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, August 16, 2010

Chief Diaz Officially Promotes 13 Officers

UPDATE: No announcement of the identity of the soon to be hired deputy chief to round out the management staff but one of those allegedly in the running may be Los Angeles Police Department Asst Commanding Officer Jeffrey L. Greer. An official announcement should be coming in the next several weeks. Another alleged candidate? Another high ranking LAPD employee named Mike Williams.

[Captain Mike Perea (l.) after the promotional ceremony that saw 13 officers get promoted to fill four ranks. Afterward, Perea took off for Europe to attend a family member's wedding.]

"I always thought the whole cold-plate thing was being blown out of proportion."

---Riverside Councilman Mike Gardner, to Dan Bernstein

"So according to Councilman Gardner, the whole cold plate thing was blown out of proportion, eh? We'll see what the voters think next year."

---Commenter at and hundreds of comments continue to dominate the articles written on this and other scandals.

"The matter of the "cold plate" has been completely cleared publicly. It has bees inflated and taken out of proportion by the enemies of the establishment as Mary Shelton. What is the big deal? Don't high-public officials have some margin and rights for having personal protection and some privileges, to be honest? Don't they risk their lives exercising their duties?"

---The Truth Publication

(To each his own, I guess...but how Sixties!)

"Rank is not a privilege"

---Riverside Chief Sergio Diaz at the promotional ceremony

[Riverside Deputy Chief Mike Blakely presided over the promotional ceremony of 13 officers in front of a packed room of officers and relatives and friends.]

[Officers representing different divisions and ranks of the department attended the promotional ceremony at the Riverside Convention Center.]

[Officers from other agencies attending the promotional ceremony.]

On Tuesday, Aug. 17, at 9 am, the police department conducted its promotional ceremony at the Riverside Convention center in the downtown. Starring in that production were the 13 officers who were the first promotions to be made by Chief Sergio Diaz on July 30. Hopefully, it's a beginning of a trend where the promotional ceremonies will be open to the public so that city residents can see those who will be moving up into higher ranks in the department. Attending were council members Mike Gardner and Chris MacArthur as well as retired officers like former Asst. Chief John DeLaRosa, current Hemet Police Department Chief Richard Dana and former and now retired lieutenants, Rick Tedesco and Bob Meier.

Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz who promoted 13 officers to fill vacancies in four different ranks within his first 30 days spoke to the audience of over 200 police officers of all different ranks and divisions while Deputy Chief Michael Blakely served as the event's emcee along with other captains who helped make the promotions while relatives of those promoted did the actual pinning of the badges on them.

[Over 200 police employees, relatives and friends attended the promotional ceremony.]

Diaz spoke of the importance of each ranking, saying that he was the most impressed with the detectives, that the sergeants' rank was fun and the most important and that the lieutenant's level was the first rank which would show more of a stamp of the person's individuality.

Newly promoted Capt. Mike Perea who will work under Blakely in Personnel and Training was the only one promoted who used a straw to facilitate with the badge pinning. It's something that's learned through experience, Diaz noted.

Diaz said in an earlier interview that he had interviewed eight candidates for the captains' spot after reviewing their histories, work assignments and getting input from Blakely and then Asst. Chief John DeLaRosa. For the lieutenants and sergeants ranks, he didn't do interviews but used a similar process of review and discussion with his subordinates. The detectives unlike the other ranks are promoted straight off of the testing list. Those newly promoted were sent to fill watch command vacancies and several are headed off to special assignments including Sgt. Carla Hardin who's going to Personnel and Training.

The promotions have received both positive responses as well as some controversy, which probably isn't any different from past promotional cycles, although some promotions were more controversial than others particularly that of current Riverside Police Officers' Association President Cliff Mason who had been demoted in early 2009 in relation to an onduty incident and was returned to that position in the latest round of promotions just 18 months after his demotion.

What raised some eyebrows has been the fate of the lieutenant's list where those promoted either by DeLaRosa and Diaz were taken from various spots on the list. Ever since the department has dropped the "banded" system of promotions which is used by quite a few law enforcement agencies, promotions are taken from any point on the respective lists. Not good news for those highest ranked on a list were only one of the top five individuals was a White male officer. It's a bit ironic because I remember being told by several management personnel in the department in the past that the reason no women were promoted was because they weren't ranked highest in the list, the so-called "low numbers" argument.

Not an issue now yet only one out of three female candidates who ranked from first to fifth overall was promoted which was Melissa Bartholomew who was promoted in the last round several months ago. This time, those doing the promoting were looking for that "special something", the undefinable quality as it's called and whatever it was, the women didn't have it despite their high ranking which was a combination of the written and oral testing.

Neither did the men ranked up in the top third except for Dan Hoxmeier who had been on the promotional list nearly 10 years and was passed over the first several rounds but then after Blakely and DeLaRosa swapped him for #3, Lisa Williams to put him in charge of the Communications division inside Orange Street Station while Williams wound up filling a vacancy in the patrol division not long before another vacancy was created there through Hoxmeier's transfer to fill her spot. Val Graham, a field sergeant ranked #4 didn't have it, but Andy Flores who was ranked #5 and who had worked under DeLaRosa in Personnel and Training apparently had that "special something".

So far in 2010 for example, five lieutenants were promoted, and two were taken from the first third, one was taken from the middle third and two were promoted from the lower third as shown by the list below.

It is set to expire sometime in October and will be replaced with a new list. Will the rankings still be the same or will there be some dramatic shifts? The test taking process lies in the hands of Deputy Chief Mike Blakely whose protegees along with those of DeLaRosa have done very well this time around.

Lieutenant's Promotional List

1) Jaybee Brennan, white female (Chief's Office, to patrol)

2) Dan Hoxmeier, white male ---> Promoted July 30 (PACT, Communications)

3) Lisa Williams, white female (Communications, to patrol)

4) Val Graham, black male (Field Operations supervision)

5) Melissa Bartholomew, white female---> Promoted 2010 (Field Operations, former Internal Affairs)

6) Andy Flores, Latino male ---> Promoted February 2010 (Personnel and Training)

7) Mark Rossi, white male (Investigations-Homicide, to Personnel and Training)

8)Skip Showalter, white male (Field Operations supervisor)

9)Eric Charrette, white male---> Promoted July 30 (SWAT/Aviation, former P&T)

10) Marcus Smail, white male (Internal Affairs, next assignment, Patrol)

11)Steve Bradshaw, white male (Field Operations supervisor to grant funded multi-agency)

12) Bruce Blomdahl, white male---> Promoted July 30 (P&T, former SWAT)

13) John Capen, white male (Internal Affairs)

It's interesting to see how the different divisions of the police department fared in the promotional process. The division that fared the best and contributed to the most promotions this time around was the SWAT/Aviation Division which contributed the following promotions of current sergeant, Charette as well as past members, Daniel Hoxmeier, Blomdahl and on the sergeant's side, Cliff Mason and William Crutchfield. But keeping pace with this division has been the Personnel and Training Division which contributed Blomdahl, Charette, Andy Flores and new Capt. Mike Perea whose last assignment before being moved back to head Personnel was Investigations lieutenant. DeLaRosa had the belief that it was better to promote individuals with SWAT backgrounds because of qualities they brought to the supervisory ranks and Blakely reportedly had worked in SWAT while working at the San Diego Police Department before he lateraled into Riverside's police department as a deputy chief under former Chief Ken Fortier.

Interestingly enough, many of those promoted had worked both assignments during their tenures.

Officers with earlier assignments in Internal Affairs fared better than those currently assigned to the division, both in terms of how they performed on the lieutenant's test as well as whether or not they were promoted. Not the best news for those who request the unpopular assignment in hopes of angling for a promotion given that in the past quite a few promotions came out of that division.

Bartholomew had worked in Internal Affairs and was promoted as was Hoxmeier who also formerly worked in that division. Bradshaw also worked in Internal Affairs several years ago and placed 11th on the list. Two prior sergeants, Steve Johnson and Vic Williams had been promoted while in Internal Affairs but it's been a while since the lieutenants who have supervised that division have been promoted though Ed Blevins who did that several years ago is on the captains' list. The division combines investigative and administrative skills even though many of the investigations involving citizen complaints are farmed out to field sergeants for investigation.

Among the current roster of five Internal Affairs sergeants, three tested and of those three, two ranked in the bottom third and another failed to pass the test as did another former Internal Affairs sergeant who's now assigned elsewhere.

Speaking of Internal Affairs, Smail is rotating out this week on the shift change and will be replaced by Sgt. Brian Kittinger.

The area commands of the so-called Neighborhood Policing Centers have traditionally been seen as a route to get promoted and one lieutenant who was assigned to a post had allegedly been reassigned because he lacked the educational requirements not to be a lieutenant or even an area commander but to be a captain. Still, while several former area commanders as well as several current ones are on the promotional lists, the captains' vacancies went unfilled for a long period of time and Perea had combined experience in Investigations, personnel and training (under DeLaRosa) and as an area commander in the West NPC several years ago.

Despite the emphasis by both DeLaRosa and Diaz on the department's patrol division as having been the most critical, most of those promoted by both have had histories of special assignments including back to back special assignments (with little or no time spent in patrol in between) with some of the candidates ranked on the lieutenant's list including those promoted. Some patrol supervisors did fare well in the promotional process but those who did had one or more special assignments in their recent backgrounds. Ironic, given that the promotions in the sergeants' and lieutenants' ranks are in large part to fill vacancies, some long-standing, in those ranks due to a fairly steady attrition rate and promotional freezes imposed by the city manager's office. Most of the sergeant promotions this time around came from the detective ranks.

Past disciplinary action or issues with assignment performance didn't block individuals from getting promoted. The department had already promoted Officer Benjamin Shafer who had his firing expunged in arbitration. This time around, at least two male officers with sustained allegations stemming from sexual misconduct who both received disciplinary action were promoted as were candidates who failed tests the previous cycle or had problems at previous assignments.

Two employees had prior demotions, including Cliff Mason who had been a sergeant demoted to detective and then promoted back to sergeant about 18 months after his demotion. Another, Kim Crutchfield has been promoted to a sergeant in 2005, didn't pass probation and was demoted to officer and then promoted on July 30 to detective. No female officer promoted to supervision had passed probation since 2004 although two women have been promoted to sergeant and one to lieutenant in the past six months so it remains to be seen if that tide will change.

Mason's demotion occurred while he was in patrol in 2009 yet his bio had him working in auto theft from 2008-2010. It's not clear why areas of employee history where demotions took place are rewritten as if they didn't take place or if the officer was on a different assignment at the time in one case. Why that's done to the point to where their assignment histories are rewritten doesn't make much sense.

A demotion can be seen as a very negative aspect of an employment history but what's key isn't to hide it but to provide evidence and testimony that this employee has either grown as a result of that experience to be a better employee and most importantly a better employee at that rank, or not if they are returning to it. Demotions are disciplinary action that can define an officer's future for better or for worse and there should be some assurance it's for the better if they're being repromoted. How has the officer involved engaged in facing that demotion and addressing it and ensuring that especially in areas of character or judgment issues, that the behavior won't return with the higher rank?

It's a bit perplexing to promote an employee with a demotion in his or her background and then essentially not only erase it but the officer's assignment as well. Demotions can take place for a variety of reasons whether due to inexperience at a rank or from deeper character issues or lapses in judgment that impact the public or those the officer supervises or manages. Has the employee learned from it to be able to return to that position, to respect the position, its responsibilities and those being supervised and not screw it up again? That's a fair enough question for anyone to ask.

But now that the promotions have been made, which is Diaz' first round and it's believed to be the largest number of them that will take place at one time for a while, it remains to be seen what will happen next with these 13 individuals assuming their new roles in a department very much in flux and turmoil. Community leaders were said by Diaz to have been wanting to make personnel decisions but many of them stayed away from the promotional ceremony perhaps because of the scheduled time, vacations or other reasons. And history has shown that if anyone's been interested in making promotions, they've been on the Seventh Floor of City Hall just down the street but in some ways, many, many miles away from the Convention Center.

Activity from the Seventh Floor Denizen's Office

[Riverside Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis has been busy this past week meeting with police employees who have allegedly visited him as a result of personnel decisions made by former Acting Chief John DeLaRosa and current Deputy Chief Mike Blakely.]

Interesting news has surfaced this week about a possible change in the fate of Lt. Leon Phillips, the city's designated fall guy in the Feb. 8 incident involving the former police chief who was driven home by Phillips but later plead guilty to a DUI. Initially, Phillips had received a letter with intention to terminate his employment while the more higher ranking players including former chief, Russ Leach and DeLaRosa announced their retirements from the department. Some said that the department was borrowing from a page out of its playbook where officers who don't want to receive a particular type of discipline are threatened with worse punishment in order to get them to accept the lessor discipline. Phillips had initially been unwilling to accept a demotion so he was threatened with termination. After his Skelly hearing some time later on, he was allegedly issued a suspension of several weeks on top of a demotion to sergeant. And like that Phillips became the city's scapegoat for the DUI incident that shook the city as management personnel began to retire.

But then Phillips and his attorney recently met with DeSantis and it's been said that his demotion might have been overturned and he'll be returning to work as a watch commander with the department. Has this indeed happened and if so, what exactly does it mean if such a dramatic step were taken?

Time will tell what Phillips' present status holds inside the police department and whether anything has changed. But as it stands if he's demoted, he'll be the only key player in the whole scandal to retire on a lower salary that he enjoyed before the controversial incident and that's not right. It goes against what Diaz told his officers about rank not being a privilege which he's absolutely right about but reality has played out far differently in River City. He should receive disciplinary action but lessor than that received from those who outranked him that early morning which didn't happen.

Diaz discussed the organization of his management staff after the hiring of former Pasadena Police Department interim chief, Chris Vicino and how this staff will be more "collaborative" than part of a more rigid hierarchical command structure. It's not clear yet what this dynamic of collaboration as he called it will entail and how the power broking will be allotted given that it is a relatively new practice. What will be interesting is how Vicino will interact with the chief but even more interestingly, how he will interact with Blakely, who it appears is his equal (well except for a pesky little thing called salary differential) inside the command structure. Blakely's been instrumental in department operations very much so since Feb. 8 and whether or not that will impact this new collaboration, along with the addition of a yet unnamed deputy chief, is so far unwritten.

It will be very interesting to wait and see how the dynamic of this alternate form of running a management team works in reality because human beings are naturally inclined to seeking out and establishing a pecking order.

Reaction to Cold Plates Scandal, "Overblown"

[Riverside Councilman Mike Gardner showed off his "cold plate" at the City Council Regatta and barbecue held recently at Fairmount Park.]

Riverside Councilman Mike Gardner expressed his views on cold plates to Press Enterprise Columnist Dan Bernstein. He believed that the scandal was blown out of proportion. Unfortunate, many people believe that it's just one of many examples of executive privilege used by several of the city council's direct employees that rather than being explained to the public back when it happened, it was covered up. Unless anyone out there can remember the city council or mayor or anyone at City Hall issuing press releases back in 2006-08 when most of these scandals (at least the ones that have come to light) took place.

You know the one which read hey, we had an illegal gun sale here involving city management but we just went and we fixed it and everything's okee dokey (or not).

Some people have asked what council members can expect to receive as benefits to having cold plated vehicles and that's a fair enough question to ask. The problem with it for the average city resident is that he or she can never know for sure because of the very nature of cold plates being so difficult to trace to the driver of vehicles. Say hypothetically, that you had an elected official who habitually drove through red lights that were photographed through the red light camera program. Would they be eligible for citation or not, given that these plates are so difficult to trace? If the person was using the vehicle for illicit actions would it be easier or more difficult for them to succeed at doing so and get away with it?

So the answer to that question due to the nature of cold plates and why they were created (for undercover surveillance or work by police officers) but allocated to others, is dependent on the integrity of the person whose car is cold plated. But why get them in the first place and when did that really all begin?

But as for the cold plated issues being overblown, it seems that a large part of that had to do with City Hall's need to keep the scandal so hidden from the public that it even voted to settle two lawsuits on the eve of trial in part to attempt to keep the city residents from finding out. A major reason but not the only one why the cold plates scandal (and not forgetting the others) rubbed so many people the wrong way. Still if the city council had been more transparent rather than talking about how transparent City Hall or that it should be less than forthcoming in releasing information depending on why people ask for it, the situation could have turned out much differently with more of a positive light. Gardner's free to say that it's overblown but people are free to disagree with him. The city council's focus should really be on taking what happened very seriously and taking steps to assure that this behavior isn't repeated and making that clear including the steps being taken to the public. But if emphasis is spent on claiming it's overblown and really too much ado about nothing, or "mistakes made", then the city hasn't seen the last of these types of problems.

There's been a call for the City Hall to take actions including firing the city manager and not hiring a new mouthpiece. The city's not hiring outside to fill this position but doing a lateral move inside its own employment ranks. Gardner had something to say about that as well in an article written about it in the Press Enterprise.

"I absolutely don't think they represent a majority of residents," he said.

He's got a right to his opinion but I do not think that the plates scandal has been overblown at all. What's transpired is the natural fallout of when people in positions of power and status but most importantly, of public trust break the law, get caught red handed by an outside law enforcement agency and then City Hall rather than telling its constituents what happened simply covers it up. That more than the illegal conduct has defined this scandal, the belief that covering it up was the appropriate action to take in response to unethical and illegal conduct by denizens at City Hall. Many city residents have a problem with that and if the city government doesn't understand that simple reality, then it's horribly out of touch with the people it serves.

But it's ironic that this "majority/minority" argument's coming from Gardner given that when he ran for election in 2007 against incumbent Dom Betro, Betro and his supporters ridiculed him as a candidate. They claimed that the vast majority of Ward One residents were perfectly happy with Betro and those who weren't happy, were just a few people, weren't represented of the ward's residents and certainly not a majority. They did the same thing that Gardner's doing now which is focus on their dissidents being a very small number and as far as Betro was concerned, he lost that election. He lost it by a handful of votes but it did show that people who were not interested in reelecting Betro weren't just a handful of disgruntled people or malcontents as they had been written off but enough people who went out and voted and put him out of elected office. Other council members who ran for reelection used the same argument that Betro did and saw defeat or were reelected but again by a relative handful of votes. At least one of these elected officials hasn't learned from his mistakes and his very narrow win over a candidate he outspent about 20 to 1.

Even so, or maybe in part because of this, it virtually guarantees that the next election cycle in 2011 will be an exciting and eventful one. Candidates are already lining up in two of the four wards and there's people interested in the other two council wards as well.

In this blog which often defends City Hall, I was called an "enemy of the establishment" which is like so Sixties. But it's kind of funny. Because if you're not an "enemy" of the establishment, you're a "friend" (which is the natural opposite) of the establishment and bound to defend it when it's wrong and scold others to do as you do which is to ignore corruption (unless it's in Bell) and illegal conduct, because after all people in positions of power should exercise some privileges. But most of the people in Riverside don't fall into either discrete category but are somewhere outside of both because most people don't hang out with their elected politicians. However, most people including those who vote in elections want elected representatives to be accountable, committed, professional and transparent. And they certainly don't want them to receive special privileges including the ability to violate laws, this reaction is so uniform that it's a bit odd to read a posting where an individual believes they have the right to circumvent the laws even to protect themselves simply because they represent or manage City Hall.

Which is ironic because the reason they did it had nothing to do with self-protection, it was to acquire power and status. That's what so many people in this city had a problem with happening in their midst once they found out about it and are learning more about the extent of this behavior. Then there are those who believe that privilege goes with the job and not that the job is the privilege itself. Diaz in his own speech during the promotional ceremony explained the difference between the two.

That's one way to view the role of the citizenry when it comes to its relationship with government but it's natural for many people, certainly many in Riverside to question the actions of the local government when it's come to light that it's engaged in inappropriate behavior or watched it happen without doing anything about it. The much publicized incident involving Leach was the tip of an iceberg of at least five years of mismanagement involving the police department from both within its own highest levels to the management and leadership inside City Hall.

The "establishment", being I suppose well, the government. Simply because I blog about city government and its departments. The blogger often gets upset when people get too critical of City Hall in Riverside yet at the same time, wants everyone in Riverside to focus on what's going in Bell. Well, what's going on in Bell is awful, and it's definitely corruption from an ethical and moral standpoint. It's not been determined yet and won't be until thoroughly investigated by outside agencies whether or not any of that behavior is illegal.

I had to chuckle and smile at that because it goes to show that when people speak out against actions taken including those that are corrupt by City Hall, that they are its "enemies" and only are a handful or speak for a handful. Only because so many people have made it clear that they think the conduct that took place was inappropriate.

That's the oldest tactic taken from an even older playbook which is to minimize those who dissent with an issue and in some cases, including Council Mike Gardner's last election, it's often not completely accurate. Because again, if former Councilman Dom Betro and his campaign had been right in their belief that only a few people represented those displeased with Betro, then Betro would still be sitting on that dais. That goes for Council Paul Davis as well during his election cycle when people from the other side looked at him and said, well he only represents a few people's pique at incumbent city councilman, Frank Schiavone.

So that argument though common to toss out there, has proven to be a politically risky one because the deal is, you really don't know what people think of someone or some issue until it's election time. That's when most people speak up but many won't wait until the elections. While elected officials like Steve Adams claimed they haven't received any complaints about the scandals, others like Paul Davis said they were bombarded with emails and phone calls, so clearly there are city residents who are more concerned than just the number of fingers on people's hands unless they have multiple pairs of hands. This blogger has had similar experiences with many people complaining about what's been happening at City Hall from city residents who are happy that there are media outlets including the Press Enterprise and its reporters like Dave Danelski and others covering it. Maybe the publishers of The Truth Publication aren't hearing the complaints but if so, then that media outlet's in the minority and it can choose to cover what's going in Riverside as it sees fit. Just like the other media outlets including this blogger covers these issues in ways clearly different than The Truth Publication's coverage of those issues.

There's more issues that could be addressed including a couple of straw man arguments including the use of former councilman Chuck Beaty to justify circumventing the law which was necessary in order for city management employees to get guns illegally from the police department. Actually, the problem with that was that Hudson and DeSantis already possessed firearms before they were given and later purchased Glocks from the police department. Why would they need to rush off to illegally obtain weapons from the police department since they already owned their own? But regular guns weren't enough for these two men, they wanted police guns. Just like they wanted police type cars, badges, cold plates (which are used primarily for undercover surveillance), police pursuit tires, police radio equipment and well, you get the gist.

It seems that for whatever reason, the city employed people in high ranking positions who want the police powers, privileges and yes, even toys without the responsibilities and the accountability that comes with them. And that's a serious problem because why do they want these powers and police equipment?

And why on earth did they need free guns for the police department because they didn't buy them initially, the illicit sale involving the police department came a little later. Perhaps The Truth Publication didn't review the documentation pertaining to the gun sale(s) but this blogger did do that as well as reviewed sworn testimony by the involved parties. But if you want the "truth" about the situation, that's where you start, with the paper trail. Then you look at sworn testimony because after all, you perjure yourself, you're in trouble according to the law and people who testify in deposition often are subpoenaed. The testimony for better or worse becomes their testament to what took place and in these cases, you had people who testified who contradicted each other even though they all took the same oath to tell the truth. No matter the city settled the lawsuits which exposed these scandals on the eve of the April 20 trial date.

Both make well over $200,000 annually in their employment. To say they have no means to legally purchase guns and that this is an excuse to obtain them any way they could even if it meant violating the law is just ridiculous. There are many poorer people living with more violence around them and their families and fewer means to obtain both weapons permits or guns including victims of domestic violence by husbands. In cases that have been documented in the press when they've gone to alternate venues to obtain them and then were caught, they went to jail. They purchased guns illegally even to defend themselves, they were charged with crimes. Yet while people might tell them, if you do the crime, do the time, their "tough on crime" attitudes appear to falter when it comes to elected officials and high-ranking city management employees who thus should be able to purchase guns illegally.

According to letters written by the State Attorney General's office, neither Hudson nor DeSantis filled out their applications for their concealed and carry weapon permits properly. DeSantis applied for one in Riverside even though he lived in Hemet. Even so, Leach still issued him a permit which was only revoked for being inappropriately granted after the local press began looking into the whole issues of individuals at City Hall arming themselves with guns. Hudson also filled out his permit inappropriately giving his work address instead of his residential address, which the representative of the State Attorney General's office's criminal division objected to him doing. The issue of the gun sale came to light when guns listed on both permit records matched those that had been checked out to them by police personnel when both men were using the shooting range for a certification process.

So why is it okay for these city employees to put inaccurate information on their permit applications, and why was it okay for the police department, an agency enforced to uphold all laws, to break a law to sell them the guns? Hudson and DeSantis were Leach's bosses and Leach oversaw the department as its chief and yet this illegal sale was allowed to take place until the state's highest law enforcement agency found out and the city was forced to "launder" the guns transaction through a local gun dealer.

Cited as a reason for breaking these laws is the 1998 shooting of city officials at City Hall by a former city employee, Joseph Neale.

The people who were wounded in the City Council shootings in 1998 might have been so because they didn't carry firearms against a man who did and used it. But if so, it wasn't because they couldn't go out and get them legally, or get the permits to do so legally, it's because they made the individualized and personal choice not to carry guns. So all the privileges and perks of being able to circumvent the law (and force a law enforcement agency to operate illegally) wouldn't help them if they had made the choice not to conceal and carry including Beaty who was shot multiple times while wrestling for control of the gun being used against him. He was shot because he was trying to save himself and the others held hostage, not because he wasn't able to go illegally purchase a gun from the police department to arm himself. Trying to save himself and others in the face of a gun resulted in his injuries not because he didn't buy a gun from the police department.

[Lt. Darryl Hurt, one of the officers who were awarded the Medal of Valor for the rescue of city officials in 1998 and who also allegedly blew the whistle on the scandals of badges, cold plates and illegal gun sales to the State Attorney General's office]

They were rescued by a team of police officers who launched an operation into City Hall to rescue of them and three of the officers were shot, one seriously injured. But ironically, one of the officers involved in this rescue operation who with the others would later receive the Medal of Valor was Lt. Darryl Hurt. And Hurt incidentally was one of the individuals responsible for bringing the guns, plates and badges scandal to light. If it weren't for lawsuits filed by him and former Lt. Tim Bacon, the public most likely would have never learned that these incidents happened at all. So it's interesting for someone to condemn people who take these scandals very seriously by using the 1998 incident without mentioning that it was indeed one of the officers involved that day who blew the whistle on these scandals to the state attorney general's office. That's the way it turned out, that one of the officers who participated in that operation at City Hall later exposed people at City Hall for misconduct.

That's one of the reasons why he and Bacon are no longer actively working for the city though their salaries will still be paid until they turn 50 and are officially retired. They were out of there before the city even finished investigating those who were involved in the DUI incident.

Interestingly enough, only one elected official directly involved in the 1998 incident, former Councilwoman Laura Pearson decided to carry a gun but not for very long. Mayor Ron Loveridge who was wounded by a gunshot didn't carry a gun nor did Beaty but it's likely that if Beaty had decided to do so, he wouldn't have felt the need to purchase his gun illegally or put the agency whose employees saved his life in the role of being an illegal gun vendor. There's no need to debate whether that would have been okay or not, right or wrong with him because it's very unlikely that he would have taken those actions that Hudson and DeSantis did. So if Beaty who was actually shot didn't get a gun and most likely wouldn't have circumvented the law if he did, then why is it justified for Hudson and DeSantis who didn't face a similar situation themselves? Well, except for DeSantis who had that pesky woman calling 911 on him alleging that he had pulled his gun on her and made threats during an altercation in a parking lot outside a video store.

And as far as the Riverside Renaissance goes, yes, its public works portion did contribute a lot of improvements while the part of it that was set up to assist private developers who donated to the campaigns of different elected officials went bust. However, many questions remain about its funding sources, the issues of double and even triple billing on some projects, multiple service changes and city employees having to go in and redo botched portions done by independent contractors. And the biggest question is this, the city's residents have seen how City Hall oversees its employees in regards to insuring that illegal conduct isn't taking place which isn't all that good. If this questionable conduct was taking place with such things as cold plates, badges or gun sales (which might seem minor in the face of Riverside Renaissance) then what's really going on if this type of disregard for following the law is playing any role in the Riverside Renaissance projects?

Too scary to even contemplate but if the badges, guns and cold plates scandals have taught city residents anything, it's how important it's to be engaged in city government and to speak out about it, not to shut up and go sit down like good children looking at the pretty shiny things like the politicians want people to do. Go out and vote, get involved in election campaigns and if you can't attend meetings, watch them on your computer or television and write, call and talk with your elected officials. You don't work for them, they work for you.

Speaking of elected officials, they have take home cars and free gas a change that had been made several years ago.

What's to happen with finding parking for people at Mt. Rubidoux?

Hemet gets some safety contracts approved.

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