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

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Rise and Fall of an RPD Officer, According to One of Them


Neo Nazis, counter demonstrators, police show up in force in Casa Blanca. More to come.

[The front of the Robert Presley Detention Center in downtown Riverside that houses inmates awaiting trial like former Riverside Police Department Officer Dave Reeves, jr although he's residing at Smith Correctional Facility in Banning. ]

The arrest of former Riverside Police Officer Dave Reeves, Jr. is being discussed in different venues including here. One officer who knew him wrote about his impressions of the situation which he defined as an officer who spiraled out of control after several years in the police department due to emotional problems stemming from an alleged addiction not to illegal drugs but to ones that can be obtained through a doctor's prescription. Here Reeves is discussed in the past tense which might be fitting because his life as he knew it is now over.


I would like to add by saying that drug addiction, particularly to pain killers, can and will cause people of all occupations, races, and life statuses to make dumb desperate bad choices. Cops aren't immune to depression, drug/alcohol abuse, suicide ect..especially after we become one. In Daves case, some of these issues came up after he became a cop, after an injury caused by an accident. I, like all of us who knew Dave, was completely shocked by these robberies, and how far over the deep end he went with his addiction. I'm still in shock because I knew Dave before he went downhill. And, yes, I do feel betrayed by what he did because our department, as well as LE in general, is now taking a beating over this.

In fact, law enforcement officers are at higher risk of drug addiction and suicide than the general population, according to studies that have been done. Some studies based on statistics have stated that an officer may be 2-4 times more likely to by his or her own gun than by being shot by someone else. And the number might be even higher because some "accidental" shootings usually during "gun cleanings" might actually be suicides. Some police officers might have been shocked by the robberies even those who might have known about Reeves' problems including an alleged addiction to pain killers, a euphemism for legal narcotics that are considered controlled substances.

It would have happened easily and not taken nearly as long as many people expect for a person like Reeves to become addicted to pain killing drugs as many of them are as addictive or even more so than illegal drugs like heroin. Stories abound including those involving famous athletes and celebrities of reliance on drugs to mask physical pain or painful emotions and of what happens when people ignore the dangers of overdoses of a drug or combination of drugs which prove to be fatal. Example after example has been broadcast in the national spotlight about celebrities who take drugs, go to sleep and never wake up.

The fact is that many police officers suffer injuries on the job and they also like Reeves suffer off duty injuries including orthopedic injuries that necessitate the taking of pain killing drugs including narcotics to function or make physical pain bearable. The SEIU, which is Riverside's largest bargaining unit, entered into an MOU with the city on its drug policy including drug testing that is a fairly strict, "zero tolerance" drug policy. I asked a member of the SEIU about the police department's drug use and drug testing policy and if it was similar to that used by his union. He looked shocked and said, no because in his opinion, if the police department's officers were under the same policy as the SEIU, many would be unable to work and police the streets. Is that the truth, or an exaggeration of the injury rate in the Riverside Police Department and the use of both over the counter and prescription medication by police officers, not just for injuries but for other medical conditions? And if is the truth than how is the department handling this issue?

Reeves' actions are his own and he bears responsibility for what he has done and yes, his actions are going to leave many police officers including close friends in shock and upset and feeling betrayed by what he has done. It's going to leave the agency and its officers feeling as if they are being painted with a broad brush, but that's partly because law enforcement departments tend to be cohesive but insulated and often very isolated organizations surrounded by the public they protect and serve.

But if Reeves was indeed a drug addict dressed in blue, then it brings to light issues that are difficult to grapple with or face in a profession that is encharged with arresting people involved in both the buying and selling of illegal drugs or legal drugs sold or used illegally. What does a department do about its own employees who are equipped with badges, guns and police powers who are drug addicts? Does it go the punitive route or the rehabilitative route? What route was taken with Reeves? And which thought came first when the department uncovered the depths of his problems if it ever did?

And this dilemma mirrors the conflicting attitudes in different states including California about drug addiction. Voters in California for example passed Proposition 136 which was intended to promote rehabilitation of people addicted to drugs over punitive measures. But with police officers, you have the additional factor that because they are public safety employees who interface with the public in different ways from taking reports or interviewing crime victims and witnesses to using lethal force, they are not only a danger to themselves if they are addicted to drugs but to other officers and the public at large. They also put the cities and counties that employ them at a higher risk of civil liability if they commit either accidental or purposeful police misconduct while addicted to drugs or if they fail to act in their capacity in situations because their judgment or other faculties are impaired.

Reeves became a police officer in 2002 following a father and an uncle onto the force. Not long after he had an off-duty accident and severely fractured two cervical vertebrae. Although he apparently recovered enough to return to active duty at some point, unfortunately, neck injuries by nature never really go away and can be a source of great chronic pain. Apparently, according to a lawsuit he filed against the city about a week before his arrest, Reeves reinjured his neck late last year. Soon after, the department decided to drug test him and he was ordered by Capt. Michael Blakely to first undergo field sobriety tests and then submit a sample for testing. In his lawsuit, Reeves denied being under the influence of drugs or even having used them during that day in January 2009. Because that lawsuit was filed on his behalf by the Riverside Police Officers' Association, the public has some information about what was taking place behind closed doors in one of the most secretive environments in a profession filled with secrets.

Some years ago, the police department allegedly offered one-chance drug rehabilitation to officers who failed blood and/or urine tests to avoid job termination. And there has been officers who have gone to rehab and returned to work, never looking behind them. It's not clear whether Reeves ever asked for any assistance with his problems or whether he was offered any by the department. The answers to those questions are shrouded in secrecy with the rest of his personnel record. It's not clear whether Reeves was working his assignment in patrol including in Casa Blanca while allegedly addicted to drugs or whether he was removed from the streets early on. If drug addiction truly did Reeves in, when did it first start? Back when he suffered his first serious injury, or when he suffered his second one?

A person gets addicted to drugs through their own actions but if there was an addiction to narcotic pain medication here as this anonymous officer states, then were there physicians who monitored his condition while prescribing him medications to see if he had developed any dependency or addiction? Did his family members notice anything wrong with their loved one? This officer mentions that he had many friends on the police force. Did any of them notice anything wrong before he spiraled downward and self-destructed in a major and highly visible way, a way that not even the state's confidentiality laws regarding peace officers can hide any longer?

There are signs of drug abuse that can be subtle and there are others that are not. And even if people suspect, then know and then try to approach or help the individual, it's very unlikely that their assistance will be accepted or their questions even wanted.

While this is most likely and certainly hopefully an example of an individual example of serious criminal conduct by a police officer and not an institutional one, no man and certainly no police officer is an island. Each individual one such as Reeves is interlinked with other officers and interwoven into the organizational structure of the law enforcement agency that employs them. One wonders how Reeves' problems ever came to light and when. Did any of his peers notice any problems and do they work in an environment where they can report them to supervisors? Did his supervisors notice anything wrong with him or his job performance while he was allegedly addicted to drugs? Was he ever given an option of going to rehab which has been offered to officers in the past? And what about the department's Early Warning System which was created after the Mayor's Use of Force Panel recommended it in 1999 and then later tightened by the State Attorney General's office during the five year stipulated judgment.

Very few of the department's officers are believed to be tracked by the department through this computerized system at any given time but was Reeves ever included in this group and would it have made a difference in his situation if he had been? There are many questions to be asked that perhaps will never be answered. And can't be in the State of California, which leaves many of its residents in cities where tragic incidents like this happen left wondering what is going on.

He also writes about Reeves, jr.' career before his arrest. His work as an officer in a neighborhood where his work was lauded by officers, complained about by more than a few residents (as he received the second highest number of complaints of any officer there)but then it's not rare for police and community residents to have different perceptions of the same officer.

He talks about the familial connections for Reeves and attributed his downfall to the injury that he suffered off-duty and what he said was the department's handling of it.


He actually strongly resembled a heavier version of Napolean Dynamite. He wears glasses, which aren't in the booking photo. Gangsters in Casa Blanca referred to him as Napolean Dynamite. Dave came from a family of Riverside cops. His father was a well respected Sgt. who retired several years back. His uncle is a Motor Sgt. now. He has two brother-in-laws on the department, both well respected. Dave was a police exporer and cadet for RPD before he became a cop. I worked with all three of them, and Dave was a good street cop before his problems overcame him. An off duty accident several years ago caused a lingering neck injury, which got him hooked on pain killers. The department recently began investigating him for the drug addiction, took him off the street and suspended his police powers. The city doctors were most likely going to retire him for his neck injury, but since the accident was off duty, he was not going to get a medical retirement. Dave didn't want to retire, and he began to have huge family/money problems. His addiction overcame him, and he went over the deep end.

Dave was a friend of mine, and it's hard to read some of the posts here,,,but I don't blame anyone for their anger or disgust. How can anyone justify these robberies. But, he had alot of friends on the department that were completely shocked and saddened by this, and you can imagine how his family feels. Dave wasn't a "Thug" or a "G", he just snapped..that's the only way I can describe it.

So an officer whose entire family appears to have been tied to the Riverside Police Department, who had been involved with the department beginning in the Explorer program and continuing as a police cadet and then later as an officer was not only facing retirement but was ineligible for a medical retirement due to the nature of his injury. An individual who is raised in a family where most of his role models are law enforcement officers might be more likely to identify himself more strongly that way and be more reluctant to surrender that identity. Did that make him more desperate than he would be otherwise? That's a hard question to answer as some people in his shoes commit crimes but many don't so it's likely that other factors came into play here.

This officer writes about shock and feelings of betrayal at the behavior of a fellow officer and friend. No doubt there is a department filled with employees feeling the same way, not to mention a city of residents who are very concerned about what has happened in their midst and some of them may be indicting the entire agency by the actions of one. That's not really fair to do but the department itself could go along way in addressing any erosion of public trust by how it addresses this issue to examine whether there is anything they can uncover through investigation and reflection to prevent future David Reeves before their meltdowns collide with other people's lives potentially placing them in jeopardy as Reeves' actions did last week.

The department hopefully does as it should recognize that police officers due to the stress and physical demands of their jobs are at higher risk for drug addiction among other problems and be more vigilant of any officers heading down a similar path. Because the number one question in many discussions right now is apprehension over whether Reeves is truly an isolated case and whether or not there are other ticking time bombs inside the department. Officers should evaluate each other to see if there's any reason that a person they work with might be in trouble and the police culture which often punishes those who "tattle" should provide a more accommodating environment for officers to report concerns or even apprehension with working alongside certain police officers.

Drug rehabilitation should be a viable option at least for the first offense so there might be more self-reporting or be reported by others he or she works with. At some point, the department must have figured out there was a serious problem with Reeves if what this individual wrote is correct and took steps to investigate, which inevitably brought his situation to a head. Situations like those involving Reeves should be handled as critical incidents subject to investigation and review not just on individuals but much more broadly. The public is most reassured and has the most confidence in the police agencies that protect and serve them when they have the most faith and trust in them that this is being done as a matter of course.

Field supervisors should keep an eye on their charges and be ready to either approach the officer or their supervisors if there are problems suspected much, much earlier in the process than likely was the case involving Reeves. However, considering how strapped the supervisory ranks are because of frozen vacancies and promotions, that might be more of a challenge than it was in the past.

And communities should keep an eye on their officers and if they're behaving strangely or inappropriately, they should report it to a supervisor or file a complaint so that the department has an opportunity to check into what is going on with a particular officer.

But the department should take the time right now to thoroughly investigate this critical incident and check to see whether it's early warning system of identifying and tracking problematic behavior is doing the job that it should be doing in hopes of preventing more David Reeves from c0ming to light in a horrifying way.

Riverside City Council members will be riding a mechanical bull for charity at an event sponsored by Habitat for Humanity.

Hoe-Down with Habitat

When: 5 p.m. Saturday; dinner is 6-7:30 p.m.

Where: Riverside Rancheros arena, 1198 Washington St., Riverside

Cost: $40, includes one drink

Information: 951-787-6754, ext. 120,

A recall drive against Moreno Valley Councilwoman Robin Hastings appears to be falling short.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

For her part, Hastings said she was "cautiously optimistic" that the recall attempt would fail. "But I'm superstitious. I don't want to comment until after 5 p.m."

Reeder said her committee gathered more than 3,300 names but must collect at least 4,508.

Hastings took office in December. Her opponents say they're angry about her February vote in favor of a 1.8 million-square-foot Skechers distribution center. Her backers point out that the shoe warehouse won unanimous support on the council, and that if she'd voted no, the project still would have been approved by a 4-1 tally.

Don't rush to cityhood. So the Press Enterprise Editorial Board warns Eastvale which is chomping at the bit to do just that.

Riverside County Sheriff's Department candidate Frank Robles has a campaign Web site.

Mayoral candidate Ken Stansbury will be appearing at the Friday Morning Club on Friday, Oct. 23 at 10 a.m. at the Janet Goeske Center on Sierra near Streeter.

Riverside Councilman Paul Davis is hosting a meeting tonight at the Orange Terrace Center in Orangecrest at 6:30 p.m. . There will be city department representatives there and topics will be discussed.

UC Riverside is hosting an all-day event culminating in a 8:30 p.m. vigil commemorating October 22, the national day against police abuse. It starts at 10 a.m.

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