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


My Photo
Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Sunday, March 01, 2009

CPRC: Watch out! The crime-scene busting investigators are coming...

***UPDATE*** San Bernardino County Superior Court judge declines to block furloughs involving the city's police officers.

"The crime-scene trampling investigators are coming!"

This mantra has been sounded so many times of late by assorted characters in the story of Riverside's foray into civilian oversight that this posting will begin with a tribute to the pop culture examples which represent the latest chapter of what's going on with the CPRC's investigative protocol involving officer-involved deaths.

A cry sounded out from downtown Riverside to La Sierra, from the Northside to the Eastside that the CPRC had dispatched an investigator to invade the crime scene of an officer-involved death to stomp on evidence, trample over the yellow tape and contaminate witnesses!

So a troupe of police department representatives, City Manager Brad Hudson and the Governmental Affairs Committee has climbed up to the tippy top of Mt. Rubidoux to set up a special warning light to be seen across the land to warn of the invasion of the crime scene busting investigators from the CPRC.

"One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore (of the Santa Ana) will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Riverside neighborhood and ward,
For the city folk to be up and to arm."

Because those crime-scene trampling investigators are coming...

---Henry Wadforth Longfellow (if he had witnessed the ongoing travails of the CPRC vs City Hall in River City)

They came in the dead of night. Innocuous puffs of wisps falling from outer space to take root and grow amongst us all, creating pods which would transform every person while they sleep into a crime scene busting investigator!

Here's an eyewitness account from someone who actually saw this take place.

"It started - for me, it started - last Thursday, in response to an urgent message from the city manager, I hurried home from a city council meeting I'd been attending. At first glance, everything looked the same. It wasn't. Something evil had taken possession of the town. One of those crime-scene trampling CPRC investigators!"

---If Invasion of the Body Snatchers became "Invasion of the CPRC investigators".

But it didn't stop there, they came down to Riverside to invade it in ships from the sky as well...

An astute narrator reports:

"The Crime Scene Trampling Investigators had calculated their descent with amazing perfection and subtlety. As more of their cylinders came from the mysterious depths of outside River City, their investigations, awesome in their power and complexity, created a wave of fear throughout the 'Hall."

---"War of the Crime-Scene Trampling Investigators"---H.G. Wells followup to his immense hit, War of the Worlds. The radio version of the sequel to Worlds created panic through the halls of Riverside's City Hall but left others shaking their head at the sight.

An airplane passenger (played by William Shatner) was trying to conquer his fear of both flying and crime scene demolishing investigators when he happened to look out of his airplane window and saw the sight of what else? A crime scene trampling investigator in the process of manhandling of a crime scene.

He tried to warn the others.

"There's a crime-scene trampling investigator out there."

---Williams Shatner after seeing the investigator trample the crime scene outside his airplane window on Twilight Zone.


The Crime Scene Trampling Investigator caught in the act of taking evidence

Yes, the whipped up frenzy involving the crime-trampling investigator working for the CPRC has reared its head again. It of course has never happened but that's beside the point. It serves as a convenient and readily used tool to use especially in the media.

So how did it transpire this time? Read below.

The latest article on the changes made to the investigative protocol that the Community Police Review Commission has used for eight years involving its probes into officer-involved deaths brings back allegations made by "city officials" that the CPRC is asking or trying to get an investigator "within the confines of the yellow tape" at a crime scene. It's always interesting to watch city officials and representatives of the police department make allegations about something that has never happened and changes in protocol which were never suggested let alone mandated and actually practiced by CPRC commissioners.

After all, if the truth doesn't quite work for you, make up your own and market myth as reality and hopefully, some people will buy it.

At no time has the CPRC ever sent one of its investigators to the scene of an officer-involved shooting when the tape has been down or within two days of when a critical incident has taken place. At no time, did the CPRC ever say or state that it was going to change its protocol to engage in these actions let alone go to crime scenes when the tape was down and pick up items of evidence. At no time from 2002-June 2008 did any city officials or police department representatives including Chief Russ Leach, City Manager Brad Hudson or Councilman Frank Schiavone express any complaints about the investigations conducted by the CPRC actually contaminating or endangering the department's own investigations. Something that several individuals at least have the decency to admit.

Baker Street Group investigator, Butch Warnberg said in the article that he had never been at a "crime scene" on the day of an incustody death incident. And he's right, yet his reputation and those of other investigators in his group has been slammed by insinuations that investigators are trampling over the crime tape, stomping on evidence and contaminating witnesses on behalf of the CPRC.

In fact, if you read the lawsuit filed by the Riverside Police Officers' Association that was filed against the city in 2003 up to its settlement in May 2005, you would conclude that the only thing endangering these investigations conducted under departmental policy #4.8 would be the City Hall and the police department, the two parties complaining now. You know back in the days, when City Hall spent thousands of city residents' tax dollars defending itself in this litigation by arguing that the officers weren't subjected to a criminal investigation but were crime victims submitting crime reports just as they would be reporting any other incident where they responded as police officers. That the only criminal investigation in the cases of officer-involved shootings and/or incustody deaths was against the person shot or killed. If that were the city's position back then, then it's indeed interesting to see them take such a 180 degree turn including inside the city attorney's office. As vehemently as the city now insists it is a criminal investigation of the officers (rather than a deceased individual who can't be charged with any crime) is how vehemently they were stating in responses to a lawsuit only a few years ago that it wasn't.

That's just one of many reasons why this ranting about compromised investigations and trampled upon and contaminated crime scenes is puzzling when you get away from the static and put your thinking cap on for a moment.

Leach is the most puzzling but that's not exactly unusual. He said he became concerned about some "media reports" about the CPRC trying to expand its scope in its officer-involved death investigations some time last year yet never mentions ever conversing with the CPRC or communicating with it or its members in any fashion to find out first-hand what the situation was. He laments his deteriorating relationship with the CPRC but doesn't mention what he himself has done to improve on it because as most people know, it takes two parties to make or break relationships between them. Then he makes this rather interesting statement which was supposed to support his earlier statement about his "concerns" but instead, undermines it.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Leach said the Police Department will never allow the commission's private investigator to collect evidence, such as blood or gun casings, at the scene.

"If they door knock and try and find witnesses, that's not up to me," he said.

Gee, it seems that the problem's been solved. Not that the CPRC investigator has ever tried to collect evidence, whether it be blood, gun casings or any other physical traces left at the scene of an incident, but in case it's ever happened he would prevent it. Currently, officers are assigned to the scenes of officer-involved death incidents within minutes to provide perimeter security and anyone who visits the crime scene has to sign a log sheet documenting their arrival and their departure from that crime scene. Since the majority of witnesses in at least several cases often are confined by officers inside a crime scene (i.e. as in the case of the Welcome Inn of America tenants in the Lee Deante Brown shooting case), this means that any investigator would not be able to access these witnesses anyway.

Yet Leach and Hudson and occasionally a council member or two rail on about crime scenes being compromised by investigators trampling through them unchecked. Yet when asked to name an incident where this has taken place, none of them have ever been able to do so. The reason why isn't chance nor is it providence. It's because the CPRC has taken great care to avoid doing so by not dispatching investigators to those crime scenes and waiting at least 48 hours before even canvassing for witnesses. In some cases, the CPRC investigator even located new witnesses.

And Leach's also said that if they interview witnesses, they don't need his permission to do so and that appears to include the timing of any such interviews. So it appears on some level that Leach has raised his issues and then resolved them in his further comments.

At any rate, this drama and the invasion of the crime scene trampling investigators will likely continue so much more to come.

The Press Enterprise published this article on how merchants and others in Riverside feel about the multi-million dollar renovation of the downtown pedestrian mall. Views are mixed but you'd never know that by reading the headline.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Some merchants welcome the project as a needed enhancement of the 42-year-old mall while others say they are not thrilled with the way it's shaping up.

CeeAnn Thiel, owner of Mrs. Tiggy Winkle's gift shop, said so far work crews have taken out several scrawny palm trees that used to stand in front of her shop. Now it's easier for people to see her window displays.

"More visibility is positive," Thiel said.

Joel Udayke, owner of Flowerloft International, said he is unhappy that so many trees have been removed from the Mission Inn block and that the artificial creek will be replaced with a new creek, when he would have preferred a fountain with Spanish-style tiles in keeping with the look of the Inn.

"There's no historical value in the design," Udayke said.

He believes the city missed an opportunity by not holding a design competition, he said.
"We are stuck with this design for the next 40 years," Udayke said.

However, the downtown clock that was struck with calamity will be fixed. But where will it wind up?

Did two city council members in Canyonlake violate the Brown Act?

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Several city officials, including the city attorney, believe the councilman who disclosed it, Martin Gibson, is overplaying the incident for political purposes.

"It was an accidental violation and it was corrected," City Attorney Elizabeth Martyn said. "It was not as big of a deal as it is being made of."

Gibson defended the disclosure as being in the public's best interest.

"I disclosed the truth, period," he said. "I am stunned that anyone would think that any violation, minor or otherwise, is acceptable."

An investigator hired by the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors to probe into the turmoil involving the Assessor's office may report his findings before the board this week.

(excerpt, San Bernardino Sun)

In late January, the board hired Hueston, who successfully prosecuted key figures in the Enron scandal, to help build a case against Postmus in order to fire him with the least resistance. But on Feb. 13, Postmus resigned.

With Postmus gone, Hueston's investigation has been suspended until his findings and recommendations are made to the board. It remains unclear if the county will continue to retain his services.

"We're still asking (Hueston) to come back with his findings and make a determination on how to proceed," 2nd District Supervisor Paul Biane said.

He also said Postmus' resignation may remove the necessity of having such a high-priced attorney investigate the former assessor.

Are local U.S. Border Patrol agents racially profiling Latinos?

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

In the Jan. 29 sweep, citizens and legal residents were stopped along with illegal immigrants, said community activist Jennie Rivera, who alleges racial profiling.

Two days later, U.S. citizen Armando Salazar said he was grabbed by a Border Patrol agent as he was leaving a convenience store near a Moreno Valley day-labor site.

Hispanics should be happy to be stopped by Border Patrol agents, because it combats illegal immigration, said Raymond Herrera, national rally spokesman for the anti-illegal-immigration Minuteman Project and a Victorville resident.

Not bothered

Herrera, who is Hispanic, said he was not bothered when he was briefly stopped at a rest stop near the Mexican border last year.

"The people who are complaining are the ones who play a heavy race card," he said.

Espinoza, 22, said he was offended the Border Patrol stopped him and asked for identification.

"They're just wasting my time, and it's not right," he said.

"I'm a U.S. citizen."

Espinoza and his brother Francisco, 26, both Lake Elsinore residents, said they get nervous when they spot a Border Patrol vehicle.

"It makes everyone uncomfortable," said Francisco Espinoza.

"I guess they assume everyone who is brown is an illegal alien."

In 2004, Temecula-based agents, who patrol Lake Elsinore, viewed speaking Spanish as a reason to suspect someone of illegal status, according to internal Border Patrol documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.

"I spoke to them in English but they responded in Spanish," one arrest report said. "Because of this I questioned them about their citizenship."

The Riverside Community College District might have to pay more of the cost for its new aquatic center.

The tasing of a 12-year-old autistic boy in Hawthorne is being questioned.

"This is a question of common sense. . . . You don't discharge a Taser at a child, absent the most extreme circumstances," said Michael Gennaco, a former federal prosecutor who now monitors internal discipline of deputies for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

A Hawthorne police spokesman said the department launched its investigation in response to a complaint by the boy's parents days after the Sept. 23 incident. He said department officials are reviewing the incident to determine whether the officer followed the agency's rules on using Tasers.

The U.S. Department of Justice's research arm found that studies on the effects of stun guns might not be applicable to small children. The Police Executive Research Forum has discouraged officers from using Tasers on young children and other vulnerable people, such as pregnant women.

Some law enforcement agencies, including those in New York City and Las Vegas, have restricted the use of the weapons on minors. Los Angeles Unified School District police officers do not carry Tasers, a district spokeswoman said.

The Hawthorne Police Department's policy says that officers "may consider other options" before deploying Tasers on juveniles but does not otherwise limit their use on children.

Two New York City Police Department officers has been placed on modified desk duty after allegations arose that one of them raped a woman while onduty. An inspection of their lockers uncovered heroin in one of them. So now they're in trouble.

The Los Angeles Times outlines its endorsements for the Los Angeles city elections. Yes, there is an election going on but except for antics in the fifth district race, it seems a lot quieter than the previous one.

A man wanted for robbery was arrested but when did that take place? When he showed up to take a test to become a police officer.

His primary concern while being arrested was whether or not he would still be able to take the exam.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older