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, March 09, 2009

CPRC: The tail wags the dog again.

"I was a hard-working cop. I never hurt anybody. I never kidnapped anybody. ... I never did any of this."

---Ex-NYPD officer Louis Eppolito told U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein while being sentenced to life in prison.

It's been over a month and still no news from the Governmental Affairs Committee as to when the proposed meeting between city employees and community members addressing the changes in investigation protocol involving the Community Police Review Commission, will take place.

The committee including Chair Frank Schiavone and members Steve Adams and Andrew Melendrez (who substituted in for Rusty Bailey) voted on Feb. 4 to have Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis organize and convene this meeting but as of yet, no one has been notified of whether or not this meeting has been scheduled and if so, when it will take place.

It's not clear whether anyone on the Governmental Affairs Committee including Schiavone has conducted any followup with DeSantis to determine why this simple task hasn't been accomplished. This silence on the issue from City Hall continues even as Riverside Police Department Chief Russ Leach (one of those expected to attend this meeting on behalf of his department) made comments at the Community/Police Summit that was held in the East Neighborhood Policing Center last week that it was he and Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco (after a series of alleged conversations between the two men last year) who clamped down on the CPRC's investigations after Leach allegedly had read a statement made by CPRC Chair Brian Pearcy in the "local media" that set him off in this course of action.

That meeting was the first time that Leach ever blamed Pearcy for his own actions regarding the CPRC and it's likely in response to criticism of why the city including Leach waited so long to object to the investigative protocol used by the CPRC for six years and 11 officer-involved death cases. It was also the first time that Leach took credit for what became the Hudson directive-turned-protocol.

And what are the 11 officer-involved deaths?

They are the following:

Anastacio Munoz, 2002

Michael Wetter, 2002

Robert McComb, 2003

Volne Lamont Stokes, 2003

Rene Guevara, 2003

Summer Marie Lane, 2004

Todd Argow, 2005

Terry Rabb, 2005

Lee Deante Brown, 2006

Douglas Steven Cloud, 2006

Joseph Darnell Hill, 2006

This revelation by Leach (who's offered this argument several times last year and this one but never admitted taking action involving the CPRC's investigative protocol) kind of contradicts claims by city employees and a city council member or two that a realization hit them apparently like a lightning bolt (both in its profoundness and suddenness) in June 2008 that the CPRC lacked a written protocol for investigating officer-involved deaths. It would take months for this stunning flash point of realization to be revealed to the public as having actually taken place during a month, June 2008, when not a peep actually came out of City Hall on this issue.

Then a month or so later, the city council insisted it had one in the CPRC's own policies and procedures, then they said that this provision didn't apply to officer-involved deaths but it could be used to do so. Yes it could, then no it couldn't at least not by a commission trying to write policies and procedures on investigating officer-involved deaths because the bylaws had to be rewritten first. But if the city council and direct city employees are already able to order the bylaws and policies and procedures to be written a certain way, then state law's as explained by ACLU lawyer, Pete Bibring has already been essentially rewritten. Bibring might be one attorney and a young one at that, but he's not in the position of representing the city every time it gets sued over an officer-involved deaths and it's paid out at least $1.5 in settlements so far in the last couple of years. That's the position that the city's own attorney, Priamos, sits in and he issues legal rulings to the CPRC, sometimes contradicting himself on the same legal principle, accordingly.

But the ongoing saga involving the CPRC and its investigative protocol has brought moments of clarity and confusion, only at least on the part of city residents it's fallout from a badly organized agenda carried out by individuals at City Hall that's clashing with a similar but slightly different intended agenda carried out by city and county law enforcement bodies who apparently forget to check if their own plans were clashing with their employers at least at City Hall. Either that or the entire issue is so bankrupt with anything remotely resembling accountability let alone transparency that the key figures involved in this mess are merely making up a new explanation every time their current one falls flat.

For months, the public had been led to believe that the investigation process was being temporarily shut down through a directive sent out via memo from the office of City Manager Brad Hudson who had left the decision making on what incustody deaths could be investigated by the CPRC and when they could initiate them up to City Attorney Gregory Priamos who was given the purse strings to the CPRC's budget to withhold from its members, apparently with the blessings of several members on the city council.

As you recall, the Governmental Affairs Committee received this report from Hudson's office which included three recommendations that the Committee could choose from to adopt, one of which Hudson spent five pages arguing in favor of which was to ban the CPRC from conducting its investigations or from accessing money from its own operational budget to do so until the police department had completed its own investigation. There have been four incustody deaths and the CPRC has voted to initiate investigations into three of them but they were stonewalled by Hudson, Priamos and CPRC Manager Kevin Rogan who each provided their own reasons.

But still silence from the Governmental Affairs Committee, even while the CPRC struggles to write its bylaws and policies and procedures involving its investigative protocol for officer-involved deaths. But it's likely that an assortment of roadblocks will fall in any serious attempt it makes to do so that favors the continuation of the protocol it followed successfully from 2002-2008 without a single complaint from anyone of the cast of characters crying foul now.

It's not even the first time that members of the city council issued a directive through majority vote to Hudson's office to carry out where he apparently turned around and changed the terms of the directive. In March 2006, the city council voted 7-0 during a workshop on the police department's Strategic Plan (and how it would implemented post-stipulated judgment) to hire a consultant to do quarterly audits of the department's implementation of the Strategic Plan. Some say that instead Hudson spent the summer trying to low ball the consultant into walking away (and then going back to the city council to say the city couldn't afford him) by changing the terms of the directive issued by the city council from a two-year contract to a single year contract worth considerably less than the city council had authorized Hudson's office to spend. In fact, the initial figure was about the amount that Hudson wouldn't have to even bring to the city council for a vote.

That is, back in the days when the city council still cared enough about accountability and transparency to bring transactions especially those involving transfers or "loans" between different funding sources to the city council for an examination and vote. You know, back when the city had a government which actually ran...the government. Those days have been relegated to the past. If something like that had happened now with the Strategic Plan implementation, it probably would have been so far below the radar that even those who keep the police department on their radar would have missed it.

It's still not clear whether Hudson's actions contradicted the orders of all seven city council members who voted to move forward with an oversight mechanism (granted much reduced from the stipulated judgment) or whether he was directed to do so from one, several or less than the majority of the city council to follow a different set of orders once public attention fell off the issue as it did in early summer 2006. But what they did was to send the police department in a direction which would have been detrimental to it if it had continued up to this day because unfortunately in some ways, the department fell off the wagon after its court-mandated reform ended.

Even three years later while it has made progress in some areas (and regained progress in others), there are still some areas where it continues to struggle including its handling of its own complaint process which has become a logger jam of backlog now forcing complainants and officers to wait 100 days or longer (on average) to hear back on the outcome of complaints from the city.

Whether or not this ongoing issue causes the department's complaint process to collide with Governmental Code 3304(d), there's not much discussion of that issue in a public arena but probably a lot privately. This law sets a 12 month statutory limit on disciplining officers for sustained allegations from the time they are first reported or misconduct is suspected depending on which version of the interpretation of that law that Priamos is providing to the CPRC at a given time.

But the complaint process is currently a mess in terms of its timeliness. People counter any concern voiced about this by saying that it's better to have investigations be thorough than timely and there's some truth to that but these investigations take so much longer than the guidelines set by departmental policy #4.12 that they're not even in the same stratosphere. Even if they're thorough (and if you examine trends involving them included in the CPRC's annual reports, this isn't always and has not always been the case), some of them take so long to complete the entire process that the importance of this is somewhat diluted particularly involving sustained allegations.

Created in part by a similar backlog in internal investigations (which apparently increased in number last year and necessitated a temporary transfer of a second lieutenant into Internal Affairs last autumn to try to catch up), this situation not only apparently hasn't improved but could only have been worsened by a last-minute (with only two weeks notice provided for General Services to prepare the facility) and last-ditch move of the Internal Affairs Division from its comfy digs near the Riverside Plaza to the downtown bus terminal building which wasn't quite ready for this division's arrival both inside and out.

Now who cares about Internal Affairs? Practically no one but if it's the city's decision to further burden an overwhelmed division by moving it to a building not ready to equip it, then it's enough of a concern to question the ability of those making these decisions to make them. If you had seen the condition of the building which housed the Internal Affairs division in December and January, it would appear that the city and department didn't care much about it either. By February, the newly created North NPC division had moved in practically on top of the Internal Affairs Division, apparently believing that they were there as its bodyguards.

Which makes you wonder if the city values its newest NPC.

But police department issues of today aside, once concern was raised including in this blog (which as it turned out was read by individuals in the State Attorney General's office when this was going on for whatever reason) and other places by Hudson's failure to follow the directive issued by the city council enter into a contract with the consultant during any meaningful period of time, several city council members most notably Schiavone did involve themselves in trying to rectify the situation and get their direct employee to carry out what he had been ordered by the city council to do and to negotiate with an independent contractor in a respectful manner as would be expected by a professionally acting city management employee. But he should have been doing that from the beginning and was he?

In the meantime, the police department ran into assorted problems including the lack of forward movement by a unified management (which is similar to problems the Los Angeles Police Department also faced in the latter years of its consent decree). Not to mention that Hudson and others had locked the police union out of contract negotiations after the police union criticized them for unfair bargaining practices after Hudson and his associates brokered contracts with two of the city's bargaining units by promising them that they would receive the same benefits that the police union would receive (while still in active negotiations with the police union over these benefits). Crowds of employees including police officers came to City Hall to object to this way of handling contract negotiations introduced by Hudson and DeSantis. It wouldn't be the last time that city employees including those from the police department crowded the city council chambers while Hudson and DeSantis have been managing (and some say micromanaging) city departments. The last time probably won't be the last time either.

It's pretty much a given that DeSantis is not going to convene the meeting as ordered to by the committee unless the majority of the Governmental Affairs Committee stands over him and/or his boss, Hudson and enforces its own vote which given that two of the Feb. 4 committee members are facing reelection bids, isn't going to happen. If he had any initiative within him to carry out a simple task, he would have done so by now. Still even with the history of that office, it's more than likely that DeSantis hasn't scheduled a meeting because he's not getting consistent direction from the Governmental Affairs Committee.

After all, all three permanent members including Schiavone, the chair support the changes implemented by Hudson, two of them signed an op-ed piece to that effect in the Press Enterprise. Since they've already succeeded in implementing these changes, it's most advantage to their position that the issue of the CPRC's investigative protocol doesn't reach the full city council where what support it has is more contingent on an interpretation of a section of the CPRC's policies and procedures which they've been falsely led to believe applies to officer-involved death investigations as well as complaint investigations. The only sure way to keep the issue of the protocol from going to the full city council is to let it "die" in committee, a practice that the Governmental Affairs Committee has used before to great effect. It appears that is what the Governmental Affairs Committee has done and again, perfect strategy during an election year where the campaign issues haven't been fully defined yet.

But the city council lacks the assertiveness and confidence of true leadership to do such a thing. Rather it's becoming more and more clear that the tail (which is the city manager's office) is wagging the dog (which is its employer, the city council). If this issue isn't addressed during the political campaigns ahead by the various candidates, then those who call themselves the "watchdogs" of city government really aren't fulfilling their responsibilities in this area.

Parking meters were the focus of an election of sorts held downtown to determine which one will be installed to replace the highly unpopular Smart Park.

If you haven't voted yet and fervently wish to do so, the election polls will reopen Tuesday, March 10 from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Sixth and Main.

Bye Bye furloughs. So says, San Bernardino's City Hall after it decides to rescind them.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The council voted 5-1, with Wendy McCammack dissenting, to accept the concessions, rescinding a week-old order that required officers to go off duty one hour early. Officers will go back to their regular work hours today, interim City Manager Mark Weinberg said.

Officials are trying to erase a $9 million deficit in the $150 million general fund by June 30, the close of the fiscal year.

The new agreement will save San Bernardino $2.7 million over the next 16 months, according to a staff report.

Police union members agreed to give up their uniform allowance for 2009 and 2010. Starting March 16, they'll also pay $400 per month apiece toward health insurance.

In return, the City Council agreed to extend the union contract, which was due to expire Dec. 31, for another year.

In exchange for their concessions, officers will accrue four additional hours of leave time per week.

That could reduce officers' working hours substantially, retired police Lt. Roger Poyzer said.

The vote by the city council had some immediate impact but elicited some responses as well.

(excerpt, San Bernardino Sun)

The only council member not to vote in favor of the agreement Monday was Seventh Ward Councilwoman Wendy McCammack, who abstained.

"No one can quantify how much money that actually saved the city," she said after the vote. She said the city essentially borrowed money it will have to pay back in 2010.

The vote does not, however, stop a lawsuit filed by the Police Officers' Association over the city's decision to furlough officers, an action they argue violates the city charter, the union's contract and California's bargaining procedures.

City Attorney James Penman briefed the council on the lawsuit's status at a
closed session before they voted on the concessions packet.

"We're still going forward," said union president Rich Lawhead.

"We're trying to get our furlough time back," explained Dieter Dammeier, an Upland attorney who represents the union.

But bad news in Colton. It has laid off 19 employees to balance its budget.

(excerpt, San Bernardino Sun)

"I wish that we could have avoided layoffs," said Mayor Kelly Chastain. "In looking at everything there was no other option. ... Everybody's feeling the pain."

Nineteen layoffs were effective Monday from the Public Works, Community Service and Community Development departments, Parrish said. All those employees will receive a severance package worth two weeks of pay, which is a city policy, Parrish said.

The Community Development, Economic Development and Administration departments will be combined into one entity that is tentatively being called Development Services, Parrish said.

Eleven open positions will remain vacant for an extended period and 16 employees have accepted early retirement benefits known as a "golden handshake," including the two top ranking officials in the Community Development Department, Director David Zamora and Planning Manager Andres Soto, Parrish said.

The construction of new buildings at UC Riverside has halted because of cuts at the state level.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Also affected are:

The $27 million renovation of two science buildings, Webber and Boyce halls. Bids were awarded and construction was set to start when the freeze was announced.

An $18 million environmental and health safety building. It was being designed when the freeze was announced.

The $15 million Culver Center of the Arts, a former department store in downtown Riverside being renovated into classrooms, exhibit and performance space.

Construction of the Culver Center has been slowed and could stop in late May if state money is not available, said Don Caskey, associate vice chancellor of design and construction.

The project is funded with money from the state, city of Riverside and private sources, Caskey said. City and private money is expected to run out at the end of May, he said.

Perhaps most disrupted are the 15 earth science faculty members, who remain in the Geology building. About 70 percent of the $18 million renovation was complete when work was stopped.

Sections of drywall in hallways remain cut for electrical sockets, but there are no sockets.

Office numbers are printed pieces of paper attached to doors with blue tape.

A hallway leading to one wing of the building ends with a plywood barricade plastered with a "Keep Out" sign.

More importantly, the faculty members -- who study everything from wildfires to earthquakes to climate change -- don't have a fully functioning lab in the building, said Mary L. Droser, dean of the Earth Sciences Department.

"Our problem is it is affecting our research and teaching day-to-day," Droser said. "The irony is that the research we do is so significant to the state of California."

Baldwin, the dean of College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, which includes the Earth Sciences Department, is worried that faculty members won't be able to complete millions of the dollars of research projects, funded through highly competitive grants.

He's also concerned the grants won't be renewed.

"It's more than just unfortunate," Baldwin said. "It's a disaster."

Temecula replaces some of its department heads.

A busy week for New York City.

A Latino group of men that beat up a Black man while yelling racial slurs included included an off-duty New York City Police Department officer as a member.

(excerpt, New York Daily News)

Police Officer Juan Nunez, 32, of Freeport, was one of four Hispanic men charged with assault following the attack on 52-year-old Daryl Jackson of Roosevelt.

Jackson was waiting to use a pay phone outside Midway Deli on Nassau Rd. in Roosevelt about 8:10 a.m. when the group surrounded him, police said.

After a brief argument, the men pummeled him with their fists and one bat, causing head and neck injuries, said Nassau County cops.

A former ex-officer from the NYPD busted for corruption shot and killed his girlfriend.

(excerpt, New York Daily News)

Jerry Bowens, 43, who had been considered armed and dangerous by police, was arrested near the 120th Precinct on Staten Island before dawn.

He was later moved to a local hospital for treatment for an injury that he sustained before he arrived at the precinct, a police source said. It was not clear how he was hurt, but the injury was not considered life-threatening, the source said.

Bowens' apprehension was little comfort to the father of Catherine Donofrio, 28, who was slain in the bloody confrontation in Greenpoint.

"He killed my daughter," said John Donofrio, who said his daughter had been studying to take the LSATs and become a lawyer. "She was a very beautiful girl, very smart."

Then there were the two ex-officers sentenced to prison for involvement in mob hits.

(excerpt, Associated Press)

Eppolito, 61, and Caracappa, 67, had worked as partners on the police force and logged a combined 44 years on the job. They were found guilty of secretly being on the payroll of Luchese underboss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso starting in the 1980s.

Prosecutors said the pair used their police credentials to make traffic stops that ended with the driver killed. They also said the officers kidnapped a man suspected in an attempted mob hit against Casso and turned him over to a mobster responsible for 36 slayings.

The former detectives also were accused of providing bad information that led to the mistaken-identity murder of an innocent man killed as his mother washed the dishes following a Christmas Day family dinner.

Chicago's police officers need to be studied. That's what a researcher at a university wants to study.

(excerpt, Chicago Tribune)

Dennis Rosenbaum, a criminology professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, wants to find out what exactly happens over the course of a career that makes an officer good at the job. He believes a variety of factors can be influences, from training to home life to bosses.

He is hoping a new $2 million grant from the National Institute of Justice will help in figuring out how much each of those factors influence good policing, and how they can be emulated.

For three years, researchers will study police departments across the country, including Chicago, other major cities such as Boston and Los Angeles, and some suburban towns.

It will take Rosenbaum and his researchers deep into the realm of police work through interviews, surveys and observations.

It sounds like it's a revolving door with this position in Eugene, Oregon but the city is hiring a police auditor. Here's a warning to those who apply. There are power struggles going on in that city over civilian oversight but then that's true elsewhere.



(Population: 153,690)

Salary $86,715 to $108,056. Oregon's 2nd largest city, Eugene is an
attractive community with quality schools, a beautiful environment, a
temperate climate and a diverse, dynamic culture. The Police Auditor was
established in 2005 and reports to the City Council, and is responsible
for receiving and classifying complaints, monitoring or participating in
internal investigations, and preparing reports on complaints trends and
police practices. The Police Auditor promotes organizational changes to
improve police services and community relations by identifying,
analyzing and making recommendations regarding complaint investigation
process and policies, practices and training. Requires bachelor's
degree and 5 years of progressively responsible experience overseeing
administrative investigations and performing program development,
analysis, and complex professional staff support, preferably in the
public sector. A JD is preferred. Interested candidates may apply for
the position and find additional information at
www.allianceresourc econsulting. com
by March 26, 2009.
Questions may be directed to Eric Middleton at (562) 901-0769, or

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