Five before Midnight

This site is dedicated to the continuous oversight of the Riverside(CA)Police Department, which was formerly overseen by the state attorney general. This blog will hopefully play that role being free of City Hall's micromanagement.
"The horror of that moment," the King went on, "I shall never, never forget." "You will though," the Queen said, "if you don't make a memorandum of it." --Lewis Carroll


My Photo
Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Monday, April 06, 2009

Hiding in Plain Sight: Female officer retention and the blue wall of silence

Recently, there was a summit held by the Russell Sage Foundation involving the newly created Consortium for Police Leadership in Equity which is an organization of five law enforcement agencies which are committed to addressing the issues of racial and gender equity in policing at all levels including at the very top. The summit was held in Denver in conjunction with the International Association of Police Chiefs Conference.

Law Enforcement agencies which are cooperating with consortium:

Denver Police Department

the Toronto Police Services

Houston Police Department

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

Interested law enforcement agencies include the following:

Chicago Police Department

Edmonton Police Department

Denton (TX) Police Department

Las Vegas Police Department

Milwaukee Police Department

Newark Police Department

Nashville Police Department

Portland Police Bureau

Salt Lake City Police Department

San Jose Police Department

Seattle Police Department

Toronto Police Department

Virginia Beach Police Department

How serious these police agencies are in terms of either participating or in declaring an interest remains to be seen and it's healthy to remain skeptical in light of law enforcement's dismal record in addressing racism and sexism not only within their ranks and their management but down to the roots of their police culture. Still, it's an exciting development in the field of law enforcement indicating the continued relationship between policing and sociology. The potential is always there but the reality? That still has yet to be written.

Where does the Riverside Police Department fit in all this? The answer is, it doesn't. Not only is the police department not participating in this summit or foundation, but it's apparently not interested in even talking about serious issues remaining involving its retention of male officers of color and female officers. In fact, at the moment the police department's management probably wouldn't have the time to go to the conference because it's too busy hiding from a much smaller and more local entity, the Human Resources Board.

Yes, it's true.

When the Human Resources Board asked the police department to brief it on the retention of female police officers in the department, the department stated in writing that it couldn't do so because it was too low on staffing to be able to send someone over to give the presentation. It can't find an officer that's at the lieutenant level or higher including officers in the Personnel Division to spend 10-15 minutes at City Hall sharing this information with the board. Nor can it find the time (and maybe the paper) to submit a written report on the issue.

Why is that?

When it comes to some areas, the police department has shown it can lead the profession in innovation, but one of those areas clearly isn't in its ability to retain female officers. While the recruitment and hiring of female officers has increased, the retention rates even by Chief Russ Leach's admission, continue to be poorer and lower than those of male officers. As time goes by, information is filtering in on possible reasons why the retention levels of female officers continue to tank and if the retention levels are indeed tanking, there appears to be some reasons why. And maybe it's time to start blogging more about them.

But City Hall once again has stepped forward not to enlighten but to obstruct the gathering of information about one of its departments. Using not just one player, but two of them in its list of performers.

The first line of defense: City Attorney Gregory Priamos

The Human Resources Board first raised the issue of receiving a presentation from the police department on the retention of female officers late last year. They submitted this request through Human Resources Director Rhonda Strout to ask for information first about an internal audit allegedly being done by the Audit and Compliance Panel. Priamos couldn't show up or send a deputy city attorney to provide an answer so he had Strout serve as a conduit for him and she said that the police department couldn't talk about its audit because it was confidential under state law even general statistical information generated from it. When the board changed its request to ask for information on female retention apart from the supposed audit, the answer still remained no until finally someone decided it was okay. The Police Department was provided an invitation to come present to the board in January.

Fast forward to March's Human Resources Board meeting with still no appearance from the police department. Deputy Chief Pete Esquivel told me that he hadn't heard that the Human Resources Board was interested in receiving this presentation but that the board should contract the Personnel Division which is headed by Capt. Mike Blakely. He even asked if the board wanted him to do the presentation himself and seemed interested in doing so. If that's the case, more power to him. But when it comes to making decisions in this police department about who exactly does what including in terms of releasing public information to this city's residents including those who serve on its boards and commissions, no one seems to be able to figure out how exactly that's worked out. What with so many cooks in this kitchen.

Human Resources Board Chair Erin House said that he had contacted Esquivel lately and asked him about it. Esquivel gave him the name of a captain of personnel to contact and that turned out to be Blakely. But did the police department receive this request and decide to send someone to a board meeting to do a presentation addressing the retention of female police officers?

Well, no.

The second line of defense: Police Chief Russ Leach

Somehow, the request for the personnel division to send a representative to the Human Resources Board must have reached Leach because Leach sent a response in writing back that they couldn't afford to spend time having or spare any employee to come to the meeting and give a presentation on female officer retention.

"They're short on people and can't spare anyone to answer our questions," House said.

This ticked some members of the Human Resources Board right off the bat. Kind of like raising a red flag in front of a bull. Or at least, seven bulls. And it's all a bunch of bunk, because the department has personnel in its well, Personnel division who aren't paid over-time who could spend 2o minutes giving a presentation at City Hall about three blocks away from the department's administrative headquarters. The department used the same excuse to avoid giving training to the CPRC not too long ago, before finally buckling and sending personnel out to provide that commission. The officers who give the presentations or the training seem fine with being there, but they don't make the decisions on whether they're authorized to do so or no. The management does and if it doesn't then it's left to the micromanagers.

"What do we do," House said.

Woodie Rucker-Hughes, the president of the local chapter of the NAACP had something to say about that.

"Ask them again," she said.

Then Vice-Chair Ellie Bennett who just has to be one of the most kick-ass members of any board and commission in the city chose her words well when she was asked by House to write a letter to the city council to "clarify" this issue. This woman is no one's puppet.

"Wait until tomorrow. If I write it tonight, I might make the front page," she said.

Bennett continued by saying that they didn't want a relationship or to take them to dinner, they wanted the facts. Just the facts. But in this city if the facts aren't pretty, Priamos won't let you see them. The information on the retention of female officers after all isn't the only public information being denied the board and this isn't the first letter that the Human Resources Board has written asking for more clarification from the city council on why they're being denied public information from a city department head. But maybe in this case, it's all about confusion. Maybe in this case, the Governmental Affairs Committee needs to create a top-secret ad hoc committee to "clarify" what the words "female officer" and "retention" mean.

Another board member asked if the police department and City Hall were blowing the board off. Why in a matter of speaking, yes. But this board should consider itself fortunate that it's just being blown off and not neutered and spayed as Press Enterprise Columnist Dan Bernstein puts it about the CPRC. But perhaps if the board gets too uppity, it will suffer the same fate as the CPRC. Still, it takes time to come up with a micromanagement plan and even more time to manipulate the ward representation requirements to reconfigure a board or commission to City Hall's liking so this board still has at least a year to remain independent and yes, occasionally uppity.

The reaction of the Human Resources Board to being roadblocked by the city and at least one department head is an interesting contrast to the behavior shown by the Community Police Review Commission when facing the same situation involving pretty much the same individuals.

The Human Resources Board gets fired up while the CPRC for the most part finds some place to hide. What a difference between a commission that is micromanaged by City Hall and one that's not, at least not yet and to have board members who actually engage in independent thinking rather than march lockstep behind City Hall.

But anyway, so the police department doesn't want to go to the Human Resources Board to brief it on the retention of its female officers and that's what it really comes down to, is that the management doesn't want to do so or the management's management doesn't want it to do so. Maybe Priamos doesn't want them to do so. Sometimes it seems like the police department is being run by committee these days and it's not always clear who's sitting at the head of the table.

At any rate, it seems that the department should be more willing to assist the Human Resources Board in its fact finding involving the retention of female police officers in the department and why it remains fairly poor. But the police department through its chief nixed this opportunity in the bud. And instead of pushing attention away from this issue in the police department, it's piqued the interest of those on the board who were rebuffed. Which almost certainly is not what it or the City Hall which directs it intended.

More statistics from the Human Resources Board meeting were provided by various employees of the Human Resources Department which even though there are only eight layoffs of full-time employees in the entire city, according to that department its staffing levels have fallen by about 45%.

The department stated that there were seven positions frozen with four layoffs and three transferred either to another position or to a lower level classified position. Of the four laid off, three of them took early retirements. But what's annoying is when city department heads and city council members keep comparing Riverside to Corona claiming that the latter city has laid off 10% of its employees but if you read the Press Enterprise article which detailed what's going on in Corona, you will discover that the statistic reached for Corona included full and part-time layoffs as well as frozen vacancies for both categories. And these figures are obviously not included in Riverside's own assertion that it's only laid off eight employees. But on the bright side, is that at least you don't have city officials claiming that Corona has laid of a quarter of its employees as was the case last year.

The vacancy rate city wide is about 13%. The police department currently has 64.25 vacancies which is about 10% rate for the police department. About 25 of these positions are believed to be sworn officer positions at various ranks from officer to deputy chief (which is classified as a captain's position).

"This is grim," House said about the vacancy figures and percentages.

Others on the board agreed and some asked how much money was being saved by freezing positions. Rucker-Hughes asked where the money went from these "funded" positions. Strout said that it would remain with the position until it was official frozen after about a year and then be returned to the city's general fund. Strout did say about the police department that it has never been fully staffed.

Uh oh, she better not let her bosses City Manager Brad Hudson and Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis hear that! Because in June 2008, DeSantis assured the city council that the police department was fully staffed after it received an audit from police consultant Joe Brann urging the city to address staffing issues involving the police department.

Grievances for the first quarter of 2009 were at 10 filed including two from the police department and 50 leaves of absences with 19 of those being from the employment ranks of the police department.

The city council is set to vote on applying for grant money under two federal stimulus packages which together could help them fund 15 sworn positions for three years and three civilian positions.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The nearly $5 million grant would cover salary and benefits for 15 officers over three years. The Police Department will pay for uniforms, training and equipment for the officers. In addition, the grant requires the city to retain the officers for a year after the three years has ended at a cost of $1.9 million.

Later this month, Doke is planning to apply for another stimulus package grant for $928,874 from the Bureau of Justice Assistance. That money could be used to buy marked police cars, motorcycle units and possibly fill three civilian positions.

Both federal programs have been revived by the stimulus package.

Capt. Michael Blakely said the officers would help bring the agency closer to normal staffing levels. The department has 13 sworn position vacancies that the city previously funded and 10 more that are not funded. In addition, they have 30 civilian positions open.

The Police Department is authorized to have 405 sworn officers.

The Human Resources Board also voted to submit its letter of "clarification" on asking the city council for guidance in instructing Priamos to release the statistical information related to law suits filed against the city by city employees.

Here are the current odds on that outcome.

City Council through mayor or mayor pro tem says it has "received, reviewed and filed" away the report. 1:9

City Council takes any other action: 15:1

City Council actually instructs Priamos or designee to hand this public information over to the Human Resources Board: 150:1

Speaking of hiring, Riverside just hired yet another employee from City Manager Brad Hudson's old haunt, the Economic Development Agency, in Riverside County.

Two dais mates react.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Gardner and Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge said the economic downturn makes it urgent for the city to have a first-rate development director striving to keep businesses in town or to help them expand and to lure new businesses to Riverside.

"We need to work harder at these times," Loveridge said.

Lorson's economic development work won't necessarily yield projects right away, Gardner said, but could position the city for the time the economy turns around. "You're lining up projects that could take two to three years to come to fruition."

Riverside County's executive officer Bill Luna wants a raise while telling everyone else they've got to cut their budgets. So when is he going to take his act on the comedy club circuit?

Coming soon: The Perris vs Menifee smackdown!

The Press Enterprise Editorial Board praises Perris' efforts to organize its public records.


And setting out clear rules for preserving records, and vesting that authority in one office, would be a big improvement over past habits. City clerks traditionally used their own discretion about which items to keep and how long to retain them. Some clerks saved everything; others did not.

That haphazard practice has left the city clerk's office scrambling to find records. Some files apparently have disappeared: destroyed by water damage, lost in one of the office's many location changes or simply tossed out. The city has found numerous duplicate files, along with outdated material that no longer has value.

Such disorganization is unacceptable. Perris residents have a right to know what their city government is doing, and the city should not let disorderly record-keeping hinder that prerogative.

A Los Angeles Police Department officer was arrested in Texas for alleged sexual assault.

Silvio Sam Filipovich, 43, was the name of the officer arrested after an incident in a motel in Travis County.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

According to authorities, Filipovich asked a female motel employee for a crib for his infant child around 10:30 p.m. Friday. He then allegedly pushed her into a closet and tried to fondle her before she fought him off and called for help.

Filipovich could not be reached for comment.

If you're wondering if this was the first sign of problems by Filipovich, it turns out that if the allegations are true, they might be the latest incident in a pattern and practice of disturbing behavior.


Records obtained by The Times show that the 21-year LAPD veteran has had a history of misconduct allegations.

The records, which date to 1995, show that department officials had recommended discipline of more than 100 days for alleged offenses by Filipovich, including trying to improperly convert an on-duty contact into a social relationship, making a discourteous remark and being discourteous during traffic stops.

In one case, records show, department officials alleged that while off duty, Filipovich "inappropriately exposed [his] penis in a public place." It was unclear from the records what, if any, discipline he received.

That's probably because he didn't get any discipline. After all, the LAPD have been sued and has settled or lost cases at trial filed by female officers alleging similar type behavior by male officers among other things.

Controversy has arisen involving the La Habra Police Department after its officers were involved in a collision with a vehicle, which resulted in the death of a couple whose daughter is challenging the police department's version of events.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

Just after 5 p.m. Sunday at the intersection of Euclid Street and La Habra Boulevard, the two cars collided. Susanne Antuna, 55, died at the scene. Charles Antuna, 54, died early Monday at UC Irvine Medical Center.

The officer, whose name was not released because of an ongoing investigation by the California Highway Patrol, was taken to the same hospital and treated for soft tissue injuries.

Within hours of the crash, the parolee, Roary William Gorbea, 27, had been arrested on suspicion of indirectly causing the couple's deaths by leading police on a pursuit. The next day, the Antunas' daughter Andrea was disputing reports that the patrol car's lights and siren were on when it entered the intersection.

Witnesses told authorities the patrol car had its lights and sirens on at the time of the collision, said Officer Ray Payton of the Westminster office of the California Highway Patrol. There is also preliminary evidence that the victims were not wearing seat belts, he said.

But Andrea Antuna told television station KABC that witnesses told her there were no sirens. "They take that officer to the hospital right away, and she's fine, but my dad is gone, and now my mom's gone," she said.

Mail Call:

Dear City of Riverside:

I am writing to inform you that I'm being driven around without my dash cam that the city's residents paid money out of the general fund to equip me and my fellow squad cars with. I'm so jealous to see the other shiny police cars have cameras and I do not. Please help. If the city's broke, can we take a collection?

Thanks in advance,

Squad Car #3329

North NPC station

Greyhound Bus Terminal

Coming soon:

The Riverside Film Festival: April 19-26

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older