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, June 18, 2009

CPRC: What happens when you assign a public report to puppets

The Community Police Review Commission will be releasing a biennial report, which was supposed to be an annual report but because of the intensive micromanagement of the CPRC by City Hall, there hasn't been an annual report released since 2006's.

And so at its general meeting on Wednesday, June 24 at 5:30 p.m, the commission will be discussing its final draft for its annual report.

Or as it's more appropriately titled, The CPRC : An Exercise in Revisionist History by Manager Kevin Rogan and His Puppeteer, Tom DeSantis. Further analysis of this "report" is to come in future postings. Because the commissioners don't do much these days except wait to receive their marching orders and have Rogan and by extension, DeSantis and City Attorney Gregory Priamos do all their thinking for them. How does the community see them? As a bunch of puppets with strings being pulled at City Hall. Sad but true, but if they actually went out and did more public outreach, then maybe there would be more to see to them and what they do than that.

However, the report begins with statements saying that "city ordinance" requires that the CPRC report to the city council and mayor on an annual basis. However, it's the city's charter which delivers that mandate under section 810 here. What's the difference in choice of language? Well, if you stick to the ordinance the city council could conceivably vote to amend it so that there wouldn't need to be an annual report for the public. However, because it's in the city's charter as well, only the city's voters can do that. In fact, it's intriguing how in the beginning of the report, there's no mention that the CPRC is even in the city's charter, only that it's included in the city's ordinance or in state governmental code.

Do the authors of this report, those being Rogan and his master, DeSantis not know that the commission is in the city's charter? Or do they choose not to know because alas, that makes it all that much tougher to get rid of the beleaguered and thoroughly gutted body? Hopefully, there will be some mention of the charter's influence and governance of the commission further on in this "annual" report.

In its "Mission" statement, it's also noteworthy how the language mentions the "independent investigation" of citizen complaints but doesn't mention any language at all having to do with the review and investigation of officer-involved deaths. The whole sad and sordid story of how that was manipulated by City Hall and its assortment of puppets will probably be presented in a sanitized version later on in the report.

Current Chair Sheri Corral writes the preamble letter even though Brian Pearcy actually chaired the commission in both 2007 and 2008, the years covered in this "annual" report. Her main goals are to remind the community that the CPRC is "advisory" which the community pretty much knows. After all, it was an "advisory" commission when it was still doing its job in an efficient manner before City Manager Brad Hudson was directed by members of the city council past and present to micromanage it. Corral never mentions the word "investigate" at all, nor does she mention the issue of officer-involved death cases and one of her main goals is to shorten meetings which she's done so by holding relatively few of them since her election in March. And the only part of meetings which has been shortened so far? The amount of time and opportunities that the members of the public can provide comments. Since she and Vice-Chair Peter Hubbard have been in their positions, the opportunities for the public to speak at meetings has been greatly reduced as well as the scope of what falls under the "purview" of the commission.

But she does a fairly good job in her letter parroting the instructions that City Hall has most likely given her.

Further reviews of this odious document to come but the only place that it belongs? Is in the city's shredder to be recycled. Maybe they should have the community members write these annual exercises in what the commission has actually been doing instead of the puppeteers at City Hall trying to soft-sell what they've been doing to it.

There appears to be a brand new captain's opening in the police department due to the possible sudden retirement of one of them who interestingly enough if that's the case, never mentioned retiring. Still, these things happen from time to time. One captain who abruptly retired in 2005 is currently the police chief of a small city in Oregon.

This situation will be watched with a great decree of scrutiny (and it should be) as well the person who will fill this position because of all the disturbing rumors about management positions being handpicked by City Hall, rather than Chief Russ Leach.

Are they true? There's a lawsuit being debated in U.S. District Court along similar lines and the perception seems to be that if you don't go along with the status quo of the micromanagement team of City Hall, you can't get promoted at the higher ranks. And if these are just perceptions, where did they come from?

If this situation is indeed taking place, then it needs to be addressed. Promotions should be about policing, not politics. And the fact that there doesn't appear to be much confidence in the promotional process especially at the upper levels means that this oft-cloistered process should be more closely scrutinized.

Hopefully, if there's a captain's position at stake, the selection process will be done fairly and everyone who applies will be given opportunity to make their case before the final selection process. But is that what really happens and are those words included in the vocabulary of the micromanagement team at City Hall? Highly doubtful. And will it take a lawsuit that's been filed to set things right again? That remains to be seen as any trial date is a while off yet.

But some officers have been promoted recently to the detective rank: Mark Ellis, Lisa Johnson, Terry Ellefson, Chris Williams and Jayson Wood.

Another situation to be watched closely will be supervisory numbers and ratios. The latest numbers cited by those who will cite them (because the department won't and you know that's bad news) are that they are higher than the 7 to 1 ratio. Expect that number to grow when mid-line supervisors start retiring this year. Until there's someone at the reins of this department who cares about this issue, it will just continue to worsen, to the point where the department will eventually be back, supervisory ratio wise, to where it was pre-consent decree. If anyone body has information on the accurate supervisory ratios at this moment in time, I would be interested in finding out.

It is unconscionable that the micromanagers at City Hall have allowed this situation to become worse while giving themselves pay hikes and giving them to department heads as well, while the officer levels remain lower and the supervisory ratios don't appear to be where they should be due to unfilled vacancies and lateral assigning sergeants to newly created positions (i.e. communications bureau). But someone needs to go into City Hall and get priorities back where they need to be.

In Minneapolis, a police officer who shot and killed a man was charged with domestic assault in relation to an incident with his girlfriend.

Some members of Atlanta's city council voted to subpoena some records from the police department including those involving the fatal shooting of Kathryn Johnson.

More information here.

(excerpt, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

The Atlanta Committee on Council also issued a subpoena for records —- to be handed over to the review board —- on the December police shooting of robbery suspect Pierre George, 31, who was not armed.

About two dozen residents who hoped the committee would subpoena the records embraced after the vote.

They said it was a major step in the frequent battle between the Police Department and the review board over access to records, particularly in ongoing cases.

“It’s huge,” said Cristina Beamud, the board’s executive director. “It’s a notable step in the right direction. I’m happy. It will make it easier to conduct investigations.”

Police officials and aides to Mayor Shirley Franklin argued releasing records in ongoing cases could hurt the investigations because some of the information could become public.

Councilwoman Natalyn Mosby Archibong added a stipulation to the subpoena that requires, if necessary, the board to review some details of the George case in private.

A police spokeswoman declined to comment on the vote.

The review board expects to get the records about July 6, Beamud said.

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