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, May 14, 2009

Election 2009 and the CPRC: The downward slide continues

After the 5-1 vote to exonerate Riverside Police Department Officer Jeffrey Adcox in the 2006 fatal shooting of Joseph Darnell Hill, dissenting commissioner Chani Beeman has decided to draft a minority report. There were many questions asked by the public and even a brave commissioner or two but seriously, the majority of the commission had their minds made up the first day including Art Santore whose comments in the article almost mirror the ones he first made months ago. But he's got his roles mixed up, in that the commission's role is to define whether the officer's actions were reasonable (as defined under state law and case decisions on the use of lethal force) not those of the deceased. The latter are considered but it's the answer to the question of reasonableness by the former that defines the finding of either the police department's own investigative and review process and what's left of that by the CPRC.

It's not surprising that mishaps and misunderstandings of the roles of the commissioners in this process take place including so publicly through a comment in the press. None of the current commissioners received much or any training on how to investigate, process, review and deliberate over an officer-involved death from an administrative perspective. None of them received it because current manager, Kevin Rogan (who receives a hefty six-figured salary for about 20 hours of work a week) hasn't made it a priority and he hasn't done so because his boss, Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis clearly wants to keep the commissioners in a position where they can't make informed decisions after reviewing the case book submitted by the police department which gets more and more redacted each time it goes back to the department for "review".

Santore's comments to the press or during that meeting show the cost of not properly training commissioners to perform their charter mandated functions but then again, how many of these functions in the charter has the CPRC been allowed to do unmolested by factions at City Hall?

Not very many. Its biggest claim to fame is that it can review complaints that are months or even a year old.

Okay, if you were the city manager, would you pay someone six-figured salary for about half-time work if they failed to produce an annual report to the point where it had to be biennial (and that's assuming that there is a report released), failed to do any meaningful public outreach in the community during the past year except to show up at meetings and rebut the comments made about the CPRC in those meetings, failed to follow a majority vote directive by the CPRC to investigate officer-involved deaths three times and argues with commissioners during meetings. You would if you wanted a commission that was to run aground and not function very well at all. And City Manager Brad Hudson, DeSantis and several of their handlers on the dais have never been great fans of the CPRC. They downplay their dislike for it during election years because even as they've disregarded the majority vote that passed Measure II for their minority constituents, they do realize that it's important for them to at least look like their hands are empty.

But despite the fact that the commission hasn't been able to do much that is useful let alone much of its duties under the city's charter, you actually have elected officials including those running for election praising it for functioning very well. Which is kind of true, at least in terms of how they hope that it functions as a form of civilian oversight...or doesn't.

Anyway here are some commissioner comments about the meeting. Don't be surprised if Beeman gets another letter from an elected official scolding her for what she said. It's not like there's a complete lack of precedent for that, as we all know.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Commissioner Chani Beeman said she would be filing a minority report explaining her dissenting vote and concerns that the officers did not do enough to lower the tension earlier in the interaction.

Commissioner Art Santore said they cannot explain why Hill acted as he did but the actions were unreasonable.

"I'm sorry to see this man had to lose his life but what citizen acts this way?" he said.

Two commissioners were absent.

In the months the commission has debated the shooting, concerns arose as to why Officer Jeffrey Adcox pulled Hill over three times in the half hour before the shooting.

Police have never released why Hill was pulled over. In addition, the officers' voice recorders were not on at crucial points as required by department policy.

Perusual, quite a few comments on this article including some who ask the questions the City Hall-manufactured CPRC dare not to, already.

One brother killed by Deputies and one killed by RPD? Seems like this family thinks it's ok to fight with cops. I'd be questioning their upbringing if I was the sister.

Looks like corrupt police to me. Pulled over 3 times in a half hour, and critical voice evidence happens to be missing? Don't try to use a taser in a gun fight.

sounds like crooked cops to me too TFY2... sounds like they were following him just to piss him off

Another city manager resigns, this time in Loma Linda but Norco may have its new interim city manager by next week.

Park land can be sold without the approval of the voters.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The decision, which overturned two lower court rulings, comes nearly five years after Gerard Ste. Marie filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent the Riverside County Regional Park and Open-Space District from selling land in Wildomar to Mt. San Jacinto College for a future campus.

In the opening line of a 7-0 opinion, the state Supreme Court noted its decision "will have a profound effect on how regional park and open space districts can manage their real property holdings."

The code governing park district land use says in one place that purchased land was "dedicated" for park use, and in another place that the land had to be "actually dedicated."

Ste. Marie, who could not be reached for comment Thursday, contended there was no difference between the single word and the phrase. Lower courts agreed, contending that once land was purchased by the district, it was automatically "actually dedicated" for park use and could not be sold without an election.

San Bernardino County wants to recoup some of its financial losses in the wake of the scandal involving its former assessor, Bill Postmus.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Available financial records for the defendants show that most have few assets. In a previous county lawsuit against other scandal figures, San Bernardino County received millions of dollars in damages, but only after years of litigation costing $6 million.

Postmus, four former assessor's employees and a consultant hired by him are accused of defrauding taxpayers and improper use of public funds in a lawsuit filed Tuesday. An investigative report by attorney John C. Hueston, released that same day, found widespread time-card fraud in the assessor's office and a conspiracy by Postmus to use his elected position to further his political goals.

Postmus has denied any wrongdoing.

The suit seeks repayment of salaries that Postmus and his executive staff were paid but for which county officials say they never worked. In addition, the suit claims the county should receive, under the California False Claims Act, damages of three times the amount lost, civil penalties, attorneys' fees and punitive damages.

The county has not provided a total figure that it is seeking, but officials expect that damages will be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The defendants' county earnings ranged from $47,910 to $284,893.

"If you commit these types of acts against the taxpayers of San Bernardino County, we're going to be looking to be made whole," Supervisor Paul Biane said.

But Postmus says the county waived all its rights to sue him.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

He reached a settlement with the county that allowed him to be on paid leave from November 2007 to May 3, 2008, when he resigned from his post. He received $63,000 through the deal.

In the settlement agreement, both Erwin and the county agreed not to sue each other.

The document states that Erwin and the county agreed that the settlement would apply to all "unknown, unsuspected and unanticipated injuries and damages" that may arise from his time at the assessor's office.

"It is a breach of contract. It is malicious prosecution," Erwin said in a telephone interview. "They have a history of violating contracts and they have done it again. It was done to further damage my credibility."

County spokesman David Wert said Thursday that the county disagrees.

"That will be addressed during the litigation. The agreement didn't apply to fraud," Wert said. "That's about all I can say at this time."

All this is happening while the county faces furloughing off workers to try to balance its budget.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

In a memo sent to department heads Wednesday, County Administrative Officer Mark Uffer said the county would cut two hours a week from employees' schedules starting June 20. He said the county was forced to take the step after the San Bernardino Public Employees Association failed to vote on a proposal to defer 3.25 percent salary increases that go into effect the same date.

County offices will not close to accommodate the change, he said. Instead, employees' schedules will be adjusted.

The county is facing a $78.1 million budget shortfall for the next fiscal year but has been able to narrow the gap through a number of measures, including an 8 percent across-the-board cut for all departments. However, it must still reduce salaries by $18.2 million, county spokesman David Wert said.

The county's preference was to defer the previously negotiated cost-of-living increases, but that requires union approval, he said. Without that action, the county had to look at its next option, he said.

"The reduced work week was the least painful way to address this fiscal crisis," Wert said.

In an economy where law enforcement officer positions are being frozen and in some cases even laid off, the Los Angeles Police Department was looking at cutting its hiring numbers. Not surprisingly, that proposal has come under some fire and tempers are rising all over the place.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

Last night, Rosendahl provided the tie-breaking vote on the council’s Budget and Finance Committee, which split 3-2 to halt Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s LAPD hiring plan as a way to avoid layoffs. Although he is a longtime Villaraigosa ally, Rosendahl bucked the mayor by agreeing to halt the effort to continue expanding the department by 1,000 officers.

Rosendahl, who represents the city’s coastal neighborhoods, described last night’s vote as the toughest of his four-year political career. But he said he felt a need to end the “smoke and mirrors” in the budget.

“What put me over the top was, where are we going to get the money to run the city?” Rosendahl said this morning. “I don’t want to lay off 1,200 workers, and I don’t want to furlough people 40 days. We need basic city services, and we don’t need to fire all these people.”

Rosendahl took his vote after the council’s policy analysts said that every new hire, at the LAPD or elsewhere, would cause the city to pursue a layoff elsewhere. Rosendahl was joined in his vote by Council members Bernard C. Parks and Greig Smith. Two Villaraigosa allies – council members Wendy Greuel and Jose Huizar – voted against the LAPD cut.

More fallout in the case of an El Monte Police Department officer caught kicking a man in a head by a helicopter camera.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

Samuel Walker, a criminology professor at the University of Nebraska and an expert in police oversight and force, said the officer's kick to the head was “unprovoked and unnecessary," calling the actions "one of the worst incidents of this kind that I've seen."

“The person on the ground was surrendering. There was no threat [seen] in this video,” said Walker.

Geoffrey P. Alpert, professor of criminology at the University of South Carolina, said that, while video may miss some things, it appears to show “that the officer lost control.”

“It appears that the suspect was motionless, under control and nonthreatening,” Alpert said. “If that’s the case, what the officer did was totally outrageous. From what we see, he overreacted.”

Another job opening in civilian oversight.

DEADLINE: June 19, 2009, 5:00 p.m.

Position: Independent Reviewer

Salary: D.O.Q

____________ _________ _________ _________ _

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, June 19, 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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