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

Monday, June 07, 2010

Why is an Acting Chief Awaiting Disciplinary Action Allowed to Discipline?

UPDATE: Uncomfirmed reports that Michelle, the dancer associated with former Chief Russ Leach and Councilman Frank Schiavone was just arrested and booked on five misdemeanor warrants, by a deputy based with Moreno Valley Police Department. She was allegedly asked to step outside of her house after the time period at night when it's legal to serve misdemeanor warrants. And the deputy had her step outside of her home just after 10 p.m. to be arrested by him on the warrants. The one warrant found so far dates all the way back to mid-May 2010 for a DUI and traffic violations.

What's interesting is that misdemeanor warrants are most often enforced when police officers encounter people with them, they don't usually go looking for them unlike with felony warrants. I had this explained to me by a police agency after an individual who committed an assault and battery in public was cited and released despite having a misdemeanor warrant. They later picked him up when he failed to make an appearance and generated a felony warrant.

The deputy went to her house after receiving an anonymous tip about the warrants. And they say San Bernardino County is a nest of intrigue, but people have always suspected that Riverside is

More to come...

UPDATE: Press Enterprise now writes this brief article on her arrest.


Press Release issued by Eastside Think Tank Calling for a morotorium on actions taken by Acting Chief John DeLaRosa in the wake of the intent to terminate Det. Chris Lanzillo.

EARLY ELECTION RETURNS...Paul Zellerbach by nearly 2,500 so far over Rod Pacheco. Stan Sniff takes huge lead.

Sorry folks but as of 11:20 p.m. a whopping three precincts have had votes tabulated by the Riverside County Voters' Registrar.

Zellerbach, Sniff bring in votes towards the end particularly Zellerbach whose lead only grows...

And by the time the dust has cleared, the "Gad Fly" has beaten the Master of the Dome, DA employees finally can cheer openly and Brian Floyd's streak of mudslinging for losing candidates continues...

From the thread....

"As one who is in the trenches there are a whole bunch of cases that are in the system that should not be there. New cases and cases that are being re-tried due to mis - trials and hung juries. The Judge is going to has his hands full when he takes office. We all know he can do it I just hope he knows who he can trust and who he can't."


The cost of the micromanagement by the city management and several current and past city officials of the Riverside Police Department now has a price tag associated with it as the Press Enterprise details settlements involving former Riverside Police Department Lt. Tim Bacon and Darryl Hurt.

Hurt received $300,000 before his retirement and Bacon, $250,000 and both received retirements aimed at top-level captains on the pay scale.

Doesn't sound like a settlement to (cough) avoid further litigation costs (cough) which is City Attorney Gregory Priamos standard excuse for settlements. But seriously, does this sound like the city's really denying the allegations in the lawsuit? As more and more of what would have been on trial comes to light in different venues, it's not going to be hard to figure out why the city wanted this to go away at a pretty hefty price.

ALSO in relation to the lawsuits, the Press Enterprise ran the story, Guns Badges and Cold Plates. Does corruption in River City know no bounds and the City Council members who praised Hudson KNOW ALL ABOUT THIS. After all, the city government nor did its legal department want this lawsuit to go to trial in April...

We need a complete airing of everything that has gone on, top to bottom. If it goes to the 7th floor of city hall, let the chips fall where they may. We will never have confidence in our leadership if there is not a house cleaning.

Adams is already stating that it is a done deal for Schiavone's next door neighbor and friend, Mike Smith, to be tapped for the next Chief. As far as I am concerned, if Adams or Schiavone are connected to anyone, that should be grounds to automatically rule them out.

What about the stories of City Manager Hudson flying down to Mexico with Leach and Schiavone, to party at Frank's vacation home? What about Hudson and DeSantis getting police type badges from Leach, and then later told by the Attorney General to destroy them as they were illegal? What about Hudson and DeSantis getting guns and hulsters purchased by the PD and paid for by the city.

It has been said that Hudson was micromanaging the PD for the last few years. If that is true, he needs to take some of the blame. If he wants to call the shots, then he needs to step up. Instead, we get to read a fluff piece about what a great City Manager he is.

The city manager is not an elected position, he serves at the pleasure of the city council. I think our city council needs to hold him accountable. Either that, or voters need to make the council accountable by voting them out of office. The problem is they are probably afraid that Riverside Renissance would fall apart without him.

----Guest at and there will be more to come on rumors about Smith having an inside track into the chief's job but whether that will happen, still remains to be seen.

"One cop did stand up and confront DelaRosa and he is now jobless."

---Guest at

[Acting Chief John DeLaRosa who awaits news on whether or not there will be any disciplinary action against him even after his subordinate, Lt. Leon Phillips is given a notice to terminate not long after DeLaRosa transferred him to Orange Street Station. He sat in the "penalty box" along with the detective who sued DeLaRosa who is also told he will be terminated as well by who else but DeLaRosa?]

The Press Enterprise Editorial Board announced that Acting Chief John DeLaRosa needs to step down even as Riverside's City Manager Brad Hudson praised DeLaRosa for telling consistent stories in two investigations and said that he was the best man for the job, which must have left the rest of the management team at the police department filled with warm fuzzies. Clearly something inappropriate has been manifesting itself in this city when an employee who would normally be on paid administrative leave during the investigation once his involvement was known and who should be facing discipline or served with a notice of intent to discipline has instead received a promotion, a temporary pay hike and is assigned to run the same department which has been the subject of much distrust and upheaval due in part to his own actions on Feb. 8 and afterward.

Seriously for those out there who have any questions about why this city and the structural chain of command of the police department are experiencing so many serious problems, just read the last few lines above, and ask yourself why a person who's been implicated in the Leach incident near the very top of the chain of miscommand was made the acting chief? No more really needs to be said about that, so onto the next point.

[Riverside City Manager Brad Hudson (center) has praised his acting chief, John DeLaRosa's consistent statements to two investigators and after promoting him and giving him a pay hike has kept him in the top cop spot in the wake of the conclusions by the CHP that implicated DeLaRosa in the mishandling of the Leach incident.]

And that is that this is the most serious transgression by Hudson's office involving this situation with the police department's latest critical incident. Whether it's due to general ignorance on Hudson's part or for whatever reason, it defies logic that DeLaRosa who should be facing disciplinary action is allowed to engage in making disciplinary actions against other police officers and is put in the position of being the decision maker in the disciplinary process including Skelly hearings. There will be more on this issue further down in this posting. But the editorial hit a few nails right on the head. DeLaRosa should never have been promoted to acting chief and in fact, should be stripped of any chief powers particularly pertaining to disciplinary actions involving the police department's employees. He shouldn't be encharged with disciplining a single officer for any sustained allegation and he shouldn't be in charge of conducting Skelly hearings, yet he's been given that authority by Hudson as will be further detailed below.

First of all, it's a relief to know that there are at least two of us in River City who have trouble swallowing DeLaRosa's version of events. Actually it's more than two but Hudson appears to think that everyone should buy into his version that since DeLaRosa told two consistent versions of events to different investigators that he's the best qualified to be acting chief. When frankly, the Editorial Board's argument against why he shouldn't be holding that position is much more compelling than anything Hudson's said so far and the Editorial Board has also provided a more detailed argument and has been more forthcoming with its opinion than has Hudson who seems more content to speak in innuendo. Painting one person as a liar by pointing out how consistent the other person is, that's one recent example when consistency really may or may not have anything to do with honesty and veracity in the investigative process.

It doesn't paint a very flattering portrait of Hudson, considerably less so than the rosy sentiments provided by several of his direct bosses on the dais including one of his former ones, Dom Betro who was sent packing partly due to his tendency to make comments like the ones he made about Leach and Hudson. Betro clearly knows more about Leach's background as far as his drinking goes but plays coy and just says that Hudson did what he could...but wait a minute, Hudson denied earlier that he knew anything about Leach having what's been euphemistically referred to as a "drinking problem". So who's telling the truth here?

A man who had an extrapolated blood alcohol level of 0.22 and exhibited signs of intoxication that two relatively inexperienced officers picked up even as their lieutenant who had 28 years experienced professed that he was clueless to investigators. Who appears to have believed that keeping his drinking a secret was important enough to throw the entire agency that he had spent 10 years leading under the bus.

What Hudson is showing at the very least is his lack of experience handling labor issues and apparently knowing good management from that which hasn't been so good for the reasons mentioned in the editorial. But then where the police department stands today is the end result of five years of micromanagement under Hudson who still denies he had any knowledge of prior problems involving former Chief Russ Leach before his Feb. 8 DUI accident. It's another glaring transgression of Hudson's that has reared its head in the midst of glowing reports about his actions as city manager by one current and one former city councilman. A lot of people said that when they read those comments by the way, they truly wondered what the elected officials were thinking because of the very public display of incompetence from management all around in relation to the Leach incident which unfortunately has turned City Hall into the laughing stock of the city. And the more the city government backs the actions of Hudson on this issue, the more the focus of people's sentiments of the situation will be focused on it.

Most people will pass along this tib bit of common sense which is that if you have a police chief that is removed or removes himself from the top post that you don't replace him with someone implicit in the mishandling of the behavior which causes the chief to remove himself. Most people even those not earning nearly $300,000 a year can figure this out quite easily. That and the fact that it just doesn't go over with people very well including voters who will be mailing their ballots to determine four city council races about this time next year.

But apparently Hudson has a little bit of a problem with that. It's too late now to fix it before the arrival of a new chief because there's no one to even fill DeLaRosa's shoes as some attrition and lack of confidence among those that remain in the management team has essentially made him chief by default. So he's left to play that role and because he himself has been implicated involving a serious incident, it's hard to believe that he's been left to enforce the chief's powers even if there's no one inside the department to perform that role. But that truly indicates serious problems with city management itself.

Maybe that's true now that there's a dearth of any leadership given that Deputy Chief Pete Esquivel was effectively maneuvered into retirement after nearly applying for the chief's job and the management ranks directly below him seems to be filled with individuals save one who appear completely bereft and lost in this current situation. But it shows appalling bad judgment from a city manager to place someone in the acting chief's position who because of the nature of the Leach incident had a fairly high probability of being implicated himself in the mishandling and attempted cover up. The city should have bit the bullet and hired an outside interim chief which would have cost money but would haven't stripped the police department of more credibility involving both equal treatment of the law between the police chief and other city residents and management accountability. And what the city will discover in the months ahead as that some of the decisions carried out by the acting chief who shouldn't have been there, themselves could wind up costing the city a fair sum of money.

But the editorial hits some great points.


Being a leader requires taking responsibility, not ducking tough choices to avoid the fallout. De La Rosa's own account shows him unfit to be in any leadership position in the department. He needs to go; Riverside needs a chief it can count on in a crisis.

And here's the noticeable contradiction between what Hudson says is important which is that he feels DeLaRosa's the best choice and the fact that his own probe said that there were serious deficiencies shown by management. It's nice to know the city's paying six figures annually to someone who can't make up his own mind about something critical...yet so basic.


The city's own internal investigation into the department's handling of the stop found "tragically deficient decisions by police management." The acting chief, who never went to the scene of the stop, dumped the decision in the Leach incident on his subordinates -- in violation of the idea that the responsibility rests with those at the top. Keeping De La Rosa in place signals City Hall accepts that approach.

Oh yes indeed...but City Hall has already through its silence spoken loudly that this is how it conducts its business. Because the person who sounds even less plausible in this situation is Hudson.

[The Orange Street Station and also the room in the House That City Hall Built which houses the so-called "penalty box" for the department's broken police officers.]

Fired RPD Lieutenant "Doing Fine"

Sources say that Lt. Leon Phillips is doing "fine" in the wake of his receipt of a notice to terminate on June 4 and appears to be in good spirits. Most have expressed their belief that Phillips was essentially thrown under the bus by DeLaRosa. People think he should receive discipline but not be terminated especially if DeLaRosa gets lighter or no disciplinary action. He's got two weeks from the time of his termination to receive his Skelly hearing. It's not clear who will be in charge of that process and make the final decision on his job status. Is Hudson bright enough to figure out that the acting chief's not the best person for the job? Well, one can hope so.

Phillips was transferred from graveyard watch command into Personal and Training which serves as the conduit of choice to channel an employee towards termination of their employment. The decision to move him to this division in the days or weeks before he received his notice of intent on June 4 to terminate was made by the man who supervised him during the Feb. 8 incident, which was DeLaRosa.

Both should probably have been placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation and both should face disciplinary action, with the more severe form being given to the one who supervises the other. By Hudson's innuendo about who was "consistent" in the Press Enterprise article, one can conclude that Phillips was presented with two scenarios to choose from. That he either accept a demotion to sergeant for "failure to discipline" or be terminated most likely for "dishonesty" (as shown through Hudson's innuendo in the article by painting Phillips as being dishonest in comparison to DeLaRosa's "consistency"). It's most likely a tactic to try to get Phillips to accept a demotion at this point, similar to being charged with a felony to try to get him to plead guilty to a misdemeanor.

But DeLaRosa having anything to do with Phillips even to transfer him to the administrative headquarters to have him hang out in limbo with other officers in similar straits is unacceptable, it's unprofessional, it's unseemly and shouldn't be done by the officer who in all rights should be sitting there alongside him wearing the same scarlet letter he's given Phillips.

The city government needs to ask Hudson some serious questions about what's going on with his mismanagement and micromanagement of the police department but all the government has done behind closed doors was to settle a lawsuit filed in relation to this by two former lieutenants on the eve of trial. In part to keep city residents in the dark about some of the practices which were taking place including multiple investigations of actions taken by the city management involving the department as well as possibly illegal and very inappropriate involvement in the police department's promotions at its highest level.

But rumor has it, there's going to be a lot more exposure of what the city tried to keep hidden in different venues in the days and weeks ahead.

Riverside Police Detective To Be Terminated

Det. Chris Lanzillo, who was the former head of the Riverside Police Officers' Association received his notice to terminate on June 4 the same day as Phillips. His impending termination and the news of it has been posted in this blog including the posting, called the "Mad, Mad World of the Riverside Orange Street Station" which apparently generated some interesting reactions inside the police department.

But as stated earlier, some questions about the powers that DeLaRosa welds as chief. Mainly why DeLaRosa who himself is awaiting discipline in relation to his involvement in a serious incident involving the obstruction of a criminal investigation of Leach's DUI which after all had to be farmed out later on is engaging in disciplinary action. Besides Lanzillo and Phillips, at least four other officers were sent to Orange Street Station to sit idle while awaiting disciplinary action by DeLaRosa including two that testified in the criminal trial of former Officer Robert Forman and two others associated with a recent officer-involved shooting and vehicle pursuit. As the tenure of DeLaRosa as acting chief winds down as a new police chief is expected to be placed by July, some say that he's getting his last kicks in before he's removed from that position, leading to some apprehension among those inside the police department.

Allegedly at some point Lanzillo confronted DeLaRosa about the Leach incident during a roll call session and said that he didn't support him and that DeLaRosa should face the consequences for his role in the incident. During the initial weeks of the incident, DeLaRosa had been frequenting the roll call sessions with his very unhappy management team(especially Capt. Mike Blakely who's likely the most honed tool in this box) in tow to talk about how the department was one big family, how it should come together and not talk to the bloggers and press that were out there. Of course, DeLaRosa likely didn't tell the officers attending these sessions about his own complicity in the Leach incident as the highest ranking sober officer who was aware of what was going on when it was going on. And why would this father of this newly created family called the RPD be keeping secrets from his "children"? But it's ironic to see the very fractured and fragmented management staff whose members used up most of their energy to get where they were at, trying to sell the image of the united home front inside the police department which some said was in the process of unraveling in the wake of the emerging scandal.

Perhaps this omission by DeLaRosa of his own role in the incident was simply an oversight on his part. But it's inherently dishonest to involve yourself in an incident that rips your agency apart and then try to walk in with platitudes about family to sew it back together as an "us" against "them", meaning everyone else outside of the department's fold and falling back on an integral component commonly found in police cultures that the department had been saying through its management that it had been working towards moving away from. Usually he asks for questions but no one ever seems to ask any because after all, if you ask or say the wrong one, does a space await you inside the "penalty box" as it's called at Orange Street Station? Hudson used a similar tactic, some employees once said, when he asked for questions during a "meeting" with members of one city department but when one of them asked about a labor issue, this employee allegedly received a two week vacation courtesy of Hudson's office the next day. So maybe it's just better to be cautious and keep any questions to yourself?

But one thing that Lanzillo's never been for better or worse is quiet. But if he spoke out against DeLaRosa, it's been said that the acting chief doesn't take being embarrassed very well and for a man that's been purported to think strictly in black or white and not anywhere in between, it wouldn't be too difficult to predict his response.

Several months ago, Lanzillo filed a claim against the city alleging retaliation by DeLaRosa and others in relation to his actions taken while leading the police union and made some critical comments about DeLaRosa that hit the press and this blog. An internal investigation was launched against him and usually they are in cases like this as evidence has shown in just about every other lawsuit filed by a city employee including those inside the police department. That in itself is the rule, not the exception. And the city has settled well over the $1.64 million it paid in the case of Officer Roger Sutton(whose retaliation part of his case was deemed its strongest part by the judge and jurors) in large because the city's so intent on proving that it can do a better job at representing the plaintiff than the plaintiff's attorney ever could. The city's literally made the case for just about every employee that's filed against the city through its own actions and the city's paid out the settlements to show for it.

But one very clear problem with this situation (and one which will prove to be very expensive in the long run) is the role that's being played by the acting chief who's been implicated in the Leach incident including by CHP investigators in the investigation and later disciplinary action of someone who filed a claim and later lawsuit against the city including DeLaRosa.

Lanzillo's Skelly hearing is scheduled for later this week to be heard by who else, but DeLaRosa, though letters have been sent by his attorney to remove DeLaRosa from the process and to have another representative handle it. And DeLaRosa shouldn't be allowed to conduct this appeal hearing on Lanzillo's case because it's inappropriate, unprofessional and a conflict of interest. If the department found misconduct against Lanzillo that warrants a termination, then there's no reason to rush the process so that it's wrapped up before DeLaRosa's removal. It can be suspended and wait until the new chief is installed and be dealt with at that time because misconduct is misconduct and if it's there, the new chief will come up with a similar disposition without being in conflict and then determine an action. And DeLaRosa would surely know that to be the case, yet he's pushing to rush the issue of termination against an employee who embarrassed him and also sued him and the city perhaps because he knows his own tenure as the city's chief is coming to an end. The clock is ticking and it seems like he's carrying out unfinished business and Hudson's allowing him to do it which could place the city at risk of civil liability if DeLaRosa's making personal decisions on how to act as a chief and not professional ones. It's hard to believe otherwise when the sensible thing is to hand the case off to the new chief to handle.

Someone should have told him just how expensive actions like those taken by DeLaRosa have been for the city's residents who are left with the payments for settlement after settlement after huge jury's verdict on lawsuits pertaining to the city's labor issues. Perhaps City Attorney Gregory Priamos can be more forthcoming about providing that information to the public. And Priamos should be very understanding of Lanzillo's situation given that his office currently employs a retired lieutenant who had a sustained allegation of misconduct very similar to that involving Lanzillo and even though one of Priamos' top assistant city attorney's witnessed the lieutenant's misconduct while it took place, the lieutenant who's apparently a buddy of the assistant city attorney (and received NO disciplinary action from the police department) is now employed and working for the city. How does that happen?

[City Attorney Gregory Priamos (right) employs an office filled with employees including investigators some who are former police employees. One of them, a retired lieutenant from the RPD who was never disciplined for misconduct similar to that involving Lanzillo and in fact was hired by the city to work with the assistant city attorney who witnessed the misconduct. ]

Does Priamos have an explanation for that? No one's going to ask him for one because the tail wags the dog and not the other way around.

Yes, all this intrigue and double standards generated by the city is most definitely the stuff that very expensive legal settlements on lawsuits including those involving labor issues are made of as the city expects to find out when it takes a very contentious ongoing labor lawsuit filed by an another individual on the receiving end of conduct similar to that exhibited by the retired police lieutenant goes to trial because the city's forcing it. And if the city continues to again place itself in situations where it winds out paying huge settlements, then the money shouldn't be coming from the city's residents.

But what should be done in this particular case is to have the process stopped until the new chief comes in and can conduct the Skelly hearing and the investigation of Lanzillo in an environment without any actual or even perceived conflict of interest. To have DeLaRosa put in charge of that process is just beyond belief, given that he was implicated in a pretty serious incident and the man he supervised that night by phone has just been given notice of termination. He really shouldn't be disciplining officers or engaging in "non-disciplinary" transfers to Orange Street Station or anywhere else. He wouldn't be if the city had hired an administrator who knew better.

The Press Enterprise also published this story on the latest taped conversation between former Councilman Frank Schiavone and the exotic dancer from Club 215.

Pedestrian Access Blocked by City Construction Again in Eastside

On the morning of June 8, the sidewalks which line both sides of 14th street between Sedgwick and towards downtown were blocked for at least the second time in just several weeks as the city launched dual construction projects simultaneously which prevented the use of sidewalks on both sides of the streets. Why the city decided to schedule both projects to put both sidewalks out of commission at the same time is not known. Public Works was notified through the 311 system and a representative inspected the site shortly after and issued a "correction" to the construction teams, the second such action near 14th and Sedgwick in several weeks. It's good that action was taken promptly but more care needs to be done to ensure that this situation doesn't keep repeating itself.

Blocking sidewalks creates a safety hazard and it doesn't keep in mind that the Eastside has many families including those with children as well as elderly individuals and those who are disabled including those in wheel chairs who would have no access to being able to travel down a pretty well-used thoroughfare through the Eastside and connecting the University area to that of the downtown which needs evaluation to ensure that these actions do not violate federal laws and any other protecting the rights of the disabled.

Here are some photos taken of the situation.

[Here's the construction team laying new cement on sidewalks near the Community Settlement House near 14th and Sedgwick. For about 25 feet, this sidewalk is unusable and in fact is marked by a sign to not access it but to use the other side...]

But....Guess what's waiting on the other side of the street directly across on the southern side of 14th?

[A caterpillar truck that's carrying away remnants of the old sidewalk after it's been removed by a jack hammer. This sidewalk is also closed, leaving pedestrians no choice but to walk about a mile out of their way or to walk on the center divider.]

Mayor Ron Loveridge and others talk about making Riverside a pedestrian city or the most walkable city and all that but is scheduling two construction projects that completely block pedestrian access and movement on a street really a positive way to show that commitment?

It's Election Day

Now Go Vote if You haven't Already!

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