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 26, 2009

Election 2009: A victory for probationary law enforcement officers in Riverside County

In Riverside County Superior Court, presiding Judge Sharon Waters granted part of Ward Four City Councilman Frank Schiavone's writ but struck other portions of it. Schiavone had filed the writ against City Clerk Colleen Nichol challenging portions of Paul Davis' written statement that he submitted to her office for broader circulation. Both men are facing off in a competitive election for the council seat which represents the city's south-eastern neighborhoods including Mission Grove, Orangecrest, Casa Blanca and Hawardan Hills among others.

She ordered that the text stating that Davis would "restore your voice" be replaced by other language, stating that Davis would welcome voters' participation and comments. Davis agreed to the modification in the language which will be part of his written statement in voting guides mailed out to registered voters in his ward.

Although many voters in Ward Four do feel shut out at City Hall judging by conversations with them, that is an issue that remains to be debated on the campaign trial and determined at the polls about what impact it will have on the outcome of what so far is the city's only contentious council race. Not a bad situation at all in the two months of the election season that remains before the race is decided in June.

However, Waters denied attempts by the Schiavone camp to strike language that Davis was a former law enforcement officer employed at two different agencies. And this was a huge victory for the Davis camp as this was actually the bigger of the two issues that were put on her plate to decide during the initial weeks of Election 2009.

It was also a victory for every law enforcement officer in Riverside County who is currently or has ever worked as a probationary officer and/or trainee in a law enforcement agency as well. The legitimacy of these police officers and sheriff deputies' right to call themselves by their own job description (including the job description provided by the Riverside County Human Resources Department in Davis' response) was called into question when it shouldn't have been.

The right of departments to afford probationary status to newer hires for a period of time remains intact (and the omission of this from PC 830.1 tends to support assertion that the language in this code is all inclusive) but probationary law enforcement officers will not be stripped of their identities as law enforcement officers and their rights as included under PC 830.1 (in which police powers is its more common application in most references to it) which was cited as the law of determinant in Schiavone's writ will be inclusive.

Here's the minute order for that hearing and it's been circulated around the city and at different Web sites.

03/26/2009 - 8:30 AM DEPT. 10


Not surprisingly, some supporters of Schiavone weren't too thrilled by the news so they issued the following press release in response. One wonders which corner these "press releases" are coming from, but then maybe it's just the twilight zone.

(excerpt, Inland Empire Craigslist)

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Sharon Waters this morning ordered city council candidate and washed out police officer trainee Paul Davis to change his ballot statement. Davis had included in his ballot statement language that falsely and maliciously attacked Councilman Frank Schiavone. State law prohibits the use of false and misleading information in the ballot statements. The law also prohibits attacks on other candidates. Judge Waters ordered Davis' ballot statement to have the illegal language removed, but did allow Davis the opportunity to replace the stricken words that were within the scope of the law. Waters also ruled that the State Law governing ballot statements did not permit her to remove information in Davis' ballot statement about his brief, failed employment stints as a trainee first at the Sheriff's Department, then at the Police Department. Davis' training officer, retired Riverside Police Officer Jerry Whitton was in court to testify about the time he spent with trainee Davis and why Paul Davis washed out of the police department less than 6 months into the probationary job selection period. Due to the limits placed on what can be challenged and changed in an official ballot statement, Whitton's potentially devastating testimony was not heard this morning. Although Davis washed out as a trainee at both departments, he will be allowed to pad his questionable resume as if he had been on the job for 20 years. But given recent the recent scrutiny of Davis' record, many voters are now questioning Paul Davis' fitness to hold office.

The reason that Whitton's "potentially devastating testimony" was denied by Waters goes back to the roots of the Schiavone writ and the legal assertion that his attorney raised which pertained not to Davis in particular but to Davis as a member of a particular class of employee known as a probationary officer. Are probationary officers "real" officers in accordance to Penal Code 830.1? That was the court's question to answer. And by allowing the statements to remain intact, the court essentially gave its answer.

If they weren't, then the language that Davis included in his political statements about being a former law enforcement officer of two agencies would have to be removed for the statement itself to be complicit with state law.

For people who believe that Whitton was unfairly prevented from offering his testimony of what training Davis was like, there are other options available for him to get the word out. He can hold a press conference. He can speak about it at a city council meeting although given the limited speaking time for public comment, he might need to stretch his comments over a few months of meetings. He can talk about it at public events. He can talk about it to a news reporter. He can also post all about it on Craigslist. Hopefully, he'll at least sign his statement to give it the official status of a declaration unlike some of the sock puppets running amok on Craigslist.

This person whoever they were appeared happy with the court decision.


Congratulations on the results of today's Court hearing.

We all knew you worked as a Riverside Police Officer and Sheriff and now Frank Schiavone and those who read your candidates statement also know the truth.

We look to you bringing the voice of the people back to City Hall, as Frank Sciavone is not listening to the citizens of Riverside.

When you are elected as Ward 4 City Councilman Paul, Frank will understand that you were correct in putting that on your candidate's statement as well.

Someone apparently misunderstood what was going on even after the minutes of the action hearing were posted on the site. And doesn't realize that sentences are supposed to have single spaces between them.

Thanks for posting the minute order.Read it yourself and you see the Court ordered Davis to change his statement.The Court did allow him to use the title former " Police Officer".It appears the Court or Davis did not dispute the fact he failed probation at both departments.The real question is why ??

The biggest question in the universe has always been: Why? No huge mystery there.

The Press Enterprise published this story about the court proceedings.

No further word from the unidentified press officer from whatever on whether or not the Riverside Police Officers' Association is going to release Davis' personnel files from his five months spent in the police department and were threatened with a lawsuit from the Davis camp over it according to a posting at Craigslist. There was supposed to be some hearing on it according to a release posted on Craigslist by the unidentified press officer for an unspecified company or organization. But that hearing apparently never took place.


Ward 4 City Council candidate Paul Davis who was dishonorably discharged from the Riverside Police Department after only 5 1/2 months on the job as trainee is doing everything he can to keep his personnel file from going public.

Davis today threatened the Riverside Police Officers Association with a lawsuit should they release any documents from his file.

A few weeks ago, Davis while seeking the endorsement of the Riverside Police Officers Association agreed to waive the confidentiality of his file to allow the directors of the RPOA to review his service record.

After granting this waiver and interviewing with the RPOA, the Association unanimously voted to support Frank Schiavone for re-election.

We are left to wonder what the Riverside Police Officers on the RPOA Board saw in the file that made them all decide to go against Davis, even after they had already contributed to his campaign.

Sadly, the voters may never know since Davis had his attorney send them a letter rescinding his confidentiality waiver and threatening to sue any of them that reveal what they read in the file.

This sort of conduct is not what we should expect from a person who wants to represent us. This is is the behavior of a power hungry man who wants to hide his past from the people so he can trick them out of their votes by pretending he was once a cop, when in fact he washed out as a trainee.

Another irony is that Davis is campaigning on bringing more openness and transparency to government, but he refuses to be open and transparent about his failures as a police officer trainee.

Hopefully the court will unseal his file on Thursday morning and we can all find out the truth about Paul Davis, and whether or not the rumors about his emotional and mental instability are true or not.

But several other individuals who are members of the union seemed perplexed to hear that this skirmish had taken place between the two parties.

One individual said that Davis received his personnel file back from the RPOA and that the only interest that the union had in it was receiving more information about him so they could more fully question him during his interview with the committee assigned the task of interviewing potential city council candidates for endorsement purposes. Others were unaware that there was any issue involving Davis personnel file but then called the whole election endorsement process "POA business". Some weren't sure who the police union even endorsed for the Ward Four race. But these responses probably are reflective of the broad spectrum of individuals in that agency, which might mirror a population of voters in cities where some people are actively involved in politics and others are not for a variety of reasons though that might not necessarily affect their voting attendance. Very few populations tend to be monolithic.

It's interesting to watch the double edged sword of the state's confidentiality laws regarding police personnel files come to play at this point and time if the issue of whether or not to release Davis' files is truly an issue as purported by the unidentified press officer from whatever. As moved as some of us might be to hear a police association aver to promote "openness" and "transparency" in government through releasing the personnel file of a former Riverside Police Department officer now running against their candidate of choice, that small gesture of sorts will be forgotten the next time the union moves to defend against the similar release of the file of a habitually problematic police officer who's only employed until the city can come up with a means to use a physical disability retirement to get rid of him or her or give them glowing recommendations so they can find another job somewhere else. Like the retired guy who took glowing recommendations to another position and he hadn't even retired voluntarily and another, who was just retired.

So you read about the crusades of police unions to protect the public from a "washed out" police trainee in light of the greater reality of what police unions do (which is what their membership demands them to do) to keep the records secret of officers more capable of truly harming the public and lift a skeptical eyebrow. That's just what they do, as promoting the confidentiality of police records away from things like "openness" and "transparency" is deep inside their marrow, fundamental to why police unions exist part and parcel with other issues like negotiating labor contracts and working on workplace safety issues.

Which one of these police officers would subject their own personnel files to the same scrutiny in the spirit of "openness" and "transparency"? Which law enforcement officer in any agency in the state would do the same?

There truly are few questions simpler to answer than that one.


That would probably be a consistent response up and down the state of California. And even if officers did wish to reveal their personnel files, the governments of the cities and counties which employ them would never allow it.

So this part of the ongoing episode has been a bit puzzling but it's interesting because it does provide some interest avenues of reflection and discussion about what the laws of confidentiality mean to the same people in different circumstances.

Police Department Employee Watch:

Compared to other cities like Hemet and San Bernardino, so far the Riverside Police Department has fared better. However, in light of past problems with staffing in the department during the 1990s and that relationship (as outlined by former State Attorney General Bill Lockyer in his lawsuit against the city), any significant reduction in staffing remains a concern especially the city manager's office doesn't seem to have any clue how to address these issues or reverse this situation when the economic picture improves.

Police Officers: The vacancies currently stand at least at 19 and possibly higher because attrition hires aren't being done and everything's still frozen. The first positions that were frozen were among the last 25 positions in patrol promised by the city council along with several newly created positions in the traffic division. The most recently hired officers are either in the academy or about to graduate.

Detectives: Since the detectives have an MOU since the days of former Chief Ken Fortier that their vacancies are to be filled, this division doesn't have those same issues. However, they've had issues with their over-time staffing (outside of the Homicide Division) including in the department's Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Division as well as their work vehicles last year. The heads of the Investigations Division maintain that no crime is uninvestigated due to any issues with overtime staffing.

Sergeants: The vacancies here currently stand with at least three positions frozen which has impacted the officer to supervisor ratio which was originally mandated under the state consent decree and the city promised to maintain the standard of 7 to 1 after the dissolution of the consent decree in March 2006. The current ratios might not be where they should be. The city manager's office is not expected to lift the promotional freezes any time soon.

Lieutenant: One lieutenant position remains frozen. The major issue with lieutenants is over-time because under their Riverside Police Administrators' Association MOU, they receive no overtime pay. Which results in some sergeants putting in back to back work shifts and having more difficulty scheduling replacements for days off.

Because of this and salary differential issues with sergeants assigned to work as watch commanders (during lieutenant shortages) there's been fewer sergeant watch commanders on entire shifts, according to the city.

Civilian Employees: The worse blood letting has been here and allegedly the freezing of positions which at last count was at least 25 of them may have only just begun. Some whispers of possible layoffs which haven't taken place outside of the December 2008 layoff of one "at will" employee in the police department. But then there's been rumors of more layoffs throughout the city so it remains to be seen what will happen as the fiscal year continues.

The broken down court system in Riverside County gets four more judges.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Riverside County judges have some of the heaviest caseloads in the state.

"Even if all five vacancies were filled, we would still be at 3.6 judicial positions for each 100,000 people in the county. The statewide average is 5.2 judges per 100,000. So we are still greatly understaffed," Cahraman said.

The appointees are:

Samuel Diaz Jr., 45, of Riverside. Since 2007, Diaz has been a supervising deputy public defender for the Riverside County Public Defender. He earned his law degree from Western State University College of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the UC Santa Cruz. Diaz is a Republican.

David A. Gunn, 52, of San Clemente. Since 2007, Gunn has been a deputy public defender for the San Bernardino County Public Defender. He earned his law degree from Southwestern University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Iowa. Gunn is a Republican.

Kelly L. Hansen, 44, of Murrieta. Since 2007 Hansen has served as chief deputy district attorney for the Riverside County District Attorney's office. Hansen earned his law degree from Brigham Young University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brigham Young University. Hansen is a Republican.

Mark E. Johnson, 50, of Murrieta. Since 2007 he has been a senior deputy public defender for the Riverside County Public Defender. Johnson earned his law degree from Pepperdine University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northeast Louisiana University. Johnson is a Democrat.

Bus fares from Riverside Transit Agency are going on up while service goes down.

Will a new city manager work miracles in San Bernardino?

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Reno civic leaders say that in 13 years, Charles McNeely transformed a bedraggled high desert burg into a thriving gambling, sports and entertainment center.

San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris, a retired Superior Court judge, said he noted Reno's transformation during business trips there.
Story continues below

After former City Manager Fred Wilson resigned last summer, Morris said he focused on McNeely, an executive who had succeeded in a city politically and demographically similar to San Bernardino.

"When Charles McNeely arrived in Reno, it was in sad economic shape," Morris said. "I've seen the remarkable renaissance there. Now, we believe that this man is the absolute best choice possible for our city."

Reno observers say their city's rebirth is still under way. It's an open question what the bill for all the building will be -- or whether the city will be able to pay.

"It all comes at a price," former Reno city councilwoman Toni Harsh said.

The ripples continue in San Bernardino County which continues to bow its head in shame from scandal after scandal.

The Dallas Police Department apologizes to an NFL player.

(excerpt, Associated Press)

Officer Robert Powell also drew his gun during the March 18 incident involving Houston Texans running back Ryan Moats in the Dallas suburb of Plano, police said.

“I can screw you over,” he said at one point in the videotaped incident. When another officer came with word that Moats’ mother-in-law was indeed dying, Powell’s response was: “All right. I’m almost done.”

Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle apologized to the family and announced that Powell would be on paid leave pending an internal investigation.

“When we at the command staff reviewed the tape, we were embarrassed, disappointed,” Kunkle said. “It’s hard to find the right word and still be professional in my role as the police chief. But the behavior was not appropriate.”

Powell, 25, a three-year member of the force, stopped Moats’ SUV outside Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano after Moats rolled through a red light.

Police officials said Powell told his commanders he believed he was doing his job, and that he drew his gun but did not point it. Kunkle said Powell was not necessarily acting improperly when he pulled his weapon out, but that once he realized what was happening should have put the gun back, apologized and offered to help the family in any way.

“His behavior, in my opinion, did not exhibit the common sense, the discretion, the compassion that we expect our officers to exhibit,” Kunkle said.

Speaking of the Riverside City Council races, here are some candidate Web sites.

Bill Scherer for Ward Six

Here's a fundraiser for Scherer:

March 26, Coffee Fundraiser, 11822 Minuteman Drive, 5-8pm

Paul Davis for Ward Four

Fundraiser for Davis:

Saturday, March 28, 2009, from 6:00 to 9:00 PM

Paul Davis will hold a Spring Fundraiser at his home
in the Hillcrest neighborhood at
1091 Crestbrook Drive, Riverside, CA 92506
Please call 951-453-3548 for more information
or to purchase a ticket to the event

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