Five before Midnight

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


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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Friday, January 23, 2009

CPRC Smackdown: Three commissioners vs DeSantis and his men

This blog posting was supposed to come to you courtesy of the Wi Fi in this city because it was going to be done in the spirit of Mayor Ron Loveridge's comments about Riverside being a truly wireless city. Unfortunately, the Wi Fi didn't cooperate and crashed repeatedly with the following message from several locations in the city:

"The server at is taking too long to respond."

That was before the cute little blue bubble over the dual screens was extinguished and a network check showed that the "ATTMETROFREE" server's connection with the "Internet" had been brutally severed, with that most cruel of icons, the red "X". After about 20 minutes, the blue blob returned and the cycle repeated itself.

So much for wireless.

I'm all for this technology and civic Wi Fi systems (and perhaps Riverside could some day catch up with cities like Seattle and Atlanta) but they have to work. A phone call of inquiry led to a representative at the 311 information center at City Hall. The response was that the server perhaps was overwhelmed by usage and was slower at certain times, affecting connections to the internet from the server. The representative said that she had used it once downtown and was surprised by how fast it worked. She did say she would send someone out to check the network which is interesting given that the city is no contracting with the company that installed it and was responsible for its upkeep. And though Loveridge might have praised Steve Reneker for his work in information technology including the Wi Fi system, most everyone in that division has been laid off.

But the service was set up primarily to use for emergency responses by public safety agencies and let's hope that it's working much better in that capacity.

But then it's interesting how Loveridge was handing off assignments on his list of things to do to divisions where the layoffs have been particularly thick. Not that it's not a good list but Reneker's pretty much the only person left in his division and the Human Relations Commission (which was assigned some tasks to accomplish) lost its community relations director in December's round of "minimal impact" layoffs and has minimal staff if any at all.

The Inland Empire's jobless rate has topped 10% for the first time in years. The collapse of the housing market set the Inland Empire's economy crashing like a house of cards.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Unemployment figures can be misleading on several counts. A certain number of people receiving benefits are not looking for work but are counted in the state's monthly survey, which is why there is a jobless rate of at least 4 percent even in the best of times.

On the other hand, the current 10.1 percent level does not include people who have been idled for a year or more and are off the unemployment lists. Many of these people have given up looking.

Economists say this kind of bad news will continue, at least until the second half of this year.

"It's getting ugly for the next couple of quarters," Chapman University economist Esmael Adibi said.

Adibi said national news about the economy, including layoffs at some of the country's iconic employers, tend to rattle owners of some smaller firms, even though there have not been jobs cuts that staggering in Inland Southern California, Adibi said.

"Smaller employers are hearing about this and are laying off one or two people at a time," he said. "It seems like it's all bad news, and people are trimming costs because of it."

A woman who owned a dog that was shot and killed by a Riverside Police Department might file a claim for damages against the city which has offered her $800 in reparations.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

In late December, a police officer had chased a parolee suspected of trespassing through Weaver's backyard on Beatty Drive in Riverside.

A second officer followed, and opened the 6-foot gate across Weaver's driveway. By that time, Weaver's boyfriend, Brant Klingler, had just walked outside with Koda to see what caused the commotion. He heard the officer yell "contain your dog." Then he heard gunshots. Blood splattered on the white wall.

Klingler said he could tell the officer was scared of the 50-pound black-and-white pit bull, who was barking.

"He never even gave me a chance to do anything," Klingler said. "All four of her feet were on the ground. She was barking, but she wasn't doing anything."

Lt. Chuck Griffitts, of the Riverside Police Department, said his understanding was that the dog looked like it was coming at the officer and that was why he fired.

There's a discussion taking place about that article at the newspaper site.


"Inside Riverside":

"Lt. Chuck Griffitts, of the Riverside Police Department, said his understanding was that the dog looked like it was coming at the officer and that was why he fired."

Of course that's what the cowardly officer would say, no way he would admit what really happened.

"Daves not here"

The officer needs to be fired.

He escalated a non life-threatening situation into one where he used deadly force.

How many dog experts recomend fear and aggression as the preferred technique for dealing with a dog? Zero.

Yet this officer brings aggression and fear anyway.

His incompetence is what caused this tragedy.

A felony charge of animal cruelty, with a semi-auto gun enhancement, is what the cop should be facing. This was totally unnecessary.

"Red Ant":

Wow. I feel sorry for this family who obviously cared and loved their pet. Does
anyone have an idea of what the typical litigious outcome would look like? It's
very obvious there is a great emotional
loss for the family but monetarily speaking, is it based on the value/replacement of the pet?

I hope some officers would not be so quick to shoot an animal. Do they carry pepper spary like postal carriers?

Sandy Weaver,
Your pit was beautiful.
May he rest in peace.


Good Grief! It's just a dog. People are more concerned about pets now days than they are about humanity! Where's the outcry with regard to: AIDS, POVERTY, THE HOMELESS, DISEASE, FAMINE, ETHNIC CLEANSING, ETC!

More conversation to come, for sure.

In the Eastside neighborhood of Riverside, the police department has enforced the gang injunction against East Side Riva in the wake of the shootings of six people. It's not clear if any similar tactics are being used against the other gangs in that neighborhood who may or may not be responsible for the shootings and violence as well. Because except for one quote in the article by an Eastside resident, it didn't seem like any other gangs existed in that neighborhood.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Before the recent spate of shootings, officers stopped people named in the injunction only if they were involved in other suspicious activity, Gonzalez said.

Since the shootings, officers are citing people named in the injunction if they violate the injunction in any way, such as hanging out with other people named in the injunction, if they wear gang paraphernalia or if they flash gang signs, Gonzalez said.

Some Eastside residents believe the injunction unfairly targets Hispanics and does not address problems caused by other gangs.

Eastside resident Monica Barbarin said the injunction targets some of the wrong people. She said two people in her family are named in the injunction but they have long since left the gang lifestyle.

She also fears strict enforcement of the injunction will make her son, who is not a gang member, a target for police attention because he is a Hispanic teenager.

"They should have put all the gangs on the Eastside under an injunction," Barbarin said.

Gonzalez said in addition to serving the 113 people named in the original injunction, officers have added 18 others to the injunction. He said the ability to add new gang members to the injunction will ensure officers can target the most active members.

Clamping down on gang members is one of several ways the department has chosen to address violence in the neighborhood.

"I think it has helped," Gonzalez said.

"I think it could have been worse if we didn't have this tool."

But they are probably not the only gang responsible for the violence, especially if there's interracial tension in a nearby high school and in fact, in more than one high school (as parents reported that Poly High School was also on lock down for a while). It's like having two kids that beat each other up and you're the parent. Give one a cookie and send the other to his room or ground him. How does that impact the relationship between the two (or more children) and their "parent"?

To attribute the two killings on Enterprise Street in December to East Side Riva (after telling the public and the families of the two Latino men that the trail is "cold" because no one's talking) is strange because right after the killings, racial tensions between Black students and Latinos broiled over at John W. North High School to the point that police officers had to respond to quell it. Why was their racial tension at North between two racial populations (who've had a lot of tension over the years including at the high school) so prevalent if East Side Riva was "responsible" for the dual shootings?

Focusing on one simply shifts the balance of power to other gangs including the numerous Crips gangs either also in the Eastside or "passing through" who leave graffiti on walls claiming large sections of the neighborhood including those held by East Side Riva. It also leaves the Latino residents who are the victims of this violence the majority of the time feeling as if their losses don't matter as much and not as much is being done to deal with the gangs targeting them. After all, it's not like the media nor the department even mention the names of these gangs in print or in public except for one gang. I guess if you don't say them out loud, they don't exist?

And focusing on one gang including in what is shared with the media won't do much to reduce the racial tension (which would probably exist even if the gangs weren't there) in that neighborhood and its schools. Allowing the students to be involved through multicultural councils that have been created at North High School is also important.

What works in most cities that face this violence (including in several where killings have decreased recently while Riverside's increases) is a multi-prong approach which includes enforcement as a tool but also provides a lot of opportunities for community involvement including gang prevention and intervention programs and opportunities for young men and women that include other things to do besides gang membership. When Riverside cut its budget, often it's these vital aspects of anti-violence strategies which are the first to go, including Project Bridge which lost almost all of its gang outreach workers and the city actually handed over their responsibilities (and their job's not an easy one that just anyone can do) to the city's own park directors who will be too busy to do any outreach that they really don't have the training to do anyway.

What do you know? The Riverside City Council is meeting again on Tuesday, Jan. 27.

It's not clear they really want people at their meetings but it's the civic duty of city residents to participate in the government process and redress their issues.

City Employee Al Thompson has a workman's compensation case going into closed session. If you remember your history, Thompson was one of the plaintiffs in a racial discrimination, harassment and retaliation case filed against the city in 1997 and finally settled years later after the city failed to get then U.S. District Judge Robert Timlin to toss the lawsuit out on summary judgment.

The six month extension for Greyhound Bus Lines in downtown Riverside is also coming to a vote on the consent calendar as is the mayor's recommendation that the city council review the Husing and Red Team reports on economic strategy on Feb. 10. He mentioned doing just this in his state of the city address last week.

The Community Police Review Commission in Riverside is also meeting again in the wake of its seizure mid-meeting last week by Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis much to the consternation of at least several commissioners.

It's meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 28 at 5:30 p.m. in the city council chambers at City Hall in downtown Riverside. First on the agenda, is the briefing by Riverside Police Department Investigations Capt. Mark Boyer on the recent fatal officer-involved shooting of Russell Franklin Wyatt.

After that, you can see the ongoing discussion of the CPRC's issuance of a public report for the October 2006 officer-involved death of Joseph Darnell Hill. No, that's not a typo. This case actually is over two years old. Anything that comes out of it (except for a policy recommendation here and there) will be even more meaningless than usual.

After City Attorney Gregory Priamos argued about the relevance of 3304(d) in the Lee Deante Brown case several years ago, Attorney Kevin Rogan (who's also the executive manager of the commission) said it has no relevance. Sometimes, going to the CPRC meetings is like watching a ping pong match that's gone into overtime.

Also on the agenda will be a continuation of the train wreck called the Policy and Procedures Committee which pits three members of the CPRC against both DeSantis (who currently controls the committee) and Rogan, his direct "at will" employee. It wasn't clear who won the first round, because the designated referee over the proceedings, Priamos had left the building for the evening. Round two continues on Wednesday night. It's like watching a wrestling match without the costumes.

Admission of course to this event and others in the Riverside Wrestling Federation series is free to the public.

A mystery has erupted at the San Bernardino Police Department as to why one of its captains picked up a bunch of shoes in the locker room and tossed them into a shower. The shoes were heavily damaged by the soaking and no one knows what the man was thinking when he took that drastic action.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

It cost at least $500 to pay for the water-damaged footwear, the lawyer said.

"I was definitely surprised," Dammeier said. "A captain in a police department is supposed to lead by example, and this definitely wasn't a good example."

A memo by the police union president notes that the action may have followed a locker room inspection.

Officers use the room to change into and out of their uniforms.

Neither Henson nor Police Chief Mike Billdt responded to requests for comment Wednesday.

Assistant Chief Mitch Kimball refused to answer questions, citing a personnel investigation.

Police union President Rich Lawhead confirmed that he wrote a Jan. 2 e-mail asking officers to report any such damage but declined to comment further because Billdt is investigating and has ordered officers not to discuss it.

Hopefully, this is one mystery that will soon be solved.

A Los Angeles councilman demanded answers as to why the police department's officers were not wearing their helmets.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

The Zine motion, backed by Westside Councilman Bill Rosendahl, orders the LAPD to provide a report on its policies that deal with preparing and equipping officers assigned to crowd control, including "use and non-use of helmets and other tactical gear."

The motion cites the LAPD's own Emergency Operations Guide, which states: "DO NOT assign officers without helmets, vests and batons to crowd control missions."

In the meantime, one of the police department's fingerprint experts has been charged with assault.

An interesting and comprehensive posting on the drug war's collateral damage from the Big Bear Observation Post.

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