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, April 29, 2009

As Riverside went, so shall Maywood go

"The badge and the gun -- they're power. And that power has to be exercised with restraint under the law. In Maywood, this wasn't the case."

---State Attorney General Jerry Brown at a press conference

“"I decided there were systemic problems with the Riverside Police Department,” Lockyer said. “There were a lot of instances in which African-Americans were beaten, Hispanics beaten and tossed in the lake, and Gays and Lesbians harassed and beaten. I spent a year and a half negotiating with the Riverside Police Department for such basic demands as psychological evaluations for officers before they are hired, up-to-date training, community relations boards, availability and training in use of non-lethal weapons, TV cameras in the chief's office and the squad room and video and audio recording in police cars.” The intent of these reforms, Lockyer said, was to break the macho culture of the police department and the racism and sexism that went along with it."

---Former State Attorney General Bill Lockyer about Riverside's police department at a public appearance in San Diego in 2003.

What: State mandated reforms are coming to another police department near you.

Where: Maywood, California

When: Don't know but it can't be too soon for this trouble-plagued agency

California State Attorney General Jerry Brown has mandated a series of reforms involving the Maywood Police Department which will be the second police department in the state after Riverside's to be placed in a consent decree by this office. The announcement stemmed from a press conference Brown gave in Maywood announcing the results of an 18 month probe into the police department by police practices consultant Joe Brann.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

A veteran policing expert who oversaw the attorney general's probe called Maywood "one of the worst" departments he had ever seen.

The attorney general's office launched its investigation in April 2007, shortly after The Times published an article calling the department "a haven for misfit cops." The article revealed that at least a third of the officers on what was then a 37-member force had either been forced out of previous police jobs or had had brushes with the law while working in Maywood.

The attorney general's report offered a top-to-bottom critique of the department, citing inadequate screening of officers before they were hired and a lack of proper training and supervision once they were on the job.

The culture of the department, the report found, was "permeated with sexual innuendo, harassment, vulgarity, discourtesy to members of the public as well as among officers, and a lack of cultural, racial and ethnic sensitivity and respect."

The report's authors faulted the Maywood City Council for failing to hold the Police Department accountable.

At what appeared to be a hastily arranged news conference Tuesday afternoon, the police chief and several City Council members said they had already begun to overhaul the department.

"My belief is that the things in that report are things of the past," said Chief Frank Hauptmann, who was appointed to the job in December.

What's so fascinating about the happenings in Maywood is the sense of deja vu they provide for people in Riverside which takes us all back to early 2001 when then State Attorney General Bill Lockyer made a similar announcement and received some very familiar responses from a then defensive city government which responded in a similar way that Maywood's power structure did. Which then elicited the same response from Brown that the same comments from Riverside's City Hall elicited from Lockyer.

Here's what happened in Maywood.


At what appeared to be a hastily arranged news conference Tuesday afternoon, the police chief and several City Council members said they had already begun to overhaul the department.

"My belief is that the things in that report are things of the past," said Chief Frank Hauptmann, who was appointed to the job in December.

The attorney general's report acknowledged some recent improvements, but said that the current reform effort was "in its infancy" and that "the underlying structural and cultural causes of many of the deficiencies . . . have not been remedied.

Now look what Lockyer said to an audience at an appearance in 2003 when he spoke about the reforms he pushed on the Riverside Police Department.

(excerpt, San Diego Indymedia)

Lockyer found that the Riverside City Council balked at signing on to the deal. They did some things of their own, which they'd done three times before, and each time there had been slight improvements and then things had got worse again, he recalled. “Finally I went to one of the Council meetings and said, The choice is, you adopt the reforms or I will sue you and we'll see what the federal courts have to say.’ They said, ‘"Our constituents don't like outsiders coming in",’ and I said, ‘"I've got news for you. All your constituents are my constituents as well. They voted 7-2 for the reforms, and two years later the Riverside police chief, a new one they brought in from outside" he said, Had it not been for Lockyer's intervention, nothing would have changed.”

So it appears that it's customary for state attorney generals to be a bit forceful in their language when trying to rein in recalcitrant cities to do what they neglected to do for years and that's ensure that their department grows along with their cities and are complying with federal and state laws at all times. But like Riverside before it, Maywood's police department was alleged to have violated state laws due to a long period of negligence by the city council and police department. Neglect which lasted decades before finally coming to a head through the announcement made over a year ago that Maywood Police Department would be facing at least three outside probes.

The cities will of course deny that this ever happened to the bitter end and in Riverside's case, even beyond that. At a Community Police Review Commission meeting, the issue of Riverside's own foray into a consent decree was brought up by a commissioner and City Attorney Gregory Priamos quickly interjected that the violations of the state's constitution and state law made in Lockyer's writ to Riverside County Superior Court were simply allegations. Allegations which incidentally the city never admitted to allowing its police department to commit, language asserting such was included in that which made up the settlement agreement between the city and the state. But Priamos was just as adamant that there was no merit to the allegations as he was when the city entered into the decree.

What to call a Consent Decree: Riverside and Maywood

It's not clear what this reform mandate issued to Maywood will actually be called. There's a story that has floated around Riverside for years that there was a bit of a skirmish in the halls of power at Sacramento over what to call Riverside's own consent decree, the first issued by a State Attorney General's office both in the state and in the nation. Apparently, Mayor Ron Loveridge, a lover of language, begged and pleaded with Lockner not to call the five-year court-ordered reform process a "consent decree" (which is technically, actually a term associated with reform processes issued by federal agencies including the Department of Justice) and Lockyer after probably rolling his eyes several times, finally relented and it was called the much more benign term, "stipulated judgment". No doubt there was genuine fear that calling it a "consent decree" would scare tourists away from Riverside's downtown which after all, was still recovering from a year's worth of protesting done largely by men, women and children of color who aren't exactly wanted in the pristine downtown mall.

It's not clear yet what Maywood will call its own mandated reform process if a judge agrees to put the city and its department under a decree of sorts. Hopefully, it will stake a greater priority to the process itself rather than what it's actually called including on the press release.

Will there be civilian review in Maywood?

Another component that came not as part of the consent decree imposed on Riverside but as a parallel development was the creation and implementation of the Community Police Review Commission which until recently served as the form of civilian oversight in Riverside. Maywood flirted with civilian review not long after Riverside had installed its commission and had invited several members of the CPRC to give a presentation at City Hall but this meeting apparently never took place.

But if Maywood ever gets a form of civilian oversight, it has to of course undergo its own course which hopefully would be far different than what's happened in Riverside where civilian oversight was installed. Then it was attacked by City Hall and the police union which funded some of those elected officials at City Hall. Then a majority of the city's voters put it in the city's charter to avoid this kind of behavior by city officials and the police department. Of course as the case has clearly shown, the micromanagement by City Hall truly began in earnest within two years of the passage of Measure II. About nine months ago, it got ramped up several notches by City Hall and has given us the very dilapidated and ineffective police commission that we have today.

It looks like so far Maywood will avoid the same fate.

Who will lead the reform process?

That's an important question that arises in any city or county placed under a federal or state consent decree in terms of who will push the reform process forward. In many police departments, the police chiefs have not survived federal and/or state pattern and practice investigations themselves or they might not last the duration of the federal or state consent decree process. Police Chief Jerry Carroll retired from the Riverside Police Department before its state investigation was even completed in 2000. Los Angeles Police Chief Bernard Parks didn't outlast the consent decree posted on Los Angeles by the Department of Justice.

In Riverside, there were inhouse and outside acting or interim police chiefs running the department until about nine months before it entered into its stipulated judgment with the state.
Russ Leach, a former LAPD captain and El Paso Police Department chief, was hired in autumn 2000 to lead the police department and still holds that position today, three years after the dissolution of the stipulated judgment which took place in March 2006.

Maywood lost its police chief when the scandals about its problems including corruption broke several years ago. The city council appointed a series of interim chiefs including two with criminal convictions in their records and one of those had been fired from Maywood's police department after being caught on surveillance camera having sex while onduty with the owner of a donuts shop. The third interim chief didn't have a criminal record and remained employed during the investigation that was conducted by Brown's office until he was replaced by the current chief last December.

The investigative report into Maywood's department blamed part of what happened on the city council which is similar to what happened with Riverside where Lockyer attributed much of the negligence and problems with the police department on the city government.

Lockyer's assertion was many a time that the reform process in Riverside involving its police department had to involve the three partners of public safety which were the community, the police department and City Hall. The same emphasis likely will be made in Maywood during its reform process but like Riverside, what will ultimately tell the tale of success or failure depends on the sustainment of that effort among these stake holders in the process.

That's what happened in Riverside in 2006 when City Manager Brad Hudson was assigned the task of ensuring that the implementation of the police department's strategic plan continued onward after the dissolution of the judgment. A task which took him a lot longer and some hefty resteering of the S.S. Hudson to get him to do successfully. By that time, the department had struggled with staying on course with the reforms it had implemented under the judgment with management displaying uneven progression among its ranks in terms of taking what it had learned from the consent decree period and applying it in practice without any outside oversight.

Now in 2009, the department has to address hiring freezes and promotional freezes at the supervisory levels, with staffing ratios pertaining to officers to supervisors not at the levels they should be. This mirrors the situation that took place in the late 1990s during a much more mild economic downturn. That and a weakened form of civilian oversight that matches efforts made to weaken its predecessor, LEPAC in the 1990s, make for an interesting if not entirely promising road ahead.

Over 40 people attended the Ward Four city council candidates debate held at the Villegas Community Center in Casa Blanca. Up at bat were incumbent Councilman Frank Schiavone and challenger, Paul Davis. And the verbal sparring made it an interesting evening.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The two argued on issues ranging from the Riverside Renaissance to parking problems on street-sweeping days. The spirited 1½-hour exchange sponsored by The League of Women Voters of Northwest Riverside County drew about 60 residents to the Villegas Community Center in Casa Blanca.

Davis criticized the funding of the Riverside Renaissance project, which was approved in fall 2006 and will cost more than $2 billion. He said the city passed the plan without a ballot initiative, then realized, "Oops, we forgot the library."

Davis said city government needs to open its books to involve the public in decision making. The financial burden will fall on the next two generations, he said.

Schiavone said Riverside Renaissance is 2½ years ahead of schedule and is akin to "Obama's stimulus package" because it has created thousands of jobs. The library and park in Orangecrest have become "flagships for the city" through Renaissance dollars, he said.

That was one of the most hyperbolic comments of the evening, when Schiavone said that President Barack Obama modeled his stimulus package after Riverside's Renaissance, completely forgetting that more likely, Obama modeled the Economic Recovery Act on programs instituted by former President Franklyn D. Roosevelt in the 1930s. What would have been more accurate to say is that the State Attorney General's office modeled its reform mandate for Maywood's police department after one used in Riverside, which would actually put Riverside in a better light because that was a landmark piece of reform. But hey, at least neither one of them said they invented the Internet or established the CPRC or anything like that.

Both candidates presented interesting information about themselves fairly deep into what has been a contentious election cycle and as the date approaches when the mail-in ballots will be sent out, the election is still heating up but it's winding down as well.

Many of the questions asked the candidates surrounded parking, public works improvements and the city's finances, particularly involving the expenditure of the Riverside Renaissance. The forum was held by the League of Women Voters as part of its ongoing series for this election cycle. They asked questions, then fielded questions from city residents and then added a bonus round at the end through the final statements.

One of the legislative aides, who works for Councilman Chris MacArthur submitted two question cards according to several people attending the event. But other individuals who attended the forum submitted their questions as well and some of them were selected for being answered by the candidates.

Davis asked City Hall to open up its financial records covering the expenditures of all the projects placed under the umbrella, "Riverside Renaissance" while Schiavone asked Davis to release his personnel files from his employment with the Riverside Police Department. Miguel Morales, who is a member or the member of the "Riverside Press Club" had asked this question at a recent forum at the Stratton Center, but Morales wasn't present at the candidates forum at the Villegas Center.

Morales spent public comment during one recent city council bashing Mary Humboldt, calling her a "liar". Another city resident attending that meeting saw Morales apparently being embraced by Schiavone's legislative aide after he had made those comments against Humboldt.

Humboldt just ignored the mean-spirited behavior of her critics and continued doing what she always does which is to try to enforce the city's growth control measures passed by the city's voters because the city chooses not to follow the will of the voters with those laws any more than it does with the CPRC. Of course, Humboldt being active is going to foster more angry and nasty comments against her and that's very unfortunate. But she still keeps doing the work she does anyway when addressing issues such as the CPRC and growth control issues involving the development of the city's hilly areas.

"Swine" flu strikes the Inland Empire. But how severe is it?

Former San Bernardino County Assessor Bill Postmus appeared in court. At the same time, the Press Enterprise Editorial Board urged that the investigative report produced by the county be made public.


The board's statement did not explain why the county could not release the report immediately, instead of waiting for supervisors' decision on suing. Two extra weeks of secrecy hardly seem pivotal to any potential legal case, especially as the board intends to make the document public anyway. Nor did the attorney conduct a criminal investigation that might require secrecy.

A two-week delay hardly seems justified, but even so would be an improvement over the county's handling of the last outside attorney investigation. Supervisors sat on reports about a county jail purchase and a questionable land deal for months before releasing the documents in 2006. About all the secrecy accomplished was to drive public skepticism to new heights.

A county with a history of high-profile scandals cannot afford to let suspicions of government flourish unchecked. Releasing the report is the best way for supervisors to demonstrate that the supervisors give top priority to the public interest, and not political convenience.

A huge $4 million jury's verdict to the family of Arthur Lewis who was killed by Riverside County Sheriff's Department deputies several years ago.

(Excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Late Tuesday afternoon, a jury in Riverside County Superior Court awarded $1.6 million each to Lewis' two young sons, and $750,000 to each of his parents, who witnessed the incident in the living room of their home.

"It was a big sigh of relief to get some kind of justice for my son," Lewis' mother, Jessie Lewis, said by phone.

Bruce Disenhouse, the attorney representing Riverside County, did not return a phone call seeking comment Wednesday afternoon.

Lewis, 33, was a U.S. Navy veteran and Moreno Valley High School graduate.

His parents had called 911 on Oct. 30, 2003, seeking medical assistance, because he was not eating or taking his anti-anxiety medication.

A deputy arrived at the parents' home and called for additional help because he believed Lewis would physically resist, according to a Sheriff's Department statement released after the incident. The officers used pepper spray and wrestled Lewis to the ground.

Lewis stopped breathing, and deputies performed CPR until paramedics arrived. He was taken to Riverside County Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Hemet plans to try to recover its costs for nonemergency calls to the city's fire department.

It doesn't happen often but in the case of the assistant chief from the Los Angeles County Fire Department who is facing animal cruelty charges, he testified at his preliminary hearing.

Bizarre "fan" mail alert.

Apparently if you're a female blogger who discusses local politics, you have to be obsessed with politicians or a woman who's been spurned. Would any rock dweller write this about a male blogger who had the audacity to write about a local political election? Of course not.

What kind of sexist drivel is that? Hardly surprising from a guy that thinks calling me a "spinster" is going to require someone to pass out the smelling salts. Some day, we'll have a more enlightened society when relics like this individual and their outdated attitudes are pretty much rendered obsolete.

I'm beginning to wonder if I spurned him somewhere along the lines. If I did, clearly it was for good reason. Eeek!

At any rate, here is the missive in its unadulterated glory.

(excerpt, Craigslist)

Mary is clearly obsessed or fantasizing about Schiavone.Good God Lady !! I have never seen one person write or talk about someone as much as Mary talks about Schiavone.She acts as though he is the center of the universe.

Bitter is as bitter does

There's a couple truly creepy ones for this category. These are just sick and kind of obsessive I think. Notice, both of the targets are female.

Read these two postings at Craigslist and ask yourself, who are the bitter ones?
Because the postings below are exactly what bitterness and anger sound like in most people's opinions. And yeah, given that one anonymous person has posted what he believed to be my neighborhood online at Craigslist, I'm going to be very careful in case one of these disturbed individuals shows up at my front door when harassing me online just isn't enough to get them off anymore.

Seriously, how do you think these individuals would react if their candidate did lose the election based on what is written below? Do you think they would react to loss well? Does it look like it? Reading their hateful rhetoric including sexually graphic posts about my breasts and so forth is kind of scary and sometimes it makes me think twice about blogging because I don't always know if it's safe to do so. But I do have supporters out there and that helps mitigate the fear factor of having creeps like this try to intimidate myself and others who have criticized the city's direction or even just questioned it.

What "all of us" is learning is that you dare criticize a politician's practices in this town, this is what his supporters write about you. Not political criticism about what you write about but personalized attacks about your body parts, your undergarments, mental status and where they think you live. That's not criticism except in the mind of someone filled with bitterness and hatred.

This is why people don't go to city council and speak out at meetings and people have told me this.
This is just really sick stuff. It's intended to try to prevent me from blogging and other people from speaking out. It's especially sick considering who's doing it because I have never actually met most of these people in my life. But most people see it for what it is which is ugly.

Yes I agree. FBM Mary is proving to all of us that she can be as ugly on the inside as she is on the outside.
FBM Mary is a very bitter person at that. But hey, wouldn't you also be bitter if you had no talent whatsoever, and no respectable local newspaper would hire you as a reputable reporter.
Most people might want to keep that ugliness inside hidden to thyself, but not FBM, she has a vengeance for anyone who dares cross her.
During this election year, FBM is currently targeting the incumbents (Frank Schiavone and Nancy Hart) that don't agree with her politics.
Oh but FBM will not target her Ward 2 Councilman Andy Melendrez despite his voting against Chinatown (one of FBM's causes).
FBM Mary thinks that we do not want her to blog, that is not the case, blogging allows FBM to express the rage within herself so as not to go postal upon innocent citizens. Although that does happen if you've seen her at council meetings.

Yes, blogging, medication and lots of walking is the prescription for this overzealous and angry feminist.

Here's another rant by an obviously happy, contented individual. This one was written against Davis' campaign manager, Catherine Barrett Fisher, presumably.
Again, no name signed to it but then there never is. After all, who would want to own up to this type of crap? They know most people wouldn't like what they were doing which is why they don't sign their names to it.

As to the forum tonight - Even CBF had a hard time keeping her Malicifent look on her face! She clearly wanted to shove those repetitive, non-sincere words back down her candidate's throat! The word for the night was "squirm"! As in what Davis did in his hot seat!

In a nutshell, uninformed, unimpressive, and basically "un" everything this city has strived for. He could not have been a weaker candidate

Where else does rants like these come from, but truly bitter-hearted individuals? Individuals who have much to lose if their candidate does perhaps? They sure act like it one would think. Just like they did last year in the county supervisor race but for some reason this year, the volume is cranked up a notch in nasty and highly personalized rhetoric.

Where does this kind of ugliness come from? And what does it say about a political candidate who surrounds himself with such people who likely only show this side of themselves when they hide behind anonymity. But then there's a reason to that and it's called cowardice and maybe a bit of desperation.
But why the desperation? It's just an election.

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