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

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Hiding in Plain Sight: The Stats on Recruitment and Retention of Women

`What: Human Resources Board

When: Monday, Oct. 2 at 4 p.m.

Where: Riverside City Hall, Fifth Floor Conference Room

The Human Resources Board met on Monday, Nov. 2 and Riverside Police Department Chief Russ Leach finally appeared to do his presentation on issues pertaining to the recruitment and retention of female officers in the police department.

Leach arrived at the meeting with his adjutant, Sgt. Jaybee Brennan and a female administrative analyst from the city manager's office who had done the audit on female recruitment and retention for the department's audit and compliance bureau. It was indeed news that the city manager's office had placed one of its administrative analysts on the police department's audit and compliance bureau when that hadn't been the case several years ago back when the police department had more civilian employees. But then the city manager's office has placed its administrative analysts everywhere. This office even operated under the mistaken impression that one of them was qualified to manage the Community Police Review Commission for six months which just created a huge backlog on complaint reviews when the latest permanent one was hired.

What was also interesting is that Leach in his presentation cited statistical information that was taken from his recent internal audit on the retention rates of female officers done by that bureau. The same statistics which were deemed unreleasable to the board by the city attorney who delivered his ruling on that issue through Human Resources Director Rhonda Strout. Priamos' rationale for barring the release of that information was that the information was confidential including the stats. Meaning that when the board had requested this information in the past, it was told by Strout that it could not do so because it was connected to the internally generated audit. Obviously, for whatever reason that's all water under the bridge now because Leach provided those same apparently taboo statistics in his presentation. Only in Riverside, is information confidential in one meeting and not the next. It seems that it's not so much a list of rules or even laws that are followed but simply games that are played with information that is essentially public. Unfortunate for the city of course but it makes blogging more interesting.

But what were those formally top-secret statistics that magically poof, became publicly disseminated information? There are some cited below and they do provide more information about the issues of women and policing in the city's department.

The current percentage of female officers in Riverside's police department is 10%, a slight increase from the 9% share that existed in the 1990s and early 2000s. The FBI listed these stats that show the national averages for percentages of female employees and officers in law enforcement agencies serving different sized cities for 2005. Riverside's police department would be in the category of cities between 250,000 to 500,000 where the average figure is 15.2%, somewhat higher than Riverside's current stat. The overall national average is about 11.6% because large-sized agencies are not the norm in this nation and the smaller law enforcement agencies have lower percentages of female officers. The vast majority of department have less than 100 employees and the average sized law enforcement agency has about 50 sworn officers. Riverside's Police Department has about 370 nonvacant positions.

The attrition rates by gender between 2001-2008 differed greatly between male and female officers in the police department. The "washout" rate during this time period was 29% for men and 45% for women. For women, out of 31 hired, 14 left. 11 resigned, two terminated and one retired. The men showed higher rates of departure for disciplinary reasons than did the women who showed higher rates of resignations.

As far as trying to get hired by the department, about 15% of individuals who applied for positions in the department were female. In terms of the officers that the department actually hired, 13% were female. Both figures are higher than the current percentage of female representation in the department but lower than the dropout rates and comprise the time period between 2001-2008 in the department's history.

The picture of what happens to male versus female officers during their probationary periods also proved to be interesting though the retention rates for male and female officers weren't as disparate, according to Leach's statistics.

For officers employed there for 18 months or less, , the percentage of dropout rates were 72% of the total dropout rates for men and 79% for women. Again, fewer women than men terminated or retired but more women than men resigned, percentage wise. Women had lower rates of discipline, complaints and use of force incidents, according to Leach which is the case of female officers in most law enforcement agencies across the country.

Here's a cross section of women who left the police department by year for this current decade.

2001: 1 (Asian-American) dropped out the first day of the academy
1 Failed Field Training Officer program
1 dropped out five days in academy

2002: 1 dropped out five months into the academy

2003: 1 dropped out seven days into academy

2004: Failed FTO program

2005: 1 Terminated after six months in academy/department (Kelsy Metzler)

2006: 2 Failed FTO program
1 lasted one month in academy

2006/07: One retired on medical leave (actually two, Amy Munoz and Tina Gould)

2007: 1 Failed FTO program

2008: 1 Terminated (Laura DiGiorgio)

The Fate of the Department's Pre-Academy

The audit conducted by the department's bureau actually mostly covered the two week pre-academy that the department holds to prepare its newly hired personnel for the rigors of the basic academy. After the audit was conducted, the department made changes in the pre-academy program particularly involving the use of the drill sergeants and the role they played. One area that wasn't changed as much was the physical training involved with the curriculum, according to Leach. But the area where women had the highest dropout rates included the academy and the FTO programs (particularly between 2006-07). Not to mention one area they didn't discuss which was the several women who left after about 2-3 years working with the police department.

For women of color, not much has change there in five years in terms of their numbers. One Asian-American woman, three African-Americans and four Latinas (down from six) are included among the list of female officers, along with 29 White officers. The net increase for women officers since 2001 is about 5-6 female officers, which brings them up to about 37.

Leach said that the department needed to make it clear to women what law enforcement was about so they didn't bring a false impression or were given a false impression and then drop out after all this money had been spent recruiting and hiring them. One step he proposed was moving the mandated psychological testing earlier in the application and screening process.

He also talked about attending all the graduation ceremonies for the police academies where future officers sponsored by the police department graduated and how he always saw the women walking around in green uniforms. We like them better in blue, he said. He talked about how the county sheriff's departments were getting more women because the women want to work in jails and not out in the field.

The reference to more females being hired by the county agencies in the inland empire is a noteworthy one. It’s true that women are overrepresented in the corrections division of both the Riverside and San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. That certainly was the case according to statistical information I received from both agencies twice in the past nine years. The rationale for these statistics was that more women than men were drawn to corrections because these positions enjoyed more structured work schedules and safer working conditions. That could be true, however if you examine the statistics from both agencies for male African-American employees, you will find a similar trend of them being overrepresented in corrections and equally represented or underrepresented in the field divisions. There may be entirely different reasons behind the trends shown by these two demographics or there might be similar causal factors including how the police culture in many agencies views men of color including African-Americans and women of all races as being outsiders.

It might also be that both groups are negatively impacted by an institutional culture that might be more pervasive in the field divisions than in the correctional divisions or it might be the same but the more amiable working conditions provided by the correctional division might blunt some of the cultural impact on one or both of these groups. The two demographic groups that tend to be most negatively impacted by police culture are African-American men and women of all races. If women were scared off by the dangers of working in the streets, departments like the LAPD, the NYPD and the several other agencies in major cities wouldn’t have shown the higher percentages of female officers that they have and these agencies don’t have corrections divisions. And the Philadelphia Police Department which had 25% of its officers as female ranked seventh in the nation in 2003. Most of the cities with higher percentages of women such as the LAPD developed these numbers after being placed under 20-year consent decrees by the federal government including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Another factor that might be working in favor for the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department is that some years ago before the election of former Sheriff Bob Doyle, the department created an ad hoc committee or task force of community members called the Recruitment, Retention and Diversity Panel to address these issues pertaining primarily to different ethnic and racial groups, secondarily to gender. At the end of their fact finding and researching efforts, the committee issued a report of recommendations for the department to follow to improve its record in this area. It's not clear whether the Sheriff's Department issues regular reports on its progress in implementing these recommendations.

Leach said in his presentation that he didn't believe women wanted to be promoted especially female detectives who he said were excellent by the way but tended to like to stay in that position with a more regular schedule. However when he mentioned detective testing which was conducted this past summer, he said there were no women high on the list. He did mention a couple of applicants for sergeant that might be good candidates for promotion were female.

Breakdown by rank

Captains: 1 out of 4 (total): Meredyth Meredith

Lieutenants: 0 out of approximately 13-15

Sergeants: 4 out of 46

Jaybee Brennan, Melissa Bartholomew, Michelle Jackson, Lisa Williams

Detectives: 10/61

Officers: 22/217

Total Sworn: 37 out of 370

During his presentation, Leach said that the department did exit interviews for employees who left but that they were on a voluntary not mandatory basis. He added that they couldn't force the women to be interviewed and some didn't want to be interviewed at all, they just wanted to get away from a bad experience. That last sentence by itself should throw up some red flags as to what these "bad experiences" are. But the reality is that many women who resign may not want to be interviewed for fear that any complaints they raise might be used against them as a means to blackball them from getting hired by other police agencies if they decide to try to find a job elsewhere in the profession. After all, most of the women who leave the Riverside Police Department are resigning rather than getting fired or retiring.

A national expert on gender and policing once told me that female officers don't drop out of agencies or resign because they were ignorant about the realities of law enforcement but because they weren't ignorant about the realities of law enforcement for women in many of these agencies.

This interesting study on female police officers focuses particularly on the experiences and perceptions of Black female police officers.

The Effect of Consent Decrees on the Recruitment and Hiring of Female officers. This study shows that the decrees were instrumental in raising the representation of men of color and women in the agencies like the LAPD during the 20 years that they were in place. After they expire, the numbers slowly start to decline in a relatively short period of time although there's no sudden drop.

Speaking of Leach, he made an appearance at the afternoon session of the city council meeting, presumably to meet in closed session on the lawsuit filed by Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Wayne Guillary against the city. The city council has scheduled this lawsuit on its agenda twice in the past several weeks for the closed session portion of its agenda.

Here is Guillary on videotape working at a demonstration in Los Angeles several years ago. He was the subject of a campaign by activists in L.A. to give him positive views at the Rate My Cop site where his profile has received over 30,000 visits.

Mayor's Election

In case you haven't heard, Mayor Ron Loveridge was elected to another mayoral race carrying around 70% of the vote. Challenger and former councilman, Art Gage conceded earlier in the vote tally.

Results as of November 4 1:05am, 100.00%% of Precincts Reporting (97/97)
Candidates (Vote for 1)

Ron Loveridge 12,630 votes 69.17%

* Occupation: Mayor

Art Gage 5,629 votes 30.83%

* Occupation: Businessman

So another election is finished and out of the way and the parties have wound down. At least this one was decided quickly. When my cousin ran for mayor in another place, it took days for the tie vote between her and her challenger for the position to be broken, but it finally was. So never say that voting is a waste of your time and your vote counts for nothing because you never know.

The Press Enterprise Editorial Board supports an extension of the state's public records act to include court records.

Employee layoffs likely next year in Riverside County.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

"Next year's budget will inevitably include staff reductions," he said. "That is the stark reality."

Even before the new revenue projections, the county had to impose 10 percent cuts and impose furloughs on Fridays to reduce expenses. Supervisors set a Nov. 24 workshop to discuss the current budget outlook.

The first-quarter report also includes results of a so-called "stress test" used to see if county departments are on track to finish the fiscal year within their budgets.

Twelve departments failed the test, including the Sheriff's Department, the district attorney and county counsel offices, according to the report.

Sheriff Stanley Sniff told supervisors his department is doing its part to reduce expenses.

For the current fiscal year, Sniff said the department started with a $13 million budget deficit but has reduced the figure by securing grant money, participating in an early retirement program and keeping some upper-level management positions vacant.

But Sniff said the challenges remain. It has nearly 800 vacancies and will need hundreds of deputies to fill the expanded Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.

And the next police chief of the Los Angeles Police Department is ....[ Insert Name ]

Off-duty officers in Delaware have been accused of fighting.

(excerpt, Delaware Online)

The early-morning fight began inside Dude's Sports Bar, owned by Wilmington police Sgt. Mark Christopher, and spilled onto Union Street, where patrol officers from Wilmington and troopers from the state police briefly clashed while trying to subdue the four men.

At one point, a uniformed patrol officer applied an electric Taser to trooper Vincent Clemons, who was off-duty and struggling with another man.

State and city police have released few details, declining to identify by name anyone in the fight, but they have acknowledged that a Wilmington officer and a state trooper were involved. No arrests have been made.

"Chief Michael Szczerba assures the public and all involved in this incident that it is being thoroughly investigated, and further states that any and all allegations will be reviewed," Wilmington police spokesman Sgt. Steven Barnes wrote in an e-mail. Police would not acknowledge any racial complaint, but Barnes said: "If an allegation of a racial slur is made by anyone, it will be thoroughly investigated."

Complaints filed by residents against officers are up over 18 percent in Chicago.

, Chicago Tribune)

Much of the 18.6 percent increase in complaints received by the Independent Police Review Authority has been driven by a steep rise since March of this year, IPRA Chief Administrator Ilana Rosenzweig said.

For most of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009, the authority was receiving about 2,300 new complaints against police every three months. But in the second and third quarters of this year the numbers jumped to 2,600 and then 2,800.

The increase has forced the authority to deploy more investigators to fielding new cases, causing a slowdown in the rate at which investigations are completed, Rosenzweig said.

The authority closes about 60 percent of its cases within six months, down from about 65 percent the previous year, she said.

Columbia, Missouri finally has its civilian review board.

San Jose's police department becomes the first to use new camera technology.

Change the name of this iconic product. Surely you jest.

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