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

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Riverside Police Department captain goes bye-bye and who will fill his shoes?

The Riverside City Council will be hosting its weekly meeting on Tuesday, June 23 at 3 p.m. at City Hall when it will be hosting the public hearing on the preliminary annual budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year.

Here are some personnel figures for the police department for next year from the document itself:

It is important to pay attention to these figures even though some folks at City Hall would rather people not do so. Because in six months or so when the retirements of police officers and civilians began trickling in, these figures won't have as much bearing because the list here is not about people, but positions so looks might be more than a little bit deceiving. Why, because what if the people filling the positions are currently on "light duty" or on a variety of different personal or family leaves or administrative leaves? Over 60 employees in the police department, about 10% of them, were on some form of leave from their positions according to the latest report on departmental leaves submitted by Human Resources Director Rhonda Strout at a recent Human Resources Board meeting. It's not clear how many of these are sworn officers or the percentage of sworn officers on leaves including at the different ranks.

The figures of officers on light duty and leaves were also impressive when Bran performed what turned out to be his final audit in June 2008 when he warned the department of the impact of the number of leaves on staffing levels and the fatigue factors which could result from this issue. The city's response? Well, first DeSantis stood up from the big chair (as Hudson was no where to be seen) and said the department was "fully staffed" using some "fuzzy math" which the city refused to reproduce when asked on a CPRA request (substituting a link to the preliminary budget which was fairly useless) and then his second response was to ensure that this audit was Brann's final one given on the department despite the fact that he had a remaining six months on his contract. Because after all, paid consultants are beloved by city officials as long as they deliver good news.

Office of police chief: (Chief's office, Internal Affairs Division, Audit and Compliance Bureau)

captain: 3 (these include assistant police chief and deputy chief positions, one of these positions is frozen)
sergeants: 7 (Internal Affairs and Audit and Compliance Bureau)
lieutenants: 2 (Internal Affairs and ACB)

Personnel and Training: (Hiring and training of officers)

captain: 1 (oversees this division and Internal Affairs)
lieutenant: 2 (one for personnel, one for training)
detective: 1
officer: 4

Field operations: (Patrol)

captains: 2 (each oversees two NPCs)
lieutenants: 12 (area commanders and watch commanders, at least one frozen)
sergeants: 31 (field supervisors, but some freezes here as well)
detectives: 16 (detectives assigned to the four NPCs)
officers: 198 (officers assigned to the four NPCs)

Transfer one lieutenant, 1 sergeant and 2 officer out of special operations to FO.
Transfer one sergeant out of special investigations to field operations.

Special operations: (This includes K9, METRO and Traffic among others)

Captain: 1
lieutenant: 3 (Traffic, and two lieutenants who oversee various other divisions in SO)
sergeants: 6
detectives: 6
officers: 41

Switching personnel with FO (see above) also moving one detective from CIB to SO.

CIB (Centralized investigative Bureau)

Captain: 1 (In charge of investigations)
lieutenant: 1
sergeant: 4
detective: 24
officer: 1

adding officer and detective to unit from SIB

SIB (special investigations bureau includes gang, narcotics and vice)

Captain: 0
Lieutenant: 1
sergeant: 3 (transferred one to FO)
detective: 22
officer: 1

These are the raw figures that City Manager Brad Hudson and his staff provided in their preliminary budget report on personnel figures. It's interesting because when Hudson's adjutant, Tom DeSantis challenged a figure on officer to supervisors ratios provided in an audit by consultant Joe Brann in June 2008, he tried to use these raw figures to create a ratio of about 4.5 to 1. When requested under the CPRA act, DeSantis and Hudson never actually provided the material where they took their data on this ratio but had the City Attorney's office write a letter of obstruction and interference which simply provided a link to the budget report which didn't actually include the relevant information on staffing ratios.

Yet if we use the same "fuzzy" math used by DeSantis last year, the figure for this year would be about 5.05 to 1 for all supervisors and 6.39 to 1 for sergeants. But this doesn't account for pending retirements, supervisors on light duty or personal leaves and it actually doesn't provide a reliable figure for measuring out average officer to supervisor ratios for these and other reasons including the fact that even "frozen" positions are funded in the budget for a period of time. But at any rate, the figures that DeSantis would reach for to cite during this budget to soothe the masses are higher than those he used in June 2008.

And the "fuzzy" math used by DeSantis and the figures cited above do not take into consideration the planned retirements of up to 6-7 more sergeants and lieutenants later this year and the abrupt retirement of Capt. Mark Boyer which took place some time this month. In his last assignment, Boyer oversaw the Investigations division. It's a bit of a shock because having talked to Boyer on occasion, the emphasis on the discussions were his plans for a somewhat longer career in the department than the one which ended this month.

The department hasn't commented on whether they plan to fill the position vacated by Boyer but if they do, so far the favored candidate for the job appears to be Lt. Bob Williams, the current West NPC commander and president of the Riverside Police Administrators' Association.

If the captain (and any resultant vacancies from this promotion) are filled, this situation will be highly scrutinized (as it should be) given the allegations made about promotions in the Riverside Police Department at the management level including in a lawsuit filed by two police lieutenants currently being litigated in federal court.

The staffing levels of the department and these promotional processes will receive higher scrutiny in this blog due to the important nature of both situations. And it appears that the department will be playing musical chairs again with its lieutenant contingent when it reconfigures itself sometime in the middle of next month. It will be interesting to see whether this is in response to or what impact it had on the reality that several more lieutenants are heading off to retirements. What will the supervisory picture look like in December, the time when the Strategic Plan mandated by former State Attorney General Bill Lockyer sunsets?

Perhaps this is an issue that Councilman Chris MacArthur as the proposed chair of the public safety committee can address, that is if he wins the spot on the council vote on June 23. Included in this discussion could be the staffing level of officers on the shifts, the addition of up to 15 when the stimulus money comes in (if it does and it's a competitive process for the funding) and what the department plans to do with its supervisory staffing levels to reduce its officer to supervisory ratio to 7 to 1 or better. Perhaps that can be part of Strategic Plan II which the department is purportedly working on to carry on for the next five years after its predecessor expires.

Later on at, 6:30 p.m. the newly elected council members Andrew Melendrez, Paul Davis and Nancy Hart will be sworn into their positions and the meeting will continue. One of the most pivotal items on the discussion calendar is this one which is the proposed reassignments for all the city council's standing committees and those of committee organizations throughout the county.

I blogged about the reassignments of committees after Election 2007 and quickly got into trouble with now-gone Councilman Frank Schiavone who called me a "racist" and said I had "no ethics" because I challenged the decision to appoint freshly sworn in councilman, Rusty Bailey on the Governmental Affairs Committee which traditionally is staffed by the more senior members of the city council. Melendrez had told just about everyone within hearing range that he had wanted to serve on this committee but was pushed aside in favor of Bailey and then appeared to go along with it. But what a difference that two years and one less domineering city council member makes! Melendrez, who's the mayor pro tem worked with Mayor Ron Loveridge to come up with these suggested rosters for the committee list.

And if you recall back in 2004, Loveridge was very upset when his pet charter initiative which if passed by the voters would have given him the role of choosing committee chairs, didn't in fact past the muster of the voters. But it's interesting to see Melendrez as Mayor Pro Tem take the bull by the horns and not only place himself on the Governmental Affairs Committee but list himself as its chair.

These committee lists are on the discussion calendar for a reason. Not because the city council really cares that much what the public has to say about it, but so they can argue amongst themselves in public for a change instead of behind closed doors. Will there be a quick passage of the list of committee assignments proposed by mayor and mayor pro tem or will there be some disagreements and even downright feuding over some of the choices?

How will Councilman Steve Adams cope with Melendrez chairing the Governmental Affairs Committee while he's third wheel? And how will Vice-Chair of Governmental Affairs, Rusty Bailey cope without Schiavone telling him what to do?

Melendrez will also serve as vice-chair of the committee he once chaired, Public Safety which will now be chaired by Chris MacArthur or his aide, depending on who you really believe runs the fifth ward.

The Chief of Border Patrol defends the practices of the Riverside office.

One embezzlement charge against a Riverside County Fire Department employee has been dropped.

And the new parking meters called "Luke" in downtown Riverside make their debut.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Riverside voters narrowly chose the Luke kiosk that serves multiple parking spaces over the single-space meters during a city straw poll last year.

But for downtown parkers, the debate lingers.

"It used to be nice when you could just pay (at a single-space meter) and go in," said Robert Oshaunnessy, of LA, who was eating Friday at the Royal Falconer on Main Street. "People aren't prepared for it (the Lukes). I just wasted 10 minutes trying to figure it out."

Opponents complain that the computerized system is confusing, first requiring a person to enter a space number, and then confirm the amount paid and wait for a receipt.

The machines also don't show how much time is left on a spot.

Others have praised the new system as more convenient, moving the city in a right direction.

"It's very easy. I prefer to use my card and I don't always carry coins when I'm going to court," said Jay Lennox, a process server in Long Beach who was on his way to the Riverside Hall of Justice on Friday. "I wish they would do this in Long Beach."

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