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

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Quotas and Questions: The RPD and Riverside's Border Patrol

More allegations coming out of the Riverside office of the U.S. Border Patrol Agency in the wake of complaints last week that it's relying on a quota system for arresting and detaining undocumented immigrants in the Inland Empire. An investigation was launched into this situation to see if any federal policies, procedures or rules were violated by employees at this station.

Agents assigned to the local office said that the push for quotas actually began in 2007 and that they were called "slugs" if they didn't meet the quotas and punished with shift changes including being reassigned every 15 days including the placement on midnight shifts. Previously, allegations were raised that the supervisors of agents in Riverside had established quotas in January and if these agents didn't meet them, they faced discipline.

Those quotas imposed last month required that agents arrest at least 150 undocumented immigrants and create cases that could be prosecuted against at least two by Jan. 31. Some earlier alleged quotas involved a minimum of 100 arrests, according to complaints filed by these current and former agents.

However, by the time Border Patrol agents had raided a day laborer spot in Casa Blanca in Riverside on Jan. 29, there had been less than 130 arrests by agents in the Riverside office for the month about 20 below the alleged quota or what supervisors called, the "goals". Agents from Riverside also did raids at the San Bernardino Greyhound Bus Terminal and a location in Moreno Valley late last month. Between the three raids, a total of 39 undocumented immigrants were taken into custody by Border Patrol out of dozens of Latinos detained.

Many people thought it was unusual to see Border Patrol agents in Casa Blanca as one neighborhood resident witnessed at 6 a.m. on Jan. 29 on the way to her job, arresting and detaining day laborers at the day laborer site. There really hadn't been any precedent for this action in the neighborhood as the Casa Blanca residents and the city were trying to work out the creation of a day laborer center in that neighborhood. Some Casa Blanca residents who said they had worked hard on this issue said that the city refused to meet with them. They said that Latinos were the targets of the raids and that at least one of them was "clubbed" by an agent.

The national spokesman for the U.S. Border Patrol Center said that the Riverside office was the only one in the country which raided day laborer centers. Most day laborer centers have populations with mixed immigration statuses which makes it more labor extensive to process people who are detained and to determine their immigration status. The agents in the Riverside office said that they had focused most of their energy and time on arresting and detaining undocumented immigrants with criminal backgrounds especially those involved in the drug trade and/or belonging to gangs. That protocol apparently changed in January (and last autumn in other areas of Riverside County), at about the same time the alleged quota was installed.

The same day that Border Patrol did its raid, the Riverside Police Department said it had launched a POPs project which resulted in more arrests and detentions of people at the day laborer site for violations such as loitering and riding a bicycle on a sidewalk, according to Central Neighborhood Policing Center Commander Bruce Loftus. The fact that the two took place on the same day was a coincidence according to the department and Loftus said on Jan. 30 at a protest rally outside the Magnolia Policing Center that he didn't know about the dawn raid by the Border Patrol agents until 10 hours after it happened. Activists said that after detaining people, the police department personnel at one of its stations initially denied any such action had taken place involving its officers even when activists noted that this facility was where the squad cars transporting detainees brought them.

This site provides one account of the arrests and detentions done on Jan. 29 some hours after the Border Patrol raid by the Riverside Police Department's POPs and bicycle officers. Included is video footage including coverage of one Latino male on a bicycle with a red baseball cap being asked to present his identification card at least three times by different officers.

The department later admitted that it had contacted Border Patrol to check the identification of detained individuals and to provide translation in the Spanish language because no one in the department could do that as well as the agents could. The department also admitted that its representatives met with the U.S. Border Patrol in November for discussions but said that immigration enforcement was not a topic on the list of items to talk about. Why it took the department several days to either admit this or perhaps remember that these discussions had taken place wasn't clear.

About 12 out of 40 people detained in the Jan. 29 raids were turned over to Border Patrol. The rest were released and one of those was driven back home by a police officer, according to Loftus. At least 35 of those detained were Latino, the vast majority being Guatemalan. This raid and others led to numerous protests including one where over 500 people marched down University Avenue in the rain on Saturday from Riverside City Hall to the Border Patrol Station on Spruce Street. About 20 Minutemen appeared in a counter demonstration.

Mayor Ron Loveridge discussed the raids with UC Riverside students but didn't say much and intertwined his comments about the raids with those made about the fatal officer-involved shooting of Annette Garcia by Riverside County Sheriff Department deputies last month.

(excerpt, Highlander)

"We push almost all law enforcement down from the national to local level," Loveridge said. "We have a California Highway Patrol (CHP) which works the freeways but almost nothing else. The police department is hired by the city and we get almost no information in direct about what happens in county offices than from what I read in the paper. This specific incident you identify I can't oppose or defend......"

"That's one of the odd things about police departments. In most organizations, the big decisions are made at the top but in police, the guys with the least experience are out there making decisions," Loveridge said. "They do spend a lot of time in classes and probation. But there's a large number of sheriffs that would defend the choices they make."

If these allegations (which are being investigated by the Department of Homeland Security) are true, then federal regulations would have been violated and the agency and its labor practices should be investigated. The Riverside Police Department should do its own introspective examination and ask itself if it wants to be associated with a station which is the focus of allegations of labor violations to the point where federal policies and rules have been violated. After all, if a federal agency is assigned the task to enforcing federal laws, then shouldn't it be abiding by its federal rules? And if not, then why have no questions been asked about why it's apparently been operating outside of those federal rules since 2007? Why weren't they addressed until the agents enforcing the arrests came forward with allegations of quota systems tied in with discipline?

The Riverside Police Department should also ask itself what impact its participation with Border Patrol in these raids will have on the willingness of those who are undocumented to come forward to the police department and its officers as victims or witnesses of crimes. Undocumented immigrants disproportionately are crime victims include assaults and hate crimes. Unfortunately, reports of violence against this population often don't reach the police department for obvious reasons. The police department's actual or perceived participation in federal raids in Riverside being one of them. Unfortunate for a department which under the VAWA, has rendered aid to undocumented women reporting domestic violence in their households including one well-documented case last year.

The ability of these immigrant populations to come to the police department if they are victims or witnesses of crimes might have already been impacted by recorded statements given by members of the police department's management in support of Councilman Frank Schiavone when he ran for the District One representative position in the 2008 Riverside County Board of Supervisors election. Instead of actually campaigning on the issues, Schiavone and incumbent Bob Buster spent a lot of time and a lot of paper castigating each other on the issues pertaining to undocumented immigrants.

Allegations that the police department was accepting Mexican Consulate cards for identification purposes were made and that was what the police management representatives were allegedly responding to in audiotaped statements that were broadcast repeatedly over radio stations during the campaign period. The police department's need to clarify misstatements involving its policies and practices is not what was questioned as it has the responsibility to do so if the need arises. The issues arose when these representatives went further and endorsed one candidate over the other, that being Schiavone in part because of his allegedly harsher stance on undocumented immigrants. But on Schiavone's fliers, he included a thin outline of Mexico and photographs of unidentified brown-skinned individuals who were used by him to portray undocumented immigrants whether they really fell into this category or not. Because of course all undocumented immigrants or those who are stopped and detained are Latino except for the fact that they represent over 20 nationalities and there are large populations of European and Asian undocumented immigrants in the western part of the country.

That unfortunately amplified the message that if undocumented immigrants were crime victims or witnesses of crimes, that perhaps the police department was the last place, not the first, to go and report it.

Even earlier, allegations were made against a city council candidate, Donna Doty-Michalka by eventual Ward Five City Councilman Chris MacArthur about whether or not the Altura Credit Union she worked at as its vice-president issued accounts to undocumented immigrants. The controversy over his campaign fliers was aired out here. One of the fliers stated the following.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

"If elected, she may require the Riverside Police Department to accept the Mexican ID card as valid identification from illegal immigrants," it says of Michalka.

The Riverside Police Officers' Association which endorsed Michalka expressed its anger at the fliers.


The Riverside Police Officers Association, whose political action committee has endorsed Michalka, is angry about MacArthur's fliers, said Don Miskulin, a police helicopter pilot and the action committee's chairman.

Illegal immigration is a matter for the national government to handle, not city government, Miskulin said.

"It really has nothing to do with the issues" in Ward 5, he said.

The union's political action committee has put out a flier warning voters: "Don't be fooled by vicious lies!" and highlighting its support of Michalka.

Were the "lies" about the business with the Altura Union or about the relationship between city and federal government and their respective law enforcement agencies when it comes to relationships with undocumented immigrants? With all the discussion and even an entire Strategic Plan centered on the philosophy of community policing, what does the department do about a community that's out there in which to fight crime in this city it might be important to build a relationship with?

Not to mention that when a city devalues this population that keeps itself under the radar, this is the kind of law enforcement agency it gets. One that appoints this convicted criminal to lead it. And then this happens as a result, which means that Maywood joins Riverside as cities placed under consent decrees by the State Attorney General's office.

The Press Enterprise article outlines some of the allegations by these agents including the following in greater detail.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Amaya and former Agent Tony Plattel -- who was fired last month for insubordination -- said the pressure led agents to focus more on increasing arrest numbers than apprehending illegal immigrants who are criminals.

Sweeps of day-labor sites in Riverside, San Bernardino and Moreno Valley in late January and other immigration arrests have spurred intense criticism by Latino and immigration-rights activists, leading to a march of hundreds of protesters through Riverside streets Saturday. At least 39 immigrants were arrested at the day-labor locations, according to the Mexican and Guatemalan consulates.

Emilio Amaya, executive director of the San Bernardino Community Service Center, an immigrant-assistance group, said efforts to round up large numbers of undocumented immigrants is making communities more dangerous because it takes resources away from catching criminals. Amaya is not related to Lombardo Amaya.

Plattel said that before pressure on agents began in December 2007, they would spend most of their time trying to find illegal immigrants with criminal backgrounds.

For example, when they went to the San Bernardino Greyhound station, they would visually inspect as many people as possible getting on or off buses or milling about, looking for prison tattoos or other evidence of criminal activity.

As Chavez pushed agents to spike arrest numbers, they began to interrogate many more people, he said. That meant agents could not check the immigration status of as many potential criminals, he said.

"It wasn't quality," Plattel said. "It was just numbers."

Spokesman Velez has said that agents stop people of different races and ethnicities. He denied the Border Patrol engages in racial profiling, as some Inland Latino and immigration activists contend.

But Plattel said he's never seen an agent stop a non-Latino.

Half or more of those detained were either legal residents or citizens which isn't surprising if the locations of the raids include day laborer sites and bus stations like San Bernardino's Greyhound Bus Terminal because populations at those sites are mixed in terms of immigration status as stated earlier.

This month, the quota system was suddenly dropped most likely as a result of the complaints by the office's agencies and the resultant protests by activists. A grievance filed by Border Patrol agents through their union is working its way through the system and it remains to be seen where the chips will fall but if the complaints are valid, then that can have repercussions for a federal agency which imposed federal laws but held itself to a different standard of conduct.

These allegations are very serious and any federal agency that violates its own rules should be held accountable for doing so and any agency working with a station that is under investigation for violating these rules should examine its own relations with it or any joint operations that are being conducted with that agency.

Riverside Fire Chief Tedd Laycock announced his retirement. He had been at the helm for the city's fire department since 2005. No news yet on who will be stepping in his shoes on an interim or permanent basis. His last day is Feb. 20.

Press Enterprise Columnist Dan Bernstein wrote about how the Riverside Renaissance has gone off and smashed an ancient downtown clock. Oh don't tell me it's that really cute and quaint one that no longer knows what time it is. Councilman Mike Gardner apparently responded by saying the damage looks worse than it is and it's being paid for by the owners of the offending vehicle which collided with the historic structure.

He also took note of the unused Crown Victoria vehicles operated (or perhaps were once operated) by the Riverside County Sheriff's Department during a time its sheriff said, don't cut our budget.


RivCo Sheriff Stan Sniff says he just can't slash his budget without jeopardizing public safety.

But stroll past the RivCo fleet lot in downtown Riverside and you may wonder about his budget priorities. I counted at least 60 -- the official number is 105 -- brand-new black-and-white Crown Victorias. Some have been just sitting there at least a month. Fleet value: $2.6 million. It'll take another $1.5 million to turn them into sheriff's vehicles. Waste? Fraud? Abuse?

County fleet folks who buy 'n' lease these babies to the sheriff say no. Purchasing's Doug Barcz: "We asked to have (delivery of) them spread out over a year's time, but they dumped them on us." Motor City meltdown has pushed demand for other vehicles so low that Ford's producing CV's "left and right... If we bought them in onesies and twosies, we'd spend a lot more money."

The Riverside City Council heard the appeal on the case of Chinatown at 3 p.m. and even after hearing testimony, predictably voted unanimously to deny the appeal. Those who filed the appeal have said that this is what they expected from the city council and they plan to continue the fight.

They had hoped to purchase a smaller portion of the parcel and plant grass over it and turn it into a place to reflect and to learn about the history until scientific equipment advanced to the point where a much less destructive excavation could be done to see what artifacts remain on the site.

It's interesting following all the lawsuits that are being filed against the city of Riverside by community organizations whether it's through the Chinatown issue or Friends of the Hills which has filed lawsuits trying to get Riverside's city government to not violate the growth control measures passed by the city's voters. In fact one of the most effective forms of activism in this city is through civil litigation.

Even if it's the city's residents that are being sued by the city government as in the case of Ken Stansbury and other members of an organization that tried to circulate a petition for signatures to put Eminent Domain on the ballot for the voters to decide how it would be used on private property in Riverside. The city council threatened these individuals with a SLAPP suit which was an effort at discouraging and intimidating them from their political activism.

These Davids have gone against the big Goliath and have made impact in trying to remind the city that it's accountable to the city's residents when it comes to honoring both the Constitution and its own voters-passed initiatives. If the city government has or has had such little respect for the Growth Control Measures C and R which were passed by a majority of the city's voters, then it's no wonder they don't have much respect for the similar passage of Measure II (which become City Charter Section 810) as shown by the recent round of behavior involving the beleaguered commission and most of the top tier of power at City Hall.

The head of the Riverside County Economic Development Agency steps down.

People in Moreno Valley are protesting against the Riverside Transit Agency's proposed elimination of line #17 which goes through that city.

Banning is trying to balance its budget deficit by getting some of its employees to retire early. A strategy used in other jurisdictions including Riverside County's work force.

The San Bernardino County District Attorney's office must continue its investigation of former Assessor Bill Postmus even now that he's resigned. So states the Press Enterprise Editorial Board.


Nor can San Bernardino County government ignore the effect of the Postmus debacle on the county's reputation. Most of the supervisors had personal or political ties to Postmus. So did they really have no idea what Postmus was doing? And the search warrants prosecutors served last month in six Southern California cities apparently covered a wide range of people with ties to Postmus and the county, including the top staffer of another supervisor.

A county government with a history of scandals needs to ensure full transparency about Postmus and his actions. His departure alone is not enough to justify public trust in the county government; residents need a complete and honest accounting, as well.

The Los Angeles Police Department is moving to clear up its backlog in rape kits that are in storage.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

The remainder of the investigations are open. In 118 cases, the attack occurred more than a decade ago, meaning that prosecutors likely cannot legally charge anyone even if DNA testing leads to a suspect. In 403 other cases, Beck said, detectives have no discernible suspects to pursue, raising the question why the potentially helpful DNA evidence has gone unexamined.

Beck said he would conduct further inquiries into what he said he expects to be "myriad reasons" for the untested evidence, including poor communication between detectives and the department's crime laboratory, insufficient staffing in the crime lab and shortcomings in the work of some detectives.

Unexamined evidence kits hold potentially crucial information. Through a complex scientific process, DNA analysts can extract a person's genetic code from the collected samples and compare it to those of known felons that are kept in federal and state databases.

When a DNA sample collected at a crime scene or from a victim's body is matched to a DNA profile of someone in the database, it can offer prosecutors nearly irrefutable proof of the person's guilt. The evidence can also be used to confirm that someone has not falsely confessed to a crime or link someone to other unsolved cases.

The LAPD's disclosures Monday follow those of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which announced late last month that it has more than 800 such cases -- far more than had been anticipated. Like the Sheriff's Department, the LAPD plans to test its entire backlog of evidence and has changed old protocols that required detectives to formally request DNA analysis in each case.

Still dealing with a similar backlog is the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

The number is far larger than officials had anticipated and revealed a breakdown in the way the Sheriff's Department went about testing genetic evidence until recent reforms were enacted. For months, sheriff's officials sought to downplay concerns over a massive backlog of untested DNA evidence by suggesting that the crimes had been resolved by other means.

Compounding the problem was the revelation that in 51 of the 815 cases tallied so far, the genetic evidence has sat untested in county storage freezers for more than a decade -- so long that state laws now prohibit officials from arresting anyone even if belated genetic testing were to definitively identify a suspect.

"You've got a bunch of evidence sitting there that is potentially a smoking gun," said L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky to a contrite Cmdr. Earl M. Shields, who oversees the department's Technical Services division. "It could be the silver bullet to getting a suspect in a sexual assault case, and it's just sitting there."

Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchins is standing firm on the issue of issuing gun permits.

(excerpt, Orange County Register)

Hutchens, in the third public hearing on the issue in four months, told the crowd and county supervisors that her position had not changed since she first unveiled the new policy last fall -- despite some minor adjustments on how she plans to revoke more than 400 permits.

"I don't make the law. But I am required to enforce the law," said Hutchens, reiterating her view that California state law only allows certain exceptions to the ban on concealed guns in public.

"I realize this is a very passionate issue," Hutchens said. "I suppose the safe course of action would be to ignore the law and find a way around it."

While refusing to budge on the gun permits, Hutchens seemed to attempt a conciliatory tone, wearing a pants suit instead of her official uniform, and bringing a smaller entourage that did not include a top aide disciplined for exchanging disparaging text messages during a previous hearing.

The counties are lining up to sue the state controller over attempts to take their revenues to balance the budget. Riverside County has announced its intent to sue the state.

Former Bolingbrook Police Department Sgt. Drew Peterson's move in girlfriend is now his ex and admitted the whole thing was a publicity stunt.

(excerpt, MSNBC)

Last week, word came down that Raines had moved out of the Peterson home, just a day after Peterson told Nightline's Martin Bashir, "She likes me. She likes me a lot."

On Monday, Raines spoke for herself, telling CBS that she thought she was in love with Peterson, but that the move into his home was just a publicity stunt to keep Peterson's name in the news.

"It was never an engagement, really ... it was a publicity stunt," she said.

Raines said Peterson openly asked her if she wanted to be part of his plan to spark some media attention and she declined.

A lot of people wondered what this woman was thinking by moving in with Peterson who's been married four times. His first wife left him because he cheated on her. His second wife left him and reported that he physically abused her. His third wife died in her own bathtub, the victim of an accidental drowning turned homicide. During the last two years of her marriage to Peterson, police were called out on domestic disturbance calls about 18 times. She eventually sought a restraining order against him two years before her death.

His fourth wife, Stacey has been missing since October 2007.

Since being the last person to see her before she vanished, Peterson never showed any sign of being upset and shocked John Walsh on America's Most Wanted which aired an episode on her case that if she returned, he wouldn't take her back. And now he's moving women into his home as a publicity stunt?

The Riverside County Transportation Commission is meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 11 at 9:30 a.m. at the Riverside County Administrative Center 4080 Lemon Street, Riverside, CA 92501. The meeting will be in the board room on the first floor. The topic will be the expansion of Metrolink service to Perris. Concern has been raised that this will greatly increase the train traffic going through portions of Riverside including the neighborhoods near UCR.

Rally Against State Budget Deal takes place statewide including Riverside on Friday, Feb. 13 at 12-1 p.m. at the downtown state building on Main near Mission Inn Avenue.

Hold down your hats! The next round of blood letting is set to begin at the Press Enterprise. This time up to 200 people might face layoffs in response the announcement by Belo Enterprises that it's laying off 500 employees. The downhill spiral of print journalism continues unabated and includes 300 more layoffs at the Los Angeles Times. The Times raised its single issue price to $0.75 while cutting back on copy space, most notably in its metro sections. As you know, the Inland Empire edition of the publication bit the dust some time ago and the office space once occupied by the short-lived bureau in Riverside is now up for rent.

Just like video killed the radio star, did the internet kill the print media?

Wi Fi comes to Riverside County Courthouses

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