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, April 09, 2009

Election 2009: CPRC protocol to go to full city council

The discussion of the investigative protocol for the Riverside Community Police Review Commission when it comes to its charter-mandated duty to investigate officer-involved deaths will be heading to the full city council possibly as early as next Tuesday, April 14. This news came my way through two city council members Mike Gardner and Andrew Melendrez after the Transportation Committee meeting.

Gardner had discussed the issue with Schiavone and had said that he had intended to set the item to be agendized at the end of the city council meeting on April 14. Later, Melendrez said that it might be scheduled on the discussion calendar for that date's evening session.

As you know, the Governmental Affairs Committee originally opted not to take it to the city council preferring to take the less democratic route of allowing it as one councilman (not on the committee) said, "die in committee". The decision surprised many people who assumed that the committee would move any recommendation forward to the full legislative body but then again, this is the CPRC. It's clear that there are two city councilmen on the committee who are answering to constituents apart from the voters in their respective wards, given the performance of Measure II in those words during the November 2004 election. When it comes to the CPRC, they simply prove that over and over. There's what they say and then there's what they do and many people in this city clearly understand the difference when it comes to this issue.

And if these council members aren't getting many phone calls or emails on the CPRC, it's because in most cases, people don't approach their elected officials for redress for issues near and dear to them that they know their elected representatives strongly oppose. Why? Because it's a waste of time. If they went to Adams or Schiavone for example to ask them to reconsider, it would be a purely wasted effort because these two men simply answer to another group of constituents on this issue and they always done so.

That's why they get the huge donations from the RPOA including the $2,500 that Schiavone received last December because in part, they are carrying out the work of dismantling piece by piece, charter power by charter power, the CPRC.

If you doubt this, read the motion that the Governmental Affairs Committee tried to push through to the CPRC without going to the city council and you'll notice that when it comes to "policy direction", there's nothing in that language that actually specifies investigative protocol for officer-involved deaths. The language is actually a bit more all encompassing to that, putting other charter powers of the CPRC at potential risk of a future round of micromanagement.

But here's what the Governmental Affairs Committee action on April 8 meant.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The committee's decision means the review commission will have to wait until the Police Department investigation into an officer-involved death concludes before the city will fund a private investigation for the civilian body.

The committee meeting included Councilmen Steve Adams, Frank Schiavone and Andy Melendrez.

Chief Russ Leach said during the committee meeting that his agency will work to improve communication with the review commission. He had previously said the department's relationship with the review commission was at an all-time low.

Because police investigations can take six months or more, Leach said he will have a captain give periodic updates to the review commission.

Some questions arose from the meeting and from this news article, not surprising in the least.

Does Leach miss the "good old days" of LEPAC?

Leach speaks at different meetings about the CPRC and more often than not, repeats his assertion that the relationship between the CPRC and the police department was better in the past during the time it was chaired by one of the original commissioners, Bill Howe. But listening to him repeat that speech at the Governmental Affairs Committee, it became clear that his focus the whole time was on the CPRC as a policy making body. He kept saying that the CPRC should return to the days when it was "making good policy recommendations". But those "good old days" never happened, at least not involving the CPRC. Until now, the CPRC's prescribed role first under the municipal code and later the city charter, has never been to simply recommend policy changes. This is but one of the CPRC's powers and responsibilities.

What Leach misses is a civilian oversight body of sorts that he has nothing more than a passing relationship with at best and that's LEPAC. LEPAC, the Law Enforcement Policy Advisory Committee was created by the Human Relations Commission as a subcommittee in the 1980s in response to a community cry over a controversial incident involving a woman who was bitten in her own home by an officer's canine. When the Mayor's Use of Force Panel did its probe into the police department in 1999, it studied the relationship between LEPAC and the police department as well as the city council. What it decided is that LEPAC was a form of civilian oversight albeit a weak one. My introduction to LEPAC was in early 1999 when a group of citizens commandeered a meeting between LEPAC and then Chief Jerry Carroll not long after the fatal officer-involved shooting of Tyisha Miller and it didn't take long to realize that Carroll was already in way over his head and that LEPAC was too weak an entity to install any meaningful trust towards the police department and the city by Riverside's communities.

LEPAC was dissolved in 2000 not long after Leach was installed as police chief replacing Carroll and a couple of acting or interim chiefs. But it's clear that this is the form of civilian oversight that Leach wants for the police department and nothing more. And it's clear that it's his wish that officer-involved death investigations could be done away with altogether which puts him on the same page as the Riverside Police Officers' Association. It's also clear that he's pretty much parroting what Schiavone and DeSantis are saying. A far cry from the police chief that he was when he arrived in Riverside in 2000 to lead a broken down police department about six months away from a state consent decree.

It's difficult to believe that a chief could have seen the difficulty of that time period and then seems to wish for those days.

And it's interesting how the CPRC that Leach described during his comments (that is, when he was directed to speak) was very similar to the LEPACish version that Schiavone used in his op-ed piece written with Adams and Hart.

Of course in order to reduce the CPRC into the smaller package that was LEPAC, more actions will have to be taken against it by the city council and its direct staff, so after the Hudson protocol is ramrodded perhaps as early as April 14, expect more micromanagement to come.

As for Leach's "promises" to have a captain come and regularly brief the commission, it remains to be seen if that will be done. After all, he promised at several community forums last year that he would deliver the initial briefings on officer-involved deaths to the CPRC himself but that didn't happen. Instead, Capt. Mark Boyer from Investigations carries out that task and acquits himself fairly well.

But if Leach is serious about providing regular briefings, then he'd better get his calendar out and start scheduling updates for the Sept. 1, 2008 Carlos Quinonez, Sr. shooting, the Sept. 11, 2008 Fernando Luis Sanchez shooting and the Oct. 31, 2008 Marlon Oliver Acevedo death cases pretty soon, because months have passed and certainly there's more information that can be provided through updates.

The first bit of information provided in these updates would be approximate dates these respective investigations will reach the CPRC.

The minority voice speaks

Melendrez had been the sole minority voice against the decision pushed by the other committee members. He said after the meeting that the city council would be reviewing the recommendation issued by the Governmental Affairs Committee in "two weeks". It wasn't until later that he learned that the committee had voted against forwarding the issue to the entire city council relying on what's been called a parliamentarian provision of the committee that allows it to veto sending an issue to the city council. However, in this case, it was clearly done because two members of the committee unlike Melendrez didn't want the full council to discuss this issue at an evening meeting that's televised. One or both of them clearly have done some thinking in the hours that have passed since the Governmental Affairs Committee meeting was held and have tried to shift that course including minimizing the damage to themselves.

If you read the original report sent to the Governmental Affairs Committee, you will see that even back then, it was recommended by Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis to essentially bypass the city council and have the committee direct policy for one of the city's boards and commissions. Schiavone and Adams picked up that ball and went running with it.

(excerpt, report)

That the Governmental Affairs Committee receive the findings presented in the report, and provide policy direction as to whether existing Community Police Review Commission protocols remain sufficient to meet the Commission's prescribed duties

It's pretty clear what the intention was when this item was brought back from the top-secret ad hoc committee which never posted a single meeting date in a public location so that city residents could know what was going on. But DeSantis is directed by Hudson who's directed by the city council and in this case, probably two members of the Governmental Affairs Committee so the intention was most likely to avoid taking it to the full council. That's crystal clear because if the committee's two majority members had intended to do this, they would have done it at the meeting and not the morning after.

What did the Governmental Affairs Committee do exactly?

Melendrez said that no official vote was taken. Because Schiavone chaired the committee, he couldn't make the motion himself so Adams did it. This left Melendrez to second it and he didn't want to do so because he didn't support it. So the opinion on the committee was 2-1 but the issue "died" in committee. Melendrez as stated

At least until several other city council members discovered what had happened and started asking about it, especially after the Press Enterprise wrote about it.

What exactly is this "written protocol" that the CPRC is supposed to return to enforcing?

There's actually no written protocol for the CPRC to follow for officer-involved deaths. The term, officer-involved deaths or "OID" isn't even mentioned in the bylaws, apparently a requirement before such policy and procedures can be drafted and approved. So that's a bust except for the tendency of ill-informed city officials to drag out Policy & Procedure VIII (B) and try to force a round peg in a square hole by claiming that it covers OID investigations. It doesn't, in fact it never mentions the term at all. If you read the entire VIII section which is necessary to apply VIII (B) which is a sequential step in a longer process, you'll see that it can't cover OIDs for several reasons fundamental to the differences of how OID investigations and complaint investigations are done by the CPRC.

Councilman Mike Gardner who actually drafted VIII (B) while on the commission said it was intended to apply to OID investigative protocol.

The other document that gets dragged out when people start questioning the validity of the revisionist history of VIII (B) is some memo that Executive Director Don Williams allegedly crafted in 2002. It gets talked about a lot but copies of it have yet to be seen or distributed to the city residents. What's the reason for that? If that's the "smoking gun" pass it around and allow the city residents to read it for themselves and offer commentary on it.

The Governmental Affairs Committee won't. The city manager's office won't. CPRC Manager Kevin Rogan hasn't either. One wonders if the commissioners have even seen it. Then one wonders too if it even exists at all.

Why all the backpedaling after Wednesday's meeting?

Two words. Election year.

Speaking of the CPRC...

One interesting action was taken and announced by Schiavone's campaign consultant here. The "error" that was caught was in the first statement since removed that Schiavone established the CPRC. Of course it was impossible for that to happen because as stated here, the CPRC was created by the city council in early 2000 through ordinance adoption and Schiavone wasn't elected to the city council until November 2001. I heard some folks that said that Schiavone established the CPRC when Al Gore invented the internet. That statement has been removed from his Web site.

(excerpt, Craigslist)

Hey everybody just wanted to let you know that the CPRC information on Frank Schiavone's website has been corrected. Frank had caught the error in the copy but somehow it got past me when I put the website live on Monday. Appreciate you letting us know about it in a timely fashion with your posts on here.

If you haven't seen the site yet you can check it out at

Brian Floyd, Schiavone for City Council campaign.

One falsehood, accidental or not, in that section on the CPRC gone, several more to go. The other sentences as well as the position statement as a whole will be fully analyzed in a future blog posting, because after all, Schiavone's hardly an expert on the CPRC except in one area, how to micromanage it and try to promote that action as if he's its biggest savior or putting it more mildly supporter. At least, he's not still claiming he established it. Still, it's a bit painful to watch him mangle its historic background during public meetings because he apparently hasn't been briefed on it by the city manager's office or perhaps, Leach very well.

Leach's sense of history involving the CPRC ends at about 2003, after Howe stepped down as its chair and it all went to Hell, you would think from listening to him at meetings. But Leach is an "at will" employee and all employees of that class have their masters and one of his, sat right next to him during the Governmental Affairs Committee. A truly sad sight indeed.

It's very good that the Schiavone campaign made this adjustment. It's kind of strange how such "copy" was created in the first place but they did the right thing in a timely manner.

The Transportation Committee met to discuss the multi-modal transit center which But the discussion of Greyhound left no feeling that anyone had any idea on the committee where Greyhound will be after it is forced to vacate the downtown terminal on June 30. Chair Steve Adams took public comment and then began talking about "those people", you know the ones that are poor, disabled, elderly and such who rely on Greyhound at the tune of 83,000 riders a year to get around from one city to another. A UC Riverside Cal Pers representative brought in 200 signatures for a petition to keep Greyhound in Riverside to add to 80 or so more collected and submitted.

The Cal Pers representative said that many UCR students rely on Greyhound to travel during breaks and vacations. Students from California's School for the Deaf and Sherman Indian school also use Greyhound.

Christina Duran, a community leader from the Eastside suggested that the transit center be moved to Vine Street, which is where Metrolink already sits.

So the current countdown is about 82 days left until Greyhound leaves downtown and no new location found as of yet. This one feels like a filibuster by the council. Hopefully that's not the case but the clock's running out on Greyhound. What will be done by the June 30 date?

There's some issues with the wording on the deadline for the mail-in ballots for the city council elections impacting voters in the second, fourth and sixth wards. More information as it becomes available but you might have to mail in your ballots earlier than you think and the city and county apparently aren't really doing much outreach on this issue. Ballots have to be received by the deadline of June 2, and not merely postmarked for that date to be counted, according to some individuals.

And keep in mind this critical update which is related to scheduled postage increases taking place in May.

(excerpt, Riverside County Voters' Registrar)

An increase in postal prices will go into effect on May 11 impacting official election mail for the Consolidated Statewide Special Election. The price of a First
-Class Mail postage stamp will increase by 2 cents from 42 cents to 44 cents on May 11. However, Forever Stamps do not have a denomination and will be honored whenever they are used for a one-ounce letter mailing.

Vote-by-Mail ballots require 42 cents in postage or 1 first-class stamp. If you mail your return ballot envelope on or after May 11, 2009 you will need to follow the new postal rates. Voters residing in a mail ballot precinct and military voters have special return envelopes and do not have to pay postage. Voters temporarily residing outside of the territorial limits of the United States must add postage appropriate for their location.

For more information contact your local post office or visit

Ballots are set to be mailed out to registered voters in these three wards by May 4. Don't forget to mail yours in!

More posts on the issues of candidate Paul Davis' Riverside Police Department records. Earlier an anonymous individual had made a posting that the RPOA had donated money to Davis and then unanimously endorsed Schiavone through its PAC process as its Ward Four candidate of choice. If that happened, it must have been because the RPOA saw something in his personnel records it didn't like, according to this anonymous commenter apparently from the Schiavone campaign. That's one version of events, but something else apparently happened which is interesting and not included in that commentary.

Not long ago, some board members including at least two PAC chairs (actually a former one left as well at some point) resigned and left. At least two of them were long-standing board members. They've been replaced except for the PAC chairs, which aren't listed in the board of directors at the RPOA Web site anymore. Agree or disagree with the departees, the individuals who left were passionate about what they believed in and they didn't like the CPRC at all so the fact that they left raises an eyebrow or two. The ones who still are serving are passionate about what they believe and dislike the CPRC (except for one or two) as well. So what ultimately divided those who departed and those who stayed?

It's not easy to be involved in the interviewing and endorsement of candidates. It just looks that way from outside of it but it's something that can be both arduous and interesting from beginning to end.

It's also not mentioned in that posting about the unanimous vote for Schiavone by the RPOA PAC which was interesting considering that some individuals favor Davis. So clearly there are things going on in different fronts in terms of what's happening in this city.

Volunteers clean Evergreen Cemetery in downtown Riverside. The cemetery which was the final resting ground for many of Riverside's first residents has undergone extensive renovation in the past several years.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

"The cemetery is in the heart of the city with many historical founders buried here, but has fallen into significant disrepair," said Bob Nelson, newsletter editor for Uptown Kiwanis, in an e-mail.

Uptown Kiwanis was one of the groups that spent four hours cleaning up the cemetery Saturday.

The cemetery was chartered before the time that long-term care endowments were required by state law, Nelson said.

The Riverside Arlington Kiwanis Club, Key Clubs from Riverside's John North and Ramona high schools and the Circle K Club from UC Riverside were among the groups that took part in the volunteer work.

Portions of the cemetery were recently hydroseeded. Volunteers worked on the last remaining section that is not seeded.

"Evergreen Cemetery represents our Riverside history and heritage," wrote Steve Mains, the Uptown Kiwanis president, in an e-mail.

More on the lawsuit filed by the ACLU involving the raids of Black-owned barber shops by the Moreno Valley Police Department.

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