrests issue, as well as the possibility of sunshine laws to be supported by the council, San Jose is in arguably the best position it has ever been in to enact improvements that will have a real impact on police and community issues.

And while efforts will be made to get sunshine laws to pry open a police department that has been reluctant to disclose information, perhaps even more significantly, San Jose can take a breath of reflection and planning, before rushing into simply filling the new Independent Police Auditor position, locking us into more of the same -- an office that is ill-equipped to be what it is asked to be.

Instead of hiring a new IPA to propagate our current shortcomings, let's look into other options. If San Jose's history has taught us anything, it is that if we really want to get to a better place in terms of police oversight. It is not a question of who is driving the vehicle, rather it is the vehicle itself that needs changing. Couple the end of the current IPA's contract with all of the public scrutiny on police issues on full display at the November 18th public hearing, we have been given the rare opportunity to re-imagine police oversight in San Jose.

But this window, in all likelihood, will not stay open for long. Energies dissipate over time and new emergencies eclipse our priorities. Let's hope that we take full advantage of this moment to assess what our real current needs are for police oversight in San Jose, and that we have the political vision and leadership to bring on a new model that speaks to those concerns.

Trouble lurks in San Antonio where several police officers are being investigated for having racy photographs posted on Web sites. A television news network received information about the page and contacted the police chief. On the new site, is a slide show of the photographs of some of these officers cavorting with women!

(exerpt, WOAI)

SAPD Chief Bill McManus says the pictures are "very disturbing. Absolutely disturbing.”

The officers are in uniform and seemingly posing for the photos. In one the photos, several women are gathered around an officer. One of the girls looks like she is grabbing and biting a bike patrolman while he looks on. There are others as well. Police say the officers involved have been identified.

Chief McManus promises "We've already forwarded it to Internal Affairs for an investigation. The investigation will be very thorough and we're not going to waste a whole lot of time doing it."

A police officer in Ponce Inlet is being disciplined over his decision to give preferential treatment to an intoxicated sergeant from another law enforcement agency. In fact, his administrative discipline that he received is harsher than that given to the drunken sergeant. In a strange twist, the officer was criticized by a labor grievance representative.

(excerpt, News-Journal)

Officer Chris Selander will be suspended from his patrol duties in Ponce Inlet for two weeks without pay, said Investigator Max Binz.

According to the report, Selander violated two departmental policies the night of Nov. 2 when he refused to arrest Volusia County sheriff's Sgt. Ken Vickery. The policies include one for impartiality and one for DUI procedures.

Selander's punishment is harsher than Vickery's, who was told Tuesday that he would be suspended for one week without pay, said sheriff's spokesman Gary Davidson. Although Vickery was informed of his penalty, the internal affairs investigation regarding his actions in Ponce Inlet are not yet complete, Davidson said.

The seven-page Ponce Inlet report released Tuesday afternoon reveals a tense encounter between Selander and Vickery that night, but despite Vickery's sour attitude and sarcasm, Selander repeatedly told the sergeant that he wanted to help him because of his profession.

"This guy has to have the lowest police IQ ever," said police union representative Jeff Candage, referring to Selander. Candage is representing Vickery in his case with the Sheriff's Office. "If you're not going to arrest someone, you don't detail his actions in a report."

If you're in Los Angeles proper and chomping at the bit to begin your holiday shopping, here are the "early bird" shopping times.

Although the recession might hit internet shopping venues hard. This is in sharp contrast to last year's "Black Friday" which was a record setting year.

As went residential properties, so goes commercial properties as a new phase of the mortgage crisis appears.

Other scheduled events include the following:

Riverside's African-American Historical Society will be celebrating its 10th year anniversary on Sunday, Nov. 30 at Bordwell Park in the Eastside, from 3-5 p.m.

Riverside Community College Trustees Mary Figueroa and Mark Takano will be sworn in to office on Tuesday, Dec. 2 at RCC.

There's a Web site started by the owners of Karley, the dog that was severely beaten by a high-ranking Los Angeles County Fire Department employee to the point of having to be euthanized.

The latest developments in the case had Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco sending it back to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department for further investigation. The Sheriff's Department had recommended that animal cruelty charges be filed against the assistant fire chief, Glynn Johnson.

Two days later, it was sent back to Pacheco.

This petition has received over 1,800 signatures so far.

There will also be a demonstration sponsored by Justice4Karley in front of the Riverside County Hall of Justice on Wednesday, Dec. 3 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

City Council: Bring discussion of the CPRC from behind closed doors


Belo Blog confirms six layoffs of Riverside city employees that were the subject of a blog posting last week.

"You ladies may have won this battle, but I'll get you."

---an alleged comment by a Boston Police Department motor officer after two female officers told him to move his bike. The two women filed a lawsuit against the department and city.

"At this time, we have not laid off anybody."

---Capt. Robb Webb, Hemet Police Department to Press Enterprise about the fiscal budget's impact on his agency.

The Press Enterprise Editorial Board has struck again back at the city council on the issue of civilian review in Riverside!

It has ordered Riverside's city council to host a public dialogue on the future of the Community Police Review Commission, something the elected body has declined to do so far. With the exception of two city council members, none of the others nor Mayor Ron Loveridge seem all that interested in what the public thinks about the recent actions taken against civilian oversight in Riverside. But then the interest level from the dais in public input from residents of this city seems to be about as enthusiastic as it usually is on issues these days. And that applies to commissioners as well under certain circumstances.

In fact, two commissioners received letters from one elected official telling them they could be removed not for any of the narrowly defined reasons that members of boards and commissions could actually be removed for by a city council vote, but because the elected official was upset that they criticized the city manager's and city attorney's offices. Then the councilman tried to tell one of the commissioners in her letter that she was biased against the same police department that employs her son as an officer.

The fact that commissioners are supposed to be independent thinkers and not wind up toys or hand held puppets seemed to be lost here. After all, that position requirement's not exactly included on the city's brochure.

This is the third editorial put out by the newspaper in the last several months addressing the ongoing crisis involving the beleaguered and barely there, CPRC that's being manipulated by the city manager's office, the city attorney's office and some members of the city council (not necessarily in that order) all without any public dialogue with city residents. This has elicited a lot of discussion among city residents even those not keen on civilian oversight simply because there's this aversion to having people who volunteer their energy and time on the city's boards and commissions treated this way.

People wonder if some of these individuals are going to stop with merely striking a blow to the commission's ability to abide by its charter-mandated responsibility to review and investigate officer-involved deaths or whether they're going to continue onward until the CPRC is no more potent than its predecessor, the Law Enforcement Policy Advisory Committee. If you read the woefully under-researched article written by three council members several months ago (and keep some Dramamine near you if you do read it), they seem to view the CPRC as just a policy reviewing machine, city charter be damned. And a policy reviewing machine is what LEPAC was until its disbandment in 2000 when the CPRC was born.

At least Steve Adams and Frank Schiavone appear to believe that the CPRC and LEPAC might be interchangeable and their choice of words in their op-ed piece makes that abundantly clear. It's not clear whether or not the other author, Councilwoman Nancy Hart even read what she signed onto given that in one Press Enterprise article published afterward the embarrassing opinion article, she appeared to greatly soften her stance on the issue.

So far the majority of the city council hasn't been listening very well to advice from the editorial board. Each time it has failed to do so, out comes another editorial which is just as well because they're interesting to read and they present much better arguments than anything coming out of either the city council or anyone who has anything to do with either the city manager's or city attorney's office. You'd think the guys with the law degrees would sound more impressive than they do but except for CPRC Chair Brian Pearcy who put out a six-page thoroughly researched and documented argument challenging the city government, they've all fallen short in the face of what's been published by an editorial board for a newspaper owned by a major corporation in Texas.

The latest installment in an ongoing series of scoldings catches the city residents who've been left out of any discussion involving the commission's fate up to date with the most recent shenanigans from the city government in case people are starting to lose track of who did what to the commission, when. There's so much being done and said that you do need a score card to keep pace with city council members who've apparently gone amok with a kind of fever over a commission that some of them came onto the dais opposing. It appears that the passage of Measure II slowed down some of them in their fervor but ultimately didn't stop them from turning the CPRC into a political football of choice.

Some political watchers said that the commission would never be so challenged, so targeted for political attacks as it would be after its placement in the city's charter. And as it turned out, they were right.

The editorial calls the city government out on having Councilman (and Mayor Pro Tem) Rusty Bailey serve as its public information officer and informing the commission that the city council has determined it should follow the directive issued several months ago by City Manager Brad Hudson. However, at least two city councilmen were unaware that Bailey had taken the initiative to speak for them. These two, Mike Gardner and Andrew Melendrez, wanted the issue to go to a public discussion to add transparency to whatever directive the city government gives to the city manager's office. One suggestion offered up as a potential venue for that discussion was the Public Safety Committee which has established a jurisdiction of sorts through practice of receiving regular reports from the CPRC between 2006-08 without any public complaints from the dais. Gardner serves on that committee and Melendrez chairs it.

At one point, there was apparently some push by Councilman Frank Schiavone to lay sole claim to the CPRC by sending it to the committee he chairs which is the Governmental Affairs Committee. All three members of that committee at this point have voiced opposition to the CPRC continuing to conduct its independent investigations just as it has since 2002, either through op-ed articles published in the Press Enterprise as both Schiavone and Councilman Steve Adams did or sending letters or phone calls on behalf of the city council as Bailey has.

If it goes to Governmental Affairs, don't be surprised if the recommendations by the city council members on that committee pretty much ignore public input and push the commission in the LEPAC corner. Two members of that committee Schiavone and Adams clearly don't like the CPRC as much as they have sold to their constituents and city residents as a whole and have tried less hard to hide their aversion towards the panel. As for Bailey, he looks like he's along for the ride if he's sending out letters after "discussing" the issue with several council members and speaking on behalf of them and the rest. There doesn't appear to be as much resemblance between the Bailey who co-signed an argument supporting an initiative that put the CPRC in the city's charter and today's Bailey as far as even many of his supporters believe. Some of his supporters call him the biggest disappointment of the 2007 election cycle. Still, his term is still young and there's always room for him to stretch on this issue. He's bright, well-spoken and diligent and still navigating through the complicated web of municipal politics.

Still, if it goes to Governmental Affairs, at least any discussion of it will come partly out from the shadows where it's been for several months now. Not a very convincing reason to buy into the city government's rather weakly defined support of the city manager's directive on incustody death investigations. And the city council members will have the spotlight on their actions and discussions instead of having them remain in the shadows, as the city prepares to go into its next election cycle. That's as it should be.

Again, the whole sorry saga is outlined again in the editorial.


Commission Chairman Brian Pearcy tried again this month, sending a letter asking the council to clarify the limits of the new policy -- but with no more success. Bailey said last week the letter had been reviewed by the council and filed away. But that decision also happened without any official council discussion, and at least two councilmen said they would like to see a council committee take up the issue.

The commission deserves an official response from the council, based on something more concrete than a murky, behind-the-scenes council "consensus." City Hall's recent directives have limited the commission's reach and powers, based on a reading of the city charter that is open to considerable -- and legitimate -- disagreement.

Such steps weaken the commission's usefulness as a citizen oversight panel and buffer for police-community tensions. If the City Council really believes that the commission has run amok and needs restraining, council members should be willing to make that case -- in full public view.

There's no room in accountable, honest and transparent city government for "a murky behind-the-scenes council 'consensus'". If this is what is taking place, we do not currently have a government that is any of these things and it being an election year in 2009, better late than never to figure this out. Especially considering the sentiments expressed in letters, statements and especially through the ballot box by city residents who aren't particularly fond of closed, secretive governments that try to chill public participation.

Every article written on the CPRC is sent out to NACOLE's mailing list and the responses I've received back since sending out these articles have been interesting. One reader from Oregon actually called it the "Snivilian Review" board. But once again, Riverside's on the map for something and it's not in a good way.

Hemet's police department announced changes in the wake of the budget crisis. About 24 positions won't be filled and the hours in which stations are open will be cut along with other actions. The police department is still faced with cutting its operation budget by 20% this fiscal year.

Press Enterprise columnist, Cassie MacDuff updates the situation at San Manuel reservation.


Stacey Cheyenne Barajas-Nunez, the San Manuel tribal member sentenced on Nov. 6 to five years probation for an alleged murder-for-hire plot, was arrested Friday night for allegedly violating probation.

Barajas-Nunez's sentence had been criticized as unusually lenient, since she avoided prison in a very serious crime.

County prosecutors defended the sentence, saying Barajas-Nunez knew that if she violated so much as a single law, she could go to prison for 21 years.

She is expected to appear before Judge Michael Dest this morning, the same judge who sentenced her to probation, so he can decide whether she violated the probation.

She is accused of going to the San Manuel Casino despite a stay-away order barring her from the gambling venue, according to Doug Poston, the deputy DA who prosecuted her.

A sheriff's spokeswoman said Barajas-Nunez was arrested for trespassing. Her lawyer said it was a misunderstanding.

The judge will have to determine whether she really went to the casino, and if so, whether it constitutes a law violation under the terms of her probation.

Are commuters losing faith in Metrolink? Ridership is down after a recent train accident in Rialto where two engineers ran a red light and failed to report the red signal to the dispatcher.

A claim against Anaheim has been filed by the family of Julian Alexander who was killed by police officers who mistook him for burglary suspects they were pursuing.

A Los Angeles Police Department officer accidentally shot himself in the leg.

(excerpt, Belo Blog)

The officer and at least one colleague were trying to detain the group in the Venice area around 12:15 a.m. when several of the people tried to run away. At that point, a "negligent discharge occurred," police spokesman Officer Sam Park said.

The shooting remained under investigation but Park said it appeared the officer shot himself. The officer's name was not released.

"I believe he shot himself in the leg," Park said. "The officer himself accidentally discharged and shot himself."

An ex-aide of former Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona takes the witness stand in Carona's federal corruption trial.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

Elaine Vasquez, who worked for Carona for about seven years, said she wrote letters to various people Carona reimbursed, letting them know that it was inappropriate for him to accept freebies from anyone.

She confirmed examples that ranged from a $5 check for lunch with an Orange County Register publisher to $200 for the cost of a limousine that ferried his family to see "The Lion King," to hundreds of dollars for a suit from a Los Angeles outfitter.

In questioning Vasquez, prosecutors seemed to be showing the jury that Carona was aware of his obligations to disclose any cash and gifts he received as sheriff and as a member of the California Commission on Criminal Justice, yet at the same time chose to hide the lucre he allegedly received from Don Haidl.

Vasquez also testified about the sexual harassment of another female employee by a former assistant sheriff, George Jaramillo.

(excerpt, Orange County Register)

Vasquez also said her co-worker, Sandy Trujillo, told her she was being sexually harassed by former assistant sheriff George Jaramillo. Vasquez said Trujillo said Jaramillo would push her against the wall and inappropriately touch her.

Vasquez testified that Trujillo told Carona, who responded Trujillo that he would “support her in whatever decision.” But prosecutors say Carona pressured Trujillo to lie about the harassment.

Trujillo — whom Haidl has testified was one of Carona’s former lovers – may be called as a witness in the trial. Trujillo never told her that she had an affair with Carona, Vasquez said.

Jurors also listened to an audio recording of Carona being interviewed by a reporter about why he hired Don Haidl as assistant sheriff of the reserve division.

In one excerpt, Carona explains: “I made him … an offer and said, ‘How’d you like to work long hours for no glory and no pay and become a reserve with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and make command decisions and open up a number of reserves?’ Don accepted … and that’s how the relationship started in terms of becoming assistant sheriff.”

Orange County itself will be facing a hiring freeze.

The New York City Police Department is hiring more officers during a time period when many law enforcement agencies have stopped doing so.

The presiding judge dropped the weapons charges against former Bolingbrook Police Department sergeant, Drew Peterson.

Did a Boston Police Department officer witness a murder while off-duty and fail to report it? And interestingly enough as it turns out, the department tried to fire this officer previously.

(excerpt, Boston Globe)

Commissioner Edward F. Davis placed Officer Junior Phillips on administrative leave yesterday after internal affairs investigators told him they believed the 36-year-old patrolman was present when Sheldon Andrews was stabbed to death at a Dorchester cookout. Investigators believe Phillips fled before homicide detectives arrived at the scene, police said.

"It's a major concern to the department and the police commissioner when we have information that an officer may have been witness to a crime and failed to come forward," said Elaine Driscoll, a police spokeswoman. Phillips, who was assigned to Brighton, could not be reached for comment.

Thomas Nee, president of the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association, said he was trying to learn more about the allegations. "There is no comment on this until we know what's going on," he said. "We're monitoring the situation."

This is the second time Phillips has faced possible termination. He was fired in March 2007, accused of a series of violations, including conduct unbecoming an officer and excessive use of force. But this year an arbitrator decided that the police had no cause to fire him and he returned to the department.

Boston didn't have much time to deal with that because two female police officers also filed a sexual discrimination and harassment lawsuit against the department. I mean it's bad enough that male management employees apparently need to be educated on how they treat female employees but do they really need to be educated on women's menstrual cycles as well so they won't make asinine comments about them?

Labels: , , ,

Monday, November 24, 2008

Links and places for a rainy day

The Riverside City Council will be conducting its weekly meeting. It's the last one to be held in November. There are both afternoon and evening sessions to attend and per usual, more items that won't be discussed (unless they are pulled by an elected official) than will. It looks like it's very possible that the evening session could last at least an hour.

For now, attendance is still free to the public. Refreshments are not currently on sale during the evening session. Meeting programs are available just inside the door into the council chambers.

It's supposed to rain this week but the weather should be clear on Friday, Nov. 28 for the 16th annual Festival of the Lights in downtown Riverside. It starts at 6:15 p.m. but get there in time to find a good spot because this event gets packed with tens of thousands of visitors fairly quickly. There will be some speeches by politicians and business leaders, Santa Claus and then fireworks.

And the ice skating rink is back.

Conducting business was the Board of Library Trustees which discussed the proposed expansion of the downtown library. The Metropolitan Museum Board had its dreams about relocating the downtown museum to a particular site dashed at least for now when that land was apparently recommended at the subcommittee level to be handed off to a developer for office space construction. Would this other board face a similar fate or would there instead be rainbows of optimism for the future of the downtown library?

It's too early to tell but in the middle of next month, City Manager Brad Hudson will be presenting his research on the proposed expansion of both cultural institutions and the cost of the projects at a workshop sponsored by the city government. It's anyone's guess what will happen next.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The library is about 61,000 gross square feet. The board previously had favored an expansion of 63,000 square feet, to make the library about 124,000, based on an approved document called a plan of service that lays out how the Main Library can best meet the community's needs through 2025.

Rather than vote on which expansion is preferred, the board decided to help the City Council figure out how big of an expansion to build.

Monday's unanimous vote included sending the council the plan of service along with a chart showing square footage options for sections of the library, including the lobby, adult book section and children's room.

Board members said the key is that everyone -- the board as well as the public -- wants a larger Main Library.

"I think we're all kind of in the same place," board member Gary Christmas said.

An interesting article in the Press Enterprise about taking another look at law enforcement officers who are armed and drinking. This attention is arising from a controversial decision made by Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca to examine that agency's off-duty conduct policies involving guns after about five dozen deputies got in trouble for combining guns and alcohol including a fatal off-duty shooting of one of its employees. Currently, that agency has no policy governing guns and alcohol consumption. It didn't when Deputy Chris Sullivan, who as a Marine reservist returned from Iraq and went out to celebrate with his friend, Cesar Valdez.

They did a lot of drinking and as both of them walked up the driveway of Sullivan's house, Sullivan allegedly stuck his gun in Valdez' mouth and pulled the trigger, killing him. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's office filed a manslaughter charge against Sullivan for the death of his friend. Sullivan called the shooting, accidental.

Only the two county law enforcement agencies in the Inland Empire responded in the article. One of them, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department has had 10 deputies involved in alcohol-related incidents since 2006 and it's not the only department to have this problem as shown by the statistics offered up by the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.


Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff said in an interview that he plans to wait and see how Baca's policy is implemented before deciding whether to revisit his own department's policy.

The department's current policy states that when deputies are armed, "the Department demands the exercise of good judgment."

"Department members shall not drink intoxicating liquor to such an extent that may result in the commission of an obnoxious or offensive act that may bring discredit or disgrace upon themselves or the Department."

In the past five years, 16 Riverside County deputies have been disciplined for alcohol-related offenses, said Sgt. Dennis Gutierrez, a department spokesman. One case involved the discharge of a firearm.

Allowing deputies to remain armed while off duty is important for public safety, said Jim Cunningham, executive director of the Riverside Sheriff's Association.

"When they're off duty, they're never really off duty," he said. "They can be pressed back into duty at a moment's notice."

It is also important to allow deputies to remain armed while off duty for personal protection, Cunningham added.

"They're amongst the citizens they've arrested. That's a great safety issue."

A few years ago, there was a well-known off-duty shooting spree by some drunk Los Angeles Police Department officers who drove a car and at every intersection they shot their guns out the window, maybe at something nobody else could see. Compared to most people who get prosecuted for this type of behavior, they were wrist slapped.

One officer who was fired from the department received a fine and probation. At least one person in the courtroom was unhappy about that.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

The ruling by Superior Court Judge Craig E. Veals left the prosecutor angry at what he considered a lenient sentence for an unrepentant former officer who engaged in dangerous and serious misconduct.

He still believes he did nothing wrong,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Thomas R. Krag said in arguing that Steven Michael O’Neal be sent to jail for at least six months.

But O’Neal’s attorney, Ricardo A. Torres II, said the offense was too minor to warrant jail time. By treating it as a felony, overzealous prosecutors had given in to political pressure to appear tough on misbehaving officers because of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Rampart corruption scandal, Torres said.

O’Neal, 31, is the last of four former LAPD officers charged with participating in the intoxicated drive through Montebello after a late-night party July 29, 1999. As O’Neal drove, his three colleagues fired pistols out the window. O’Neal did not shoot, but he let one of the officers get O’Neal’s gun out of the glove compartment. No one was hurt.

But maybe law enforcement agencies and judges don't really think it's a big deal when officers get drunk and start brandishing or firing their guns even in situations where other people's lives might be at risk because of it. Although in this case, the LAPD seemed to take it more seriously than did the sentencing judge.

Maybe they just think that law enforcement officers should get the benefit of the doubt because of their profession even when they're out there drunk as a skunk firing their guns, including sometimes at people including each other. But along with being a law enforcement officer, should come an awareness of just how deadly it can get when intoxicated people handle firearms. You would think they would adjust their own behavior accordingly and many of them do that and act responsibly.

But what of the others?

"Minor"? Really, does O'Neal's attorney believe that if anyone else did this who wasn't a police officer, they would get anything but a stiff prison sentence or at least jail time even if their weapon was in the hands of someone else in the immediate vicinity when it was fired?

This isn't so much about whether or not law enforcement officers are allowed to carry guns off-duty like some of the unions including those in Los Angeles County are trying to paint it. It's about being responsible when you are carrying your guns while off-duty. It's about not combining alcohol with guns, as officers should know better than anyone what a volatile mixture that can be. It's about not getting yourself in a rage and reaching for your gun first. It's about not getting so plastered by alcohol that you pull your weapon and aren't really sure what you're doing with it in your hand or even if it's in your hand. All these things were related in stories in the media about officers who shot their weapons while intoxicated. Some of them weren't even aware of what they did until someone was injured or killed.

Police agencies warn people not to fire guns their guns in the air when they are celebrating and drinking during New Year's Eve celebrations but do they educate their own employees on the hazards of combining alcohol and guns? And when they have incidents like this happen, do they take them seriously? Do they even bother to investigate them, or is it some twist on the "boys will be boys" mantra only putting officers in that category of justification? Are there investigations in name only being done instead?

The Riverside Police Department is not included in this article on how it handles this issue, what policies it has in place and how many alcohol-related incidents it has recorded in the past five years.

The corruption trial of a Murrieta councilman has been postponed a week because the defense attorney is ill and court is not in session on Thursday or Friday due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

A planned study of the management practices of the San Bernardino Police Department has been put on hold.

(excerpt, San Bernardino Sun)

"Chief Billdt's successor, together with the interested parties, are expected to re-evaluate the need, purpose and intent of this study once the new Police Administration is in place next spring," interim City Manager Mark Weinberg wrote in an e-mail today.

Billdt affirmed Weinberg's message.

"That's exactly correct," he said.

Gaines said the city's interest in hiring him and Scialdone had "sort of waned." Scialdone simply said it was the city's call whether he would work the project or not.

Gaines and Scialdone would have been called upon to study three issues that the police union had cited as ongoing problems. The contract to hire the pair was said to be worth $24,500, which is $500 short of the amount that would have required a City Council vote.

The department had been the epicenter for conflict between now outgoing Chief Mike Billdt and the police union for some months now. This strife culminated in a "no confidence" vote against Billdt.

In the federal corruption trial involving former Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona, two government witnesses who've already plead guilty to charges were cross-examined by Carona's attorney.

(excerpt, Orange County Register)

Deputy Public Defender Sylvia Torres-Guillen, also played an excerpt of Haidl’s recording of a talk with Carona from last summer, in which the men discuss Jaramillo’s conversation.

“He couldn’t even meet me, he was so rattled,” Haidl says on the tape.

” When someone is sitting in front of government, it’s a very scary proposition correct?” Torres-Guillen asked in court.

“I guess it depends on the circumstances and who they are,” Haidl repled.

“What I mean is that it could make a grown man cry, right?” Torres-Guillen asked.

“Maybe some grown men,” Haidl replied.

Both men have pleaded guilty to their part in this alleged conspiracy, and hope for lighter sentences by being government witnesses against Carona.

“You know people who cooperate (with the government) are often called a snitch correct?” the lawyer asked.

” I’ve heard that, yes ma’am,” Haidl replied.

“Or a rat?” Torres-Guillen asked.

The defense attorney believed it had the upper hand with one of the witnesses.

The Denver Police Department is doing a study to check and see if it's done everything possible to remove racism and sexism from its ranks.

(excerpt, Rocky Mountain News)

"This will get to the bottom of burning issues we've been looking at for decades," said Tracie Keesee, police division chief of Research, Training and Technology Division. Whitman asked Keesee to spearhead the Denver review.

Denver police have been scrutinized in the past after allegations of excessive force against minorities. The city agreed last month to pay $885,000 to a 16-year-old Latino who says a white officer in the department's gang-unit repeatedly jumped on his back.

The officer, Charles Porter, was suspended without pay after the incident and faces a felony charge of first-degree assault causing serious bodily injury. Porter has denied the allegations through his attorney.

Goff said Denver's police department has been willing to be proactive to find solutions as he has shown them his work.

"When I bring them the findings, they talk about it immediately and say, 'OK, this is real. How do we go about fixing it?"' Goff said he plans to begin publishing his findings next year in academic journals.

The police department says it's already implemented several recommendations by Goff including creating mentoring programs for women which has reduced the department's attrition rate for female police officers.

Riverside's own police department has a high attrition rate for its female officers as well and it's taking a closer look at its operations through one of its units to find out why. An important step that is very much needed and it's heartening if the department is taking a serious interest in this issue. What will it find and will it like it? Can any such inquiry be conducted inhouse? That all remains to be seen.

In Avon Park, Florida, complaints about the police department are stemming from the Latino communities.

(excerpt, New Sun)

According to court documents generated in the case of the State of Florida v. Adam Willis, an investigation started in June 2008 in reference to complaints that officers within the Avon Park Police Department were stealing from citizens, "namely those of a Hispanic background."

During the investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Willis was determined to be one of the officers involved, said Yolanda Carbia, resident agent in charge of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Sebring field office.

The FDLE investigation eventually focused on two officers, Willis and Alberto Perez, court documents said.

Perez has yet to be charged, but has since been put on paid administrative leave by the APPD.

Patricia Austin, president of Council Three of the local chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens, said she fielded many complaints from the Hispanic community.

"(Avon Park Police Chief Matthew Doughney) said (the complaints) would definitely be looked into and taken care of," she said Friday. "He got right on it ... I was really impressed with the chief on that."

Some of the complaints included extorting money.

"Hispanics talked about how they had been pulled over and told if they would pay a certain amount, (officers) wouldn't write them a ticket," she said, citing examples of individuals being pulled over for infractions such as having a headlight out or window tint too dark.

"I was furious. I couldn't believe it ... everyone knows you don't pay officers for a ticket," she said. "Some of them, from what they had told me, had given the officers cash."

Two separate individuals told her they paid between $200 and $300 to officers.

More lawsuits against the Chicago Police Department listing allegations that police officers assaulted people who were celebrating the presidential election of Barrack Obama.

(excerpt, Chicago Sun-Times)

Meanwhile, the Independent Police Review Authority is investigating "multiple'' complaints about alleged police misconduct on election night, according to Ilana Rosenzweig, who heads up the office.

Rosenzweig said the office has interviewed several complainants and witnesses already, but information is still being gathered. She would not comment on how many total complaints have been filed.

"We have been actively investigating since complaints were first received,'' Rosenzweig said. "We are actively seeking additional information from the public.''

The latest lawsuit, filed Friday, accuses officers of attacking and using pepper spray and a Taser on 22 residents of a West Side neighborhood who were on the street and in their backyards celebrating on election night.

They "were engaged in a peaceful recognition and celebration of the new president-elect, Barack Obama,'' the suit reads.

A law enforcement officer who was to be awarded for bravery in stopping the shooting of people at a shopping mall in Ogden, Utah while off-duty has now been placed on administrative leave
pending investigation into alleged misconduct.

(excerpt, Standard-Examiner)

"I'm not going to elaborate on anything, only to confirm an investigation is under way. It's just too early in the process to say anything," said Weber County Attorney Mark DeCaria.

A report released on the New York City Police Department showed that the number of corruption allegations reported was higher but the rate of officers criminal charged was lower.

(excerpt, Newsday)

The year-end tally pales in comparison to the report issued last year, which, comparing 2006 to 2005, detailed a 25 percent surge in arrests of officers, to 114 from 91, and a 138 percent rise in drug use among officers, with 19 officers failing drug tests compared with eight in 2005. The NYPD didn't respond yesterday to a request for comment, but some police sources said the 2007 numbers suggest problems from 2006 are more an aberration than an indication NYPD has serious corruption issues. "I don't really see any big problems here," said a source close to Chief of Internal Affairs Charles Campisi. "There are some problems, some bad apples, but there's not anything off the chart."

Labels: , , , , ,

Newer›  ‹Older