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, February 19, 2009

Bulldozer alert: Chinatown and the CPRC

“They had a mission and that mission was to hire deputies. Unfortunately, it may have come at a price.”

----Michael Gennaco, head of the Office of Independent Review, which oversees the LASD which hired deputies with criminal records and that had been fired from other law enforcement agencies.

People have been asking for more information about what's been up with the Community Police Review Commission during the past year or so. Most of the attention in the past several months has been the actions taken by City Hall to bar the commission from conducting independent and timely investigations of officer-involved deaths as mandated by the city's charter. But the micromanagement by forces at City Hall including the dynamic duo of City Manager Brad Hudson and City Attorney Greg Priamos has had other detrimental effects as well as the shortage of full-time staffing for the commission since the "resignation" of the last full-time manager Pedro Payne in 2006.

One striking aspect of the CPRC meetings isn't what is being talked about but what's not and that's the annual report. It hasn't been mentioned at a meeting in quite a while. Does it still exist? That remains to be seen but it's certainly been upstaged by the latest round of actions taken against the CPRC.

Traditionally, the annual reports were released in March of each year, both in written form and submitted to the city council. Of course, when City Hall began its micromanagement in earnest following the public vote to put the CPRC in the city's charter precisely to circumvent this type of nonsense, the reports began to be a little less...annual.

Meaning that there hasn't been a report on the CPRC's actions every year as required by the city charter. The charter language doesn't specify the format of the reports in terms of whether they have to be oral or written but in the past, it's been known that even the oral reports given to the mayor and city council by the commission's chair were based on written work product created and voted on by the entire commission.

It's been a while since that's been done.

The importance of the commission's annual report was mentioned in two studies done of the CPRC, both which included lists of recommendations made to improve its function.

The Riverside Coalition for Police Accountability's five year report card on the CPRC released in October 2005 recommended that the annual report be stronger and more detailed in its coverage and scope. The evaluation written by Consultant Joe Brann (who was hired by the city) released in 2008 recommended that the commission ensure that its annual report is routinely released as the charter requires.

The annual reports are available online at the CPRC's site but the most recent report is this one which states that it's from 2006 but it was released later. However, the data that is included in the report on citizen complaints and also in terms of "trends and patterns" are from 2006. Photographs in the report also are from that time period including ones taken when the commission received its last session of training on the department's use of force policy and training which was provided by Lt. Larry Gonzalez and the department's tactical training team in February 2006. In fact, it's been so long since that was provided that at least two members of that team are sergeants today. Not to mention there were photographs included of a demonstration of the department's digital video cameras that took place while several commissioners who left in 2006-07 were still on the commission and other older photographs.

So what are the requirements according to the city's charter?

Riverside's Charter Amendment 810 is here. Section (i) states the following:

"Prepare and submit an annual report to the Mayor and City Council on commission activities."

But still no word about the annual report from City Hall which runs the CPRC and the commissioners who go along for the ride. The most interesting part of the last discussion of the annual report which took place quite a while ago was the addition of a new section which compared and contrasts the types of findings (and their percentages) by the police department, the CPRC and the city manager's office (which is the final arbiter on complaints and officer-involved death cases).

What's telling is that there's more correlation in findings between the police department and the city manager's office than there is between the CPRC and either of the other two agencies. The city manager's office. The only correlation between the CPRC and the city manager's office was in terms of the number of "misconduct noted" findings.

The city manager's office wasn't too keen to release this information. In fact when it was requested to be included, Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis built a straw man argument, meaning that he misstated the request and attacked it, telling the commissioners (who he apparently mistook for his employees) that they wanted something else, something much more innocuous and much more watered down. But several including John Brandriff and Jack Brewer said they wanted exactly what had been requested which quieted DeSantis down for several minutes.

Riverside might be too broke to redo its library but it's got enough money sue the city of Los Angeles and its ports because of their contribution to the increased rail traffic in Riverside.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Riverside's suit says the Los Angeles Harbor Commission, which approved the China Shipping container terminal expansion in December, failed to analyze the impacts those additional trains will have on Riverside, including blocking emergency vehicles and causing pollution when vehicles idle at train crossings while the trains pass through the city.

More on the smack down between the two cities here.

Press Enterprise Columnist Dan Bernstein continues with his coverage of the Chinatown situation.


Doug Jacobs, the Riverside developer who wants to build that med building, was so determined to excavate an old Chinatown site before last Tuesday's scheduled court hearing that his crews got cited not once but twice for violating the muni code over the long Presidents' Weekend. Riverside police ticketed the crew on Sunday (making too much noise on a Sunday) and again on Monday (making too much noise on a federal holiday).

Jacobs, evidently unfazed by the long arm of the law, said the archaeologist-observed digout unearthed a few shards of broken pottery. "If they got a restraining order," he explained this week, "then I couldn't prove there was nothing there."

But Riversider Kevin Akin, who joined protesters at the site, wrote, "It was shocking to watch the 'archaeologists' at work. They stood about, often looking in other directions when material was dug. . . . The work was done at high speed, all with heavy equipment."

It's back to court Tuesday as opponents attempt to send the med project into a permanent coma.

San Bernardino's finances are still touch and go despite its recent budget cuts.

(excerpt, San Bernardino Sun)

"The city is practically in the same situation that every family in America is now," 5th Ward Councilman Chas Kelley said Wednesday. "We're apprehensive. We don't know what's going to happen. We don't know if the stimulus program is going to work."

Kelley and three of his council colleagues - Dennis Baxter, Tobin Brinker and Rikke Van Johnson - voted Tuesday night to approve a package of budget cuts that includes 55 layoffs and a number of other difficult choices.

Recreational facilities are set to be shuttered. Branch libraries only survive thanks to a bureaucratic life-

support program that relies on volunteers. General employees and firefighters also have agreed to take 10 percent pay cuts.

Although police officers' and firefighters' jobs have been taken off the chopping block, the budget cuts won't be so kind to other city employees.

Parks maintenance would be hit hardest by layoffs. Interim City Manager Mark Weinberg's budget-cutting plan calls for 16 layoffs of the green-clad maintenance crews in Parks, Recreation and Community Services. Their duties are set to be handled by contractors.

Still, work continues onward.

In a city where even the police union has agreed to furloughs, the Redlands city manager said that if he's offered a pay raise, he just might take it.

(excerpt, San Bernardino Sun)

The City Council is in the process of conducting Martinez's yearly performance review. The council sets up a committee to give Martinez his review. The committee meets - first without Martinez present - to evaluate his performance. Later, the committee may choose to bring Martinez in discuss his performance with the committee.

"I haven't talked to them yet," Martinez said.

When the review is complete, the council could offer the city manager a pay raise.

"If they offered me a raise, I'd have to consider it," Martinez said Tuesday.

On Feb. 10 the City Council received a report detailing deep cuts made to city departments to help make up for $5.5 million in lost revenue by the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

Further budget cuts are ongoing.

Martinez said he would at least consider a pay raise for himself because of his track record. Despite the city's budget shortfall, Martinez said he has gone above and beyond the requirements of his job.

He's probably not the most popular employee in the city right now.

Good God! If Maywood Police Department's mess isn't bad enough because it hired officers who were fired by other agencies or who had committed crimes, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department decides to do the same thing! As shown in a probe done by its Office of Independent Review directed by former United States Attorney Michael Gennaco who while working for the feds was assigned on a pattern and practice investigation involving the Riverside Police Department.

He came to Riverside in the summer of 2006 to provide training on investigations which was sponsored by the Community Police Review Commission and attended by commissioners, Internal Affairs division personnel and community members.

But Gennaco's been pretty busy on his home turf as well.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

Among those hired were applicants with criminal records, drug and alcohol problems and financial woes. One recruit, for example, had been fired for excessive force from another police agency. Another was hired despite being a suspected car thief and resigned months later after being arrested on assault charges. A third candidate was a heavy marijuana and steroid abuser who had been arrested and convicted of underage drinking shortly before he applied to become an LASD deputy.

The report, written by the county’s Office of Independent Review, criticized the LASD for its 2006 decision to abandon a strict hiring policy, in which aspiring sheriff’s deputies were automatically disqualified if they failed to pass an exacting background check or any other part of the application process. In its place, the report found, the department adopted a more “holistic” approach that allowed applicants to be hired if officials determined they had reformed themselves or that past mistakes were insignificant.

Sheriff Lee Baca had not yet responded to this report when the blog reported it. But in this article he did say that there was no excuse for hiring bad candidates. After they had been hired of course.

Is Baca as clueless about this as he sounds? If so, then why isn't anyone asking questions about him?

Some of those candidates included the following.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

One man was hired even after he lied in an interview, telling investigators that he had never been arrested or had any encounters with law enforcement agencies. In fact, investigators discovered that he had repeatedly been stopped by police for driving with a suspended license and that a judge issued a warrant for his arrest after he failed to appear in court. The background check also found that the recruit had disappeared from his base for three months while serving in the military and had been a suspect in a police investigation after he borrowed a friend's car and then refused to return it.

The man's time in the department was short-lived. He resigned during his first year on the job after being arrested on assault charges, the report found.

Another applicant came looking for a job several years after he was fired from another California police agency, where he had been investigated several times for excessive force and other misconduct. In one instance, he drove his knee into the back of a 60-year-old woman and twisted her arm. He also was found to have been arrested for driving while under the influence. Several other police departments had refused to hire the man, but the Sheriff's Department offered him a job. During his first year working in the county jail, several inmates and others complained that he was prone to "blow up at others" and "fly off the handle." He was eventually dismissed after throwing a shoe at an inmate.

A female candidate was admitted to the sheriff's academy despite nearly failing high school and dropping out of a community college before earning a degree. A subsequent investigation unearthed a web of gang affiliations and led to accusations that she was using her position in the department to access databases and provide information to gang members. She was allowed to withdraw from the academy.

Details of another investigation into the illegal use of a quota system this time by ICE agents in Maryland. These allegations arose several years before the more recent ones reported by agents assigned to a Border Patrol Station in Riverside.

(excerpt, Washington Post)

The Jan. 23, 2007, incident, described in ICE documents and shown in
security camera footage obtained by The Washington Post, offers a
glimpse into how Washington's directives on arrest targets might
have spurred officers in the field to stray from their mission and
stage a random sweep for illegal immigrants, possibly in violation
of ICE's stated practice.

Even as ICE's National Fugitive Operations Program has garnered more
than $625 million from Congress since its launch in 2003, critics
have long suspected that Washington's practice of setting goals for
apprehensions has led teams to bring in tens of thousands of
immigrants who have not evaded a deportation order or committed a
crime -- as opposed to being in the country unlawfully, which is a
civil violation.

Recently, researchers from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in
New York and the Migration Policy Institute in Washington released a
report revealing a dramatic leap in arrests of immigrants who were
neither fugitives nor criminals in 2006 and 2007 after officers were
permitted to count non-fugitives toward their goal if such detainees
were encountered in the course of an operation.

When a reporter contacted ICE for this article, spokeswoman Kelly A.
Nantel disclosed that as of Feb. 4, ICE leadership had altered the
annual goal of 1,000 arrests for each team. Instead, each team must
now identify and target -- though not necessarily arrest -- 50
fugitives each month, as well as 500 a year as part of operations
with other teams.

Nantel cited new statistics showing that in the 2008 fiscal year,
the share of non-fugitive arrests by the teams dropped -- from 40
percent to 24 percent of arrests nationwide and to 6 percent of
those made by the Baltimore team. Meanwhile, the new secretary of
homeland security, Janet Napolitano, has requested a review of
fugitive operations.

"He will never hurt me."

These words were said by the fiancee of former Bolingbrook Police Department Sgt. Drew Peterson. One wonders if his current wife and any of his ex-wives said the same thing.

(excerpt, MSNBC)

Robach asked Raines what she would tell people if Peterson is eventually found guilty of one or two murders. “That I’m running the other way,” she replied, then laughed and added, “I’m just joking. I just don’t believe them. I don’t believe them. I don’t believe he’ll hurt anyone. He’s nice.”

In talking to TODAY’s Robach, Drew Peterson indicated that despite, or maybe even because of, his notoriety, he’s quite a catch — and that he’s had a full and active dating life since Stacy’s disappearance.

“Just being out there, it’s funny — women for some silly reason are attracted to me,” he told Robach. “I can’t explain it and I can’t understand it.”

Robach asked him if women are attracted to him because he’s regarded as a dangerous type.

“I don’t know,” Peterson replied. “See, once people start knowing me and my personality kicks in, I think people are attracted to my personality. So I think Chrissy is attracted to my personality. It is certainly not my good looks.”

During their joint interview on TODAY, Peterson and Raines didn’t seem to be on the same page when it comes to their future. Peterson told Robach he isn’t sure when the couple could marry — he still must divorce Stacy Peterson, whom he says he believes is still alive.

Riverside County's premiere fair and festival: This weekend in Indio, the city that doesn't kill its festivals.

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