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, March 31, 2009

Election 2009: The beat goes on

The first month of Election 2009 has come to an end and a lot of drama played out on the campaign trail and inside the courthouse in downtown Riverside as the first lawsuit was filed of the election season by Ward Four Councilman Frank Schiavone against challenger, Paul Davis over whether or not Davis could include in his campaign statement whether or not he was a former law enforcement officer at both the Riverside County Sheriff's Department and the Riverside Police Department.

The election's been a lot quieter in both Ward Two and Ward Six. The candidates in the latter ward exited the gate and had their first debate in the La Sierra area at a forum sponsored by Riverside for Responsible Representation. However, not much has been taking place in Ward Two's race between incumbent Andrew Melendrez and his two challengers Ruben Rasso and Ahmad R. Smith.

If you look at the endorsement lists for Melendrez and Schiavone, they aren't all that different. Chock full of developer money, although so far the developers haven't been contributing the heaps of money that they contributed to earlier elections, a sign that the recession has hit their pockets. But the contribution amounts of developers and other funding sources alike could multiply now that the campaigns have begun in earnest.

Both have also received funding from the Riverside Police Officers' Association with Melendrez receiving about $500 in December 2008 while Schiavone received five times that amount tuning in at $2500 for the entire year. It's not clear how much more funding Melendrez will see from the union's PAC given that retired Riverside County Sheriff's Department deputy and former Ward Two candidate, Rasso has been endorsed by the union in the past and has entered the race this time around as well.

In Ward Four, Paul Davis also received funds from the RPOA but the PAC wound up endorsing Schiavone in what can only be described as a very eventful process. One anonymous source on Craigslist a while ago claimed it was a unanimous vote in favor of Schiavone which is somewhat odd considering that at least some of the RPOA board members who participated in the endorsement process were strong Davis supporters so if that were indeed the case that everyone voted for one candidate, was everyone present?

And if people voted for Davis in spite of his position on the CPRC, then that indicates some very strong reservations about the endorsed candidate which would be a first given the traditional practice of the RPOA of endorsing Schiavone when he runs for office including when he ran for county supervisor last year. Some of the alleged "no" votes for Schiavone have been surprising to say the least and if that's the case that they did support Davis instead of Schiavone, then rather than looking at the RPOA's decision not to endorse Davis as some kind of ominous development (as was done anonymously on Craigslist) perhaps the wrong candidate is being scrutinized here.

But it would have been surprising if Davis had been endorsed by the RPOA given his public support of the CPRC (which is considerably stronger than that expressed by each and every elected official on the dais) and in its history, the RPOA has only endorsed one candidate, Councilman Dom Betro in 2007, who professed support for the police commission. And apparently, there was some vigorous discussion during the process about the CPRC which is hardly surprising as it's the key issue separating the candidates. Yes, Schiavone has said publicly that he supports the CPRC and respects the will of the voters in passing Measure II to protect it from people like him in 2004. But then again, if you believe that, there's some beach front property that's up for sale in Idaho.

Rumors have surfaced that the Riverside Police Administrators' Association might be shifting a bit away from its declared position of neutrality on the election which if true would be a very interesting development indeed. You have to remember that two of its members including its former president, Lt. Darryl Hurt have sued the city alleging political retaliation stemming from the last election. They alleged threats were made against them and another lieutenant (one who usually was seen with them but then kind of disappeared) that if they associated with those two troublemakers as Hurt and Lt. Tim Bacon were called, or didn't support Ward Seven Councilman Steve Adams, then they wouldn't get promoted.

The focus of these allegations were Schiavone and Adams and at the time, Schiavone was allegedly sharing a home with Police Chief Russ Leach. Leach has since moved out of Schiavone's residence and publicly said at the East Neighborhood Policing Center that it wasn't an issue because Schiavone wasn't his boss. But it's clear that there could be a serious problem for the tax money of city residents if this lawsuit should be tried in front of a jury especially if the lieutenant who was allegedly warned away from Bacon and Hurt decides or is more likely, subpoenaed to testify.

But then it's more likely that NASA will discover life on what used to be Pluto than that this lawsuit will ever go to trial.

After all this turmoil, you can't blame the RPAA if it decided to sit the current municipal election out. It's a bit awkward to endorse a candidate even an incumbent who is the focus of a lawsuit of two of the association's members especially considering the membership's not large. And has the association's prior leadership witnessed what happens when the decision is made not to endorse an incumbent running for reelection? Then there's something to be said about opting out of the process entirely and not playing favorites over two individuals, one of whom will eventually wind up on the dais.

In other city bargaining unit news, the city's chapter of the SEIU reported that Schiavone lobbied hard for its endorsement but although the SEIU sponsored forums, no public announcement yet made of its endorsement in the council races. The Riverside Fire Fighters' Association hasn't yet announced its picks either though traditionally this unit has supported incumbents.

Election 2009 is still young. Still much more to come.

I had an interesting conversation with an individual who read the posting on the appointment of former Riverside Police Department Capt. Pete Curzon to a chief's position in a small town in Oregon. The appointment puzzled me because there's been different versions of events behind Curzon's retirement from the police department which happened in March 2005.

Meaning that it wasn't necessary the glowing version presented by the department to the investigator sent up to the police department to do a background on Astoria's newest prospective hire. But then the investigator had some pretty strong positive words to say about how Curzon lived up to what was in his resume and had very strong ethics. So what's the truth? It's not for the public to know it because state laws shield us from learning what we might be told about police officers including those in the highest levels of management may not be the truth at all.

This person told me that the current city manager up in Astoria, John Benoit also had a Riverside Police Department connection as an aviation pilot while employed by the department. This person said he knew both men and that at one point, Curzon had supervised Benoit.

In fact, you can read more about Benoit's involvement as a police department officer and pilot here as he was a witness to the shooting of Summer Marie Lane by a police officer in late 2004. The person I talked to said they didn't know how in hell Benoit could be working as a city manager only because he lacked administrative experience which most people in that position would bring to them on the job. But when he read about it, he thought that Benoit must have held the job open until he could give it to Curzon. Whether or not that's the case is unknown but the events in the article seem a little bit too convenient. He just said he read it and shook his head.

But it's quite probable that the Benoit in Oregon is someone else, given that he spent years there as a community director before being a city manager so the similar name between him and a former police department pilot might just be one of those eerie coincidences that life is filled with.

The Riverside County District Attorney's office still has yet to submit its budget which was supposed to undergo cuts similar to those faced by the rest of the county's departments. No one seems to be very shocked by this update to this department's refusal to make any of the sacrifices that the other county departments have had to undergo including those involved in public safety.

County departments were told they had to cut 10% of their budgets and early retirement packages were offered to eligible employees. But rather than trim the District Attorney's office budget by 10% or even at all, its department head, Rod Pacheco has actually increased his budget.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Pacheco failed to file his budget for fiscal 2010 on time with other departments last month. He submitted it Friday after Supervisor Jeff Stone publicly requested he do so.

In it, Pacheco asks for about $72.4 million in county money, about $5.2 million more than the county budget allocated to his department this fiscal year.

He writes in a letter included with the budget that supervisors should not insist on the 10 percent budget cut that County Executive Officer Bill Luna has ordered. A $60.5 million budget would jeopardize his office's operations, he said.

"You would strike a severe blow to public safety by requiring substantial layoffs in the district attorney's office," he writes. "Inappropriate funding in public safety will undermine the strides we have made and the progress we have achieved."

Actually, there's a way to remedy this situation. If this office won't take a single cut in its budget, then the county can just increase the percentile cuts given to the other county departments including the Sheriff's Department and Fire Department. What kind of "blow" to public safety will result from having to do this to accommodate Pacheco's unwillingness to compromise?

Gottschalks says bye bye as the company liquidates its stores including one at the Riverside Plaza.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Gottschalks' pending departure will leave Inland mall operators scrambling for replacements in an economy that has already claimed chains such as Mervyns, Circuit City and Linens 'n Things.

Carol Scott, general manager of Riverside Plaza, said the center had already received interest from other retailers for the Gottschalks space before Tuesday's announcement. Because the four-story space, including the empty basement, is around 160,000 square feet - among the largest in the Gotttschalks chain - it's more likely that multiple businesses will take its place.

"We have no doubts that we can refill it, but it will probably be a matter of making arrangements with a few smaller tenants," Scott said of the building, which opened as a Harris' store in 1957. Harold "Hap" Harris, the 76-year-old grandson of Harris Co. co-founder Philip Harris, said by phone Tuesday he was saddened but not surprised by the demise of Gottschalks, which had started looking for a buyer about two years ago amid dropping sales.

"It's been coming for quite a while," said Harris, a Redlands native who now resides in Santa Clara. "You would have liked to see them survive, but that's just business."

Riverside County's new radio system faces more delays.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Completion of a $148 million radio system for first responders in Riverside County will be delayed a year, a project official told county supervisors Tuesday.

The county and its contractor, Motorola Inc., planned to complete the public safety radio system by the end of 2010.

But project officials now say they need until October 2011 to finish it and until October 2012 to make added improvements.

The Public Safety Enterprise Communication Project aims to improve radio coverage for police officers, sheriff's deputies, firefighters and other responders, who have long struggled with communication dead spots in the county's 7,400 square miles.

Delays in environmental reviews for some of the project's roughly 50 tower sites have slowed the project, its team says in county documents.

Design changes to enhance coverage will require months of additional work.

County Executive Officer Bill Luna said the delay was expected, and the work remains on track.

"We have had to make a midcourse correction on time. We anticipated that when we started this project," he said Tuesday. "We expect at the end of this, we will have a system within budget cost that will have greater coverage than what we projected."

Capt. Louis Featherolf of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department is now chief of a police department up in Salinas.

Banning lays off six employees to try to balance its annual fiscal budget to the tune of about half a million dollars.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The city has taken other steps to fill the budget deficit. On March 10, the City Council gave staff permission to make reductions in non-payroll expenditures. A month earlier, the council agreed to offer early-retirement incentives to eligible employees.

Jim Earhart, director of the city's electric department, has accepted the early-retirement package.

Earhart, 52, said that he has a month to change his mind and that he's "very, very much on the fence. I don't want to leave."

A San Bernardino Police Department sergeant is back to work after seven months out on unpaid administrative leave.

(excerpt, San Bernardino Sun)

Sgt. Brad Lawrence was placed on leave Aug. 7, about a month after the first of two fellow officers filed separate complaints alleging that Lawrence was keeping suspects in jail "on ice," which means holding them without probable cause.

Lawrence, who had headed a narcotics team since 2007, will now be a patrol officer.

Police Chief Michael Billdt said he could not confirm the closure of the interdepartmental investigation or talk about specifics because state law prohibits him from discussing personnel matters.

"It's a personnel issue, but he is back to work," Billdt said Wednesday.

Lawrence could not be reached for comment.

In the meantime, the city of San Bernardino is struggling to save its community services.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The Operation Phoenix eastern headquarters, a former San Gorgonio High School building at the edge of Speicher Park, was to be the newest expansion of the city's anti-crime program.

Hawkins said he's negotiating with another local agency to form a partnership to keep the Nicholson Community Center on the city's West Side open as well.

"We're not giving up," he said. "Our charge is to find community partners to maintain the services that the community so desperately needs."

City officials are struggling to plug a $9 million shortfall in the $150 million general fund by June 30, the end of the fiscal year.

Budget reductions have brought pay cuts for city employees, layoffs and decreased services.
Story continues below

Despite the promised reprieve for the Norton center, Recreation Supervisor Ann Kassel-Wilkes said she's not sure what the future holds.

"Today's a wait-and-see day, for sure," she said.

A federal judge nixed tossing out a conviction against former Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona.

A lot of Los Angeles Police Department officers are sitting at desks because of the department's hiring freeze in the civilian division which led dozens of unfilled positions.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

More than 115 of those officers are able-bodied and fit to serve but have been pulled off the streets either full time or part time to fill jobs left vacant because of severe shortages among the civilian ranks. The tasks, such as crime statistical analysis and grant writing, while mundane, are important to keep the department functioning, Papa and other officials said. The remaining officers are temporarily or permanently sidelined because of injuries or other disabilities.

Although the total is not as large as LAPD officials had previously anticipated, it is roughly equivalent to removing one or two patrol cars from each of the department's 21 stations -- a significant handicap for a police force that is far smaller per capita than those in other major American cities.

The audit underscores how widespread the civilian shortage has become in the LAPD, which, like other city agencies, is chafing under the civilian hiring freeze Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa approved late last year in the face of an estimated $500-million budget shortfall.

Currently, 17% of all civilian jobs in the department -- about 640 positions -- are vacant. The department has had some success getting exemptions from the city to fill civilian positions that require special skills, such as 911 dispatchers, DNA analysts and guards for the city jail. The department is still trying to get approval to fill at least some of the 42 vacancies in its garages, where a shortage of mechanics, electricians and the like has caused backlogs in repairing cars.

Capt. Bob Green, who runs the department's 77th Street area station in South L.A., said he had taken four officers off patrol assignments to perform such duties as crunching statistics for crime analysis and writing reports.

"Any time I pull a police officer out of the field it makes an impact," he said. "I'd prefer they be out on the streets doing police work, but some of these positions have to be filled."

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Marriage and Micromanagement: The Canary and the Mine

In La Sierra, a public forum was held involving the three candidates for the Ward Six City Council election in Riverside. Councilwoman Nancy Hart and competitors, Ann Alfaro and Bill Scherer. Hart is heavily favored to win a third term as the representative but the two challengers against her expressed concern about some of the actions at City Hall.

The forum was sponsored by Riverside for Responsible Representation. It addresses many concerns with the Alvord Unified School District. You can check out its guest book here and sign it as well.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Ann Alfaro, a retired pharmacy clerk, and Bill Scherer, an amusement park rides mechanic and freelance sportswriter, are trying to unseat incumbent Councilwoman Nancy Hart, who is seeking a third term.

They answered questions from an audience of 50 or more residents gathered in a meeting room at La Sierra Library. A neighborhood group, Residents for Responsible Representation, organized the forum.

Ward 6 includes Arlanza south of Arlington Avenue, eastern and southernmost La Sierra, part of Arlington and the area around and including the Galleria at Tyler.

Scherer made clear that he believes government is often the problem, not the solution, particularly when it comes to business.

"If we give the power to the people and get the government off their backs, they will grow and prosper," he said.

Alfaro said she wants to work with residents to prevent multi-story projects from being built, too many people living in one house and noise and traffic from growing worse.

Hart said she's been working hard to improve the ward's quality of life, including making sure a variety of housing types are built there and that the city takes care of homeless people.

On eminent domain, Alfaro and Scherer said they oppose its use for redevelopment. Hart didn't mention that she has voted to approve the use of eminent domain for redevelopment several times. She said she supports it for public projects, such as roads and bridges.

In case you haven't heard, there are three city council elections taking place in Riverside, in its even-numbered wards. So if you live in these wards, be sure to vote or if you're not registered to vote, go out and do it so you too can participate in the city council elections which will take place through mail-in ballot on June 2 with ballots being mailed out to voters in early May.

There's going to be a new series in this blog about literature which doesn't exist but that you really need to have access to anyway to understand the underpinnings of Riverside's city government and its various agencies.

So we'll start off the series with the following tome which hasn't been written yet (at least not in printed form) but is very necessary to "clarify" what's going on in this city pertaining to various situations. "Clarify" being the new catch word used by various players at the 'Hall to tell city residents who express concern about situations in the city that they're merely confused. Before you get too attached to that trendy word, it will probably be replaced by another one next week.

Micromanagement and You

(part of an ongoing series)

There really needs to be a primer on this issue in the city of Riverside when addressing the crisis of later (rather than late, as it's all relative) involving the Community Police Review Commission. This was figured out in the process of designing a Web site that deals with the complaint process including the role that the commission plays in that process. It's really impossible to do this without including rather comprehensive historic and present day information on the micromanagement of the CPRC, the players involved in that micromanagement and how it impacts the city residents including the voters the majority of which voted to pass Measure II.

That ballot initiative which placed the commission, its powers and responsibilities in the city's charter was a strong statement made by the voters in the city of not only how they saw the commission but that they also were aware of the city council's role in undermining it. This was done by the majority of voters in every precinct in every ward precisely to prevent the sort of minority rule against it which is taking place on various floors of City Hall today. But as much as members of the city council assert that they respected the will of the voters on this matter, none of them really has put these words to practice in the time since.

There's a lot of concern from City Hall about how city residents need "clarification" about what they really want from the CPRC from those involved in said micromanagement including the Governmental Affairs Committee which put together an ad hoc committee to assist allegedly misinformed city residents about these "clarifications" involving the role of the commission in officer-involved death investigations. So in light of the City Hall's concern about the need for "clarifications" and "misunderstandings" about the role of the CPRC in different areas, there will be further information on the deeply rooted efforts of City Hall to undermine it particularly during the past several years. And here's a promise, the words "clarify" and "clarification" won't be included in the text. We'll leave those words with the city to continue to use to insult the intelligence of the populace which can see right through what's been going on.

But the CPRC doesn't exist inside a vacuum although it's treated in a sense by the city as if it were the case. It is actually akin to the canary which workers used to take into mines to detect whether or not there were poisonous gases including methane which could harm or kill them. The health of the canary is thus related to the health of the mine and so it is here. In the case of the CPRC as the canary, it's the Riverside Police Department which alas, serves as the mine. Now, that's not a blanket criticism of the Riverside Police Department lest someone jump to conclusions too quickly and label me a "cop hater" or "anti-cop" or some of the disgusting material that showed up online at Craigslist the other night because my postings here have been perceived by some as being too critical of Ward Four City Councilman Frank Schiavone who is running for reelection.

I'm not sure what being critical of some of the campaigning that's been done in this election has to do with "cop hating" but there you go because in this case, I don't look at Schiavone and see him as being especially "pro-cop". After some of the short-sighted decisions made by the city council and their direct employees in the past couple years, it's hard to view the city council as being any more "pro-cop" as they are supposedly "pro-CPRC". And there are some examples which explain why this appears to be the case.

In 2006, for example, the Riverside Police Officers' Association's negotiating team was locked out of bargaining talks for two months because of a conflict that took place when the union discovered that the city manager was divulging negotiating details to two other bargaining units in order to get them to sign contracts which these two unions did (although one of them was truly low balled). This violated bargaining practices and led to several bargaining units protesting through their members at several city council meetings. This was going on at the same time that City Manager Brad Hudson was flubbing up the city council's directive it issued him in March 2006 to sign a contract with a police consultant to perform quarterly audits of the police department's progression through its Strategic Plan. What should have taken a couple of months to accomplish instead took eight, with city council members going about town to meetings claiming the contract was signed when the two sides hadn't even been negotiating for two months. But what can you expect when you hire an expert on economic development rather than city management?

Then there were city council members past and present who while mayor pro tem at city council meetings used police officers assigned as security to serve as bouncers to evict people they didn't like or who spoke too long including elderly women. Including a poor lady of at least 80-years-old who exceeded the three-minute rule when talking about a pipe owned by the city which broke and flooded her own home. If police officers were used as bouncers in that fashion, that's an abuse of the authority but as bad as that is, let's hope that those embarrassing examples were the extent of the use of police officers in that manner. But you just never know, do you?

As a police critic, I find all this rhetoric about supporting police officers from the city government a bit strange because it just doesn't seem to be there except as rhetoric if you watch the actions that have taken place in the past several years including those listed above. But the least respectful thing that you could ever do to a police officer in my modest opinion is to treat him or her as a bouncer at meetings or in other ways. Yet some people might disagree with that contention.

I don't hate police officers as a class and not even ones in particular although I've met some who certainly annoy me from time to time. In addition, I've never been fond of bad police. But I've met good police officers in this city as well. Many who appear to be very professional and try to do the right thing in a city which makes it quite difficult because it often seems that some folks at City Hall are trying to undo the tremendous amount of work that went into the reform process that took place involving the department from 2001-06. Which is easy for most of them to do because some of them weren't actually working for the city when it took place so they make decisions without enough of a historical context to understand that they're bad decisions and why that's the case.

And when it comes to city leadership and how it directs the city management and other direct employees who direct (or micromanage) their direct employees and so on, I think the police department probably deserves better than it receives in this dynamic which has taken root in our city beginning at City Hall. There's some patterns of behavior that repeat themselves and then there's some that seem new and then run off and take on lives of their own. Such is the current case with the latest round of micromanagement at City Hall.

City Hall's role in micromanaging the CPRC has been discussed in great depth here. Its role in micromanaging the police department which is the agency that the CPRC oversees (in several keys areas) has been touched on and somewhat discussed but truly deserves a much more thorough vetting. For all the upset over city residents who want oversight over the police department by the CPRC's critics, there's not nearly as much upset created when the issue of micromanagement (which is a lot different from oversight) of the police department by various factions of the city arises. Then, you can hear a pin drop. And let's face it, more than a few pins have dropped.

But there have been a couple of noteworthy exceptions.

The most clearest example of the micromanagement of the police department by City Hall which took place in the very public arena of a city council meeting occurred in March 2007 when controversy arose through attempts to change two deputy chief positions and one assistant chief position to being classified as "at will" positions. Meaning that they weren't just "at will" in terms of the rank (which is customary for upper management positions in some law enforcement agencies), but that the people who filled these positions could be fired, period. Only it wasn't clear from all the rhetoric, by who. Concern arose in the leadership of two police associations and throughout their ranks that anyone filling these "at will" positions would be "yes men" of factions outside the police department including the city manager's office. But how many "yes men" are there inside that department and if so, how have they become "yes men" and when?

So what does the police department look like from the outside? Because it's almost impossible for the public to know what it looks like from the inside, given the insulation and isolation found inside most law enforcement agencies.

As one police officer told me once, "isolation is our specialty", and this creates an image that's almost like a double-sided mirror where both sides can see themselves but not each other.

But who's in charge?

For Riverside, that's a difficult question to answer. Yes, the city has a police chief, which it's had in place for nearly nine years who's had to lead the agency through some rocky periods of tremendous change. But in recent years, it's seems like the rosters of chiefs has grown. If so, why would that be?

Which is an odd question to ask because police departments in general, have one leader at the helm. You have had William Bratton in Boston, New York City and Los Angeles heading departments there. You've had Commissioner Raymond Kelly in New York City and Heather Fong in San Francisco. Tom Potter in Portland. And Jody Weis in Chicago. Now, people have a lot of opinions about these and other well-known police chiefs including whether they were good or bad (and it's one or the other sometimes among different factions) and in some cases, somewhere in the range between. But for better or worse, the chiefs, commissioners or superintendents or whatever they are called, are seen as visible leaders of their respective police agencies.

But in Riverside, the picture is much more puzzling.

It seems that especially lately that's a more difficult question to answer. This week, it's been Asst. Chief John DeLaRosa who's been assigned to fill Chief Russ Leach's position on an ad hoc committee created by Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis addressing the approved motion by the Governmental Affairs Committee to create a highly stacked committee to "clarify" the language associated with the CPRC's investigations into officer-involved deaths. The job of this committee is merely to meet a couple of times and agree to ratify what's been called the Hudson protocol which will then be taken back to the extremely passive city council for a vote. If that happens, don't expect much discussion from the city council on this issue. Ironic that this issue was left to accomplish by a city employee who was once the subject of a 911 call in another city which led to a police response.

The police department seems as if it's more governed by managers over pieces of it which have been parceled out rather than by a leader who pulls it all together. But who knows? Maybe that's just how it looks on the outside. Hopefully, what's inside is a brighter picture. It's certainly not a very transparent one.

Take the stipulated judgment which was instituted by former State Attorney General Bill Lockyer for example. During those years, the department was far more transparent in terms of providing information under public records acts about its accomplishments and its challenges under the mandated reform program that it is now, under the Police Chief of Information, Gregory Priamos who is the gate keeper for any information that city residents receive about an agency that is paid for by tax dollars. And information is being withheld now that was public only several years ago. By Priamos and by Police Chief of Management Brad Hudson.

Top secret information worthy of CIA clearance being protected from the all-too-nosy public here?

Well no, actually it was simply documentation of the police department's officer to supervisor ratios and the percentage of watch commanders who are sergeants during the daily work shifts. This information is very important to have available to the public because it's a means for the public to have factual documentation to utilize to determine which of the variety of statistics tossed out there by the police department's management and Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis regarding these statistics is the truth, or at least closest to the truth. What Priamos will do instead is to mail you a document that he claims contains the statistics in question (if not the documentation that proves it's not just a number), only when you read it, you find out that the information you requested isn't even there.

It makes you wonder whether Chief of Information Priamos even reads the documents that he cites as appropriate responses in accordance to state law to document requests or if he's just being coy and engaging in passive aggressive behavior by providing documents that don't provide the information requested.

There's much more of this story to be told and hopefully it will be. Hopefully, it will be a better picture than it appears to be now, without the problems of intense micromanagement. But that's not the case today.

But I think that if you look long and hard at the micromanagement of the police department and the oversight mechanism entrusted by the public, you will find that the two entities really might not be that much different from each other at all.

So how does one address micromanagement of public agencies whether they involve oversight or not, there are different strategies that can be utilized to determine the extent of the symptoms of micromanagement and then treat the disorder itself. A topic of future postings.

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors picks its city clerk.

San Bernardino is setting meetings for the development of its downtown.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

CPRC training, behind closed doors?

"Officer Sakai would call me personally. I always appreciated him and the rest of the officers because they always came by and told me how the case was going. That young man has always been there for me and my family."

----Melva Fonteno about Oakland Police Officer Daniel Sakai who grew up in Big Bear.

"Black people are marginalized by the city and hounded by the police."


While reading the latest round of monthly reports on the activities of the Community Police Review Commission, I noticed some interesting inconsistencies between one of the monthly reports and the minute orders for a meeting where training had taken place. Both written records were kept in relation to the Feb. 11 case review and special meetings.

According to the CPRC's monthly report issued for February, the CPRC's commissioners were giving training documents addressing case law for use of force policies including that of the Riverside Police Department which included the citation of the judicial cases of Graham v Conner and Tennessee v Garner.

However, if you examine the Feb. 11 minutes, you won't find any mention of any of the above training or documents being received by commissioners certainly not in an open session. On that date, newly sworn in commissioner, Robert Slawsby had held up a piece of paper and referred to it as from a use of force training that he had just received. He did so to prove he had gotten trained as a commissioner but one piece of paper to show for receiving training on the department's use of force policy just isn't that impressive. Or perhaps it wouldn't have been that impressive several years ago.

However, given that he had just been appointed to the commission, that meant that any training on this issue took place would have been done during that closed session. However, a copy of the agenda for that day shows that there's no listing for any use of force training during either the closed or public sessions of the meeting. And there's no explanation if the training did take place in closed session as to why that took place because it would seem well outside of the limited circumstances for having closed meetings under state laws.

Back in the days of relative transparency before all this latest micromanagement began, whenever any training was provided to commissioners including case law pertaining to the use of force policy, it was always placed on the agenda the appropriate time ahead of that meeting and it was always conducted during a public session. But those days are gone at least for now, as members of the city council and their direct employees have micromanaged the eight-year-old commissioner to a shell of its former self.

But the use of force training wasn't the only training that was given that day. Only, the other form of training that was given to commissioners is at least referred to consistently between the minute orders and the monthly reports.

The taser training which was also mentioned in February's monthly report was also detailed in these minutes for the Feb. 11 meeting. But not the case law training in association with the police department's use of force policy.

That's not the first time there's been an allegation made about an apparent inconsistency between what was scheduled to take place in a closed session meeting and what took place. Former CPRC Commissioner Jim Ward expressed concern about a reference to the public report of the fatal shooting of Joseph Darnell Hill which apparently was made alluding that there was discussion of it during one of the closed session meetings. However, the Hill case was never included in any of the written agendas for the closed session meetings.

The selection process for Ward's replacement which must come from Ward Two will be done on April 7, which doesn't give the city council much time to find a puppet to fill in the huge shoes left behind by an individual who had given the CPRC nearly eight years of devoted service.

A forum on police accountability issues will be scheduled some time in early May. More details as they become available.

Coming soon are the following postings in relation to the CPRC.

Making the Grade? A performance evaluation of the CPRC manager (based on the standards set by the job description created by the city manager's office in its 2007 job search) and how the current stacks up to the preceding directors/managers.

Censorship and the CPRC: How the commission's unable to draft its own agenda without having agenda items vetoed by the dynamic duo.

Parallel investigations/divergent interests: The campaign to eliminate independent investigations of officer-involved deaths by the CPRC. Who the players are and who's getting played.

The San Bernardino City Council was praised by the editorial board of the Press Enterprise for basically not fighting within the ranks, which is an accomplishment I guess.


McNeely could not arrive at a better time. Mayor Pat Morris, who noted Reno's renewal on frequent business trips, recruited McNeely to similarly transform San Bernardino. With unemployment in the region above 12 percent and the central city plagued by blight and crime, economic growth and downtown rejuvenation are dire necessities.

The new manager's arrival also would be an excellent time for council members and the mayor to put aside their frequent divisions to focus on developing the city's civic and economic life. McNeely's succeeded in Reno in part because of solid council support. The San Bernardino council has spent most of the past year splitting votes on decisions including spending cuts and personnel issues. But division seldom invites development.

McNeely will need civic, community and official support to apply to San Bernardino the formula that worked in Reno. But given that backing, city residents have good reason to be confident that McNeely can bring San Bernardino a brighter future.

How are city and county employees handling furloughs imposed to balance the budgets? In many different ways. Meanwhile, Redlands has been the subject of national attention because most of the city departments agreed to take furloughs.

Press Enterprise Columnist Dan Bernstein discusses the tales of the two counties.


RivCo supes are getting tough! After our story revealed one of the Big Five -- Supe Jeff Stone -- lets his super volunteer staffer (who also happens to be his well-paid campaign consultant sister) use a county car, the other four threw their support behind tough new rules for use of county vehicles.

Bill Luna, the county chief exec, may propose that supes' staff members surrender their take-home county cars. Oh, no!

Oh, yes! I'm sure Supes John Tavaglione and Marion Ashley will go along -- especially if it diverts attention from their county-owned $50K SUVs. But if Luna tries to repo supes' rigs with heated leather seats, sun roofs, moon roofs and DVD players, I'm guessing all bets are off.

Are digital dash cameras installed inside police cars good or bad for police officers? In practice, they have served as both.

The Dallas Police Department uses cameras that sound similar to the ones that are installed in every squad car used by the Riverside Police Department. Because of the stipulated judgment with the State Attorney General's office, the department was required to install 10 cameras within one year and make a serious effort to come up with funding for installation of an additional 25 by March 2006 when the judgment was dissolved.

However, only three cameras were installed and the number stayed at that level for several years even after the city council allocated at the judgment's 11th hour, $500,000 to outfit the rest of the fleet, an action that was just taken not too long ago.

(excerpt, Dallas News)

Cameras, both in-car and wielded by bystanders, have "had a huge impact in being able to provide independent visual documentation of the incident," said Sam Walker, a national police accountability expert.

"If the officer did the right thing, then it's good for us to know that and have some independent documentation," he said. "If the officer was in the wrong, then it's good for us to know that. This is what's been lacking in most police use-of-force incidents. Traditionally, you would have had a he said-he said situation. As the cliché has always been, the tie goes to the officer."
Also Online

In-car video:

Moats is stopped outside hospital (edited)
Officer shoots man after Oak Cliff chase
Man is beaten by police at McKinney’s Manor House Apartments

Zach Thomas: Same Dallas officer mistreated my wife

In the Powell-Moats incident, without the video or if a Plano officer hadn't witnessed part of the traffic stop, an Internal Affairs inquiry might have gone nowhere. The Plano officer reported the incident to his supervisors.

"It would have been their word against [Powell], and it probably would have ended up being inconclusive," said Assistant Chief Floyd Simpson, who oversees the city's seven patrol stations. "The in-car camera systems bring a different view."

March Air Reserve Base's museum is hoping to provide a new home for the space shuttle, Endeavor when it's mothballed after its last mission. That shuttle is the one of first choice because an astronaut from the Inland Empire flew on it. The other one that will be donated to a museum after the space shuttle program is shut down in 2011, is Atlantis. Discovery is going to the Smithsonian Institute and both Challenger and Columbia were destroyed in accidents.

Former Bolingbrook Police Department Sgt. Drew Peterson is angered by the appearance of memorial ribbons for two of his wives.

(excerpt, Fox News)

Peterson's neighbor Sharon Bychowski, along with 20 others, put white and purple ribbons on trees in the development Saturday afternoon. Soon after, Peterson cut the ribbons off four trees, Bychowski told the Herald News.

She put up another four, and they were again cut down. This continued throughout the weekend until Peterson called the police late Sunday afternoon.

"Drew called, complaining streamers were being put on the trees in the parkway," Teppel said. "He wanted them down because it is against village ordinance."

But, the ribbons weren't violating any ordinance and police didn't take action, Teppel told the Herald News.

Peterson allegedly started taking pictures of the group and got into a confrontation with at least one person who was hanging the ribbons, the newspaper reported.

"They're a bunch of liars and low-life (expletives)," he said of the group who repeatedly placed the ribbons on the trees. "There's not a job between them."

The latest is that Peterson is engaged to a young woman who would be his fifth wife and that the State Attorney General's office has issued another announcement that charges may soon be filed in the case of one of his wives. But this office has made similar statements before, usually about every six months. If charges were to be filed, most likely it would be stemming from the homicide of his third wife, Kathleen Savio who was killed in her own bathroom inside a locked house.

After the fatal shooting of four police officers, a deeper look into Oakland.

Election forums:

March 30, Residents for Responsible Representation (RRR) is hosting a Candidates Public Forum for Ward 6 Candidates at La Sierra Public Library

The three candidates for Ward 6 Riverside City Council are:

1. Ann Alfaro
2. Nancy Hart
3. William Scherer

Place: La Sierra Library on La Sierra Avenue
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Date: Monday, March 30, 2009

The Group and Latino Network Sponsor Riverside City Council Candidate Forum - Saturday April 4, 2009 -Stratton Center/Bordwell Park - 9:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.

The oldest living Kentucky Derby winner dies at 25.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Election 2009: The Schiavone cyber crew comes out swinging

It's only a couple of months into the Riverside City Council elections and the "fan" mail has already started pouring in, all from people who allegedly support Ward Four Councilman Frank Schiavone. Not surprising as I received tons of similarly written rantings when I blogged about the District One Riverside County Supervisor contest last year which included Schiavone as a candidate. Many of his supporters are nice people who are just working on his campaign because they believe he's the better candidate. Some however, are clearly not and are expressing themselves in other ways.

They hang out on the internet and apparently campaign for Schiavone that way, making attacks on his fellow competitor, Paul Davis and other people. They or others of that ilk did the same thing when Schiavone ran for supervisor last year. During that campaign, there was a "greatest hits" section in my blog just for the Schiavone campaign trolls and some of their rants were creepy including someone who claimed to have been on the elevator with me at City Hall. Is that relevant to a political election or is that just creepy behavior?

This election's rants by anonymous people apparently started with some unnamed commenter complaining about of all things, my breasts and claiming that I wasn't wearing a bra underneath my shirt. Election 2009 and breasts, who would have thought the two would be related? Interestingly enough, after thinking about who this individual could have possibly been, I remembered that several weeks I had run into several individuals including one who several years ago had made similarly crude comments about my breasts to a woman we both knew in common who later told me. They are staunch Schiavone supporters.

It's a bit unnerving to say the least to know that I'm apparently crossing paths with some of these creepy authors without knowing it. When you don't know who they are, you don't have the choice of whether or not to avoid them if you encounter them in public. And even though I'm confident in my identification of some of my cyber harassers, there are others that I'm not sure or have no clue who they may be. But some of the ones lately seem to know a lot about the inner workings of the Schiavone campaign (not to mention a few other venues of supporters as well). And their eagerness to harass Davis and others on the internet seems to override the usual discretion that campaign supporters exercise to keep any such strategies to their chests rather than putting them on blast. That's also one of the biggest difference between the cyber harassers who have targeted Davis and me and those who focus their rants on Schiavone is that claiming of insider knowledge.

As mentioned previously on this blog, some people also write derogatory and probably untrue things about Schiavone and those people who engage in that behavior are just as wrong as those who engage in it against Davis. I'm one of the last people who's going to defend this cowardly, disgusting behavior towards anyone, based partly on my own experiences with it. But it's curious to watch those who engage in that behavior against Davis insist that I serve as the arbiter to say that one side's behavior is worse than the others almost like two children fighting on the playground. And I'm not the arbiter or "parent" for the cyber harassing crowd. It's even more bizarre when one of those "sides" asks me to arbitrate when it's choosing to be abusive towards me as well especially for not marching in lockstep with its crazy rants.

I'm a blogger. I am not their parent.

But the vast onslaught of comments have been geared at Davis surrounding the lawsuit filed by Schiavone which challenged statements included by Davis in his candidate statement which will be mailed to every registered voter in Ward Four. As you know, that decision resulted in a draw, meaning that both candidates walked away with a partial victory. Schiavone in the comment about the voice at City Hall and Davis with his law enforcement officer employment background.

It's perplexing that people who claim to be so happy with the city (enough to call you a hater of city government) can behave in the fashion that they have been doing. But it's clear that it's going to be a looooong election season if the venom being expressed by cowards like those at Craigslist is any indication. Bantering with them is sometimes an exercise in banality but takes too much energy and time away from writing the posts which piss them off in the first place.

Here's a couple shining examples which appeared in the wee hours of the morning. Yes, it's true that posting them here might feed their narcissism but it's always good to highlight the climate of an election season in order to leave a better accounting of what transpired from the time the nomination and declaration papers are filed to the moment the final ballot is tallied. This is the uglier side of any election and Election 2009 apparently is not an exception to that rule.

This lovely post appeared at Craigslist along with a bunch of others about being anti-city government and anti-cop (oh, if I had a dollar for every time I was called either or better yet, $5 for both at the same time). But this one was the post of the evening because it's not too often you see someone take a situation where people have died and basically used it to get their kicks. I was pretty appalled and shocked when I read it. Who wouldn't be?

This was the most disgusting one. Meaning of the evening. Not by this particular author who's probably just there because he thinks the cops are and he's trying to impress them. Interestingly enough, the other visitors pretend that this comment below doesn't exist but then maybe even as trollish as they are, they are simply pretending its writer doesn't exist.

Initial poster how correct you are about FBM, but didn't you know that FBM know's everything and is never wrong about anything.
I'll even bet that FBM had multiple orgasms over the 4 Oakland cops that were killed by a parolee.
Was that story even covered on the FBM blog ?

This isn't the first posting ranting about orgasms that I received from this individual who claims to have never communicated with me in an earlier comment. I received a similar one in 2006 with the same writing style. That's why it's so strange when commenters act like they don't know me or have never "communicated" with me and then they start writing the same crap they did three years earlier, easily picking up where they've left off.

Since he won't leave his name, from now on, he'll just be called Mr. "O". The "O" can stand for a variety of things.

This one's clearly disgusting but what's ironic (and a common tactic used by this particular individual) is to write crap like this in the first place and worse intentionally to harass and intimidate and then whine in a later comment that I'm harassing, intimidating them or stalking them. What kind of person uses the deaths of other people as an excuse to write nasty comments? Clearly not someone who supports law enforcement. And it's likely that this particular individual doesn't support them in any meaningful way that makes a substantive difference.

He and others call their decision to harass me my "hardship", which is their attempts to absolve themselves of their own actions and decision to harass others and put the blame on those they target. It's like if a person comes up to you and slaps your face, instead of taking responsibility for it they say, it's your fault, your "hardship" or whatever and then say that not only do they get to make the decision to slap you but also how you're supposed to respond to that action. That's often how it is with cyber harassment as well.

It's like when they make insinuations about Davis and rather than showing evidence themselves of their own allegations against him, they demand that he prove their own claims for them. Which kind of serves as an indication how sure they are about their own allegations themselves. So sure about them, they of course put their own names on them.

A bit of a reversal used to justify bad behavior and attempt to validate to any audience this individual thinks they have attracted. He's also written in the past how I supposedly "know everything" (which no one does as most of us know) and is picking up that same thread of thought three years later.

Naturally, it's unsigned but I think I know who wrote it. If I'm right, it was a guy who once thought the death of a Riverside County Sheriff's Department deputy in 1999 was righteous and that the guy deserved it which was pretty appalling. Maybe he's changed his mind since when it comes to law enforcement officers who are killed or maybe he's using these latest deaths just as an excuse to be disgusting.

This person sounds like someone who would call themselves a "fan" of the profession. Sometimes it's not clear who's more disturbing or scarier, officers who post these kinds of posts online anonymously or their "fans". But the internet does allow both to do some intricate duet with one another when it comes to harassment without either party actually knowing who the other one is that is in agreement with them.

But it's a bit ironic to read something like this nearly 10 years later, purporting to be writing something truly disgusting on behalf of four dead police officers. Which leads me to think this person who's harassed me online before is just using the deaths of these men for kicks. Unless anyone can truly come up with a good reason why "orgasms" and deceased police officers even belongs in the same sentence in any context at all. Maybe one of the two candidates that this individual is allegedly working for on their political campaigns can come up with a good reason. He didn't come up with much support for his comment from others present and it's possible the one comment in agreement that he did receive was also posted by him.

But comments like this one show up always anonymously from time to time by individuals (or people who believe they are like this guy) who clearly have nothing better to do than write content like that. It's really a shame. It's a waste of energy and time but it's their energy, their time and this is how they choose to use both. It's also reinforcement to keep blogging and the nice little spike in visitors I get to my site when their comments appear is always appreciated.

Here's another:

Yep! FBM has no concern for all of the cops that give their lives in the line of duty. Nope, her concern is for the predatory criminals that cause so much pain and misery onto law abiding citizens. Idea, how about blogging about the cops that are fatally killed in the line of duty on a weekly basis. Not FBM's concern, FBM would rather blog about the criminal that happened to be shot or assaulted during the commission of a crime. This is what gets FBM off. Let her do her thang though, most know that FBM's missing a few marbles upstairs. A real 5150.

After reading a post like this one which did respond to the already listed post, when I see something like "missing a few marbles upstairs", I realize that this is all relative. It's always a treat to read postings challenging or questioning my mental stability by anonymous individuals who clearly are suffering from some sort of problem. Is it mental illness? No, because hatred isn't a mental illness and calling these individuals "mentally ill" is an insult to those people who actually are. They're not mentally ill, they are just mean people who enjoy harassing people they don't like from beneath a rock. That's not mental illness.

This person calls me "FBM" like they don't know who I am when in an earlier posting, they used my first name.

Actually, it's a brilliant idea that this person has proposed to create that type of blog and there's already some blogs on this issue out there but the world can use more of them. Is this person himself setting up a blog and doing the work to make it meaningful himself? No, he's clearly too lazy so he's sitting at his keyboard and ordering someone else to do it for him. Setting up blogs is relatively easy and writing in them is even easier even if your knowledge of html language is minimal. So that can't be why this person doesn't start a blog like he suggested himself.

This person hasn't done so because it's so much easier to again, use the deaths of law enforcement officers to get kicks while posting anonymously online because frankly, they don't have the guts to put their names on it. And if they really cared about blogging being on these deaths, they would do it themselves instead of sitting at their keyboards writing anonymous comments which actually very little to do with dead police officers except to use them to harass other people. A person who would pair "orgasms" with officers who have been killed probably isn't capable of writing the type of blog that honors their memories.

But this kind of garbage aside, it brings to mind an interesting point. How does one support police officers, live or deceased if one claims to be a supporter? Posting comments like the ones above (and I've received dozens similar since I started this blog) is clearly one way to do that but is it a very productive way? Is it a way to claim to be supporting law enforcement officers when instead you're simply doing it just to harass someone else? Does law enforcement as a profession and the Riverside Police Department really need people of this ilk in its corner? And if so, what does that really say about either the livelihood or the entity?

The irony is that the Riverside Police Department does need its supporters including its self-proclaimed ones to be more active at addressing some of the issues that have challenged it during the current economic crisis. Hopefully, these individuals aren't spending their energy and time exercising their support of law enforcement and the police department by waxing on about how they think people are getting their orgasms but are actually doing something a bit more constructive.

Here's an example involving the Riverside Police Department which if you read here, you know is experiencing staffing shortages due to employee freezes that have taken place in the past nine months. Included in these freezes are three positions at the sergeant level which haven't been filled since those who occupied them have retired. The latest is that some people feel that these staffing levels aren't what they should be and aren't what they need to be. So in light of this situation which mirrors a similar one that took place during fiscally difficult budget times in the late 1990s, what can you as a citizen do?

Here's two options.

1) You can write a posting like either of the ones above to show your "support" for police officers.

2) You can write emails to your elected representatives, you can call or talk with them or you can speak at city council meetings asking the city government to address this issue or direct its staff to address this issue.

3) You can research it yourself and educate people on the issue.

Which option or two are a more direct way of addressing this issue? Which one is not? If enough of these conversations and missives were communicated to elected officials as suggested in the second option especially during an election year by city residents including those who take the energy and time to show their "support" of police officers, then these issues would be resolved if not entirely, in a better way than now. If the S.S. Hudson is making decisions which impact the staffing levels of the police department (as with other departments as well), he's being guided by a majority of city council members or a vocal minority surrounded by a silent majority. They can only be pushed out of that dynamic by an engaged public.

Earlier this year, Chief Russ Leach announced that after the expiration of the current Strategic Plan (that was mandated by the stipulated judgment), the department will create a new five-year blueprint of policing which will take over. Leach said that input would be solicited from community members all over the city.

One recommendation to the next Strategic Plan might be to create provisions in writing for the restoration of frozen positions in both the civilian and sworn divisions of the department. One of the things which devastated the police department in the 1990s (necessitating the stipulated judgment) was the lack of attention paid to refilling positions left vacant by freezes instituted during economically difficult times. There wasn't really a follow through in terms of long-range plans to address staffing issues in the department and instead, there was just cuts made to deal with a short-term crisis. About $22 million later, this issue became one the city was mandated to resolve including the deficiencies in its supervisory staffing ratios.

The only way to institute a long-range plan which includes the restoration of frozen positions is to categorize it as an issue of both accountability and public service rather than just a labor issue that can be hidden behind closed doors without the public being any the wiser about it. Including it in the next state of the Strategic Plan could go a longer way of accomplishing this.

Then there's this comment which is kind of silly but I included it anyway. It's interesting that people seem to be preoccupied with what you're doing to this degree that they're talking about you being asleep and dreaming. That just seems a bit silly.

FBM probably dreaming that the RPD would pull FBM over and ask FBM to submit to a full search and seizure.

nite nite! : )

Again, I've received similar comments like this in the past. Though mostly from individuals complaining about my postings on the Riverside Police Department, rather than political campaigns. Some of them have been fairly disgusting in nature.

The annual air show at the Riverside Municipal Airport was well attended by a record crowd even as it was a fairly warm day with little in the way of breezes or winds. A perfect day for flying and there were many demonstrations of aviation acrobatics, wing walkers, sky divers and demonstrations from the Riverside Police Department's Aviation, K-9 and Metro Divisions. Officer and Pilot Mike Pelissario flew one of the department's 25-year-old helicopters with SWAT officers and K-9 Officer Dave Taylor (along with his canine Von who rode in a special harness) rode on the skids. K-9 Officer Mike Mears and Aldo also participated while Officer Mike Dillion (who is interested in being a K-9 officer himself) and K-9 Officer Brad Smith wore the padded suits to be the targets for the dogs.

Later, Mears and Aldo and Smith and his newest dog, Rocco demonstrated canine skills using Dillion in the padded suit. Dillion is one of several officers who are interested in becoming future K-9 officers but it often takes years for an opening to be available because it's a small unit and extremely low turnover because canine handlers tend to be leave through promotion or retirement. The last opening in the canine division was over five years ago and filled by Smith and it seems that Dillion along with several other officers are hoping to be the next individuals assigned to work in that division should the opportunity arise.

Margie, the wing walker returned this year as well as the Dr. D, the old-timer pilot who does a breathtaking stall glide before landing on the runaway with his propeller completely still. Some newcomers flew flat spins, loop to loops, square loops and other maneuvers. Absolutely brilliantly.

The police department's aviation division was on display, including its newest helicopter purchased a few years ago. The department now has two older helicopters including the one flown by Pelissario, one newer and one owned by the State of California and used for narcotics actions. The city is in the process of purchasing a newer helicopter but the process was recently stalled although some recent developments might help move it along. Aviation is staffed by seven pilots, all sworn officers and two mechanics and is under two sergeants (who also oversee the Metro unit), a lieutenant and the head of Special Operations, Capt. John Wallace.

Det. James Dana and Officer Aaron Brandt also demonstrated the department's robots assigned to the bomb squad.

The Riverside County Sheriff's Department had a recruitment booth with two deputies at the air show. They both said that about 1,800 positions would open up in a few months mainly to staff the new jails that are being built in the county. But there will be openings in the sworn division as well.

In contrast, the Riverside Police Department is currently only hiring dispatchers and those positions technically aren't open yet. All other vacancies in the civilian and sworn divisions have been frozen. More civilian positions are scheduled to be frozen and for the first time, there's whispers of layoffs but no definitive announcement.

The airshow is very popular attracting a huge turnout. It's really the only remaining festival that hasn't been decimated by Riverside's city government.

Four police officers laid to rest and Rialto Police Department pays it forward.

Riverside Downtown Bookstore near the intersection of Sixth and Main is the best place to shop for affordable books during these economic times. Not just used books, but ordering books not in stock. I got a great price including shipping and the 15% extra on a hardback book in great condition which was priced at about 20% of what it would cost in a chain bookstore.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Election 2009: A victory for probationary law enforcement officers in Riverside County

In Riverside County Superior Court, presiding Judge Sharon Waters granted part of Ward Four City Councilman Frank Schiavone's writ but struck other portions of it. Schiavone had filed the writ against City Clerk Colleen Nichol challenging portions of Paul Davis' written statement that he submitted to her office for broader circulation. Both men are facing off in a competitive election for the council seat which represents the city's south-eastern neighborhoods including Mission Grove, Orangecrest, Casa Blanca and Hawardan Hills among others.

She ordered that the text stating that Davis would "restore your voice" be replaced by other language, stating that Davis would welcome voters' participation and comments. Davis agreed to the modification in the language which will be part of his written statement in voting guides mailed out to registered voters in his ward.

Although many voters in Ward Four do feel shut out at City Hall judging by conversations with them, that is an issue that remains to be debated on the campaign trial and determined at the polls about what impact it will have on the outcome of what so far is the city's only contentious council race. Not a bad situation at all in the two months of the election season that remains before the race is decided in June.

However, Waters denied attempts by the Schiavone camp to strike language that Davis was a former law enforcement officer employed at two different agencies. And this was a huge victory for the Davis camp as this was actually the bigger of the two issues that were put on her plate to decide during the initial weeks of Election 2009.

It was also a victory for every law enforcement officer in Riverside County who is currently or has ever worked as a probationary officer and/or trainee in a law enforcement agency as well. The legitimacy of these police officers and sheriff deputies' right to call themselves by their own job description (including the job description provided by the Riverside County Human Resources Department in Davis' response) was called into question when it shouldn't have been.

The right of departments to afford probationary status to newer hires for a period of time remains intact (and the omission of this from PC 830.1 tends to support assertion that the language in this code is all inclusive) but probationary law enforcement officers will not be stripped of their identities as law enforcement officers and their rights as included under PC 830.1 (in which police powers is its more common application in most references to it) which was cited as the law of determinant in Schiavone's writ will be inclusive.

Here's the minute order for that hearing and it's been circulated around the city and at different Web sites.

03/26/2009 - 8:30 AM DEPT. 10


Not surprisingly, some supporters of Schiavone weren't too thrilled by the news so they issued the following press release in response. One wonders which corner these "press releases" are coming from, but then maybe it's just the twilight zone.

(excerpt, Inland Empire Craigslist)

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Sharon Waters this morning ordered city council candidate and washed out police officer trainee Paul Davis to change his ballot statement. Davis had included in his ballot statement language that falsely and maliciously attacked Councilman Frank Schiavone. State law prohibits the use of false and misleading information in the ballot statements. The law also prohibits attacks on other candidates. Judge Waters ordered Davis' ballot statement to have the illegal language removed, but did allow Davis the opportunity to replace the stricken words that were within the scope of the law. Waters also ruled that the State Law governing ballot statements did not permit her to remove information in Davis' ballot statement about his brief, failed employment stints as a trainee first at the Sheriff's Department, then at the Police Department. Davis' training officer, retired Riverside Police Officer Jerry Whitton was in court to testify about the time he spent with trainee Davis and why Paul Davis washed out of the police department less than 6 months into the probationary job selection period. Due to the limits placed on what can be challenged and changed in an official ballot statement, Whitton's potentially devastating testimony was not heard this morning. Although Davis washed out as a trainee at both departments, he will be allowed to pad his questionable resume as if he had been on the job for 20 years. But given recent the recent scrutiny of Davis' record, many voters are now questioning Paul Davis' fitness to hold office.

The reason that Whitton's "potentially devastating testimony" was denied by Waters goes back to the roots of the Schiavone writ and the legal assertion that his attorney raised which pertained not to Davis in particular but to Davis as a member of a particular class of employee known as a probationary officer. Are probationary officers "real" officers in accordance to Penal Code 830.1? That was the court's question to answer. And by allowing the statements to remain intact, the court essentially gave its answer.

If they weren't, then the language that Davis included in his political statements about being a former law enforcement officer of two agencies would have to be removed for the statement itself to be complicit with state law.

For people who believe that Whitton was unfairly prevented from offering his testimony of what training Davis was like, there are other options available for him to get the word out. He can hold a press conference. He can speak about it at a city council meeting although given the limited speaking time for public comment, he might need to stretch his comments over a few months of meetings. He can talk about it at public events. He can talk about it to a news reporter. He can also post all about it on Craigslist. Hopefully, he'll at least sign his statement to give it the official status of a declaration unlike some of the sock puppets running amok on Craigslist.

This person whoever they were appeared happy with the court decision.


Congratulations on the results of today's Court hearing.

We all knew you worked as a Riverside Police Officer and Sheriff and now Frank Schiavone and those who read your candidates statement also know the truth.

We look to you bringing the voice of the people back to City Hall, as Frank Sciavone is not listening to the citizens of Riverside.

When you are elected as Ward 4 City Councilman Paul, Frank will understand that you were correct in putting that on your candidate's statement as well.

Someone apparently misunderstood what was going on even after the minutes of the action hearing were posted on the site. And doesn't realize that sentences are supposed to have single spaces between them.

Thanks for posting the minute order.Read it yourself and you see the Court ordered Davis to change his statement.The Court did allow him to use the title former " Police Officer".It appears the Court or Davis did not dispute the fact he failed probation at both departments.The real question is why ??

The biggest question in the universe has always been: Why? No huge mystery there.

The Press Enterprise published this story about the court proceedings.

No further word from the unidentified press officer from whatever on whether or not the Riverside Police Officers' Association is going to release Davis' personnel files from his five months spent in the police department and were threatened with a lawsuit from the Davis camp over it according to a posting at Craigslist. There was supposed to be some hearing on it according to a release posted on Craigslist by the unidentified press officer for an unspecified company or organization. But that hearing apparently never took place.


Ward 4 City Council candidate Paul Davis who was dishonorably discharged from the Riverside Police Department after only 5 1/2 months on the job as trainee is doing everything he can to keep his personnel file from going public.

Davis today threatened the Riverside Police Officers Association with a lawsuit should they release any documents from his file.

A few weeks ago, Davis while seeking the endorsement of the Riverside Police Officers Association agreed to waive the confidentiality of his file to allow the directors of the RPOA to review his service record.

After granting this waiver and interviewing with the RPOA, the Association unanimously voted to support Frank Schiavone for re-election.

We are left to wonder what the Riverside Police Officers on the RPOA Board saw in the file that made them all decide to go against Davis, even after they had already contributed to his campaign.

Sadly, the voters may never know since Davis had his attorney send them a letter rescinding his confidentiality waiver and threatening to sue any of them that reveal what they read in the file.

This sort of conduct is not what we should expect from a person who wants to represent us. This is is the behavior of a power hungry man who wants to hide his past from the people so he can trick them out of their votes by pretending he was once a cop, when in fact he washed out as a trainee.

Another irony is that Davis is campaigning on bringing more openness and transparency to government, but he refuses to be open and transparent about his failures as a police officer trainee.

Hopefully the court will unseal his file on Thursday morning and we can all find out the truth about Paul Davis, and whether or not the rumors about his emotional and mental instability are true or not.

But several other individuals who are members of the union seemed perplexed to hear that this skirmish had taken place between the two parties.

One individual said that Davis received his personnel file back from the RPOA and that the only interest that the union had in it was receiving more information about him so they could more fully question him during his interview with the committee assigned the task of interviewing potential city council candidates for endorsement purposes. Others were unaware that there was any issue involving Davis personnel file but then called the whole election endorsement process "POA business". Some weren't sure who the police union even endorsed for the Ward Four race. But these responses probably are reflective of the broad spectrum of individuals in that agency, which might mirror a population of voters in cities where some people are actively involved in politics and others are not for a variety of reasons though that might not necessarily affect their voting attendance. Very few populations tend to be monolithic.

It's interesting to watch the double edged sword of the state's confidentiality laws regarding police personnel files come to play at this point and time if the issue of whether or not to release Davis' files is truly an issue as purported by the unidentified press officer from whatever. As moved as some of us might be to hear a police association aver to promote "openness" and "transparency" in government through releasing the personnel file of a former Riverside Police Department officer now running against their candidate of choice, that small gesture of sorts will be forgotten the next time the union moves to defend against the similar release of the file of a habitually problematic police officer who's only employed until the city can come up with a means to use a physical disability retirement to get rid of him or her or give them glowing recommendations so they can find another job somewhere else. Like the retired guy who took glowing recommendations to another position and he hadn't even retired voluntarily and another, who was just retired.

So you read about the crusades of police unions to protect the public from a "washed out" police trainee in light of the greater reality of what police unions do (which is what their membership demands them to do) to keep the records secret of officers more capable of truly harming the public and lift a skeptical eyebrow. That's just what they do, as promoting the confidentiality of police records away from things like "openness" and "transparency" is deep inside their marrow, fundamental to why police unions exist part and parcel with other issues like negotiating labor contracts and working on workplace safety issues.

Which one of these police officers would subject their own personnel files to the same scrutiny in the spirit of "openness" and "transparency"? Which law enforcement officer in any agency in the state would do the same?

There truly are few questions simpler to answer than that one.


That would probably be a consistent response up and down the state of California. And even if officers did wish to reveal their personnel files, the governments of the cities and counties which employ them would never allow it.

So this part of the ongoing episode has been a bit puzzling but it's interesting because it does provide some interest avenues of reflection and discussion about what the laws of confidentiality mean to the same people in different circumstances.

Police Department Employee Watch:

Compared to other cities like Hemet and San Bernardino, so far the Riverside Police Department has fared better. However, in light of past problems with staffing in the department during the 1990s and that relationship (as outlined by former State Attorney General Bill Lockyer in his lawsuit against the city), any significant reduction in staffing remains a concern especially the city manager's office doesn't seem to have any clue how to address these issues or reverse this situation when the economic picture improves.

Police Officers: The vacancies currently stand at least at 19 and possibly higher because attrition hires aren't being done and everything's still frozen. The first positions that were frozen were among the last 25 positions in patrol promised by the city council along with several newly created positions in the traffic division. The most recently hired officers are either in the academy or about to graduate.

Detectives: Since the detectives have an MOU since the days of former Chief Ken Fortier that their vacancies are to be filled, this division doesn't have those same issues. However, they've had issues with their over-time staffing (outside of the Homicide Division) including in the department's Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Division as well as their work vehicles last year. The heads of the Investigations Division maintain that no crime is uninvestigated due to any issues with overtime staffing.

Sergeants: The vacancies here currently stand with at least three positions frozen which has impacted the officer to supervisor ratio which was originally mandated under the state consent decree and the city promised to maintain the standard of 7 to 1 after the dissolution of the consent decree in March 2006. The current ratios might not be where they should be. The city manager's office is not expected to lift the promotional freezes any time soon.

Lieutenant: One lieutenant position remains frozen. The major issue with lieutenants is over-time because under their Riverside Police Administrators' Association MOU, they receive no overtime pay. Which results in some sergeants putting in back to back work shifts and having more difficulty scheduling replacements for days off.

Because of this and salary differential issues with sergeants assigned to work as watch commanders (during lieutenant shortages) there's been fewer sergeant watch commanders on entire shifts, according to the city.

Civilian Employees: The worse blood letting has been here and allegedly the freezing of positions which at last count was at least 25 of them may have only just begun. Some whispers of possible layoffs which haven't taken place outside of the December 2008 layoff of one "at will" employee in the police department. But then there's been rumors of more layoffs throughout the city so it remains to be seen what will happen as the fiscal year continues.

The broken down court system in Riverside County gets four more judges.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Riverside County judges have some of the heaviest caseloads in the state.

"Even if all five vacancies were filled, we would still be at 3.6 judicial positions for each 100,000 people in the county. The statewide average is 5.2 judges per 100,000. So we are still greatly understaffed," Cahraman said.

The appointees are:

Samuel Diaz Jr., 45, of Riverside. Since 2007, Diaz has been a supervising deputy public defender for the Riverside County Public Defender. He earned his law degree from Western State University College of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the UC Santa Cruz. Diaz is a Republican.

David A. Gunn, 52, of San Clemente. Since 2007, Gunn has been a deputy public defender for the San Bernardino County Public Defender. He earned his law degree from Southwestern University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Iowa. Gunn is a Republican.

Kelly L. Hansen, 44, of Murrieta. Since 2007 Hansen has served as chief deputy district attorney for the Riverside County District Attorney's office. Hansen earned his law degree from Brigham Young University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brigham Young University. Hansen is a Republican.

Mark E. Johnson, 50, of Murrieta. Since 2007 he has been a senior deputy public defender for the Riverside County Public Defender. Johnson earned his law degree from Pepperdine University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northeast Louisiana University. Johnson is a Democrat.

Bus fares from Riverside Transit Agency are going on up while service goes down.

Will a new city manager work miracles in San Bernardino?

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Reno civic leaders say that in 13 years, Charles McNeely transformed a bedraggled high desert burg into a thriving gambling, sports and entertainment center.

San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris, a retired Superior Court judge, said he noted Reno's transformation during business trips there.
Story continues below

After former City Manager Fred Wilson resigned last summer, Morris said he focused on McNeely, an executive who had succeeded in a city politically and demographically similar to San Bernardino.

"When Charles McNeely arrived in Reno, it was in sad economic shape," Morris said. "I've seen the remarkable renaissance there. Now, we believe that this man is the absolute best choice possible for our city."

Reno observers say their city's rebirth is still under way. It's an open question what the bill for all the building will be -- or whether the city will be able to pay.

"It all comes at a price," former Reno city councilwoman Toni Harsh said.

The ripples continue in San Bernardino County which continues to bow its head in shame from scandal after scandal.

The Dallas Police Department apologizes to an NFL player.

(excerpt, Associated Press)

Officer Robert Powell also drew his gun during the March 18 incident involving Houston Texans running back Ryan Moats in the Dallas suburb of Plano, police said.

“I can screw you over,” he said at one point in the videotaped incident. When another officer came with word that Moats’ mother-in-law was indeed dying, Powell’s response was: “All right. I’m almost done.”

Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle apologized to the family and announced that Powell would be on paid leave pending an internal investigation.

“When we at the command staff reviewed the tape, we were embarrassed, disappointed,” Kunkle said. “It’s hard to find the right word and still be professional in my role as the police chief. But the behavior was not appropriate.”

Powell, 25, a three-year member of the force, stopped Moats’ SUV outside Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano after Moats rolled through a red light.

Police officials said Powell told his commanders he believed he was doing his job, and that he drew his gun but did not point it. Kunkle said Powell was not necessarily acting improperly when he pulled his weapon out, but that once he realized what was happening should have put the gun back, apologized and offered to help the family in any way.

“His behavior, in my opinion, did not exhibit the common sense, the discretion, the compassion that we expect our officers to exhibit,” Kunkle said.

Speaking of the Riverside City Council races, here are some candidate Web sites.

Bill Scherer for Ward Six

Here's a fundraiser for Scherer:

March 26, Coffee Fundraiser, 11822 Minuteman Drive, 5-8pm

Paul Davis for Ward Four

Fundraiser for Davis:

Saturday, March 28, 2009, from 6:00 to 9:00 PM

Paul Davis will hold a Spring Fundraiser at his home
in the Hillcrest neighborhood at
1091 Crestbrook Drive, Riverside, CA 92506
Please call 951-453-3548 for more information
or to purchase a ticket to the event

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