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 30, 2009

TGIF: Elections and other electives

The Riverside Police Department launched an investigation of one of its school resources officers, for handcuffing two sixth-grade girls after a complaint was filed.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The officer, Genaro Escobedo, took the girls out of class, handcuffed them in the school's main office and read them their Miranda rights, according to police complaints the girls' parents filed Thursday. Parent complaints said the officer's actions, which also included screaming at the girls, constituted assault.

Riverside police Lt. Larry Gonzalez said the officer was within his rights to arrest the girls, because at least one of the girls was accused of throwing dirt at another child.

"If you throw an object at somebody, that can be assault," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said police are investigating to determine whether the officer's actions were reasonable. The investigation likely will take no more than two months, he said.

Escobedo will not be allowed to discuss the incident during the investigation, Gonzalez said.

He said officers can use their discretion to determine when to handcuff suspects, and there are no specific guidelines that apply to using handcuffs on children.

Hundreds of people including members of labor unions and immigration organizations came out and rallied and marched in Riverside, meeting at the University of California Riverside and the Caesar Chavez Community Center in the Eastside before marching down to City Hall.

There, they listened to guest speakers talk about different issues and events taking place in the next few weeks including a state-wide special election which includes a slew of propositions to vote on that tie into the recently passed state budget.

Riverside itself is in the midst of an election cycle with three of its council ward seats up for grabs. Mail in ballots will be heading your way around May 4 if you're a registered voter in one of the even-numbered wards. If not, you'll have to wait another two years to get your opportunity to elect your legislative representative.

Important information on the June 2 municipal election from this site.

Important Dates:

May 4: Ballots mailed out

May 11: Postage goes up from $0.42 to $0.44 for state-wide election

June 2: Deadline for ballots to be received

June 26:
Winners of Riverside election declared

More important information for the June 2 Riverside municipal election.

Ballot drop off locations

Voting instructions

Speaking of labor issues, the Riverside Human Resources Board meets again on Monday, May 4 at 4pm in City Hall. On the agenda among other items, is the drafting of a letter by the board to Police Chief Russ Leach asking why the board's invitation to the department to send a representative to brief it on the issue of the hiring and retention of female officers has been rebuffed. If you recall, the board had invited the police department to make this presentation but Leach had said that due to budget cuts, the department couldn't spare a single person to make this presentation.

The department tried the same tactic with the Community Police Review Commission last year when it asked for training by the department. Initially, the department said no, we can't send anyone because we cut personnel costs so much including over-time that we can't spare a single person to attend the meeting to do training. Not long after, the department's management did a 180 degree turn and agreed to send someone to do the training.

Human Resources Board Chair Erin House had spoken to Deputy Chief Pete Esquivel about the issue but Esquivel said that the requests had to go through the department's Personnel Captain Mike Blakely. Esquivel has said that he himself would be interested in presenting on the issue of female officers and their retention rates (which he said was improving) to community organizations but that requests by the board had to follow a different process including being made through the Human Resources Department.

The police department's audit and compliance panel had allegedly done an internal audit on the issue of female officer retention in the department and initially, the city attorney's office said that the board could not access any information on the audit due to state laws pertaining to peace officer personnel information. However, the city then continued to roadblock the board's request for even general information separate from any internalized process.

However, an instructor at Riverside Community College who had been recommending individuals in her classes to apply to the Riverside Police Department said that all the African-American male candidates and female candidates were rejected by the department.

The Press Enterprise posted on the standoff at the Wood Streets involving the Riverside Police Department's field officers and METRO/SWAT team but never provided information on its conclusion so some people did that in their comments here. Finally, a brief article was posted on the outcome.

Two Riverside City Council candidates running for the Ward Two spot have challenged the incumbent's record with being responsive to constituents. They are facing against incumbent Andrew Melendrez who was elected in 2005.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Melendrez said that when he took office in early 2006, there were only two or three active neighborhood groups in Ward 2. He worked with residents to create more neighborhood groups, and 14 now deal with him regularly, he said.

"People now know what's going on, and it gives them a feeling of connection to City Hall," Melendrez said.

Smith, who is running for the first time, said in his campaigning he runs into residents all the time who say they've never met Melendrez, who say no one has ever asked them what they want City Hall to focus on.

He would ensure residents were more aware of City Hall's projects, programs and services, he said.

"I think City Hall could do a much better job of explaining everything," Smith said.

Rasso, who is seeking the Ward 2 seat for the third time, said he, too, hears about a disconnect: on one side, residents and business owners, and on the other, City Hall. Rasso said he would work to close the gap.

"I believe in representing all the voices," he said.

Melendrez has been very active in meeting with neighborhood groups and holds a monthly forum in the Eastside on the first Thursday, but some people say there's more of a disconnect between him and other neighborhoods in the second ward. Still, Melendrez has done a lot of bridge building during his first term and attends a lot of meetings as the number of registered community groups in the Eastside has grown.

Rasso's facing against Melendrez for the second time, but his campaign doesn't seem to be quite as energetic as it was four years ago when he won the first round of the election only to lose the runoff. He's lacking the endorsement from the Riverside Police Officers' Association that he had that year as its political action committee chose to endorse Melendrez instead and that PAC was his primary supporter the last two times around.

In Ward Six, one of the largest issues discussed by its political candidates in the impact of growth.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

When he's criticizing, Scherer lambastes the entire city government rather than Hart alone.
Story continues below

"A government should show the utmost restraint in the decisions it makes" and Riverside has not been showing restraint, he said.

His main complaint is the city's use of redevelopment, a tool meant for the elimination of blight. In particular, he's critical of the way the council, acting as the city Redevelopment Agency board, has authorized eminent domain to force owners to sell their land to the city so the agency can sell it to developers.

Between 2004 and 2006, the council authorized eminent domain for redevelopment purposes 13 times. Its last such vote was in September 2006.

Scherer said he favors phasing out the Redevelopment Agency and letting the free market improve blighted parts of Riverside.

He's even ambivalent about the use of eminent domain for parks and the Fox Theatre renovation, he said.

"Eminent domain tells you the government thinks it can make decisions better than hardworking citizens can," Scherer said.

Riding in Riverside's (which is an excellent blog on public transportation in Riverside) blogger lists his endorsements in the city council race. The comments attached to them are interesting to read because they address how the candidates including incumbents stand on public transit and transportation issues. He's definitely right in his assertion that the only "friend" that those who ride public transportation including the RTA buses in Riverside is Melendrez whereas neither Frank Schiavone nor Hart have particularly stellar records in supporting public transportation or even that through private enterprise such as Greyhound. Who can forget the jokes that Schiavone and Councilman Steve Adams made while voting to force Greyhound out of Riverside? Jokes about giving people rides to the bus terminal in San Bernardino to board a Greyhound bus there. But public transit seems to be low on the radar for most of the city council even as its needs will likely increase in future years.

The blog also reminds people that the RTA fares are going up pretty soon.

A Moreno Valley councilwoman speaks out about a recall effort.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The councilwoman is facing a recall challenge from a group of residents who were angered that Hastings voted to approve a warehouse project that includes a Skechers distribution center in her district earlier this year.

Hastings said the group has a "selfish special interest" in preserving more space for the San Jacinto Wildlife Area and so they can ride their horses. Meanwhile, about 14,000 Moreno Valley residents are unemployed, she said.

"I've had people asking me, 'When is Skechers going to come in? I haven't had a job in two years,' " Hastings said by phone.

The recall group announced its plans at Tuesday's City Council meeting. Activist Deanna Reeder said Hastings had ignored the city's general plan and compromised her integrity in voting on the project, because the developer, Highland Fairview, donated money that had gone to support her election last November.

Hastings said the money that Highland Fairview contributed was spent independently of her campaign committee and without her consent or knowledge.

"I took no money from Skechers. I took no money from (Highland Fairview President) Iddo Benzeevi," Hastings said.

The criminal trial involving a Moreno Valley Police Department officer being charged with rape under the color of authority goes to the jury for deliberations.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Paradise said that Kushner stopped the women during separate incidents seven years ago and as a result of their meth addictions they felt they were forced to comply with his sexual advances.

"It's difficult to understand why a cop would take such risks," Paradise said. "It appears that the more dangerous it was, the more exciting it became for him."

Kushner said he had met a woman in a bar in July 2002 and called her a week later for a date and consensual sex while off duty. However, that woman, who had an out-of-state-warrant, said Kushner stopped her while she was walking barefoot on her way home and said, "I hate to see you go to jail. What are we going to do about this?"

Kushner's attorney, Virginia Blumenthal, said the woman was using Kushner for a cover as her boyfriend so her family would not become suspicious or aware of her outstanding drug warrants.

"There was nothing forced about this. They had a dinner date," Blumenthal said. "There was no kidnapping. There was no rape going on."

The two Riverside County supervisors with the $50,000 city vehicles have agreed to make some concessions in their car allowances.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Supervisors John Tavaglione and Marion Ashley had announced a few weeks ago they planned to relinquish their cars and take a $550 monthly vehicle stipend and mileage reimbursement from the county instead. They said they wanted to save the county money.

Both supervisors changed their mind about returning the cars to the county or buying them back after consulting with staff. Other supervisors also told them turning in the cars could cost taxpayers more money.

Tavaglione will keep his county car, a 2008 GMC Yukon Hybrid, but will pay all gas and maintenance costs associated with it, said chief of staff John Field. Generally, the county provides and pays for gas and maintenance for supervisors' work vehicles.

Ashley wrote a check from his campaign funds for $10,000 to help pay down the cost of his 2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid, chief of staff Robin Hastings said. Ashley will also pay for 20 percent of gas costs, something he has done for a while but has not documented until now, she said.

County fleet staff advised Ashley that it would be less expensive to taxpayers if he did not turn in or buy back in his car, Hastings said.

"Fleet services said just keep the car," she said. "But he wasn't comfortable with that. He still wanted to do more ... He feels now that it's as if he didn't buy a new car."

A former San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department deputy has been charged with extortion in the case of a San Manual Tribe member.

San Bernardino's looking again at cutting fire fighting services.

Former Canyonlake City Councilman Richard Kessler is sentenced to house arrest after he had plead guilty to embezzlement involving a government-issued credit card.

The preliminary hearing continues in the case of an assistant chief of the Los Angeles County Fire Department who has been charged with animal cruelty.

But by the end of the day, the presiding judge had ordered him to trial.

Injustice in Seattle has been doing a mapping project for police abuse and misconduct nationwide. He's just put up his results for April. Fascinating but very sobering reading indeed.


May 29, 2009, 5:00 p.m.




Independent Reviewer


Fresno: A culture of excellence where people get the best every day. As an agency, our key objectives are to satisfy the needs of the public and of our employees, while managing our financial responsibilities.

The City of Fresno is seeking a professional with significant experience in performing specialized audits of investigations involving highly confidential issues of significant scope. This position requires excellent communication skills as the incumbent serves as a liaison and resource to the community with the goal of strengthening the partnership between the community and the Police Department. Additionally the incumbent serves as a resource to police officers and managers for consultation regarding recommendations for changes to policies. If you are a highly experienced and knowledgeable professional in this field, and if you value responsive government and solution-oriented leadership, we invite your continued interest.
Must be experienced in and knowledgeable of police procedures, legal research, and analyzing criminal, constitutional, labor, and civil rights law. A law degree from an accredited college or university is desirable. Special Requirement( s): Possession of a valid Class C California driver's license may be required at time of appointment.
Following the filing deadline, individuals whose experience most closely meets our current needs will be invited to participate in one or more interviews involving City staff, stakeholders and community members with an appointment anticipated shortly thereafter, upon the completion of a thorough reference and background check.


To be considered for this outstanding career opportunity, please submit your Resume, Cover Letter, and current salary by 5:00pm, Friday, May 29, 2009. Resume should include detailed information regarding experience and reflect scope of recent responsibilities, as well as years and months of beginning/ending dates of positions held.

Submit to:

Robert L. Rodriguez, Senior Human Resources Analyst
City of Fresno Personnel Services Department
2600 Fresno Street, First Floor
Fresno, CA 93721-3614
(559) 621-6966 – Fax: (559) 498-4775

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