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

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The RPD's Internal Affairs Division: Dumped in downtown Riverside


Former BART Officer Johannes Mehserle has been arrested by police in connection with the fatal onduty shooting of Oscar Grant.

In the past few months, I have begun the task of checking the city's police facilities, community centers and libraries for the availability of complaint forms in terms of filing allegations of misconduct or policy violations involving police officers in the city of Riverside.

The two field operations stations, Lincoln and the Magnolia Policing Center both passed their audits with complaint procedure brochures and forms available in both English and Spanish. So did the police department's administrative headquarters on Orange Street as well as the Community Police Review Commission's office at City Hall.

In contrast, five community centers and two libraries have failed, in that none of them had complaint brochures or forms available in any language for members of the public to file complaints with the department or the Community Police Review Commission. There's still more centers and libraries in the city to check but it's doubtful that the others will receiving passing grades because there's obviously no policy in place to make complaint brochures and forms available in these facilities by the city.

That's a resource that the city has failed to provide its community-used facilities but it's one that will be part of the CPRC's future outreach effort, a decision made after it had been brought to its attention. Hopefully, there will be complaint brochures and forms available to the public at these facilities soon.

So what was left?

The police department's Internal Affairs Division office which used to be housed on the second floor of the First Title Building on Central Avenue adjacent to the 91 Freeway. In fact, the police department's Web site still has it listed under that address. Used to be because it's not there anymore. Used to be because it's currently housed at the downtown bus terminal, in the same facility which until Jan. 31, will house Greyhound Bus Lines in another space of that same building.

So I walked there, not to file a complaint so the not-so-cartoon cops who used to rant on this site shouldn't get their knickers in a knot that they can't undo, but to do a complaint form audit that was similar to those done with the other city and department facilities and stations.

But I couldn't find it.

At first it looked like the Internal Affairs Division, which actually moved downtown in the middle of last month was missing in action and not there at all.

Why would that conclusion be reached?

Because there's not a single sign at 3775 Market Street that even states that the police department has a facility there, let alone an Internal Affairs Division. So where was the Internal Affairs Division actually housed? After some searching, I discovered that it is housed in the space that was formerly occupied by the administration offices of the city's fire department (and there's a sticker that states those offices have been relocated). What's left of the Greyhound Bus Station is to your left if you're facing the terminal, there's a big empty void in the middle and then there's the Internal Affairs Division on the right side. But you really have to look to find the spot because again, the city relocated a section of one of its departments while failing to put up any sort of signage even on a temporary basis. Has the city no pride in one of its city departments, or is this just an oversight?

This is what it looks like in the two-dimensional language of words.

First of all, in contrast to the impressive, well-maintained buildings which house the department's two field stations and even the older, less-impressive Orange Street Station, this building is clearly one that's not been well-maintained by the city over the years. It looks like it's been left to rot from the outside, which is likely how the city wants it to look right now to build its case that Greyhound has "blighted" the downtown area by the Fox Theater and the Mission Inn Hotel.

But the message it's sending now is that the city can't be bothered to properly maintain the buildings which house its own departments or divisions of those departments. Still, you think if given free rein, the city's code compliance division would have a field day with this building and if they wanted to seize it from a property owner (and not just a renter) they might have had their field day to build the case for Eminent Domain in a redevelopment agency zone. But that didn't happen so you have a police division (and more are planned to be relocated there) residing in a facility that's been left by the city looking seriously neglected.

It looks like it's an abandoned building, not a police facility.

Its entrance consists of a sliding glass door which states "City of Riverside [blank] department" and if you peek inside the locked door (at 3:30 p.m.), you'll see a counter and some brochures which look like the ones which explain the complaint procedure on this empty counter. Next to them is a one of those signs that people put on desks to identify themselves and also as a paper weight, which read "Internal Affairs" to those with better than 20/20 vision. If you don't have great vision, then I guess you're out of luck.

The windows have etched graffiti on them and there weren't many cars parked around. There was one vehicle, a light colored one that looked like it was city-owned parked right next to a numbered gate formerly used to pick up and drop off bus passengers. A poor homeless man stretched out on the ground in front of the car, asleep on a blanket maybe waiting for a sergeant to interview him on a complaint.

I saw this sight, and thought, isn't this ironic? The city has put out a loud statement for all to see that the Riverside Police Department cares so little about its Internal Affairs Division just two years out of a stipulated judgment with former State Attorney General Bill Lockyer that it moved it to a building which clearly's not ready at least on the outside to host any police division. What City Hall and the management of the first police agency in California to be placed under a state consent decree in 2001 in part because its Internal Affairs Division was in violation of state laws in its processing and receiving of complaints have essentially shown is that this division has no importance whatsoever.

And City Hall has announced that other police divisions representing the North Neighborhood Policing Center will be joining the Internal Affairs Division. What would Lockyer think, given that he was the one who advocated for moving the Internal Affairs Division out of its old haunt at the Orange Street Station to a facility which provided geographical and psychological separation from the rest of the police department. But once again, the Internal Affairs Division will be crammed in with assorted field operations stations, which are being moved downtown to provide more of a "police presence" in the bus terminal. That doesn't explain the decision to move Internal Affairs which is an administrative division under the Chief's Office, staffed by plain-clothed officers and civilian employees who don't drive marked police cars to this location. They don't provide any visual deterrent to any crime like uniformed officers driving squad cars might.

Now that might make a difference in addressing some crime issues (though it makes it clear that the city really viewed the RTA as a causation factor and not Greyhound because Greyhound's leaving and the "police presence" is just moving in), but it defeats the purpose of having an Internal Affairs Division. One councilman, said he would examine the issues pertaining to the relocation of Internal Affairs to the terminal when notified of this issue and that's a start. But what of the others? Do they even have a clue what's going on during their watch?

Probably not.

So more needs to be done because this is really embarrassing conduct by city officials or employees who clearly just don't know any better. How could they and house any police division in a building which needs some work? How could they house Internal Affairs alongside field operation divisions? As if any civilian witness or complainant's going to want to be interviewed or even seen at Internal Affairs surrounded by police officers and police cars. Maybe that's the message that the department and the city is sending, that it doesn't want complainants or witnesses including police officers to even be there as part of the administrative complaint and investigation process.

Is Internal Affairs anyone's favorite division? The answer is no.

The police officers hate it. The public doesn't trust it. The people staffed in it probably count the days until they're released from what they might call purgatory either through promotions or transfer back into the more comfortable streets. And if you're even associated with it in any remote way, you might get harassed no matter who you are.

However, as long as it exists to perform its function then it should be housed in a proper facility to do its job. The city shouldn't dump it in a building not prepared to house it that looks like a dump. Especially if it's touting the Internal Affairs Division as the model of police complaint investigation and review in this city. No one could possibly look at where it's housed now and think that the city views it as anything but a joke at the same time it's trying to dilute the effectiveness of the Community Police Review Commission including at an upcoming Governmental Affairs Committee meeting. And if the city or department argues otherwise, then all you have to do is point to the division's current digs and call it Exhibit A. And then say, I rest my case.

City Manager Brad Hudson, the same employee who collects huge annual pay checks is apparently wringing his hands over the signage problem. You'd think he could at least solve that problem temporarily by simply filling in the blanks of "City of Riverside [blank] department" with the word, "police" until the pencil pushers actually figure out how to create a sign identifying the purpose of a building. But Hudson and his minions apparently are incapable of even doing putting a temporary sign on one of the facilities housing a city department. That's a bit disheartening to say the least.

Whoever made this decision truly deserves to be sacked. Really.

Then the city should actually have the building staffed until at least 5 p.m and the doors unlocked and open to the public if only to access complaint forms. If not, have someone standing at the counter. It just looks professional that way. That's how the other police facilities in this city are staffed and how their operations with the public are carried out. The Internal Affairs division just looks like it's housed in an empty, deserted building that's about to be dashed to smithereens by a demolition ball to be replaced with a strip mall.

Hopefully, the infrastructure which actually houses the police divisions is in better shape but if the exterior looks this bad, how likely is that? What if its obvious shortcomings are not just limited to the exterior of the building? Because if the city doesn't have enough pride or even self-respect to make the exterior look more attractive, more professional and more representative of a city with high standards, then it's not likely the situation is much better inside. That's just common sense.

And so that begs another question, if the facility is not ready for the Internal Affairs Division and its staff of lieutenants, sergeants and administrative personnel, then how able is it to perform the functions that it is designed to do and is mandated by state laws to do as well? How well is it able to process and investigate complaints and internal investigations not to mention performing administrative reviews on deaths, shootings and other acts of force? How well is it able to accommodate and abide state laws that have set statutory deadlines on disciplining officers?

Is it functioning at all? Does it have problems which will cause the current backlog of complaints and internal investigations (which necessitated the temporary transfer of a second lieutenant last autumn) to decrease or to grow even larger and longer?

After all, it didn't look or sound like anyone was even home during mid-afternoon on a week day. But then who could blame anyone for not being eager to work in such an unattractive building?

These are worthwhile questions considering how backlogged the division has been involving its investigations in the past several years. The city in its wisdom (if it truly has any) should be taking steps to alleviate this backlog and facilitate this division's operations and not to hinder or obstruct them. But is the city actually doing the latter, only two scant years after departing its consent decree with the state?

How embarrassing is that if that's the case?

It's too bad someone was authorized to make such a poor decision or entrusted by a governmental body to make a good judgment call and not a bad one, but the fact is, what's been done is simply selling the message that the police department and city cares little about any police accountability or checks and balances put in place regarding officer conduct, which is ironic considering how many have said that Internal Affairs does such a good job, the city doesn't need civilian oversight. But you know what? Showing is much better than telling and what the city is showing is that perhaps, as someone said, Internal Affairs is being shown the door and is inconsequential which actually creates an even better argument for civilian review.

Also this is an election year for Mayor Ron Loveridge and Council Members Frank Schiavone, Andrew Melendrez and Nancy Hart and the fact that the city is housing police divisions including the Internal Affairs Division in such a shabby looking facility with zero signage is an issue that would be appropriate to bring up on the campaign trail especially when they start touting the importance of public safety in Riverside. The current state of affairs shows a lack of leadership at City Hall, and that's always a campaign issue whether it's an election year or not.

To be Continued...

Visiting the blog this morning at about 10:30 a.m. PST was a computer from the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office (in a morning which also saw another visit from California's State Treasurer's office and one from the Department of Justice), which just happens to be the employer of one Deputy Ira Peskowitz, who was the subject of this blog posting after allegedly harassing and threatening a blogger who writes about law enforcement related domestic violence. The visitor came on the site through a search on Peskowitz at another site. The blog page on this situation received over 5,000 visitors in about two weeks, thanks in part to the write ups in the Seattle Intelligencer and the Chicago Sun-Times.

Hopefully this means that the agency is at least looking into the allegations made as any professional law enforcement agency is. Hopefully, it's not Peskowitz looking for more people to harass. This one's just not worth it.

The murky career of Peskowitz amid allegations from another individual of threats that he made against him.

(excerpt, Ethics in Policing)

The defendants have ammunition to use against Peskowitz, too. They say he left Miami Beach under eerily similar circumstances. Peskowitz made claims of corruption there that were unfounded, Gonzales says. And Wiborg said Peskowitz told him he was sexually harassed at Miami Beach and that he was retaliated against for being a whistle-blower.

A year after Peskowitz left Miami Beach, an officer there named John Pereira said he got a call. He recognized the voice as that of Peskowitz, he said in a report.

"I'm coming for you and (officer) Carulo and your families. You're all (expletive) dead!" Then he hung up.

Two hours later, Pereira said he got another call from Peskowitz. The caller said, "Look behind you. Bang!"

"I never made those phone calls," Peskowitz said. The two officers erroneously thought he initiated an internal affairs investigation against them and they retaliated against him, he said. He was not questioned or charged in the incident, he added.

Someone listed the people who have endorsed Current Councilman Frank Schiavone in past elections here including most of his dais mates. Which when you think about it, kind of makes the city council seem like it's engaging in cronyism. Any truly independent thinking and acting elected official won't be included on that list because to do so is the antithesis of what that truly means.

Which means that according to this list, there aren't any independent thinking elected officials because even Councilman Chris MacArthur who many viewed that way jumped aboard this band wagon. So you have individuals claiming to be independent thinkers and actors but again, if they truly were, they wouldn't be included on this list. They're making it appear that elected offices are closed off exclusive clubs and that during an election cycle, they're circling the wagons against any new outsiders. Which is quite funny considering that some of the elected officials on this list were those outsiders only two short years ago.

It's utterly ridiculous for elected officials to endorse each other and work on each others' campaigns. They don't represent each other, they represent their ward or city-wide constituents and they send the message that if their guy or gal doesn't get elected, that they'll pout a while before doing what they were elected to do because they didn't get their guy or gal in office.

At any rate, the filing deadline for Election 2009 for the mayor's spot and city council wards, 2, 4 and 6 is coming right on up. So get more information from the city clerk's office on the top floor at City Hall in Riverside if you want to toss your hat in the ring. The more, the merrier.

The assistant chief from Los Angeles County Fire Department charged with animal cruelty plead not guilty at his arraignment.

The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors have stopped the search for a new sheriff with only one candidate.

Huge shock! The Los Angeles Police Department rejected a racial profiling study done by the ACLU.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

Police Chief William J. Bratton said the study, released in October by Yale University legal scholar Ian Ayres and promoted by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, was "of no value."

"We live in an imperfect world. There are many issues and questions for which unfortunately there are no perfect answers. This issue of bias and profiling is one of those issues," he said. "I've got a lot of concerns about their conclusions. This department does not engage in racial profiling."

Ayres did not respond to a request for comment.

The issue of racial profiling has been a contentious one for the LAPD in recent years. Commissioners reacted with disbelief last spring when it was reported that internal investigations had not found evidence to support any of the hundred racial profiling complaints made against officers in recent years.

The main objection by Bratton and others to Ayres' report is that data on police stops do not adequately take into account other factors and circumstances that influence the officers' actions. Police officials also said the statistics do not reflect the anti-bias training officers now receive or other changes, such as the recent launch of a program to install video cameras in patrol cars.

Working with data from five years ago, Ayres found that once stopped, African Americans were 29% more likely than whites to be arrested. Latinos were 32% more likely to be arrested in an identical category. He also found that blacks and Latinos were far more likely to be frisked or subjected to non-consensual searches than whites. At the same time, he concluded that officers were less likely to find weapons or drugs on blacks or Latinos than on whites when they frisked them or subjected them to consensual searches.

Peter Bibring, an ACLU attorney, countered LAPD officials' comments, saying he was "deeply disappointed" in the department's response. He defended the validity of Ayres' work, saying the analysis does account for outside factors.

Outgoing San Jose Independent Police Auditor Barbara Attard is going to be a tough act to follow but San Jose's going to try but look for its tradition of strong and independent auditors to come to an end with its next appointment.

City of San José
Independent Police Auditor
Ad Final

San José, the third largest city in California, is the heart of
cultural, government and economic activity for the Silicon Valley
. Home to a diverse population of 989,500, San José is a City
proud of the cultural and ethnic diversity of its population and
workforce and the rich cultural identity of its many neighborhoods.

San José has a world-renowned quality of life, beautiful climate, and
offers a myriad of exciting cultural, recreational, educational, and
entertainment opportunities for residents and visitors alike. The
City Council is seeking a proactive, entrepreneurial and dedicated
individual for their next Internal Police Auditor (IPA).

Uncompromising ethics and the highest level of integrity are essential
to a candidate's success in this recruitment. In addition to a high
degree of political sensitivity, the ideal candidate will possess
strong facilitation, negotiation and diplomacy skills. Extensive
knowledge of police operations, procedures, training, and performance
standards is required, as well as experience conducting statistical
analysis and auditing.

In addition, candidates who can demonstrate a
strong knowledge of criminal and administrative investigations, as
well as familiarity with current case law in the criminal law field,
penal and evidence code, and other related authorities will be highly
valued. A Bachelor's degree in a related field is required; A
Master's degree and/or Juris Doctorate is desired.

The salary for the
Independent Police Auditor is open, DOQ. To apply for this
opportunity online, please visit our website at
www.bobmurrayassoc. com. If you have any questions, please contact
Regan Williams at (916) 784-9080. A detailed brochure is available.
Filing Deadline: February 27, 2009

An interesting conversation on whether or not Moreno Valley will truly go belly up and declare bankruptcy in the weeks ahead.

Brookline's Police Department must not move backward on its handling of citizen complaints.

(excerpt, Wicked Local)

The CCRC has met regularly since then, and a group of Town Meeting members has been following the committee’s work. This group made several suggestions on specific issues (public education, investigation, appeals and written policy) to make the process a reliable, transparent and trustworthy one. Some of our suggestions were accepted.

While many in the group prefer and suggested that a Civilian Review Board be created, the committee chose to try to remedy the flaws of the existing procedure by suggesting changes. Those changes, however well intended, are about to make obtaining a hearing more difficult.

The committee, in its final report, is recommending that the number of selectmen needed to grant a hearing on appeal be at least three members. Before, if the complaint was a type A (most serious), one selectman was enough for the hearing to be granted, and two for type B. This is the most serious step backwards in the attempt to remedy the failures of the existing procedure.

Granting a hearing did not, and does not, mean that the officer is automatically guilty of the allegations and should be punished. The hearing had, and has, two phases: a) to determine a finding, and b) to determine a disposition (contemplated in the original Procedure for Police Department Discipline, in Section 9, Hearings and Action by the Board of Selectmen). The purpose of the first phase was/is to issue a finding based on the presentation of evidence, witness testimony, and questions by the selectmen and parties. These two-phase hearings were part of the procedure when the selectmen decided not to grant the first-phase hearing on the Arthur Conquest matter.

The facts relative to police investigations and findings on citizen complaints are troubling. In 2007, 16 citizen complaints were filed, 14 of which were determined to be unfounded or not sustained, one of which was mediated and one of which was sustained. That means that close to 90 percent were deemed not sustained or unfounded (Brookline Police Department, 2007 Race and Gender Report, page 4).

Regarding complaints based on racial profiling, the Police Department statistics reveal again that in close to 90 percent of the cases, the police did not find the officer’s behavior improper. Out of 23 complaints, 14 were determined “unfounded,” seven “not sustained” one mediated and one carried as an “open” complaint (BPD, Racial Profiling Prevention Strategies — A Ten-Year Overview, page 27).

St. Paul Police Department is being studied and two reports are due this week.

(excerpt, Pioneer Press)

During and afterward, both accolades and accusations of a "police state" were heaped on law enforcement, with the lead agency, the St. Paul Police Department, receiving the most.

In October, Coleman tapped two former federal prosecutors — Republican Thomas Heffelfinger and Democrat Andrew Luger — to co-chair a commission to swiftly review the entire security situation, from planning

to the action in the streets. The commission grew to seven members, including former police officers, a former mayor and a professor who teaches civil rights.

The panel will present findings and recommendations — in a thick report with photo and video exhibits — Wednesday. In an interview with the Pioneer Press, Luger and Heffelfinger said the panel logged untold hours, including late nights and entire weekends, to complete the report. They refused to discuss specifics but spoke generally of the panel's methods.

In subgroups, commission members interviewed protesters, journalists and police officers, from senior commanders to rank-and-file street cops. They also attended public forums and sponsored their own public events.

Luger said they examined "hundreds" of still photographs and "hours and hours" of video, ranging from police videos to independent media footage, including "Terrorizing Dissent," a highly critical production led by the New York-based Glass Bead Collective.

"We've received countless written submissions from members of the public describing their views and experiences," Luger said. "We have very detailed experiences of what happened."

Why are police agencies looking for new officers in Michigan?

(excerpt, Detroit News)

There is a law officer shortage nationwide. Rosters have thinned as more retire or take buyouts. Some budget-strained police departments aren't filling open positions, leaving a bigger workload on fewer officers.

But in Michigan, demand for workers -- even police officers -- is in decline. Dwindling tax revenues and municipal cutbacks, with the threat of layoffs, have young officers looking for work before the ax falls, said James A. Tignanelli, president of the Police Officers Association of Michigan.

Anchorage's first stop, Ann Arbor, is considering layoffs, Tignanelli said.

"I don't think guys are going to be considering Alaska just because they are really into hunting or Fort Lauderdale because they like beaches. They are going to take those jobs because they think they'd better go. If you are 10, maybe even 30 from the bottom of the seniority list in a place like Ann Arbor, you're looking."

Criminal justice experts say the nationwide police officer shortage is driven by several other factors as well: Low pay and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have tempted able-bodied, public-service-minded young people into joining the military.

Jacksonville, Florida has had a recent series of officer-involved shootings which have created some concern.

One writer wanted to add a citizen to the review process.


A separate question, in this case, is the policy of JSO doing their own reviews; the Florida Department of Law Enforcement reviews use of force cases for most other local law enforcement agencies. This is a separate question, however, from that posed by creating a civilian review board specific to JSO.

While initially skeptical, on closer examination I find JSO's claim to rigor in their review process pretty credible.

I don't like the fact, however, that the review is entirely internal. Typically, citizen representatives serving in this capacity are trained by the police themselves, but are appointed by another body, like the Mayor's Office or the City Council.

My final concern: As circumstances deteriorate - and I hope they do not deteriorate further - our impulse will be to "crack down," to "get tough."

And when we get to that point, we will have forfeited our local efforts on crime and squandered the best hopes of Jacksonville.

Community-building and outreach are what's most needed now, on the part of JSO, the nonprofit sector, the business community and all of us; the very same conclusion an improbable group of business leaders reached in the Jacksonville Journey process.

They were not wrong.

More protests this time in San Francisco over the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant by a former BART officer.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older