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 11, 2009

Riverside, a place which changes street names and promotes deputies being prosecuted for misconduct

The Riverside branch of U.S. Border Patrol is asking for a Congressional Probe into allegations that agents were forced to use quota systems in the detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Amaya said the union plans to file a formal request for a congressional investigation later this month. Amaya said he wants Congress to also look into the firing of Agent Tony Plattel, who was let go in January for insubordination. Plattel was fired after he drove six suspected illegal immigrants from the Barstow area to Riverside against a supervisor's orders because, he said, five of the men were dehydrated, hungry and needed to use the bathroom. A Border Patrol letter dismissing Plattel denies he was punished for helping the men.

Plattel and the union claim a mandate from a supervisor that Plattel not return to Riverside until he had arrested more suspected illegal immigrants was part of Chavez's push to increase the number of arrests.

"Because of the media attention, they are careful about mentioning quotas now," Amaya said. But he said there is a continued emphasis on producing large numbers of arrests instead of a more time-consuming focus on illegal immigrants who are criminals, which is where he says the emphasis should be.

This controversy came to light after that office of Border Patrol began doing raids of day laborer centers and a Greyhound Bus Station in San Bernardino, which netted some undocumented immigrants but also documented residents and citizens, nearly all Latinos. The Riverside Police Department in what must have been one of those amazing coincidences conducted its own series of arrests at a Home Depot in Casa Blanca within hours of the Border Patrols' own raid yet in the beginning at least claimed to know nothing about it. This explanation became a bit less likely after it was also revealed that high ranking management personnel in the department had met with Border Patrol officials the previous November, meetings the communities including Casa Blanca and the Eastside (another source of raids and lots of "DUI" checkpoints) talking about immigration enforcement.

And interestingly enough, the Border Patrol raid on Casa Blanca happened not long after the alleged quota systems were instituted and when it became clear that the numbers for January were going to be too low. The raids were unusual because of all the offices of Border Patrol in the country, the Riverside one was the only one who raided gathering sites with mixed populations of Latinos (and it's usually all about Latinos) with different citizenship/residency statuses.

Riverside renames Wong Way because the name is viewed as being "insensitive" and more of a joke than an honor. This happens after the whole entire episode where Chinese-Americans in Riverside tried to negotiate with the Riverside Board of Education on developing the Chinatown area into a commemorative area or historical museum. Minute orders from one of its meetings in 2007 stated that this board agreed to only allow the land to be used for this purpose and not to be handed off for private development. Of course, guess what happened? It was given to renowned developer and campaign donor Doug Jacobs who ramrod his plan thorough the process including an adoring city council despite hundreds of people speaking against it in city council.

And what did Jacobs do? After getting wind of a restraining order that was filed by Save Our Chinatown Committee on the Friday before President's weekend (which would have been heard the following Tuesday), he got his heavy and noisy equipment and dug up the property in violation of the permit and by doing so on Sunday and the President's holiday, violated a noise ordinance and as a result was cited twice by the Riverside Police Department. All this was documented by live witnesses and film, during what was called the "Valentines Day Massacre."

It's hard to know what upset the city council more, that it happened or that Jacobs in a Press Enterprise article had said that the city council had given him carte blanche to do it (which it stoutly denied). At any rate just as quickly as they had approved the project, they renounced it and Jacobs, one of the developmental darlings of several city councils who was now (for the time being) a pariah.

But this is what the local publication wrote about the changing of the street name.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Regardless of whether it's way or street, the block is still named after the late George Wong, last resident of Riverside's former Chinatown. Wong was believed to be 90 or older when he died in 1974, a holdout who never moved from his longtime home.

The old street name, unanimously approved by the Riverside City Council in 1961, appeared to be more of a joke than an honor, said current Riverside City Councilman Mike Gardner, who requested the street name change.

The old street name appeared to imply a "wrong way" while also disparaging Chinese immigrants with limited English skills, Gardner said. The double-entendre wasn't always appreciated.

"It's insensitive and it's a bad joke," said Jean Wong, a member of a citizen group opposed to development of the Chinatown site about block or two from Wong Street. She is not related to George Wong.

Gardner said he had met George Wong shortly before he died and had long thought the old street name didn't show proper respect.

"I wanted to go back and correct the insult," Gardner said.

Will Mt. Rubidoux ever see more parking for its visitors? It's a popular hangout but parking's always been an issue.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Parking availability, which has always been a dicey prospect in the picturesque neighborhood., has become more scarce in the wake of improvements.

Repaving the road has made Mount Rubidoux accessible to strollers, scooters and bikes.

Residents say increasing numbers of park users block driveways, park in "no parking zones" or leave their vehicles in private drives.

"About three weeks ago someone parked in front of my house," said Jeff Sierra, who lives on Ninth Street. "I told them it was a 'no parking' zone but it didn't bother them."

Peg Rawdon, whose house is west of Sierra's on Ninth Street, said her winding private driveway is regularly blocked.

"I love having families use the park," Rawdon said. "But there are a few people that aren't respectful of private property rights."

The driveway is plainly marked as "private", but that didn't stop someone from parking on it last week.

"I was able to get past him but I wasn't real happy," she said.

She has been forced to call police at times.

Rawdon, 82, and her husband, retired architect Blaine Rawdon, 85, have lived on Ninth Street for 35 years.

Lt. Rick Tedesco, commander of the Riverside Police Department's Traffic Bureau, said an officer usually patrols Ninth Street and the surrounding area three to four times a week and writes, on average, two to four tickets a day.

"But not all are related to parking," he said.

He said them most common complaints are cars blocking driveways, people in no-parking zones and cars parked too far from the curb.

Gardner has held two community meetings in an attempt to strike a balance between private property rights and park users' need for parking.

Four years after charges of assault were filed against them, a judge dismissed them against Riverside County Sheriff's Department correctional deputy, Michael Vernal who not only kept working while being prosecuted for assaulting an inmate but was actually promoted by his department.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

In 2005, Robert Presley Detention Center inmate Daniel Leonard threatened to throw feces at Vernal because no one had brought him toilet paper after he had requested it for several hours.

Deputies took Leonard into an attorney booth while moving him to another cell. One deputy twisted his wrists and another slammed his face into the glass window, according to Leonard's statement in court records.

Leonard suffered two cuts above the eye requiring stitches, according to court documents.

Vernal was charged with assault under the color of authority and destroying evidence because he cleaned up the blood. Deputy Antonio Gomez was also charged but those charges were dismissed because of insufficient evidence in January 2008, according to court records.

"The case was unwinnable and it's been unwinnable all these years," said defense attorney Michael Stone.

Maybe there wasn't sufficient evidence because it got all cleaned up. But promoting a deputy who's being prosecuted for serious misconduct, I guess that shows everyone a lot about the Sheriff's Department's view towards misconduct.

Say Goodbye to Moreno Valley's city attorney.

Newark might be getting an new independent police monitor.

(excerpt NJ Voices)

We recently learned that the Newark police are ineligible to receive federal stimulus funds to hire more officers because of misuse of previous federal funds. Newark owes the feds $659,568. Additionally, citizen complaints against the NPD continue, and even the disciplinary actions of the department have been called into question.

It is time that Newark recognizes the need for an effective independent monitor of the NPD, resulting in better management of the entire department and increased safety for Newark's residents.

The ineligibility of the Newark police to receive federal stimulus funds means no money for additional police officers. This directly affects the quality of policing Newark residents receive. An effective independent monitor could have identified the problem early on and brought it to the attention of the department, city officials, the media and the public.

People often think of citizen oversight of the police only in terms of citizen complaints about excessive force or other misconduct by individual officers. But that was the old model; the new model of citizen oversight examines the entire police department and anything that affects the quality of services for the public.

Experts across the country recognize that abuses of citizens on the street -- excessive force, sexual harassment, rudeness and use of racial epithets -- are usually the symptoms of poor management. Poor management is a big umbrella, beginning with inadequate policies (on use of force and internal affairs division management, for example) and including inadequate training (especially for veteran officers) and poor mid-level supervision.

In other states, police oversight models have yielded results. The special counsel to the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department has addressed a wide range of organizational issues similar to Newark's over the past 16 years, including use-of-force trends, foot pursuits by officers (which are very dangerous to officers), discrimination in promotional opportunities inside the department, the management of the unit assigned to a particularly high-crime neighborhood and others.

Two deputies fired in DeKalb County, Georgia for
sexual misconduct.

(excerpt, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Gregory Rivera and Corey Lowe-Williams were terminated after a DeKalb County police internal affairs investigation of sexual misconduct, a statement from county spokeswoman Angela Walton said.

• DeKalb County news Rivera was on duty several times when he visited an off-duty Lowe-Williams at her home, spokeswoman Sheila Edwards said.

The misconduct was reported to internal affairs in March, although county officials are uncertain how long, or how many times, Rivera had made the on-duty house calls.

On at least one occasion, Rivera made a police trainee under his charge wait in the squad car, Edwards said.

“While they were doing whatever they were doing, he left a recruit waiting for him,” she said.

A third officer, Sgt. Walter West, Lowe-Williams’ supervisor, also was demoted to master police officer after making what Edwards described as “inappropriate” comments to Lowe-Williams.

A police officer in Greensborro, North Carolina is going to talk about how officers in the gang unit there discriminated against Latinos.

The Press of Atlantic City Editorial Board states that the majority of law enforcement agencies in New Jersey need to follow the law when it comes to handing citizen complaints against police officers.


New Jersey's statute on internal-affairs procedures says departments must accept complaints 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They must accept complaints from anonymous or third-party sources, whether they are submitted in person or not. And every complaint must be logged, tracked and investigated as fully as possible.

Too many police departments are not doing that, and the people charged with seeing that police do comply with the law are, in many cases, not doing their jobs.

Police officers would counter that many of the complaints filed against them are frivolous and unfair. No doubt many are. And to be fair, the ACLU also noted that part of the problem with how complaints are handled involves a lack of training and resources in many departments.

But the law-enforcement community should recognize that New Jersey's law on internal-affairs procedures, if properly followed, protects the rights of police officers, as well as complainants. In other words, following the rules is good for both sides. New Jersey's police departments need to do a better job following the law on internal-affairs complaints. And county prosecutors and the state attorney general need to make sure they do.

Hired one day, fired the next. This was the fate of six officers hired by Jacksonville.

(excerpt, News4Jax)

According to statement from Jacksonville Sheriff's Office's director of personnel and professional standards Rick Lewis, an internal investigation was launched "based on a single complaint made by a recruit, alleging improper conduct."

He stated that in the course of the initial investigation it became clear that the incident first reported might not be the only occurrence in that recruit class, and the JSO Internal Affairs Unit was called to investigate.

As a result of the investigation, Lewis recommended that Sheriff John Rutherford separate six recruits from service. The six were fired on Friday on charges of conduct unbecoming an officer.

Although the internal investigation has been completed with the agency and has become public record, JSO told Channel 4 the documents were not available for immediate release to the public but may be available on Wednesday.

More changes in Akron Ohio's police department including the hiring of 21 new officers and the creation of a civilian review committee.

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