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

Monday, February 23, 2009

Chinatown & CPRC: Back on the serving platter this week


Judge Sharon Waters grants Temporary Restraining Order to Save Chinatown halting all work by developer, Doug Jacobs at the site.

Riverside's Community Police Review Commission has finally brought its long-missing annual report back from the dusty storage bin into its orbit by placing an item on the agenda for its meeting on Feb. 25 that discusses its upcoming report. It's been ages since the release of a public report and the last one contained data that is now three years old. The Riverside City Charter Section 810 states that the commission is to provide a report of its activities to the mayor and city council annually, something which hasn't been adhered to during the past several years. With all the fervor about whether or not there were Charter violations involving the change in investigative protocol by City Hall, this worrisome potential violation slipped between the cracks.

But in a sense it's valuable to have both the information from 2007 and 2008 including a variety of statistics on complaint lodging and review to compare and contrast them with one another and to compare and contrast both of them with similar figures in 2006.

Sustained allegations:


Category 1: 0%
Category2: 10.6%

Total: 8.6% + 2 Misconduct noted


Category 1: 0%
Category2: 2.72%

Total: 2.2% +1 misconduct noted.

Compare that with 8.8% sustain rate in 2006 and 17% in 2005, figures calculated from data cited for those years. How do they fare against national statistics? The sustain rate for police agencies that are medium to large in this country on use of force complaints is usually 7-8%. Here are some interesting statistics involving several different law enforcement agencies for comparison including receipt of use of force complaints. Sustain rates for the Riverside Police Department by the CPRC for all Category I complaints including use of force complaints has been 0% for at least two years.

What's just as interesting is the relationship between the police department and the city manager's office (which is the final arbiter of complaint findings) in that according to the 2006 annual report, their statistics particularly in terms of sustained findings on complaint allegations were nearly identical in comparison with either and the CPRC. However, in 2006 and especially 2007, the gap in comparative statistics between the CPRC and the police department especially on sustained allegations had narrowed considerably.

Draft of 2008 annual report for all those who want to read it. It's being discussed at the CPRC meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 25 at 5:30 p.m.

The agenda for the CPRC meeting gets more interesting when the regular meeting adjourns and that of the Policies, Procedures and Bylaws Committee opens. The rebirth of this former standing committee has already placed it in the unenviable position of being the most micromanaged subcommittee for the CPRC, what with Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis waiting until 9:45 p.m. at one recent meeting to commander the subcommittee away from its chair, John Brandriff. If you really needed any clue to who was really running the CPRC, that brief interlude in its affairs provided a real education.

On the agenda for the subcommittee meeting is this item to play around a bit with the recently controversial P&P VIII in which section B has been used to justify the Brad Hudson directive-turned-protocol even when it's clear that it only applies to citizen complaints and not Officer-Involved Death investigations. But so far they're leaving section "B" alone. If they weren't, it's a good bet that the dynamic duo of Hudson and City Attorney Gregory Priamos wouldn't even allow it to be placed on the agenda.

Anybody who tries to claim otherwise in that Section VIII pertains to officer-involved death cases is perpetuating quite the con job on some easily duped city officials who know next to nothing about the panel even as one or two of them might be directing city employees to micromanage it. Because for one thing, the role and timing of the involvement of the Internal Affairs Division (as mentioned in provisions A &B) is different for death investigations when compared to complaint investigations because of the involvement in the former cases of parallel investigations within the police department including one whose work product becomes part of the public record after a period of time. And the internal affairs division provides its confidential work product to the CPRC commissioners before they even begin the review process. For the officer-involved death cases, there's an extensive review, investigation and review process that precedes any involvement by the Internal Affairs Division or any of its work product.

For another, the language in "B" (and probably most of the P&P) was clearly cribbed from Long Beach's model of civilian oversight which doesn't handle any type of investigations and/or reviews that aren't complaint driven.

For one thing, some unintentional humor was created when section E (3) when it states that the executive director is an agent of the commission. Maybe when the position was called that, this was true. But ever since it became a "manager" position, the manager of the CPRC has been an agent of the employer who signs his or her paycheck, not the commission as recent meeting dynamics have shown. Are you going to be an agent of the commission that can only ask you to do things or the ones to who you are "at will" to? That's not a difficult question to answer but it's been a contentious issue of CPRC dynamics for the past three years including the time when the previous manager "resigned".

Speaking of the CPRC, the people have been scratching their heads in the wake of the instructions from the Governmental Affairs Committee meeting earlier this month to establish some sort of meeting or process between a batch of city employees (all representatives of the cast of characters involved with the CPRC) and members of the community. But there's been silence from the Governmental Affairs Committee to the public since this motion whatever it really entailed was passed though it's been rewritten since. A sign of exactly what kind of leadership to expect from the city council which appears reluctant to make any public stance on this issue, especially during an election year.

It's likely that the Governmental Affairs Committee will let that motion die in committee, knowing that as long as it stays there, the status quo of the Hudson protocol is in effect and in actuality, doesn't require the vote of the city council. And it's doubtful that any of the council members in the even-numbered wards want to raise this to the point of becoming a campaign issue considering that none of those up for reelection have stellar records involving the CPRC.

Mayor Ron Loveridge never graduated to viewing it anything more than the "symbolic gesture" he once called it. Andrew Melendrez isn't sure what about it he does support. Frank Schiavone and Nancy Hart signed on to an op-ed piece supporting the Hudson directive-turned-protocol even though it didn't take Hart that long to back peddle from a written statement it's doubtful she even read carefully considering some of the questions she asked and the statements she made later on.

An article written to stop defiling Riverside's Chinatown site appeared in the Press Enterprise by an anthropologist at UC Riverside. It's in response to all the bulldozer activity that took place on the site over the holiday weekend including on the two days that Developer Doug Jacobs' employees were cited by the Riverside Police Department for violating a municipal ordinance against noise disturbance. One city council member, Mike Gardner, said it was a "conscious violation" but there's been silence on the dais about it including from elected officials whose campaigns were financed by Jacobs.


The "archaeological excavation" sponsored by Jacobs over that weekend was said to have uncovered only some broken pottery from a small area that would later be dug up further by hand to see if there was any more.

Other than that, Jacobs is quoted as saying, "we're done" with the excavation.

Is it possible that Jacobs is trying to wipe his hands of any obligation to pay the full cost of properly excavating the site, analyzing the artifacts and then properly storing the recovered materials for future reference and interpretation, which would likely cost up to $2 million?

Fortunately, there is a possibility that much of the site still remains intact below the level that was torn out by the mechanical earth movers. Action must be taken now to put a stop to the wanton destruction of our city's cultural heritage.

More information on Chinatown Day events at the bottom of this posting.

They might be telling Riverside County departments that they have to do with out but several Riverside County supervisors making sure they have their county perks including customized cars.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Tavaglione and Ashley said their new SUVs cost more in part because they are environmentally friendly hybrids.

Both said many of the extras on their new vehicles came as part of options packages, so they were not aware of and did not request all of them. Other features, such as four-wheel drive and seating for as many as eight passengers, are necessary for their jobs, they said.

"My car is my office. I live in this car," Ashley said, adding that he shuttles among meetings, three district offices and constituents from Lake Elsinore to Cabazon.

"If my district wasn't what it is, I would probably be a driving a different car, a smaller car," he said.

Supervisor Roy Wilson, who has the largest and most remote district, said he is content with his 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid, which seats five, has two-wheel drive and costs less than $35,000.

"To be using public funds to get a big impressive status-symbol car, I think that is the wrong message to send out at this time," said Supervisor Bob Buster, whose county car is a 2002 Chevrolet Impala. "We need to be saving that money in these hard times."

Amen, Mr. Buster. But all this fervor for expensive cars on the taxpayer dime goes on while the south-western area of the county finished among the top in the nation for foreclosed homes. Murrieta was at the top of the list but other county cities were on its heels.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Temecula was third and Perris fifth among Forbes' top 10 "American Post-Subprime Boomtowns" where a surge in foreclosures was followed by another surge in foreclosure sales, often at deep discounts from the homes' pre-foreclosure price.

Using data from Irvine-based firm RealtyTrac, Forbes examined every U.S. town with a population under 100,000. Temecula and Murrieta each hit the 100,000 mark last year.

In 2008, Murrieta had 814 foreclosure sales, according to the article published in December. The average sales price was $275,053. The year before, the average property price was $410,686.

In Temecula, 575 foreclosed properties sold in 2008, with an average sales price of $324,572 and an average property price the year before of $435,092.

Perris had 513 foreclosure sales last year. The average sales price was $184,064 and the average property value the year before was $319,745.

A city councilwoman in San Bernardino is trying to ask the employees there how to save money. This is in the wake of furloughs and threatened budget cuts to the city's departments including its public safety division.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

San Bernardino City Councilwoman Wendy McCammack, who cast the lone dissenting vote last week on an emergency deficit-cutting plan, has e-mailed all city employees requesting moneymaking and cost-saving alternatives.

McCammack said she has received some 60 responses to the appeal sent Friday.

"I'm asking the employees who have made suggestions to help me translate them into dollars and cents," McCammack said.

"When I've done that, I'll present it to the mayor and council, and they can choose to explore it or they can choose to do nothing."

An amazing story about a young woman and the deputy who rescued her when she was a toddler.

Will they revamp the civilian review board in Schenectady? Some say that answer is yes.

(excerpt, Times Union)

To that end, board Chairman A.C. "Budd" Mazurek this week presented a long list of suggestions to the City Council, aimed at streamlining the sometimes-tedious process, designed to ensure police are not abusing their authority.

High on the list is setting deadlines so cases don't drag on for upward of two years, which is not uncommon, Mazurek said. The last straw for the board, he said, came in December when the retired police officer who assisted them resigned in protest, in part because the city wasn't allowing him to do his job.

And Mazurek lamented that about 65 percent of the cases before the board are ultimately found to be inconclusive, often because police are not forthcoming with key evidence such as in car videos. There are two open seats Mayor Brian U. Stratton must fill to round out what is now a nine-member panel. Police Chief Mark Chaires conceded Friday the current system could use some fine tuning and believes the panel's suggestions, especially on setting time lines, is a good one.

Despite the problems, Chaires said his department's beefed up Office of Professional Standards has made steady progress.

"As internal investigations have gone up, the number of citizens complaints have gone down," he said, adding there were about two dozen citizen complaints last year. "We understand that efficiency, transparency and public confidence are all important."

Upcoming events:

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Day of Chinatown Support Activities

In the courtroom: 8:30 a.m.

Judge Waters will be hearing the request for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) in Department 10, at 8:30, in the Old Downtown Riverside Courthouse. A restraining order is supposed to stop any activity on the archaeological site until essential legal issues are resolved. Community members who want to show their support for the request to stop construction activities may attend the hearing. Courtroom behavior and appropriate dress are required. Participants will probably not be permitted to speak, but support is noticed by the court. The Courthouse occupies the block surrounded by Orange and Lemon Streets and 10th and 11th Streets – security check at the door.

In front of Riverside City Hall: 5:45-6:30 p.m.

A demonstration will begin as City employees and officials leave the building. Bring signs and other visual aides to express your feelings about the destruction of the Chinatown site and the failure of the elected city officials to protect our cultural heritage. Bring as many people as you can, tell the city bureaucracy that they have failed us, and that they need to take responsibility for restoring what can still be saved – including the reputation of our city in the international arena. In front of City Hall on Main St. near 10th Street.

At the City Council Meeting: beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Members of the public can make a 3 minute statement to the council. Anyone who has something to say about the destruction of Chinatown is encouraged to do so. Sign up for the speakers list by filling out a card near the entrance to the building. People who wish to bear silent witness at the meeting are also encouraged to attend. City Council Chambers are near the intersection of 10th and Main Streets.

For more information contact: Jean Wong, (951) 328-1239; Dr. Margie and Kevin Akin, (951) 787-0318; Deborah Wong, (951) 333-8121.

The long-delayed Chief's Community-Police Partnership Summit that had been scheduled to take place somewhere in the Neighboring Policing Center East is scheduled for Wednesday, March 4. 2009 between 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.

It will be held in the far distant corner of the Eastern NPC in Orangecrest at the Orange Terrance Community Center 20010 Orange Terrace Parkway. So if you live out in that section of the city's largest NPC (by area), then it's yours to attend. The summits are being scheduled by the police department as part of the public participation component of its five-year Strategic Plan that was created and implemented during the stipulated judgment between the city and the State Attorney General's office in 2001. If you have any questions even those that are difficult to answer, bring them.

The moderator of the event will be the NPC Commander Lt. Larry Gonzalez.

Human Resources Board Meeting on Monday, March 2 at 4:30 p.m. in the fifth floor conference room at City Hall. Agenda: TBA

Governmental Affairs Committee meeting: Wednesday, March 4 at 3 p.m. on the seventh floor of City Hall. Agenda: TBA

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