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

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

NPC East Forum: Community policing, Strategic Planning and putting CPRC Chair Brian Pearcy on the spot

I don't know, I'm making this up as I go.

---Raiders of the Lost Ark but in Riverside, this statement might have an entirely different meaning.

The Riverside Police Department hosted its Community/Police Summit for the Neighborhood Policing Center eastern area at the expansive Orange Terrace Center in Orangecrest to a pretty good-sized crowd of a bit more than a 100 residents from the different neighborhoods in this policing region. Homemade baked goods, water and coffee were provided for those in attendance.

Chief Russ Leach hosted the session and assisting him was NPC Commander Larry Gonzalez as both spoke on different issues impacting different neighborhoods and answered questions ranging from addressing problems in houses in neighborhoods to the future of the police department's Strategic Plan after the current one expires in December.

In attendance were Councilman Frank Schiavone (who issued a statement), Councilman Andrew Melendrez (who did not) who are two of the four city council members whose wards are included in the policing center. Ward Four candidate, Paul Davis also attended as did quite a few members of the police department's civilian and sworn divisions from communications to gangs to personnel and training.

NPC Commanders Lt. Vic Williams (North) and Lt. Bob Williams (West) also attended along with Capt. Meredyth Meredith (who's the highest ranking woman and only the second female captain in history) who oversees the Central/West NPCs and representatives from many of the police department's divisions.

Leach and Gonzalez said that crime was down 2.2% but spiking in several areas of the city, including nine shootings in three months in the Eastside and burglaries in Mission Grove and Orangecrest. Some women talked about their new program to be the "eyes and ears" of neighborhoods. Others spoke about crime issues in their neighborhood including one woman whose family lived near a drug and prostitution house and when some of them had complained, her neighbor's dog was beaten to death. She said the police had called it an accident and was about to move out of the city.

Other people spoke about issues with parking in garages backing alleys and the new skate park.

Leach said that the Strategic Plan which was required under the 2001-2006 stipulated judgment with the State Attorney General's office is set to "sunset" by the end of the year but hopefully, the Audit and Compliance Bureau will have created and implemented a similar plan for the next five years. The chief will go out to "focus groups" including businesses to solicit information on what the strategic plan should detail.

In drafting its next plan, the department will have to factor in the impact that the economic situation has had on the freezing of positions inside the department on both the civilian and sworn divisions. While the department has avoided the layoffs in Hemet and San Bernardino (not to mention the furloughs) and other places, it's in a hiring freeze with positions not being filled after they are vacated. Leach said that the department is still staffing its shifts with the same number of officers it did 2-3 years ago and "maybe one or two extra". But there are still four vacancies at the supervisory level in addition including sergeant positions vacated by Kevin Stanton (retirement), Lisa Williams (transfer to newly created position) and Leon Phillips (promotion), not to mention a lieutenant position (Paul Villanueva who retired) and deputy chief position (vacated by retirement of Dave Dominguez).

The department quietly without press releases (perhaps because it had laid off its public information officer in December) filled three sergeant positions with three detectives, all of whom had lateraled a few years ago from Oceanside's police department, which led to some interesting and mixed reactions in the police department.

Interesting comments from Leach to inquiries about the Community Police Review Commission and he told the audience that the CPRC had planned to respond to the scene of an officer-involved death which would have been a change of protocol for the board. He based this assessment on some statement that Leach said was made by CPRC Chair Brian Pearcy that was quoted in the media last year. It was the first time that Pearcy's name had been invoked as a catalyst in this entire train wreck that began last August as being responsible for Leach's campaign to change the protocol of the officer-involved death investigations done by the CPRC. It's a good bet that Pearcy has no clue that he's being blamed for actions taken by Leach. That's how healthy communication between different entities in this city has become in the last few years.

According to Leach, Pearcy had allegedly said that the investigator had to rush to the scene to preserve evidence. Leach didn't elaborate when exactly this statement had been made and it's not like a look can be taken back to easily find when it was made because at the time it was made, Leach apparently hadn't raised any objection to it at least not in a public forum or the Press Enterprise. And if there wasn't an objection made by Leach either to the CPRC or in a public forum (and why not given how much communication between Leach, the members of the Governmental Affairs Committee and in some cases, the CPRC has taken place in the Press Enterprise's news or opinion pages) until weeks or months after this alleged statement by Pearcy was made, then why did it take Leach so long to object?

Because the first date that Pearcy's name was paired with any such statement was Wednesday, Feb. 4 at about 8 p.m. PST. And if he made any such statement, it wasn't anywhere near this date and time. It had to be at least seven months ago.

It's not that concerns, real concerns, about invading crime scenes when the tape comes down is not an issue worthy of discussion or action if the crime scenes have actually been breached and Leach made it clear that this would not be allowed to happen with his statements at the meeting.

Which takes care of even a potential problem so that it can't become a real issue. But that's so easily done that it makes this hand wringing about this faux crisis including planting the idea in forum and meeting audiences that it's already been done, so ridiculous, but also calculated in its intent to take reality and change it to promote an agenda that in all likelihood probably isn't owned by Leach.

Leach didn't mention if he had gone to Pearcy or the CPRC to ask for further information about this statement if it had concerned him so much that he then initiated discussions with Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco to join in him in saying that the CPRC would not be responding to the crime scenes of officer-involved death cases.

Talk about responding in force to a non-issue.

Which is interesting considering there's never been a breach of a crime scene involving an officer-involved death in the history of the CPRC so why is there a need to make a joint statement especially since Pacheco's never done so in public involving the CPRC and incustody death investigations?

There's never been yellow tape that's been stepped on, evidence that's been removed or trampled. But that doesn't matter, if you can in front of an uninformed audience act like it has happened. Because after talking to people who attended the forum, it was clear that some of them interpreted Leach's words to mean that the CPRC had actually breached a "crime scene" in one or more of the incustody death cases. That never happened yet even as some of these individuals quietly (and in Leach's case at a near whisper at the Feb. 4 Governmental Affairs Committee meeting) admit even as they more loudly make insinuations that it has happened.

Leach invoked the rather confusing term of "parallel criminal investigations" which Manager Kevin Rogan had mentioned on Feb. 4's meeting and later clarified as meaning administrative investigations waiting until the criminal review period has passed, and said the CPRC would not be allowed to conduct one. It's unfortunate that this very misleading terminology is apparently circulating through City Hall like a bad cold because it's just adding to the confusion of the situation. But then again, most of this confusion is being generated by those who don't want people to see what's happening with perfect clarity from City Hall.

Also confusing is this insistence suddenly that the CPRC commissioners are serving as criminal investigators. And that it's only a few commissioners trying this and "a few others", according to Leach. And that's the big problem right there with Leach is that every time he speaks on this issue, his account changes a little bit. He either adds to it like he did with this time with the Pearcy angle(which leaves a strong impression that information is being instructed to him to give out piecemeal) or he shifts the blame. Which makes you wonder if he even knows what he's saying from one meeting to one interview with the Press Enterprise to the next meeting and so forth. He's the bewildering piece of this entire puzzle, the one surrounding City Hall's micromanagement of the CPRC, in the wake of both the dissolution of the consent decree in 2006 and the passage of Measure II in 2004.

But there's this sudden admonition against the CPRC doing "criminal" investigations or "parallel criminal investigations."

Well, that's perfectly well and fine because the CPRC has never, ever conducted a criminal investigation of any form because that's outside its purview including on officer-involved deaths. The only existence of parallel criminal investigations is in cases where there are investigations being conducted by different law enforcement jurisdictions such as in the 1998 fatal shooting of Tyisha Miller which was criminally investigated by the Riverside Police Department's Officer-Involved Shooting Team as well as the FBI.

The CPRC's investigation is to determine whether or not the department's use of force policy (and sometimes secondary policies in terms of drafting policy recommendations) was followed or violated by the officers involved in the incustody deaths and to recommend a finding and issue policy recommendations. It is a fact-finding (read investigation) and a hearing (investigation and review) body.

Not whether the officer violated any provisions of the state penal code.

A potential wrinkle to that involves the CPRC's ability to investigate/receive/review complaints which include allegations of criminal conduct by police officers. Given that the CPRC by charter is allowed to investigate complaints as well, if they decided to do so in one of these cases.

Consultant Joe Brann who issued a report including recommendations on the CPRC mentioned the "review" of complaints and investigations where officers potentially face criminal charges, a concern that came out of the review (but not the investigation) of the Summer Marie Lane shooting case in 2004. He didn't issue any recommendations for the investigative process except in addressing the issue of whether or not to institute a pool of investigators to be hired by the CPRC for its investigators.

There may indeed be "confusion" or "miscommunication" involving this issue as claimed by Schiavone and other at City Hall or in the police department but the confusion appears to be on the city's end more than anywhere else because none of those raising the alarm can even come up with one cohesive argument in which they agree (and aren't contradicting each other on) and if there's miscommunication, it's difficult to believe that this isn't a deliberate action on the city's part.

Jim Garrison: "Dave, I find your story simply not believable."

Dave Ferrie: "Really, which part?"


More blood letting at the Press Enterprise as it prepares for the next round of layoffs which are to be announced by Belo Enterprises. This publication which hasn't generated a profit for Belo Enterprises (as it's located in ground zero of the current recession) is expecting hard hits.

Leaving the newspaper soon will be Riverside City Hall beat reporter, Doug Haberman who's switching careers. As newspapers including the Seattle Press-Intelligencer, San Francisco Chronicle, Rocky Mountain News and even the Philadelphia Inquirer are either closing shop or in danger of closing up, others are losing their more experienced reporters to buyouts or layoffs.

Dan Bernstein (who lost his Tuesday column when the newspaper reduced the days of publishing multiple zone editions) from the Press Enterprise broke the story of how Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco slashed $22,000 from his annual budget in response to the current recession and resultant budget crises.


Cuddles, the old softie, has already slashed his budget -- by $22K! He disclosed the cuts in the February issue of the RivCo Sheriff's Association newsletter.

But lopping 10 percent off his $67 million budget, as ordered by RivCo CEO Bill Luna? Why should he? The DA suggests RivCo's top budgeteers are, well, unbelievable!

"A couple of years ago," he wrote, "they underestimated by more than $100 million in (projected) revenue in one year ... they have (also) tended to overestimate costs ... In bad times, errors in 'projections' can give the impression of an accounting trick with very real and dire human consequences."

Bill Luna and his budgeteers a merry band of tricksters? Ray Smith, speaking for the county, says recent revenue projections have been conservative -- and still too low. "So the trick isn't in accounting, it's in doing the work to make sure you know what you're talking about."

Methinks he just poked Cuddles!

Riverside County Sheriff Stanley Sniff hasn't been fund raising for his election bid that long but he's already raised nearly $100,000 to put in the campaign kitty.

Donating $10,000 was the Riverside Sheriff's' Association, the labor union for many of the sworn employees. But there were other donors with department connections.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Sniff said that, unlike his predecessor, none of his executive staff is involved in his campaign activities. That removes any perception of favoritism or conflicts of interest, he said.

Some of the department's highest-ranking members are among Sniff's contributors, the records show. They include Assistant Sheriff William DiYorio ($1,000), Assistant Sheriff Craig Kilday ($100), and Jerry Gutierrez, who was named the department's first-ever correctional captain in July 2008 ($500). Sniff also received contributions from several lieutenants.

Asked whether receiving contributions from department personnel could still create perceptions of favoritism, Sniff said it wouldn't.

"Individuals have the right to contribute to whatever they want," he said, adding that individuals' decisions to contribute or not to contribute to his campaign have no bearing on promotions or transfers. Plus, senior staff make those decisions, he said.

Sniff also received contributions from Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco's campaign ($1,000), Riverside County Chief Probation Officer Alan Crogan ($350), former Riverside County Sheriff Larry Smith ($1,000), and Riverside County Superior Court judges Robert McIntyre ($250) and Paul Zellerbach ($125).

Not surprisingly, the comments thread is very illuminating.


Go Stan Go - No plan stan needs to go.

Is anyone REALLY suprised by who and how was "contributed"???? A bail bonds company that gets business from the county, a tow company that get business from the county, pacheco well that is a slippery slope. The cylones contributed??? That should be raising an eyebrow or three. I didnt vote for him in the last election - I Certainly will NOT be voting for him AGAIN in the next election. He has done NOTHING for the department, He ahs no direction no plan that wasn't handed to him.

I do not trust him - he pays that same game he accused Sheriff Doyle of, he finally terminated Therone, a Doyle supporter, he "promotes" that whiner hill. She is just plain embarassing and has set female presence in law enforcement back many years.

Wonderful =

Mr. Quan should have researched and published the Sheriff Select's comments from his public interview at the Board of Supervisor's meeting. Where he stood up and said he would not take any campaign contributions from employees. Come on Stan, who are you fooling. You were fired for the right reasons! You are the Sheriff-Select because the Board of Sups., DA and union needed a puppet. Now you have O'Reilly scripting for you, you are a sad and lonely man!
Stay tuned for more to come...

A firefighter in Murrieta pleads not guilty to sexually assaulting a teenager.

Canyonlake has put aside some of its recent city council controversies to pass an ordinance protecting the hillsides.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The City Council, as it did at a meeting in February, voted 3-0 to adopt the ordinance, which takes effect in 30 days.

As in recent proceedings, two council members, Martin Gibson and Jordan Ehrenkranz, did not participate.

Gibson is one of the owners of Goetz Hill, and Ehrenkranz awaits a decision by the state Fair Political Practices Commission to determine if he is disqualified from voting on Goetz Hill decisions because of possible financial conflicts of interest.

The ordinance will define what can be developed on hillsides with a 25 to 50 percent slope and prohibits development on hillsides with slopes of 50 percent or more.

Grading within 100 feet horizontally or 50 feet vertically of any of the ridgelines protected under its provisions would also be prohibited.

As at previous meeting, opponents and supporters weighed in on the new rules, which would limit development on the top of the city's tallest ridgelines, including Goetz Hill, where a proposed development has been the subject of months of controversy in the gated community.

The recall efforts against a Lake Elsinore city councilman continues.

The San Bernardino Police Officers' Association gave up $3.3 million in benefit concessions.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Officers, who began voting Monday, wrapped up the vote Wednesday evening, union President Rich Lawhead said.

The 195-51 vote "shows the membership wanted to give. Had the city negotiated in good faith from the start, we wouldn't have gotten to where we are," he said.

Lawhead said Interim City Manager Mark Weinberg changed the city's negotiating position during talks and refused to consider requests for concessions, including binding arbitration in some labor disputes, that would have cost the city nothing.

Weinberg said he sought to limit discussions to budgetary matters and felt he bargained in good faith.

"We're gratified by the result of the vote. We think it's ratification of the fact that the (union) membership is absolutely sincere in its stated attempt to help the city resolve its financial crisis," he said.

The City Council voted 4-2 on Feb. 19, with Esther Estrada absent and Wendy McCammack dissenting, to order officers to work one less hour per shift, the equivalent of a 10 percent pay cut. The furloughs began Sunday.

Two criminologists hired in San Bernardino County which was under a deep freeze.

And in Colton, the city's offering golden handshakes to some of its employees.

In Hackensack, New Jersey, allegations of harassment rock the police department there.

(excerpt, Hackensack Chronicle)

According to records, an initial round of 25 disciplinary charges was filed against Viola on Jan. 6 for having her driver’s license suspended several times while serving as a police officer and driving a police car. Viola was then hit on Feb. 2 with 19 more administrative charges tied to her license problems.

In the letter, Burden noted that Viola once had a two-year relationship with Deputy Chief Frank Zisa, Chief Zisa’s brother. Burden went on to state that the charges are a reprisal for Viola’s complaints about her supervisor, as well as for her finishing the relationship with the deputy chief.

"These charges are outrageous and, by virtue of discipline sought, Chief Zisa is openly abusing his power in an effort to end Officer Viola’s employment with the Department," Burden wrote.

Copies of the letter have been sent to City Attorney Joseph Zisa, Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli and state Attorney General Anne Milgram. A copy was also sent to State Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck), a longtime political rival of Chief Zisa.

Zisa denies allegations; prosecutor’s office reviewing letter

Chief Zisa stated that the allegations detailed in the letter are untrue, adding that his department’s internal affairs officers acted in concert with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office on the case. Zisa added that he was not a direct participant in the investigation.

"Her allegations are false, and I can only assume that she made those allegations to gain leverage in her case," said Zisa in a previously published report, noting that additional administrative charges have been filed against Viola. "I’m not going to respond to each one individually, but I can tell you the allegations are false and that her slanderous comments toward me will be dealt with in an appropriate form at the conclusion of her case."

The Office of Police Complaints in Washington, D.C. may be expanded by actions taken by the city government. Ironic considering that most governmental entities try to weaken civilian oversight in their midst not beef it up.

(excerpt, Washington City Paper)

Earlier this month, three D.C. Councilmembers—Mendelson, Cheh, and Bowser— introduced legislation that would significantly beef up the oversight powers of the Office of Police Complaints. The bill would expand the authority of the Police Complaints Board to monitor complaints filed with D.C. Police and Housing Authority cops. The bill would remedy the on-going problem of the D.C. cops investigating their own without much if any kind of outside oversight. The OPC was so elated with this bill, the agency wrote a press release.

This is big news. The D.C. Police have always shielded its investigations into misconduct from FOIA laws, claiming these investigations as work product. I addressed the issue years ago in a piece about four Sixth District cops with a stack of citizen complaints. This bill may finally shine some daylight on police-led investigations of excessive force.

The bill states that the board “shall have unfettered access to all information and supporting documentation of the covered law enforcement agencies…”

Seems like the bill has teeth. Expect a huge fight over the unfettered access line.

OPC Executive Director Philip Eure sees the bill as necessary. “The upshot is we are trying to update the authority of our agency to be able to provide even more effective oversight of police complaints,” he says. “We want to promote greater police accountability….We need to know how MPD deals with citizen complaints.”

A police chief in Massachusetts isn't going to prison despite his criminal conviction.

(excerpt, The Boston Channel)

NewsCenter 5's Steve Lacy reported that a Norfolk Superior Court judge sentenced Cachopa to a probationary sentence Thursday following the conviction and also ruled that he must serve 1,000 hours of community service.

"He allowed his personal feelings to interfere with his public and his professional responsibilities," said Judge Janet Sanders, who also ordered Cachopa to submit to a mental health evaluation.

Prosecutor George Jabour told a courtroom packed with spectators that Cachopa had committed an egregious abuse of his power as the head of the Stoughton Police Department, which has been rife with discontent in recent years.

"He did nothing less than distort and obstruct a very serious investigation into very serious conduct that no one with an ounce of moral fiber would have done," said Jabour, who asked Judge Sanders to issue a nine-month jail sentence to the ex-police chief.

Cachopa was convicted for his participation in a 2007 crime, in which Stoughton Police Sgt. David M. Cohen placed a former Stoughton businessman in handcuffs while attempting to collect a $10,000 debt owed to a friend, according to the Patriot Ledger. A third officer was acquitted of charges in the case.

Defense attorney Robert George argued during the sentencing the Cachopa will be unable to earn a living to support his family, and will have difficulty finding work in any of the fields he would be qualified for.

"He is 57 years old in the worst economy anyone can remember," said George. "He has no ability to get a job in most of the professions he could get a job in because he's a convicted felon."

Ward Two City Council candidate Ahmad R. Smith will be speaking to the Friday Morning Club on March 6 at 10 a.m. at the Janet Goeske Center at 5257 Sierra Street.

More information on Smith and his campaign platform is available here.

From the corner that makes you go, "crikey dick!" or "get off the grass" but apparently, it's dinkum not bunkum.

In what can only be considered a travesty on the global scale, a mall in Christchurch, New Zealand is playing Barry Manilow music to scare off teenage loitering at its biggest mall which is actually more of a shopping district with hundreds of shops than a mall.

First of all, Manilow's not that bad in all situations and that mall's always been noisy. It's outside after all and a nice place to shop. But then Christchurch, a city that once was the same size of Riverside is actually a much better designed city in many ways. The garden city.

The only thing that's tricky to figure out are the round-abouts.

But in the truly doormat category is Molly who became Jason's pick after he dumped his pick, Melissa on television. Here is the last email exchange between Jason and Melissa after he dumped her on the air of the final episode of "Bachelor" to hook up with Molly. Why do they have shows like this one again?

Molly dear, give it a couple weeks and Jason will have to "find himself" again and he'll dump you for the next thing and leave you confused just like Melissa.

And Rihanna, once a batterer always a batterer, run do not walk away.

For a donation of $5 per plate we will be serving you a PANCAKE BREAKFAST:


Please join us Saturday, March 7, 2009 from 8 to noon

at the Community Settlement Association, located at 4366 Bermuda Avenue, in Riverside

All proceeds will go toward REWARD MONEY for material information or evidence, which leads to the identity and conviction of any person or persons responsible for the deaths of Ramiro Sanchez and Salvador Solis.

Thank you for your help!

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