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

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Extra! Extra! CPRC Policy, Procedures and Bylaws Committee allowed by City Hall to meet!

The Community Police Review Commission met in Riverside to attend a taser training session directed by Riverside Police Department Det. Robert Tipre who has had over eight years of experience with taser training.

Commissioners asked questions about the presentation after Tipre had finished it but most of them sat quietly. The training had been requested by the commission because there had been enough turnover among its members since the last time the commission was briefed on tasers to necessitate another round of training for newer members. The commission is also currently drafting its public report on the fatal officer-involved shooting of Joseph Darnell Hill and will eventually be reviewing (but not likely ever investigating) the Oct. 31, 2008 incustody death of Marlon Acevedo hopefully by 2010. During that incident, Acevedo was tased by a police officer after being hit by a baton and before being placed in a hobble, according to the police briefing that it gave before the CPRC last year. He went into distress and soon died.

Hill was alleged to have grabbed a taser from an officer before he was shot according to the two officers at the scene including the one who shot him.

Commissioner Chani Beeman asked that a progress report be issued on whether or not the police department implemented any of the recommendations coming out of the commission's investigation and review into the 2006 fatal shooting of Lee Deante Brown in relation to tasers. In its public report issued on that shooting, the commissioners had recommended that tasers be painted yellow to distinguish them from firearms and that the department look into the issue of "take away" training for tasers as it had created and used for firearms.

One commissioner asked if either Asst. Police Chief John DeLaRosa or Lt. Mike Perea who were in attendance could provide an update on the status of those recommendations but Chair Brian Pearcy appeared reluctant to ask them to do so because it might appear that the commission was using the department's representatives for that purpose. Not surprising considering the sharp contrast between how the majority of the commissioners treat the police representatives compared to members of the public.

Which is interesting because when Chief Leach set up the liaison program to send a department representative, it was in part for the exchange of information. It was to facilitate in the ongoing effort by the commission to bring concerns and questions the CPRC had about the police department including its policies and procedures to the department and back again. Yet sometimes the commission seems reluctant to utilize a valuable resource that has been made available to them.

It can't be because they feel uncomfortable around the police officers who attend the meetings. In fact nearly all the commissioners seemed more comfortable around the police representatives than the community members who attend meetings, even the newest one, Robert Slawsby who attended his first meeting this week. But the police representatives didn't exactly appear thrilled at Beeman's request for an update from their corner so it remains to be seen what kind of response will be issued if any is provided at all.

It makes one wonder if they don't respond to these requests because they have to get permission from the police chief, because they don't know the answers or because they're not sure when and when not to respond to commissioners' inquiries. Because they do appear experienced and intelligent enough to know the answers.

The Policies, Procedures and Bylaws Committee finally met and get this, was able to actually place items for discussion on its agenda without any of them being vetoed by the city attorney or city manager. Of course, Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis who's been a fixture at these meetings of late was a no show and Priamos left in the middle of it, but had brought one of his deputy city attorneys to the meeting with him.

Chair John Brandriff presided over a discussion on the commission's officer ride-along policy, mercifully without too much resurrection of the two-year contentious discussion over whether or not commissioners had to sign the waiver when they went on ride-alongs. Some said that the current policy as stands is adequate enough, probably to avoid taking that particular trip down memory lane.

The commission also examined a request for the police department to provide information on any policies and procedures it had in place for how it interacts with undocumented immigrants in the city including checking their immigration status when they are detained. This was in the wake of arrests and detentions done separately by both the U.S. Border Patrol and the police department within hours of each other in the same location on Jan. 29. These operations took place at a location where day laborers congregate in the Casa Blanca neighborhood in Riverside and according to both agencies, neither checked in with the other. Activists who were looking into the incidents had a difficult time believing either entity.

Different cities and their police agencies have adopted different practices including the LAPD which has adopted Special Order 40 or Chapter 17 of the Garden Grove Police Department, the latter which includes the following text.


Members of the Garden Grove Police Department shall not independently conduct
sweeps or other concentrated efforts to detain suspected undocumented aliens.

When enforcement efforts are increased in a particular area, equal consideration
should be given to all suspected violations and not just those affecting a particular
race, ethnicity, age, gender, socioeconomic status, or other group.

While discretionary, the disposition of each contact should not be affected by such factors as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.

If the ICE or any other federal agency makes a specific request for assistance,
members of the Garden Grove Police Department will provide available support
during the federal operation. Members of the Department should not participate in
such federal operations as part of any detention team unless it is in response to an
immediate, yet temporary request for assistance or for officer safety. Any
detention by a member of this Department should be based upon the reasonable
belief that an individual is involved in criminal activity, other than those related to
citizenship status.

Whenever any individual is reasonably suspected of a criminal violation (infraction,
misdemeanor, or felony), the investigating officer should take the necessary steps
to identify the person. This may include valid government issued identification or
other reliable sources.

If an officer believes that an individual taken into custody for a felony is an
undocumented alien, the arrestee should be booked into Orange County Jail without
consideration for immigration status.

If an officer believes that an individual taken into custody for a misdemeanor is an
undocumented alien, and that person would have otherwise been released on a
written promise to appear, the person should be given a reasonable opportunity to
verify their true identity (e.g., telephone calls, etc.). If the person’s identity is
thereafter reasonably established, the original citation release should be completed
without consideration of immigration status.

There's the more stringent (at least back in 1994) Department Order No. 340 which is utilized by the Santa Ana Police Department.

Beeman said that this issue had arisen when she was on the Human Relations Commission and that Chief Russ Leach had expressed concern that the department not jeopardize its relationships with the communities of undocumented immigrants in Riverside when it came to reporting crimes.

"He got that," Beeman said.

She hoped for some clarification from the police department in this area including whether or not the department had changed its policies and practices in how it interfaces with undocumented immigrants since Leach made his comments on several occasions to the HRC. The department had stated through one of its representatives that the department had met with the U.S. Border Patrol's Riverside office last November but that immigration enforcement wasn't one of the topics allegedly discussed. It makes you wonder if the two agencies sat around and discussed the weather.

Brandriff said he wasn't sure if the examination of this policy was under the purview of the policies, procedures and bylaws committee because the committee didn't deal with immigration issues but the issue raised had to do with policies and procedures in the police department. He wanted to refer it to City Attorney Gregory Priamos to see if it would fall under the purview of the commission to discuss. Don't be surprised if the answer from Priamos' office is, no it's not.

Chair Brian Pearcy said that since it addressed the department's policies and procedures of the police department, in his opinion it was within the purview of the committee to discuss. Commissioner Ken Rotker tried to challenge that by saying he wanted to hear from the city attorney's office about it and Brandriff said he had planned to send it to Priamos.

Commissioner Jim Ward said that there were two police representatives in the room and why couldn't they just answer the question about the policies and practices but it was silent from that corner of the conference room.

Ward also recommended that the much ballyhooed policy and procedure Section VIII be placed on the agenda of the next committee meeting and that the work of the currently defunct (after the commission created the committee and then effectively neutered it not long after) ad hoc committee meeting. No smelling salts were needed to revive anyone this time around. Beeman did say she believed it was the intent of the commissioners in 2002 to create a written protocol for investigating officer-involved deaths because two separate subcommittees had been created to address investigations and officer-involved deaths but that the process was interrupted by the ouster of the first executive director, Don Williams and the installment of a part-time replacement. Not to mention other similar problems with the commission.

"It's the product of an interrupted process," Beeman said, "Similar to what we're experiencing now."

It remains to be seen whether anything like this will pass muster of the dynamic duo of micro managers, City Manager Brad Hudson and Priamos.

The motto of the commission at this point consists of four words: Not in our/your purview. The catch phrase of 2009. Put that in bronze.

The language of the recommendation action passed by the Governmental Affairs Committee has already changed with the passage of only one week. Now it appears to be a watering down to city employees meeting with several community members to "clarify" terminology for the apparently uninformed public.

How many different terms are there for one, micromanagement, and what "clarification" is needed to define that in terms anyone can understand? Maybe that's what the community needs to educate City Hall about. The public apparently was hoodwinked on this process by the Governmental Affairs Committee if it's just about telling the city residents how wrong they are about seeing the naked emperor in the room.

Three Riverside Police Department officers have been promoted to sergeant in relatively quick succession. Dan Warren, Chad Milby and Julian Hutzler, all previously detectives, have been promoted to this rank in the past six months or so. All three of those promoted lateraled over from Oceanside Police Department several years ago and all are viewed as excellent candidates for promotion though some brows (and some humor) apparently have been raised over the prominance of Oceanside alumni in the mix. Still, it's an interesting story about how the Oceanside Police Department laterals came to Riverside, one written about by North County Times several years ago when most of them first arrived.

There are still unfilled positions including at the supervisory level despite the recent spate of promotions. It's interesting how considering that Oceanside wasn't the only city to contribute groups of officers to the department's labor pool, that it's still the laterals from this department who are associated with their old haunt and some joke about that. But they brought backgrounds including working at the rank of detective for some of them when they came to Riverside and that helped them advance up into the ranks of sergeants and push the home grown candidates to push themselves to meet that challenge .

It's interesting how quietly these sergeant promotions were given out. Perhaps that's due to the layoff of former Public Information Officer Steve Frasher in December but with all the concern that's been raised about officer/supervisor ratio levels in the wake of budget cuts and personnel freezes in the sworn and civilian divisions, it might be helpful to keep the public informed on these issues. It also recognizes the accomplishments of those who are promoted. But the "sergeants of stealth" seems to be what is being done instead in terms of public relations.

More controversy arises from the Riverside County District Attorney's office after veteran deputy prosecutor Eileen Hunt alleges that her boss, Rod Pacheco retaliated against her because she didn't support his campaign for office. This is the latest development in a prosecutor's office which had lost nearly 20% of its prosecutors and saw its felony trial conviction record drop dramatically in two years.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

In a claim filed with the county last week, Chief Deputy District Attorney Eileen M. Hunt contends she has been transferred three times in 20 months despite her seniority and written up in October 2008 for not observing regular work hours.

Hunt, 53, says the retaliation is a result of choosing not to endorse Pacheco when he announced his decision to run for district attorney.

She is seeking $1 million in damages, according to the claim, a precursor to a lawsuit.

More coverage on the hearing of the appeal on the future of Chinatown at the Riverside City Council meeting. The litigation process continues onward for those wanting to save Chinatown and its artifacts for future excavation when better technology becomes available.

If you're following the situation with the Metrolink expansion to Perris, this site can inform you more about the proposed station in nearby Highgrove.

Residents near UC Riverside showed up in force.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

"You're asking our kids and our neighborhood to get used to 14 new trains each day," said Jill Johnson-Young. "...This will make us more miserable than we are."

Commission officials agreed to hold another hearing after normal working hours so residents unable to come to the commission's regularly-scheduled 9:30 a.m. meeting can discuss the proposal.

The comment period for the project was also extended from Feb. 20 until the nighttime meeting, which has not been scheduled.

"Our goal is to get this meeting scheduled and made available to residents as soon as possible," said Anne Mayer, the commission's executive director.

The transportation commission has planned since 2004 to extend Metrolink service to downtown Perris via a 24-mile line owned by the commission, running from downtown Riverside north to Spruce Street, then through the neighborhoods by the university and near Box Springs Reserve before paralleling I-215 to Perris. The $168 million project is funded partially by the county's Measure A sales tax and federal funds.

An environmental report, called an initial study/mitigated negative declaration, outlines noise, air and other environmental concerns that the commission must address for the project.

Critics, notably those around UC Riverside, asked Wednesday for better solutions to sound and aesthetic issues, and additional study.

"(The commission) needs to mitigate the impacts of this project on our neighborhood," said Kevin Dawson, a longtime critic of the train route.

Riverside might be losing a fire chief but it's gaining a fire truck.

What does the future hold in politics for Lake Elsinore's mayor? Higher office?

Press Enterprise Columnist Cassie MacDuff asks, is the Inland Empire the epicenter of the recession?


The foreclosure crisis hit here first and hardest.

The unemployment rate is higher than the state's, which is higher than the nation's.

Car dealerships started going out of business here last year even before the big national slump in auto sales last fall.

Inland banks and credit unions are struggling.

And now city, county and state workers are being forced to take time off without pay, if they're not losing their jobs altogether.

That's a lot of bad economic news. Here's the breakdown:

According to RealtyTrac, which maintains a database of foreclosures, the San Bernardino-Riverside area led the nation in foreclosure filings in November 2008. Foreclosures were up 71 percent over November 2007.

The area enjoyed a real estate boom for years, driven by affordable home prices. But when the mortgage crisis hit, many buyers couldn't afford their payments and went into default.

Among California counties, only three Central Valley counties surpassed Riverside and San Bernardino counties in foreclosure filings last year -- areas that, like the Inland Empire, had grown fast.

San Bernardino County will join Riverside County and several others in California at suing the state for withholding revenues.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

On Thursday, representatives of seven Southern California counties, including Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside, will meet in Sacramento to oppose the deferred payments and other state budget plans.

State Controller John Chiang imposed a 30-day delay on selected payments -- including money earmarked for counties -- effective Feb. 1.

The state is deferring about$3.5 billion in payments for tax refunds, student financial aid, counties and other recipients.

With the Legislature struggling to develop a budget in the face of a $42 billion deficit, Chiang said the state must ensure it has enough money to pay schools, creditors and other core operational costs.

The state has a rolling payment schedule and is due to pay counties about$122 million for Medi-Cal administration on Friday.

Ruth Stringer, county counsel for San Bernardino County, said Chiang does not have the right to withhold money that already has been appropriated.

"It's unprecedented," Stringer said. "But the economic crisis is unprecedented. We've had legal and financial tug-of-wars with the state before but never anything of this magnitude."

More coverage of the controversy erupting in the Orange County Sheriff's Department over Sheriff Sandra Hutchins limits on issuing concealed weapons permits.

The police chief in Eugene withheld information from the police auditor there about an officer to protect an informant.

(excerpt, Eugene Register-Guard)

Gardner still won’t disclose the name and the whereabouts of the criminal whom the informant allegedly feared.

That’s because he said he can’t be sure that the informant — whose identity police promised to keep secret — isn’t still a potential target.

“I don’t know the answer to” the question of whether the informant still faces some danger, Gardner said. “If I’m not confident that there is no danger, I have to assume it still exists.”

He added that some criminals “can exercise influence from prison.”

The chief said that he did it to protect the informant from physical danger in a case involving a detective accused of inappropriate conduct with the informant. However, in a city where the auditor's office has historically had conflicts with the police department, many people felt that the auditor's office was being left in the dark for other reasons.

Prince George Police Department has been released from its federal consent decree.

(excerpt, Washington Post)

It took county police five years -- not the planned three -- to meet the requirements, but County Executive Jack B. Johnson yesterday praised the accomplishment nonetheless.

"We have rebuilt a police department that was once and now is considered a model for law enforcement," Johnson said at a news conference. "I want everyone to know that our commitment to improvement that we have made while under DOJ oversight will not wane simply because the department is no longer watching."

Johnson announced the development shortly before the County Council unanimously confirmed Roberto L. Hylton as the county's police chief. Hylton vowed to continue the reforms, keeping intact the compliance office that the department opened to fulfill the agreement. He said he would also add personnel to his office to review complaints and allegations of misconduct.

The decision by Justice means that all department-wide investigations into Prince George's police have ended. A separate Justice consent decree covered the department's canine unit, which was responsible for 800 biting incidents in a seven-year period ending in the mid-1990s. That oversight was lifted in 2007.

An arrest of a homeless man caught on video tape is being investigated by Fresno's police department.

(excerpt, CNN)

Authorities in Fresno, California, became aware of the recording Tuesday and launched the internal investigation after seeing the video, he said.

KSEE identified the man attacked in the video as 52-year-old Glen Beaty and reported he is homeless. Police Chief Jerry Dyer told KSEE that Beaty had previous violent confrontations with authorities, and that his record includes resisting arrest and injuring a sheriff's deputy.

However, "I think the initial reaction of people that view this video will be one of disbelief," the chief said, according to KSEE. "It will be one that in some cases may shock individuals, one that causes concern in terms of the level of force being used."

The video shows officers punching Beaty several times as he lay on the ground.

Beaty was ultimately arrested on a felony warrant Monday, the chief said.

Cardinale said the officers involved in the arrest have been placed on limited duty pending the outcome of the internal investigation. The officers were not identified.

KSEE said it received the video from an amateur photographer, whom it did not identify, but quoted as saying, "I don't think anybody should be beat like that. They don't beat dogs and let you get away with it."

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