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

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Summer heat comes to Riverside

No Riverside City Council meetings will be held this week because it's the fifth week of the month of June so everyone will have a respite from the activities which take place at City Hall on most Tuesday evenings. Beginning in July and for the duration of the summer, the city council will be operating on a reduced schedule of meeting only once every two weeks. Which means some of the agendas may be more packed than others, particularly in the consent calendars.

A Dubious Anniversary

The fourth anniversary of the city council's decision to ban city residents from pulling items from that calendar for public discussion will be commemorated on July 12. On that notorious day, then Councilman Dom Betro with a second by Councilman Steve Adams pushed the city council to vote 6-1 (with former Councilman Art Gage dissenting) to push that ban through. That was one of the initial steps taken by the then-BASS quartet to limit public comment at city council meetings. Though several city council members said they would take a look at this issue, none so far really has done so.

Will the city council change direction?

A big crowd greeted the last city council meeting to witness the inauguration of the two incumbents and one newcomer who won their respective elections earlier this month. The applause for all three of them was enthusiastic, most particularly for new Ward Four Councilman Paul Davis who defeated incumbent Frank Schiavone by more than 300 votes. Two of the areas that Davis performed particularly well in were Orangecrest where not surprisingly he held a 20 point advantage and Casa Blanca where he won by 10 points. The two major issues which negatively impacted Schiavone's attempt for a three-peat were the DHL-Gate scandals and the micromanagement of the CPRC in which Schiavone apparently (and quite proudly) played a role in during his campaign.

People have discussed about how the dynamics of the city council have already changed after Schiavone's ouster off of the dais, but it's too early to be certain how much will be changed and if so, in what direction. There's no question that Schiavone was seen as the Alpha Male as it's often called and in the absence of that, will anyone try to take that position? Some have said that Ward Five Councilman Chris MacArthur (or better yet, his legislative aide who remains glued to his side nearly at all times) might take that step. What kind of dynamic will emerge from the city council, and what does Election 2009 mean for elections further down the road.

After all, Election 2009 isn't over yet. There's still the November election to determine who will serve an abbreviated term as mayor. So far, pretty much everyone has coronated the current mayor, Ron Loveridge the easy victor but it's too early to tell exactly what kind of competition will be drawn into this race as opposed to one that will be contested for the regular four-year term in 2012.

Some familiar people recently cast off the dais by the brutal double-act election of 2007 made appearances at the inaugural event on June 23. Former council members Dom Betro and Art Gage both appeared at that meeting. Both had aspirations to be mayor while still serving their first (and as it turned out only) terms as councilmen. Both were featured in a splashy article in the Inland Empire Magazine article and both failed to win their reelection campaigns. Will their appearances at the June 23 meeting and perhaps other events mean that they will be reemerging again in future elections? Future city council races in 2011 or one of the two upcoming mayoral races instead?

Election 2009 part deux could still prove to be an interesting chain of events because one thing should be learned and remembered about any election. It's not over until its over and you can never be sure what the end result will be.

Just ask Betro, Gage and Schiavone if any of then anticipated getting pink slips during their reelection bids. Probably not. Where will these men next appear in the political arena? That's a question only the future can answer.

Upcoming Series

More coming up in the ongoing saga, called Captain, Captain where art thou Captain which continues the recent story about the retirement of one of the police department's captains and whether or not the position will be filled and how that will go down if the promotion does take place. Of course, if it instead goes into deep freeze due to budget cuts like other positions have, that story will be told too. At least a dozen lieutenants perhaps eagerly await the hopes that they will be contending for this position if the interest among this rank of officers is at all similar to what greeted the last promotional process involving a captain's position. It's too early to cast odds on who has the best chance of getting promoted given that the criteria and rules for being promoted to captain are a topic of some debate.

Then there will be a continuation, of It's Raining Micromanagers which will involve City Hall's micromanagement of both the Riverside Police Department and the Community Police Review Commission as well as the now contentious relationship between all three entities and members within the entities and so forth. This ongoing plethora of story lines promises only to get more convoluted yet more captivating in the months ahead as the future waits to tell us all whether micromanagement of these agencies will continue to thrive or instead dry up if the power structure has truly begun to change. The cast of micromanagers will be introduced shortly in a future blog posting on this series and they will be assigned grades on their micromanagement skills both in artistic and technical skills categories.

If anyone wants to feel free to submit any more city departments which fall under this category of having micromanagers rained on them, there's an email address in the header above.

A Stats Report

The posting on the lawsuits filed by Riverside Police Department lieutenants Darryl Hurt and Tim Bacon resulted in a very high volume of visitors coming to this site's page to read about it. It's on current pace to be about the sixth most popular event or issue covered on this blog. If you'll recall, that lawsuit which has now been bifurcated by a federal court judge was filed alleging political and professional harassment and retaliation against the lieutenants by a group of defendants including Schiavone, Councilman Steve Adams, Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis and City Manager Brad Hudson among others.

The micromanagement alleged in the lawsuit allegedly included organization decisions by the department as well as personnel hiring and promotions. More analysis of this interesting case and any developments that arise will be reported in future blog postings. As the case stands, it's been bifurcated by the federal judge which means that some of the arguments have to be refiled in the state's civil court system. Given how many state laws are cited on the first page of the complaint, it's probably those issues which will be transferred to the civil courthouse for future litigation.

But the issues raised in the lawsuits remain worth following on and scrutinizing further because they were pretty serious and perhaps may require outside scrutiny if what's alleged in the lawsuits are part of a pattern and practice of behavior.

"In this universe, there's only one absolute... everything freezes!"

---Mr. Freeze

The Riverside Police Department as has been announced, froze another captain's position which means that the current list of frozen sworn positions includes the following:

Captains: 2 (Deputy Chief Dave Dominguez and Mark Boyer)

Lieutenant: 1 (Original two vacated were Paul Villanueva and Kenneth Carpenter)

Sergeants: 3 (original six positions were held by: Randy Eggleston, Terry Meyer, Leon Phillips (promotion), Lisa Williams (lateral move to newly created position), Johnny Romo and Kevin Stanton

What's really going to make things interesting and not in a good way either, is that it's anticipated that there will be a number of retirements involving sergeants and lieutenants by the end of this year. About 2-3 within each rank is possible and what's that going to do to the staffing levels of the Riverside Police Department at the front and mid-line supervisory levels when that happens? What will that do to the officer to supervisory ratios of the patrol division during its work shifts? You ask anyone these questions at City Hall and why not ask there as well since they seem to be in charge, and you just hear that the department is "fully staffed". If the ratios were to fall to say, 10 to 1, you would probably see DeSantis for example, plugging his ears and saying to himself, the department's fully staffed while clicking his heels. According to the micromanagement team of the agency, it is after all, fully staffed. That's the only response DeSantis had in June 2008 when he and the city council was cautioned during an audit to at least examine the issue. And when what happens when a city-hired consultant gives a little bit of worrisome news to the city council? You never see them again.

But does that even make any sense that the city can keep promising to maintain its officer to supervisory ratios and then have more and more of these positions remain frozen.

Is it raining layoffs?

The Human Resources Board meets on Monday June 29 at 4 p.m. on the fifth floor conference room at City Hall. One of the monthly rituals is when the board members receive statistics about how many employees the city's laying off from Human Resources Director Rhonda Strout and her assistant or another of Hudson's analysts, Jeremy Hammond. The two of them always cite a handful of people and then say that most of those either retire or are laterally assigned elsewhere.

However, at least one department has lost about a third or more of its employees and is having a difficult time and several other departments have numbers that are higher than those carefully chosen and sanitized by the Human Resources Department for the Human Resources Board. Of course it doesn't help either that City Hall doesn't consider part-time employees to be real people worth counting in its own ranks, but it's not shy about including them in layoff rates for other cities, say the oft-mentioned Corona.

Cut off from city services?

Residents in Riverside County's Greenbelt area are protesting a road closure that they say blocks their access to emergency services and from the city of Riverside itself.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Resident Scott Elliot said that he plans to bring at least 100 people to a July 14 public hearing in front of the Riverside City Council, eclipsing the 20 opponents who spoke against the issue at a city Planning Commission meeting in May.

Elliot says the city is isolating him and neighbors and endangering their safety by proposing a street closure to reduce cut-through traffic.
Story continues below

He said thousands like him living in the unincorporated county area oppose the proposal, and that he has been organizing homeowners' association leaders to join in the opposition.

But supporters of the issue have also been vocal, arguing that the city is doing the right thing by closing the street, thereby preserving the greenbelt's agricultural character.

The project would close off Dufferin Avenue at Stewart Street, eliminating a route into the city. Some residents say that if that happened, their safety could be endangered by limiting emergency vehicle access. It would also force them to make longer trips into the city and discourage county residents from shopping in Riverside, instead sending them to Corona

"It literally isolates thousands of people," said Elliot, who has lived in Victoria Grove since 2003. "The city of Riverside is looking at us like we're some sort of aliens, like we can't go into their city."

But Riverside is buying more foreclosed homes lately to refurbish for resale to first-home buyers. But with the housing bust and the ongoing recession, many city and county planning commissions have been left twiddling their thumbs.

Two years on Hill and all I got is a pamphlet

--- the slogan the CPRC commissioners should wear on their new shirts.

The Community Police Review Commission did complete its pamphlet on the Joseph Darnell Hill shooting case but is awaiting a minority report that will be written by Commissioner Chani Beeman to counter the majority opinion that the shooting was justified and that no recommendations were needed to be included in the report. It doesn't seem like the commission does much anymore except hand off assignments to CPRC manager, Kevin Rogan to write and of course he has his own bosses to answer to and so forth.

A discussion on the two words, "analysis" and "draft" was painful to watch. If they are struggling over such basic concepts and the importance of each, then one wonders if they're more qualified to do more when reviewing complaints besides rubber stamping what the police department and city manager's office have most likely already done before the complaints even reach the CPRC in some cases over one year after they were filed. Now, if you have complaints that are over 365 years old by the time they reach the CPRC and Internal Affairs sergeants are saying they've never seen a complaint that's been in conflict with the year's statutory deadline for disciplining officers and the police union isn't complaining about their officers having to wait months or over a year for their cases to be disposed, then it's just as likely that these complaints investigation and dispositions are pretty much done and filed away while the CPRC is still waiting for the complaints to come back for its own review.

Apparently, there's not much discussion in closed session about complaint allegations as well, just votes taken by the members during those meetings which might be why the latest stats show that the CPRC, Internal Affairs and the city manager's office are in agreement about 99% or higher of the time. That little bit of information spilled out during one of the arguments that took place during the CPRC's last general meeting. That's probably why the public report on Hill states that a preponderance of evidence was the reason for exonerating the officers yet no evidential information is included in the report, just an incident summary. And when asked about whether or not there was any analysis done of the shooting, it didn't seem like anyone besides Brian Pearcy, John Brandriff or Chani Beeman knew what the word even meant let alone how it applied. Although Robert Slawsby almost seemed to grasp its relevance.

A wrongful death claim has been filed in the case of a Rubidoux man who was mistakenly shot to death by police in a restaurant in Chino.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

According to Algorri, Chino Police Cpl. Claudia Lisner, who fired the fatal shot into Balandran's chest, told Sheriff's Department investigators that she had twice ordered him to show his hands before she fired.

Witness statements and officer belt recordings obtained through a public records act request revealed that Lisner gave no such order, Algorri said.

Michelle Van Der Linden, spokeswoman for the city of Chino, said Friday that city representatives had been in legal discussions with the family for several months.

"We're unable to comment on ongoing litigation," she said.

Press Enterprise Columnist Dan Bernstein tackles the $5.5 million jury's verdict in the case of a man being killed by Moreno Valley Police Department officers.


The county plans to appeal. That's how things work. But that's just one ingredient in the sausage.

It took this civil case about five years to get to trial. Par for the course in RivCo. Weeks before the trial finally started, the county rejected a mediator's recommendation to settle for $475,000. Lewis' family "reluctantly" agreed to the figure, said their OC attorney, Jon Jackson.

Why did the county, in these lean times, reject a $475K settlement and put itself at risk of a multimillion payout?

Some background: Sheriff's deputies responded to a 911 call from Arthur Lee Lewis Jr.'s parents. A sheriff's statement at the time called Lewis a mentally disturbed man. Officers used pepper spray to subdue Lewis. The family said they did more than that.

"They killed him," the man's father, Arthur Lewis, said a day or so later. "They choked him to death." Lewis' mother, Jesse, said they called 911 because their 33-year-old son was off his anxiety meds and not eating, not because he was out of control.

The county's position: "We had no liability."

So said Lucy Williams, a risk-management specialist and deputy director of the county's Human Resources department. She continued: "Deputies get a call. He (Lewis) is strangling his mother. He resists communication. They have to take him down. He has a massive heart attack." The DA and sheriff found no criminal behavior or officer misconduct.

But in the end, the trial jury disagreed to the tune of over $5 million. So is the city of Moreno Valley kicking itself? If so, it might not be the only city that's been there, done that.

Just ask yourself too why the City of Riverside rejected a $200,000 arbitration award in the case of Police Officer Roger Sutton and instead took the case to a jury and paid out $1.64 million.
They rolled the dice and they lost.

Then Bernstein tackles both Riverside's love them and leave them affair with slogans and titles and "Cuddles", aka Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco.


From there, the "brand" spread like a virus with no known cure. "It became a way of thinking about the city," said MayorLuv earlier this week. Ha!

"City of Arts & Innovation" was hardly a unanimous choice. Other contenders:

"City of Rats & Excavation," noting the city's persistent state of rubble 'n' renaissance.

"City of Cops & Litigation" preferred by those steamed about the City Council's stiff arm of the police review commission.

Others seething over unfunded promises of a new library and expanded museum held out for "City of Farce & Prestidigitation."

But the City Council picked "City of Arts & Innovation" because of the subliminal ("Mission Innovation") commercial message. Because of local advances in "space exploration": finding office space for the DA and parking space for the Fox Theater.

And because Riverside features the very latest in red-light camera and parking meter technology. That's innovation!
A quibble: "City of Arts & Innovation" isn't a marketing "brand."

When I think of "brand" I think of a calf. How many times is a calf branded? Once.
Riverside's no calf. "City of Arts & Innovation" is just the newest tattoo on heavily inked civic flesh. Trust me, it won't be the last.

We know, Dan. Riverside will love and leave this latest title just like it has the rest.

The new police chief in San Bernardino is trying to encourage mutual respect between community members and police.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

A community police academy to help residents gain a better understanding of police work.

Informal dinners to help people get acquainted.

Kilmer, who reported for duty June 1, also vowed to promptly investigate complaints against officers and to clearly explain the decisions made about them.

Westside residents have long complained of racial profiling and brutal police tactics. Activists cite a series of confrontations between police and black or Latino Westside residents, culminating with a melee in August 2007 that occurred after police raided a candlelight vigil for a shooting victim. Authorities never released a report on the investigation of the raid.

On Thursday, Kilmer referred to a list of criticisms and suggestions compiled at a similar forum last December.

"You look through the list, (and see) 'We need to do this. We need to do this.' The bottom line is, we need to treat each other with respect. We can say it. We can talk about it. But we have to walk it," Kilmer said.

State Attorney General Jerry Brown issued this press release about the new stipulated court order imposed by his office on the Maywood Police Department. Here are some of the key reforms that Maywood's department will be required to implement and enforce.


The City Council must provide comprehensive and effective oversight of the Department; the City must retain an outside police professional to submit an annual report regarding the state of the Department; the City Council must provide for the recruitment and retention of highly qualified police chiefs to ensure that the reforms below are carried out. These reforms include:

1. Adoption of hiring practices to ensure that only qualified candidates for sworn and civilian candidates are hired and unsuitable applicants are screened out.

2. Updating written policies and procedures to ensure that police services are provided in a lawful manner.

3. Ensuring that following use-of-force incidents, reports be submitted and reviewed by management.

4. Providing adequate training on use of force, probable cause and reasonable suspicion, and use of Tasers.

5. Making sure that residents can lodge complaints and that those complaints be investigated.

6. Requiring that reports be clear and provide sufficient information to determine the probable cause for an arrest or search, or reasonable suspicion for a detention or pat-down search.

7. Requiring the implementation of an Early Intervention System to track and monitor the activities and actions of sworn personnel to deter inappropriate or unlawful conduct.

8. Retaining an independent outside expert to evaluate the department's management structure to ensure that there is accountability up and down the chain of command.

9. Requiring the Department to purchase digital audio recorders, and ensuring that officers use them.

10. Requiring the installation of video cameras on all Department vehicles and in the lobby of the police station and other areas of the station where officers interact with the public.

11. Changing the culture of the department and eliminating inappropriate sexual innuendo and harassment, vulgarity, discourtesy to members of the public and between officers, and cultural, racial, and ethnic insensitivity.

12. Adopting a community-oriented policing philosophy.

If you are from Riverside and know what's been going on the past 10 years involving this city's own police department, this list should be very familiar to you. Riverside became the first city in the country to be under a reform mandate order by a State Attorney General's office.

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