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, October 15, 2009

Oct. 14: An anniversary and an arrest for the RPD

Yesterday, Wednesday Oct. 14, the first anniversary of an event that took place here in Riverside was commemorated in a sadly ironic way for the Riverside Police Department when another police officer employed by that agency was arrested in Moreno Valley.

On Oct. 14, 2008 former officer, Robert Forman was arrested by his own department for allegedly sexually assaulting three women under the color of authority. He is currently awaiting his trial on two counts of oral copulation under the color of authority and one count of sexual battery, all felonies. Chief Russ Leach fired him a month after his arrest.

Now a year later, on Oct. 14 at 9 p.m., Moreno Valley Police Department officers appeared one minute after receiving a 911 call about an armed robbery at an auto shop and found off-duty Riverside Police Department officer Dave Reeves, jr. at the scene. They arrested him and took him to be booked and held on $250,000 bail. Reeves was originally hired as a cadet by the department in 2001 and then became an officer. Now, he's sitting in jail awaiting his fate.

According to court records, Reeves hasn't been charged with a crime but was arrested on a 209(A) felony count of kidnapping for ransom. He has to receive a hearing in front of a Riverside County Superior Court judge within 72 hours while in custody. Not much information was released about why he was arrested by any law enforcement agency and nothing has come out of the Riverside County District Attorney's office as of yet.

This was the news brief in the Press Enterprise blog.

An off-duty Riverside police officer was arrested last night at the scene of an armed robbery at an auto parts store in Moreno Valley, according to Riverside County sheriff's officials.

David Reeves Jr., a 28-year-old Moreno Valley resident, was booked on suspicion of 9 p.m. armed robbery of the Auto Zone along the 23500 block of Sunnymead Boulevard, said sheriff's Sgt. Dennis Gutierrez.

Deputies arrived at the scene within a minute of the 911 call.

Later, the news was that Reeves had left the department the morning after his arrest. Whether he was fired or resigned was not revealed by the department as it's usually not in cases like this one.

Someone in the comment thread which filled up soon after the article was posted did provide a reason for Reeves' alleged actions.

All of you people think you know everyone,right? has any of your loved ones been in trouble. He is a good and decent man with a family. he was injured on the job and had financial and personal problems. What led him to this tragety is a mistery.We as a family love and respect him. We don't know what was going through his head, but he has all of our love and prayers.

So to all of you cop haters, he protected you and served his community since he was a kid. Have a heart!He is a good man that made a horrible mistake.What he did is not right and i'm not making excuses for that. But let god judge him. not you! who among you are worthy to judge another man? Then let our God judge you!

I Pray for his beautiful wife and children his mother his father and family. They are all good and decent people. I love him dearly and pray for him and his family. So all of you that think you are so HOLY.Think again, this can happen to the best of people and families.Thank you to all of the RPD for putting you lives on the line for us daily!

And i feel sorry for the people that take it for granted every day what you do for our community. One officer has a breakdown and you want to judge the whole department. SHAME ON YOU ALL. AND GOD HELP YOU ANYONE WHO THINKS THEY ARE ABOVE ALL OF THIS.I love David Reeves Jr. A great man and father. Yes he did wrong, but as a family we will stand together, and trust God . Romans 8;28 All things work together for good to them that love GOD

I've seen this author before several times in different places. Including the biblical verses (though it was Luke, not Romans quoted) and it's the same defenses that police officers have so despised when civilian defendants and their families use them. Yet when they're in the same spot, they do the same thing because maybe the emotions experienced by families with loved ones in these situations, civilian or police, are very similar, and it's a place that most police officers or their loved ones don't expect to be until there they are, among the human race.

Reeves was a common name that came up among city residents in one particular neighborhood on complaints, whether they were filed with the toothless police commission or not. Forman also received complaints several years before he was arrested. It’s probably not a coincidence that officers who have those kind of histories even in communities too distrustful of police complaint systems or civilian review for that matter to file are the ones who get arrested whereas officers who don’t have those histories usually do not. And many police officers in Riverside don’t have those histories of complaints that transcend years and assignments in different parts of the city but some do and where he was assigned for whatever reason, Reeves placed second in the number of complaints lodged by residents in a neighborhood which files very few complaints through official channels with the police department or the police commission.

The arrest of one officer, or maybe two in the past 12 months as has happened with the Riverside Police Department doesn’t necessarily mean the police agency is corrupted so you can’t be quick to blame the entire agency for the actions of one of its members. If there’s a pattern of them getting arrested and they were hired by a law enforcement agency with prior problems including arrest records, then that’s an indication of a police agency out of control, such as was the case with Maywood Police Department near Los Angeles. But for most law enforcement agencies, they should be viewed through the prism of how they handle these situations when they arise. Do they go back and examine the hiring procedure for an officer who gets into trouble to see if there’s anything they missed? Do they go back and see if there’s anything that can be learned from that hiring process? Do they go back and carefully examine and investigate the officer’s behavior while on and off duty including in this case a prior onduty shooting? Do they review complaints against the officer that were decided totally or largely on the officer’s version of events? Do they talk to the officer’s colleagues to see if they had noticed anything that they didn’t feel they could report at the time? Do they encourage a better reporting environment if an officer is in trouble? Do they go back and take a look at any of the systems they have in place to address any of these issues?

How does the agency respond?

That will tell people a lot about what kind of law enforcement agency is involved, for better or worse and how committed it is to taking steps to try to reduce the presence of any bad apples. It’s not necessarily indicting an agency as a den of corruption by admitting that there’s a few areas of it and/or some of its processes and procedures that might need a closer look.

It’s interesting how some people respond to Reeves’ arrest by telling people that they should become police officers themselves, a line of thinking that comes up most often in discussions involving individual bad apples in a law enforcement agency or in the profession as a whole. That might be a legitimate line of reasoning in many arguments and discussions about law enforcement but not this one. That’s unfortunate because that’s where it appears most often, at least when these issues spill out into the public arena.

By using that as your defense or response, you are essentially defending a bad apple and making him or her representative of the officers in a law enforcement agency or in the profession as a whole by implying that his decision to commit a crime (and this defense has been used all the way up to an officer being sentenced after a conviction) is related to him being a police officer or some aspect of that profession

These individuals may not be aware of it but they are essentially the ones indicting entire police forces or the profession by generalizing the criminal acts of an individual as ones that would be committed by others who share the badge, rather than judging it as the actions of an individual.

There’s great value to the adage, “walk a mile in the shoes” but how can these officers be absolutely sure they really share the life experience of the individual arrested for sexual misconduct, road rage or in this case, armed robbery and kidnapping? And why do they assume that it's an officer's shoes they have to walk through to know why some commit crimes?

These individuals are arguing the flip side of those who claim that the exposure of a bad apple indicts an entire department and profession as bad apples. They’re saying instead that you have to walk a mile in an officer’s shoes to understand his or her decision to commit a felony. As if being an officer produces some mitigating factor or some explanation as to why the crime was committed and if there’s a direct relationship between officers who don’t commit crimes and those who do.

That’s like arguing there’s some inherent part of an officer that is hardwired for criminal behavior. And these arguments are raised by supporters of law enforcement officers or officers themselves? What is it that they say about “with friends like these…”?

Those who argue this are perhaps intending to defend a profession but in actuality, they are indicting it as thoroughly as those who label every police officer with the same brush because in an indirect way, they are doing the same thing. They are using exactly the same kind of argument as those they are responding to, that something inherent in the profession creates law enforcement officers who commit crimes. Not that it might be a factor among others, but that it is the sole determining factor.

The “either you’re for us or against us” mantra that comes into play in situations like this when law enforcement agencies, management or organizations are circling their wagons. A culture defined by what psychologists define as “polarized thinking”, a behavior believed to increase anxiety.

This situation will continue to develop in the days and weeks to come. And how the Riverside Police Department handles it will define what kind of law enforcement agency it has become.

Parking for Sale

The city council in Riverside is on the verge of doing the imaginable. They plan to sell away hundreds of parking places in downtown Riverside. Now there will be fewer places for people to park while coming down to do business in the downtown. Not exactly the way to help businesses struggling there and to make it more user friendly.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

When city officials made the deal a year ago, they said they hadn't yet come up with a plan to replace the parking, which has been used by employees of the city's public utility, downtown businesses and the public.

Today, there's still no short-term solution, other than about 100 new spaces in two lots within several blocks of the city garage.

"It's a net loss of available parking for (city) employees, businesses and the public," City Councilman Mike Gardner said. "It's going to be inconvenient for people who currently use the garage."

The council voted Tuesday to move the parking deal forward by selling 400 spaces to the city's redevelopment agency, which will sell them to Silagi for a previously agreed-upon $4 million. County workers in the tower will have use of the spaces from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and they will be available to the public at night.

The city will retain use of 138 spots in the 538-space garage, which Gardner said is about 70 to 80 percent full most of the time. The city spots will mainly be for employees of the public utility, which has offices on the ground floor of the garage, and some may go to downtown businesses that buy monthly permits.

It's unlikely that any spaces will remain for the public.

If that's enough, the garage was built for $8 million and sold for only $4 million. Sounds like someone got a great deal but it wasn't the city of Riverside.

Sonja Bjelland who covered law enforcement in Riverside and Riverside County has been laid off by the Press Enterprise in recent days. This newspaper has made it a practice of either buying out or laying off their most senior (and best) reporters in the past year or so courtesy of Belo Enterprises which has hit the publication hard with layoffs since it's the only one of four newspapers owned by the corporation not turning a profit due to low advertising revenues.

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