Five before Midnight

This site is dedicated to the continuous oversight of the Riverside(CA)Police Department, which was formerly overseen by the state attorney general. This blog will hopefully play that role being free of City Hall's micromanagement.
"The horror of that moment," the King went on, "I shall never, never forget." "You will though," the Queen said, "if you don't make a memorandum of it." --Lewis Carroll


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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Thursday, March 12, 2009

CPRC: Today, the odds; Tomorrow, the drinking game

"Robin Hood may have been a noble criminal. But he still was a criminal."

---U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman to Chicago Police Department Superintendent Jody Weis

Katie Greene, a member of the Group in Riverside wrote the following letter to the Press Enterprise's Readers Forum.

In response to your article about the dispute over the Community Police Review Commission, there is nothing unclear about the term "investigate" ("Key term in board issue unclear," March 1).

Anyone with a dictionary knows that. What we have here are people who are fiercely trying to emasculate the commission, which is responsible for investigating fatal shootings by officers.

It is a commission that they resent and want to go away.

Consider that the way the panel is designed, the city manager holds the purse strings, and he decided last September to exercise his right by withholding funding of the commission ("Police review panel's scope to be studied," Feb. 5).

This is not an issue of what "investigate" means. Nor is it an issue of the timing of an investigation. Nor is it an issue of "unskilled" people trampling over a crime scene.

This is simply a bold attempt by Riverside to destroy a commission that the residents voted for. Residents should wake up and fight for a full and complete functioning of the review commission.



Amen, Ms Greene right in a nutshell.

Behind all the "smokes and mirrors", that's what it boils down to, the current city administration is just weakening it because the city's voters prevented them from getting rid of it. Some elected officials berated former Councilman Art Gage for his aggressive attempts to defund the CPRC by up to 80% in 2004 but in reality? They probably are more upset at him for being so overt then they wished he had been when he flexed his power and pushed for the defunding.

They probably believe that he was one of the reasons why 60% of the city's voters spoke at the polls to place the CPRC further out of the political reach of Gage and the other city council members who opposed the CPRC mostly because their financial backers did and do.

Back in 2004, these councilmen constituted a majority. Today, they no longer do, but given how apathetic the remaining city council members are not just with the CPRC but in general turning over their jobs to City Manager Brad Hudson and his minions, it's not difficult for the minority to weld control.

Greene's definitely right in her statement that the restrictions placed on the Community Police Review Commission by City Hall have very little to do with the issue of crime-scenes being trampled by "unskilled people".

The New Regime

As mentioned, the CPRC held its annual elections last week. At the end of the special meeting on March 11, Chair Sheri Corral and Vice-Chair Peter Hubbard, who were confident of their victories ahead of time to pretty much include that in their speeches, laid out how they were going to run meetings. The first casualty even before they took office due to an "oversight on my part" by Chair Kevin Rogan, was public comment on nonagendized items for "special meetings". While not required under the Brown Act according to City Attorney Greg Priamos, previous chair, Brian Pearcy allowed it to be included. Not so with Corral and Hubbard (and you have to include Hubbard because he'll probably be chairing most of the meetings anyway), who haven't been friendly as of late towards the public. But when you essentially through a contract work for the city and you wish to be employed by the city, it's pretty clear that you know which side of your bread is buttered.

What will be the next thing to go?

You read it here first, but it's more than likely that Hubbard will dust off his proposal to have public comment on all items reduced from five to three minutes. He's tried this twice, while never putting his name on it, but alas, was absent both times it was to be discussed during meetings so it had to be withdrawn. He never admitted that this was his pet item (and face it, Hubbard barely opens his mouth in open session let alone puts things on the agenda) but it kind of spilled out the second time it was introduced because Pearcy said that the person who introduced it was absent and Hubbard was the only commissioner not in attendance at a meeting.

Part of being a leader of any body means putting ownership on items that you introduce or propose and not trying to slip them through the back door unsigned.

During commissioner comments...

Brian Pearcy Strikes Back

Former CPRC Chair Brian Pearcy addressed comments made about him last week by Riverside Police Department Chief Russ Leach at the Community/Police Forum for the East Neighborhood Policing Center that was held at the Orange Terrace Community Center in Orangecrest. There, Leach had placed blame on comments he alleged that Pearcy had made to the "local media" that he was all for sending investigators to the crime scene as quickly as possible to preserve evidence. Leach's habit of late seems to be slamming commissioners either without naming them as he did while blaming one for posting the autopsy photos on one of the officer-involved death cases online when apparently those pictures were posted by the staff of the CPRC and with the approval of Priamos. The facts that he presents aren't quite factual (probably because at best, he's receiving any information second or third or...hand) but the comments that he made at the Governmental Affairs Committee meeting and the Community/Police Summit do serve some sort of purpose.

Now, Pearcy's name was tossed out at a meeting as being the instigator of the Hudson directive.

Pearcy said in a motion which was seconded by Commissioner Jim Ward that he wished that a letter would be sent out that addressed this issue involving Leach's comments. Apparently, there was some sort of vote. Well, maybe. Will there be a letter sent out by the tandem team of Corral and Hubbard? Well, maybe. But Pearcy wasn't ready to let it go so there will probably be an update on this situation at the next meeting. Oh yeah that's right, I think the vote was to put it on the agenda for the next meeting.

Good luck with that. But if it comes between having that item on the agenda and putting another proposed item which is to discuss the role of the commission's manager, it's a good bet that Pearcy's letter might get on the agenda first. But...that's only if there has to be a choice between the two agenda items.

These are the current odds:

Pearcy's letter getting on the agenda of the next meeting: 5:1

Pearcy's letter getting on the agenda of a future meeting: 10:1

An item getting on the agenda of the next meeting about the role of the CPRC manager: 50:1

An item getting on the agenda of a future meeting about the role of the CPRC manager: 100:1

Here's another look at the CPRC crystal ball as to what will happen if someone does really have the audacity to put an item on the agenda addressing the role of the manager. City Attorney Priamos and/or Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis who showed up late at the last CPRC meeting to talk about something will say I'm or we're sorry but such an item is outside the purview of this commission. Because as we know, all CPRC agendas have to be stamped with approval by DeSantis and Priamos.

The next day, the commissioners allegedly received a notice on what they can and can't talk about during commissioners' comments. Welcome to the new regime! It's too bad that the commission is turning its back on community members (who clearly know this) at a time when tension between community members and police is very high, as noted by graffiti posted in one neighborhood which read, "187 Police". This mirrors tensions in another neighborhood after several officer-involved deaths took place there, where the attitude was more, "F--- the police". Increased police presence in two predominantly minority neighborhoods despite a decrease in crime in those neighborhoods have created a situation where tensions are simmering there. And people considering filing complaints and then changing their minds, deciding that it's a waste of time.

That's a very serious situation and one of the intentions of the commission was to address community and police tension under its responsibility assigned by the city's charter to report to the city council and mayor on all community/police relations. Everyone from the Editorial Board of the Press Enterprise to community leaders say that this is its role but the commissioners particularly those who now rule its helm, don't even look at community members who attend their meetings especially newcomers so clearly this is one part of the charter that as a body, they are incapable of performing. Except for one or two of them, they never walk up to people and introduce themselves, shake people's hands, offer them a business card. They only talk to representatives from the Riverside Police Department.

Newcomer Robert Slawsby hasn't yet gone up to a single community member and say, hey welcome to our meeting and if you have any questions, this is who to talk with. But then again, if the newer commissioners emulate the ones who have served on the commission the longest, he's emulating the wrong ones.

People attending these meetings from Arlanza, to Casa Blanca, from La Sierra to the Eastside to Downtown and the University neighborhoods see this and spread this information to others in their organizations or neighborhoods that the CPRC is not community-friendly despite the inclusion of "community" first in its name. And that's unfortunate, because they should feel like the meetings are a welcome place for them and that commissioners will actually take the time to greet them. That's actually how it used to work. But what can you say about a commission which really hasn't done much in the way of outreach in the past year or so?

After talking to community members about the CPRC, there are many questions that are asked. Some of them are asked over and over, and those are usually the ones that aren't always the easiest to answer.

Is Community Outreach dead in the water?

Pretty much, yes. Which you can read yourself in these monthly reports produced by the CPRC. You will also notice that the only time the majority of the commission seems to be concerned about the lack of outreach and what they say, Outreach Committee meetings is when they're trying to get out of the process of holding meetings of that other subcommittee, Policies, Procedures and Bylaws which created an avenue for them to amend and rewrite of the guidelines under the commission's bylaws, policies and procedures.

For a while, the Outreach Committee which is chaired by Commissioner Chani Beeman did meet and did accomplish its goals of producing outreach material but the process has once again reverted to a standstill. The commission is waiting to receive the flock of invitations to do outreach that it seems to believe are surely coming and not willing to really go out and do it themselves beyond attending meetings of the same four organizations.

Will City Hall ever allow another board or commission member to cast a vote via teleconference?

To be announced are odds calculated on who will actually chair most of the meetings in the current year: Corral, Hubbard or Pro-tem chair.

This was a first for the CPRC elections and possibly for those involving other boards and commissions as well. Usually members of the city's boards and commissions are told that if they want to vote in their annual exercises in electing officers, then they have to be present at the meetings. If they are absent, oh well, they're out of luck. But several commissioners said afterward that they knew the election was a done deal, rigged and pretty much a farce after they showed up and realized that the teleconference call all the way to Commissioner Art Santore in Florida had been made. And some of these individuals voted for some of the winning candidates.


That someone who missed a meeting but would have cast a vote for John Brandriff in a vice-chair election would have gotten a teleconference vote: 1,000 to 1

Coming soon, the CPRC drinking game.

Felt this? It was an actual earthquake.

In the spirit of Woodward and that other Bernstein, Press Enterprise Columnist Dan Bernstein kept mum on the identity of one of his sources, "Deep Butter" until he died.

Then he wrote about him.


From time to time, Deep Butter would leave a message. "I don't want to talk to you," he'd say. I'd call him right back. At the end of our conversation, Deep Butter would sign off, "It's been nice not talking to you."

Deep Butter kept me informed. Filled in gaps. He knew a lot about many things. He knew all about the Riverside library. He knew about the arts, and the money and grinding it takes to permit them not simply to endure, but to flourish in a town like Riverside. Sometimes, he just called to tell me I was being too tough on the mayor.

When we met at public events, mum was always the word. Oh, we yakked it up about Philadelphia football fans or how he wound his way to Riverside. Anyone would have thought we were just a couple of small talkers, killing time at a charity fundraiser. No one knew our secret. No one knew about Deep Butter.

No one knew it was Deep Butter who steered me to the smoking-microwave memo penned by someone working for the Handsome ex-DA: "If you are working after hours or on weekends and need to cook something in the microwave, please stay with the item until it is completely done and make sure the microwave is turned off."

A high-rise packed with career prosecutors who didn't know how to make popcorn!

Bernstein also wrote about the plan to demolish and rebuild the downtown library.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Fifty-five million might sound like big money, but it's only $53 million more than feds will spend to study pig odor, and it would get Riverside a new downtown library, an expanded metro museum and upgraded muni-auditorium.

Voters won't be asked to raise the dough for at least two years, by which time the Dow will once again have cracked 14,000 and the Santa Ana River will welcome the Queen Mary. Yes, a rosy scenario. Even rosier: the reality that, after years of entirely avoidable head-butting with civilians, City Hall appears to be marching lock-step with what Riverside citizens wanted all along. This could be a formidable alliance, since the city manager has an impressive record for getting things done. Who knew the "Riverside Renaissance" was actually a stimulus package in disguise?

Still not convinced that $55 million will be a good investment? Wait till you hear what Councilman Mike Gardner discovered about the downtown library: It doesn't have windows!

True, he might not have been the first to notice. But this is how we've had to enlist support to tear this monstrosity down: one eyeball at a time.

Riverside's Centro De Ninos preparing for its grand opening in the Eastside. It will take place, Saturday, March 14 at 10 a.m. at Bordwell Park.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The new 12,500-square-foot building will replace the center's smaller facility on Victoria Avenue a block south of 14th Street.

The center will boost its enrollment from 64 to 112 when the new building opens. The staff will double from 15 employees to 30, said Andrea Guevara, executive director of the nonprofit Concilio Child Development Centers, which runs Centro de NiƱos.

The center serves children 3-5 years old from low-income families, primarily Latino.

Work remains to be done and the center cannot obtain its day care license until the project is complete, Guevara said. The center might not open its doors to children for another month, she said.

The new building doubles the number of classrooms from three to six and includes a large multipurpose room, administrative offices, and a kitchen. It will have wireless computer access.

The outdoor play area includes a slide, raised beds for growing vegetables and other plants, and a large lawn. "The community needs it," said parent Maya Samuel, 29, whose 3-year-old daughter, MaKaylais enrolled at the center and who attended the center herself.

Canyonlake's a hopping place, what with that councilman being in trouble for that risque show that took place at a restaurant he owned.

The candidates running for the forth ward seat in San Bernardino presented their final arguments on why you should vote for them.

The San Bernardino County District Attorney's office determined that a Victorville police officer's shooting of a man was an accident.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

In the report, Sinfield noted that Evans had responded to reports of a large group gathered about 11 p.m. in the parking lot at Bear Valley and Amargosa roads in Victorville, a popular hangout for impromptu car shows.

Evans watched for a few minutes, then decided to leave, the report said. As he was leaving he heard tires squeal and saw a gray Monte Carlo doing a burnout maneuver, the report said.

As Evans neared the Monte Carlo, the report said, the car made an evasive turn and sped out of the parking lot. Evans turned on his lights and siren and started chasing the car.

The Monte Carlo headed toward Interstate 15 and stopped on the southbound onramp. Evans got out of his patrol car, drew his gun and approached the car.

He told the two occupants to raise their hands. The driver did, but Evans said Anaya, in the passenger seat, was looking left and right as if he was about to do something.

As he focused his attention on Anaya, Evans "transitioned to a finger on the trigger position," the report said.

"Sgt. Evans stated that he accidentally pulled the trigger, causing the weapon to fire."

Witnesses, including another officer who had arrived to help, heard Evans yell "accidental" after he fired the gun, the report said.

The U.S. Justice Department launched a probe into the Inglewood Police Department in the wake of four officer-involved shootings.

Chicago Police Department Superintendent Jody Weis received a scolding from a federal judge

(excerpt, Buffalo News)

Gettleman held Weis in contempt of court Wednesday for refusing to turn over the list. Two days later, Weis relented and handed them over.

After receiving the list, Gettleman could have told Weis' attorneys that it was no longer necessary that the superintendent come to court Monday.

But it was obvious from the criticism that lasted several minutes that Gettleman wanted Weis to stand before him and hear him describe Weis' defiance of his order with words like "contemptuous" and "absolutely intolerable."

Gettleman seemed particularly troubled that someone in law enforcement - "You of all people," he said - would be willing to defy a judge's order.

The judge ordered the city to pay costs incurred by the defense attorneys who have for several months fought for the list as part of their lawsuit on behalf of a woman claiming an off-duty officer beat up her children while arresting them.

Weis was apologetic Monday, saying he was not trying to offend the judge. But he said his defiance of the judge's order - what he called one of the most difficult decisions he's ever made - stemmed from concern for his officers.

Two officers in the Detroit Police Department were accused of falsifying arrest records.

(excerpt, Detroit Free-Press)

The cops labeled it Operation Ice Breaker, a city-suburban law enforcement effort to bust drug dealers and prostitutes along 8 Mile.

Instead, seven Detroit vice cops have been suspended with pay on allegations of falsifying the arrest reports.

The allegations against the cops are: They couldn't find any prostitutes on 8 Mile, so they went to Harper and Chalmers on the east side and arrested five people for prostitution during three days in mid-February. The officers are accused of writing their report to say the busts happened on 8 Mile to fit the roundup's purpose.

Members of the Board of Police Commissioners last week refused to suspend the cops without pay, despite a recommendation from police executives and Chief James Barren.

Commissioner Adela Rivera, a former Detroit police officer, told the Free Press Wednesday that she believes the cops should be paid until they appear before a departmental trial board to present their cases.

"Look at the economy, people can't afford to be laid off with no income," Rivera said. "I think the city blanketed all seven officers together under one allegation. Sometimes as a police officer you do what your boss tells you and if that's the case, I think they should be allowed to justify why they did what they did."

Interesting search of the day:

A visitor from the County of San Bernardino network did one on "Paul Bugar". For those who don't know, Bugar was a former Riverside Police Department officer who was fired by former Chief Jerry Carroll for his role in the 1998 fatal shooting of Tyisha Miller. Bugar went on to get his next job with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department first as a dispatcher and then eventually as a crime analysist.

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