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

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Riverside: "2009 will be the hardest year in the city's history"

Riverside's mayor Ron Loveridge gave his state of the city address to a packed house at the Riverside Convention Center and echoed the constrained praise of accomplishments and emphasis on a more cautious approach to the future that was exhibited by President Barack Obama during his own inauguration speech.

"Sad news trumps good news," Loveridge said at the beginning of his address.

Riverside was the epicenter of the budget crisis in this country and its unemployment rate was the highest (at about 10%) of any metropolitan area in this country. The foreclosure rate was among the highest in the country and so far, the state budget was $42 billion in the red. The city's own budget fell from $228 million to $214 million and currently stands at about $200 million. Sales taxes and property taxes have dropped as have fees collected from permit applications. One economist forecast that 2009 would be the worst year in Riverside's history.

"There is real economic pain," Loveridge said.

Loveridge did formulate some strategies. The economic strategy had to move the city forward during its difficult times. Shopping in Riverside had to be promoted to generate sales tax revenue and Riverside through sales of its foreclosed homes had to be promoted as the place to live. Proposing more discussion of what sounds like a possible return of the NACs. If that's the case, then some of the elected officials who opposed them are going to need some smelling salts. Neighborhood autonomy, kind of a scary thing.

Loveridge put a lot of the tasks including the neighborhood assessment program on the Human Relations Commission which is located in his office not long after the city fired its community relations director, Yvette Pierre due to budget cuts. The commission currently has limited staffing that it shares with the Mayor's Youth Council which was also assigned these projects.

Loveridge will be bringing the Red Team recommendations as well as those from the Husing report to the city council on Feb. 10.

Reaction to the mayor's address was mixed though portions of it were applauded. Some people were concerned about the city's ability to deliver its basic services. Others felt that there weren't enough men and women of color cited in the mayor's speech. Kind of interesting in a majority minority city that this was the case.

"Business as usual" as one speaker said. Some liked the idea of Riverside being a "green" city which may produce a lot of potential for economic development.

Another sergeant promotion, the second this fiscal year, in the Riverside Police Department took place just two weeks ago when Police Chief Russ Leach promoted Det. Chad Milby to fill the position vacated by Sgt. John Romo who has retired. It's interesting because coming after the autumn promotion of Dan Warren, that makes it two laterals from Oceanside Police Department in a row that have filled these positions.

That's not really that surprising because in a department with a disproportionate number of younger, less experienced officers like is the case in Riverside, laterals are at an advantage precisely because one of their strengths is experience that they bring to their new agency. And laterals from Oceanside might be more competitive than say laterals from another department like Rialto because while officers from both agencies are experienced, these two agencies are a study in contrasts.

The Oceanside laterals were pretty much all heavily experienced in investigations. In fact a news article stated that the majority of those who lateraled over were detectives who lost that status (but gained higher pay) when they transferred in as officers. Ironically, the only one who may not have been a detective was the first lateral to be promoted to that rank in the Riverside Police Department several years ago. This strength of investigative experience (which also provides versatility) might give them an edge during fiscally conservative times (which may lead to staffing cuts) if stacked against candidates at or nearly at the same level. But in different circumstances, it could tilt the other way in a closely competitive promotional process.

The North County Times wrote a good article on officers lateraling from Oceanside to Riverside which unfortunately is no longer online. According to the article, a lot of the issues impacting Oceanside had to do with salary ranges and morale issues within the department which are similar as those faced by an agency of its size surrounded by larger ones. The article stated that a sergeant at Oceanside made less money than an officer did working in Riverside. They appear to have been the subject of some humor but they must like it here. Of the Oceanside laterals, only Aaron Miller returned back to that department.

In contrast, according to a press release issued by the police department in December 2005, the majority of those officers who lateraled as a group from Rialto were more experienced in field officer training and SWAT/Metro (of which Rialto is apparently known for). The situation in Rialto involved a lot of upheaval, political challenges and uncertainty because the department was walking the fine line of remaining an autonomous law enforcement agency or being contracted out to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. Situations like these often lead to officers lateraling out to agencies with more stable administrations though in some cases, officers might lateral out if the situation at the original agency resolves itself but many stay at their new home. Several of the Rialto laterals ended up in the field training division not long after being hired, again in a department not strong on seniority in its patrol division.

The promotions at the supervisory level this year have been quite good and all three officers promoted to those positions bring a wealth of experiences and maturity into their new ranks, but there's still frozen positions at this level and at the officer level. Suggestions have been made to pretty up the language but these are frozen positions, period and that's what they should be called.

Election 2009 hasn't yet really begun, with time left for prospective candidates in three wards up for grabs as well as the mayoral seat. However, two candidates have declared their intent to run against Councilman Andrew Melendrez in the second ward. One of them is Garth Newberry who's been somewhat active in neighborhood organizations and Democratic Party politics. In November 2000, he was elected to serve as the Rubidoux Community Services District director.

Another candidate has also declared in the second ward and is looking to begin the arduous task of fund raising and hitting what could be a very long campaign trail. The two candidates in addition to Melendrez make the opportunities ripe for a Republican with connections similar to past candidates to jump into the race. Don't be surprised if one declares by filing time.

At least one candidate is thinking about running against Councilwoman Nancy Hart in the sixth ward and one, Paul Davis, has already declared in the fourth ward which is currently represented by Councilman Frank Schiavone. And the filing deadline is still weeks away.

Greyhound's stay in Riverside has been extended six months.

(excerpt, Belo Blog)

Under the proposed conditions, Greyhound has agreed to staff the station from arrival of the first bus to departure of the last one each day, at least 1.5 hours longer than it is now staffed. The company also will keep the station tidier and provide security; and the city will work with Greyhound to find a new location in or near Riverside, Gardner said.

"I think to be successful you need to find a site that you think can work and then go jointly meet with the neighborhood ... rather than wait for people to hear about it when they get a letter from the planning department that says there's a hearing on a bus station in your backyard," Gardner said.

Greyhound spokeswoman Abby Wambaugh said the company has agreed to the terms and is continuing to search for a new site that meets everyone's needs, but the process has been frustrating.

"The city has continued to offer us small extensions with no permanence," she said. "That makes it difficult for us to maintain our work force."

The city of Riverside wants local churches to stop feeding homeless people.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

What started as a father-daughter team 2½ years ago with three pizzas and five takers has led to a ministry led by Jim Ward through The Vision Plus Church on Pyrite Street.

Its newest acolytes are 10 students from California Baptist University who believe they're serving Jesus by serving food to at least 35 homeless people every Thursday in Fairmount Park.

Her hands sheathed in plastic gloves as she dishes out salad to 65 homeless people, Hannah Barrett, 20, justifies her mission through Bible chapter and verse in Matthew: "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me."

City officials, however, don't approve of the feedings, although "It's not against the law," said Don Smith, Riverside's project manager for the housing and neighborhood division.

The goal is to encourage faith-based groups to work with city programs and "drive-by feedings don't really help meet that objective," Smith said.

A group of barbers in Moreno Valley are filing racial discrimination lawsuits against the city of Moreno Valley and the state.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Kevon Gordon and Ron Jones say five Moreno Valley police officers, two representatives from the state Board of Barbering and Cosmetology, and city code enforcement inspectors entered the Hair Shack barbershop April 2 and searched the premises without permission or a search warrant, according to the claim.

Gordon owns the Sunnymead Boulevard establishment, and Jones is the sole employee.

"Both the matter in which claimants were chosen as targets of the search and inspection and the scope and nature of the inspection and search conducted violated claimants' rights under various state and federal laws," the claim states.

Both men are black, as are most of their customers, according to the claim.

Gordon and Jones said the inspection has hurt them financially and emotionally; they are seeking damages and legal fees exceeding $10,000. The claim, which is the first step toward a civil lawsuit, was filed last month.

Will the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors unseat Assessor Bill Postmus?

I guess someone didn't like my critique of this blog posting. It's really a shame. Because for all my so-called negativity, I actually find that blog interesting. I just disagree with his or her interpretation of events in Riverside including that recent posting. Why do we have two contrasting reads on the same article written by Inland Empire Weekly? Because we're two different individuals who blog. This person considers themselves an "insider". I don't, because 99.9999999% of residents in Riverside are not but many of us are voters.

As for being negative? I'm not the person calling people (especially women) "crazy" and "wackjobs" and other assorted negative and insulting terms. It's one thing to criticize a person's actions, it's another to call them the "matriarch of Riverside's wack jobs." The problem is that by doing this and then supporting incumbent candidates like Councilman Frank Schiavone and Councilman Steve Adams is that you're then making it appear as if they endorse the use of terms like this to call their critics. They probably don't, one would certainly hope that's true because then that wouldn't portray them in a very good light.

A head injury suffered by a Los Angeles Police Department officer has sparked controversy over the use of helmets.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

Over the last decade, there has been running disagreement within the LAPD about when and where to deploy so-called tactical gear (in police parlance, "hats and bats") and whether the equipment officers wear can itself change the dynamics of a crowd.

Some argue that for those exercising free speech, the gear is intimidating and anxiety provoking, suggestive that police are poised and primed to battle it out with the crowd.

But to officers, helmets, face guards, gas masks and vests are protection, basic necessities that stand in the way of injury should anything go wrong while dealing with large groups of people.

"We've been telling them [LAPD commanders] for years this is a safety issue with officers and public safety," Paul Weber, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, said of the helmet issue.

Top LAPD commanders said their main priority is the safety of officers. But they argue that the types of tactics officers use for crowd control should be based on the individual situation. Many situations require tactical gear, they said, while others might not.

"That's why they call it policing," said LAPD Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger. "Each situation is different and requires a different response . . . common sense and humanity."

A shocking column by Dan Bernstein of the Press Enterprise about how a Black woman who was the victim of mistaken identity spent days in jail while the D.A. told her she should just plead guilty to a crime she didn't commit to get out of jail and refused to have a fingerprint comparison of her done which would have freed her.


Next day, the judge viewed booking photos of both Bakers. The DA tracked down the private vendor and paid the rush charge? Nope. The PD got the photos from the sheriff. Chang saw "certain similarities" between the photos, taken 10 years apart. PD Anderson saw one similarity: "They were both African-American women."

Chang wanted a fingerprint comparison and asked for one more day. But he offered a deal: Baker would be released if she pleaded guilty. The conviction would be erased at sentencing if she was telling the truth. Lakiesha said no. The judge said he didn't blame her. He also said the booking photos "do not look alike to me" and sprung her from jail. Next day, fingerprint comparisons proved she had been telling the truth.

Mistaken ID typically occurs when suspects tell cops they're someone else, such as a relative. This case was different, and the Public Defender accused the DA of handling it in a "cavalier" fashion.

Deputy DA Chang disagrees: "I don't see how much more quickly I could have had it done. We thought it was her. We're not going to let her go. No one wants innocent people in jail. But we don't want criminals running around as well."

This institutional head banging is great sport until an innocent person gets caught in the middle. I was unable to locate Lakiesha Baker, but because of what happened to her, similar cases might be resolved much more quickly.

Assistant DA Chuck Hughes recently notified his office and the PD that "everybody who gets booked into jail gets electronically fingerprinted." Such prints are easily retrievable. "We should be able to resolve these things in under half a day."

Sure beats four nights in jail.

The Oscars are out! The nominations anyway. No real surprises on the nomination list except that Dark Knight was robbed.

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