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

Friday, August 27, 2010

Is The City Manager's Office Rewriting DeLaRosa's Tenure?

UPDATE: Ethics Code complaints filed against Riverside City Councilman Steve Adams for allegedly influencing the promotional process of Capt. John Carpenter and impersonating a police officer during an incident involving the impounding of his vehicle in Newport Beach.

[Was the promotion of Capt. John Carpenter influenced by how effectively he "cleared the air" with Councilman Steve Adams?]

Adams' response: He called it "an attempted abuse of the system by a small special interest group of people to try to influence elections and run the city."

[The Governmental Affairs Committee which includes its chair, Councilman Andrew Melendrez (l.) and Councilman Rusty Bailey took public comments at the ethics review it conducted last year.]

What: Annual review of Ethics Code and Complaint Process (passed by city voters in November 2004 to add to city charter) by Governmental Affairs Committee (which is membered by Andrew Melendrez, Steve Adams (yes really!) and Rusty Bailey)

When: Wednesday, Sept. 1 at 4 p.m.

Where: Mayor's Ceremonial Room, seventh floor at City Hall

City Hall through its Governmental Affairs Committee is getting ready to conduct the annual review of its Ethics Code and Complaint procedure, and some civic leaders have asked for its strengthening and have repeated the outcry for an independent body or panel to review ethics complaints.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Vaughn-Blakely and Tortes also want an independent board named to hear ethics complaints. Currently, a committee that includes the mayor and two council members addresses complaints, including any about their council colleagues.

"I think that would give it more credibility than having the city leadership oversee itself," Tortes said. "Why would you have the person that you're complaining about review the complaint?"

So far both the Governmental Affairs Committee and the entire council has nixed any possibility of outside people processing complaints involving elected officials. Melendrez, who chairs the Governmental Affairs Committee went further in his comments for the article as saying he hadn't received any complaints or concerns raised about governmental ethics from the community. Which means that he's not listening because those concerns have been raised by residents city-wide including many in the second ward which he has been elected to represent. That was similar to Councilman Steve Adams' statement that he hadn't received any calls or emails from residents in his ward about ethical concerns either.

[City Councilman and Governmental Affairs Committee Chair Andrew Melendrez has said he hadn't heard any concerns about ethics from the "community". In actuality, many people have expressed their concerns to him including from his own ward. Incidentally, Melendrez likely was the first elected official to learn about Leach's DUI incident within several hours when it took place according to information provided by one witness interviewed by the California Highway Patrol in its investigation. But what did he do with that information?]

The Group has been very active at following the progression of the ethical code and complaint process since even before its passage by voters in November 2004. They have asked for more public outreach on the code and complaint process, for it to be extended to include coverage of high-ranking city employees including the city manager and assistant city managers and for the independent panel possibly of retired judges to hear complaints involving elected officials.

The city council and Mayor Ron Loveridge who along with the chairs of all the city's boards and commissions has been invited to attend the Sept. 1 meeting hasn't been too enthusiastic about anything regarding the process except for improving public outreach. They nixed the idea of having the complaint process go to an independent committee. They most likely will nix the idea of city employees including the city council's own being covered by the code most likely insisting that it can handle its own employees when they misbehave.

Yeah right. The city's residents have been watching and seeing how effective the city government's been doing that and taking notes.

The other controversial proposal likely to be rejected again by the majority of the city council is that involving language surreptitiously added several years ago by then Governmental Affairs Committee members Frank Schiavone and Dom Betro that would have the ethics code only apply to elected officials carrying out their duties in that role. This arose not long after Betro had an ethics complaint filed against him for threatening an individual across the street from where he had headed to give a speech as an acting councilman. City Attorney Gregory Priamos rejected the complaint before it had even reached the Mayor's Nomination and Screening Committee for review and the language was changed that summer. An action taken by the elected official, Betro, who had been the subject of such a complaint which adds fuel to the argument that elected officials are incapable of holding each other or themselves accountable.

Attempts to change the language back to what it had been were met with resistance from several city council members most notably Chris MacArthur and Steve Adams. People might have been puzzled at the time with the rationale given by the city council members in opposition in the late summer and autumn of last year but they are considerably less so now nearly a year later with all the scandals that have broken out at City Hall.

Adams for example had been concerned about not even being able to go to a sporting event without the code applying to his behavior. But with court testimony revealing some of what Adams had been doing, including driving with illegally cold plated vehicles, allegedly identifying himself as an undercover police officer when his car was impounded in Newport Beach (according to Leach) and involving himself several times in the police department's promotional process, some more clarity has been provided to perhaps explain his reluctance or at least put in some context.

Oh and who could forget the free gasoline that elected officials were getting with not much oversight or transparency of that process to "save" city residents the huge expenditure of paying for the previous car allowance.

[Councilman Steve Adams who sits on the Governmental Affairs Committee vetoed the striking of controversial language in the Ethics Code stating that it applied to elected officials even outside their official duties. Of course, Adams had some possible reasons for his staunch opposition which have already hit the press.]

[Riverside City Councilman Chris MacArthur didn't want the ethics code to apply to him when he was out on the campaign trail. Judging by the somewhat questionable campaign tactics he showed in 2007 in what turned out to be one of the more controversial campaigns launched, one wonders what's on tap for his reelection campaign next year.]

Whatever recommendations come out of or survive the process of review involving the Governmental Affairs Committee will be heard by the full city council on Tuesday, Sept. 21 at around 7 p.m. when the item appears on the meeting's discussion calendar. That should prove to be an enlightening and perhaps even entertaining process in light of the past six months.

What remains to be seen is whether it will be a useful process and not the usual circling of the wagons, code of silence behavior that City Hall's becoming known for engaging in.

Because the ultimate ethics complaint committee from four of the city's wards will be convening for an election process coming next year to a venue near you.

Has Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis Been Busy Trying to Cut Deals?

[City Manager Brad Hudson made the decisions who to place at the helm of the beleaguered police department after the retirement of Chief Russ Leach. Now is city management trying to undo some of the more costly actions stemming from those earlier decisions?]

[Acting Chief John DeLaRosa who launched internal investigations against several people, firing at least one officer who had earlier challenged him in a roll call session and initiating internal investigations against a management employee considering the chief's position.]

[Hudson's subordinate, Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis has been meeting with various past and present police employees who filed claims or threatened to against the city. Has his goal to make side deals behind closed doors to avoid heavier settlements or even worse embarrassing trials down the road? Whatever the case, so far his bosses, the city council, aren't biting.]

Something interesting took place during a week or two not too long ago and that was that heavy rumors arose that Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis had either met or spoken with several current or former employees of the police department who had either filed personnel claims or threatened to against the department and city in relation to actions taken while Asst. Chief John DeLaRosa was at the helm of the department.

During its closed session on Aug. 24, the city council allegedly rejected a tentative settlement in relation to a personnel claim filed by former Riverside Police Officers' Association president and Det. Chris Lanzillo fired last June by DeLaRosa within 15 minutes of a Skelly Hearing held after he received a notice of intent to terminate earlier that month. He had filed an appeal to Hudson to have his Skelly hearing held by either the incoming police chief or a designated official of the city manager's office rather than the man he had sued for damages and confronted at a roll call session challenging him on his handling of the Leach incident.

Lanzillo had allegedly met with DeSantis and the two had apparently come to an agreement on a settlement but it needed approval from the city council behind closed doors. It's beyond interesting that DeSantis would be involved in such negotiations given that he and his own boss, Hudson had stalwartly backed DeLaRosa and defended many actions that he had taken in public. But then if you follow the activities of City Hall, you quickly learn that what's said in public and done in private are often two very different things. Actually if DeSantis had tried to broker a settlement with Lanzillo on his personnel actions, it would have been a prudent move but much less so (and it probably wouldn't have been necessary) than it would have been done to agree to Lanzillo's request for an independent and unbiased individual to arbiter his Skelly process. Because most law enforcement agencies have alternatives in place to allow this process to be heard by other individuals than the acting chief if there's a conflict of interest present in having the chief handle it. That clearly had been the case here and perhaps if Hudson and DeSantis had brought more experience in labor issues with them to Riverside, they would have realized this and acted more wisely.

Instead their actions to have DeLaRosa handle the Skelly hearing where allegedly Lanzillo's lawsuit had been raised at some point in the interaction between DeLaRosa and Lanzillo's side have put the city at increased risk of civic liability. If DeSantis had been trying to extricate the city from this snowballing mess through trying to end it, it would have made sense to try and do that before the official lawsuits were in filed with federal and state court in relation to that particular personnel claim (which had been the second filed by Lanzillo) and more importantly, before the deposition taking process had gotten started. That's when the dollar amount ultimately paid on litigation filed within the city's own house really began to add up as this process of interviewing key players in the tort often results in revelations that the city would rather keep quiet. But with the relatively inexpensive personnel claim process behind it at least in the Lanzillo case, the truly expensive litigation and ultimate payout lies ahead.

Because when it comes to civil litigation including that involving labor actions filed by police department employees, the city hasn't fared well financially speaking when the lawsuits move through and past the deposition taking process. Not surprising considering the content of those depositions which have included high ranking management employees in the department and in a couple of cases City Hall has well.

Key city employees including those in the police department had been deposed for the racial discrimination, harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by Officer Roger Sutton. The depositions were taken before the case was sent to arbitration where it was heard and Sutton awarded $200,000 which the city refused to pay opting instead to take the case to jury trial.

In retrospect a wise decision? No, because the civil trial turned out to be an even bigger embarrassment for the city than the depositions had indicated and the jury awarded Sutton the bigger prize of $1.64 million. What aided Sutton were over a decade of positive written evaluations given to him by supervisors which offset testimony by city employees including the city's attorney (during opening arguments) painting Sutton as the rogue cop from hell. The city was then left with the very unenviable task of trying to explain why if Sutton was such a bad apple, was he then the recipient of positive evaluations for years? The city was in a corner that it couldn't work its way out of in any way to save itself from tremendous civic liability which ultimately came to fruition in the Sutton trial.

But when it comes to the role of personnel evaluations in fighting litigation, the city and department have learned from the Sutton debacle in ways that have been very interesting.

In lawsuits filed by former lieutenants, Tim Bacon and Darryl Hurt, they had also reached and passed the deposition taking stage not long before the city opted to settle their cases with them most likely hoping to keep some embarrassing revelations from coming to light including the guns, cold plates and badges scandals.

If the Lanzillo case does make it to trial (though conventional wisdom says that definitely won't happen), it will be interesting to see how that plays out and the information that will be introduced in the public arena about the story of what played out in the months after Leach's departure behind closed doors.

And for the city residents who ultimately pay the city's legal bills, this one would probably be expensive.

[The downtown bus terminal turned police facility which currently houses the department's Internal Affairs Division until it's relocated to an as of yet undisclosed location.]

Then DeSantis at about the same time he had allegedly met with Lanzillo, had also met with Lt. Leon Phillips and his attorney in relation to the recent disciplinary action assigned to him which had been a demotion to sergeant and a suspension. What happened in that meeting has been the topic of some speculation in terms of whether Phillips walked out with the same disciplinary action taken against him or with it overturned and replaced with a written reprimand in his personnel file. Not to mention whether or not he received an agreement in writing to not have to work with a certain management employee during the rest of his career. Because of some points that Phillips had allegedly made that hit home about the "sweeping" investigation of the Leach incident done by the city manager's office. If Phillips was able to bring his perspective of what it meant to be the one thrown under the bus in large part because of the city's unwillingness to hold its management personnel responsible, then more power to him and his attorney.

Phillips' had allegedly wanted to seek a retirement earlier on but the city had nixed that even as it has retired three higher ranking police employees including its chief. He then had been resistant to being demoted to sergeant and allegedly had wanted to fight that. Soon after, he received his notice of intent to terminate (on the same day as Lanzillo's). It was viewed as a commonly used strategy to get an employee to accept discipline by threatening to impose a more severe disciplinary action. Similar to when criminal prosecutors charge high to get someone to plead out to a lessor crime. But it was still very telling that Phillips allegedly had both a demotion and suspension imposed on him given that City Hall was waxing rhetoric more along the line that "management" messed up and would be held responsible (without of course specifying who and how). The only problem is that if "management" had messed up, it never was truly held accountable for that.

So it was interesting to see that Phillips, who's only technically in management as a lieutenant (though primarily in supervision) would be the only party disciplined while his superior on Feb. 8 would retire at the same salary that he would have otherwise (not to mention temporarily drawing a higher salary as acting chief). The police chief would receive a medical retirement (to add to his previous ones) after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor offense. And in the ultimate irony, city management employees would be able to hold their jobs and salaries while engaging in actions associated with the badges, guns and cold badges not to mention the destruction or withholding documents that may have been criminal in nature.

So essentially City Hall including its management said that police management would be held responsible for its actions, meaning the buck stopped there. But through actions, that management proved that its talk was cheap because the buck actually stopped at mid line supervision with Phillips. Management walked away with its retirements intact as if Feb. 8 had never happened and a supervisor who was most likely taking orders from management received the lion share of the discipline. But the situation involving Phillips and his treatment has generated a lot of skepticism given that he was transferred from watch command to the "penalty box" at Orange Street Station. The reason purportedly was to await disciplinary action for his role in the Leach incident but when that was written about here, DeLaRosa within hours attended a roll call session assuring those in attendance that was not the case. That Phillips had been transferred to Orange Street to receive "training" for a "special assignment". This of course was said by DeLaRosa within a week or two of the time that Phillips received his notice of intent to terminate from the city management. So unless the "special assignment" was a softer way of telling someone they were going to be fired, then it seems that the outcome of the transfer was somewhat different than that related by DeLaRosa.

But should Phillips really have received the disciplinary action afforded a scapegoat for a scandalous incident while those who played greater roles in it including its management not even be slapped on the wrist administrative wise. Because if Phillips was demoted, then so should have been DeLaRosa back to lieutenant before being given the "out" of retirement.

Then DeSantis apparently had words with one of the individuals involved in the recent personnel claims filed by former Deputy Chief Pete Esquivel and Officer Neely Nakamura who filed alleging that they were both retaliated against the police department for an offduty relationship. Esquivel had alleged also that he faced retaliation through internal investigations for both insisting that Leach's DUI incident be investigated by an outside law enforcement agency and when he contemplated putting in an application for the job of replacing Leach. Nakamura had also alleged that the interrogation and investigation by Internal Affairs and then Capt. Mike Blakely violated the Peace Officer Bill of Rights and other state laws. The claims wound up in DeSantis' office and Nakamura had allegedly asked by DeSantis what she wanted. Her answer, was apparently justice and how she was treated during the investigative process is deserving of an outside investigation into whether her rights under the Bill of Rights and other laws were violated.

Her case is similar to that of Lanzillo's in terms of being subject to an internal investigation after Feb. 8 in that both were investigated after DeLaRosa's authority had been challenged in some way. Lanzillo had challenged him in roll call in front of other officers including the very discomfited management team that had been ordered to support DeLarosa during the roll call sessions while he told the officers they had to support him (while apparently not telling them he had any involvement in the DUI incident's handling). Nakamura faced an internal investigation after Esquivel had made noise about applying for the chief's position at a time that DeLaRosa had been groomed by his supporters including those at City Hall for the full-time position. She had become to those in positions of management a means to an end to get at someone else and was treated accordingly in a way that on its face, appears pretty appalling. She got to be detained at her car, compelled to an internal investigation where she was told she was a "witness", treated like a criminal suspect and then the content of her interrogation ended up being circulated outside of a confidential division within several days.

If that's the case, it doesn't sound like an investigation at all but an act of retaliation against her and also using her as a means to retaliate against someone else. Because seriously, how can an officer be a "witness" for an administrative investigation against another when they are detained, compelled for an interview and unable to go to the bathroom without having to have their personal phone confiscated and having an Internal Affairs sergeant escort them?

Seriously, that sounds more like the way a suspect might be treated in a criminal investigation than a witness in an inhouse administrative investigation and it's going to be difficult for an arbiter, a judge and certainly a trial jury to view it in any other way. The city's legal team can try to play this one out to see what happens but what lies ahead at the very end would be another publicly embarrassing trial with probably an outcome not favorable to the defendants. But it's very unlikely that the city will ultimately allow this case just like that involving Lanzillo to go to trial.

Chief Sergio Diaz who appears to be stepping in for an absent Priamos who usually provides the official comments on civil litigation called the Esquivel claim "groundless." That caused some interest as people wondered why he commented on an incident that occurred before his hiring but it also caused upset among one certain class of officers. Some people wondered if it was the city manager's way of proving his autonomy as a department head or whether the city management just didn't want to comment on the recent embarrassing revelations about the police department and how dissidents to DeLaRosa were treated during his time as interim chief.

His assertion on whether or not Esquivel was truly punished for "whistle blowing" on the Leach incident could be accurate in terms of being questionable especially given that Esquivel had signed the not-released-publicly copy of Sgt. Frank Orta's inadequate incident report as its reviewer. The case seems to be much stronger that Esquivel found himself the target of multiple internal investigations after he contemplated putting in an application for the chief's position. He had been the focus of some informal campaigning done among community leaders for that position and seemed perfectly poised for a run at it after the city released cell phone records for DeLaRosa which essentially knocked the heir apparent out of the running. So what might have happened to Esquivel 36 years after his career began as a graduate of the police academy was that he became the focus of a behind the scenes power play by the opposing team inside a department that for years has been divided into different teams.

But in this case, the opposing team had some powerful tools at its disposal, most significantly the department's Internal Affairs Division which with one exception had been staffed by Leach and included at least a couple of his drinking friends. They were not the ones assigned to the investigations that DeLaRosa and Blakely launched against several key personnel inside the agency.

Since their dual promotions in 2007 to the top management positions, the two high-ranking employees, DeLaRosa and Esquivel had been highly competitive. Both of them had stepped willingly into then "at will" management positions which were highly contested by the leadership of both police unions and both apparently were promoted to those positions while Leach had been out of town over 3,000 miles away. Questions arose about who had promoted them and members of both unions waited to see how an allegedly infuriated Leach would handle it when he returned to Riverside. But what happened is that Leach and City Hall appeared at a March 2007 meeting packed with community and police union leaders to show a united front to essentially tell everyone that the controversy that arose from the appointments and the status of the positions arose from a failure to communicate. Not long after that Hudson gave Leach a sizable salary raise and Leach pretty much got quieter, began becoming less visible and the keys were essentially given to Hudson and DeSantis to run the police department.

So DeLaRosa and Esquivel had been successful at getting promoted amid the controversy. Both initially signed "at will" contracts which then mysteriously disappeared inside City Hall and couldn't be located by City Attorney Gregory Priamos for three years and both contracts were annulled when it was uncovered that the city government hadn't undergone the required process to create the "at will" positions. When the dust cleared, the two very ambitions but personality wise, very different high ranking management personnel both had elevated up higher but one outcome was that it apparently made them somewhat more wary of each other.

Later on with Leach ousted by a scandal and DeLaRosa soon enough becoming wrapped up in it, courtesy of modern technology, that put Esquivel in a very strong position to make a very viable run for the chief's position. And he had expressed interest, had some support internally and also outside the department where he had long enjoyed popularity, so it appeared as if he were going to go for it. Not long after that, the city became stunned in April when he announced his impending retirement a month later.

Part of that cutthroat infighting and power playing that needs to be addressed with to foster a more healthy internal environment near the highest levels of the department. It remains to be seen yet as it's early in Diaz' tenure whether that will happen but through his comments, he has made it clear that he's certainly aware of it.

Yet what really produced a stir were comments made by Diaz to Bernstein that he believed that Blakely and company's interrogation of Nakamura had been sensitive considering the difficult circumstances that Internal Affairs had been under conducting the investigation. Still, many people appeared to be just as upset by that handling as he had been impressed by it. What people didn't seem to be was surprised because Nakamura's hardly the only female employee in that situation who's been treated in that fashion in the department's history. It appears that the women (who are usually subordinate in rank) face more severe treatment than the men who often outrank them but then again, this is a department where the statistics show that the attrition rate of female officers is quite a bit higher than those who are male. But it's not clear whether sexism played the role or whether that might be also due to the department (and city's) pattern and practice of holding its management less accountable for inappropriate conduct or misconduct than its subordinates as amply shown in the ultimate handling of the Leach incident where the buck apparently stopped at mid-line supervision.

Hardly surprising when city residents have seen how City Hall handles the misdeeds of its own management employees and how city management handles the misdeeds of upper level employees in the police department. It's become clear that management personnel whether at City Hall or in the police department before Diaz arrived didn't seem to be held accountable for its behavior. After all, even though a sergeant was demoted for on duty sexual misconduct (and then later promoted again), a higher ranking officer (who was also later promoted) received only a written scolding for his sexual misconduct incident after a former upper management employee allegedly ran interference for him.

So Esquivel was essentially ousted off the chessboard with a checkers move and filed a personnel claims with a female officer being used as a pawn and as a means to an end. After all, she's just a female in a male dominated profession where the management personnel have frequented strip bars, driven drunk and had relationships with female subordinates including officers. Some say it's a badge of honor to engage in that behavior and can actually help male personnel rise up throught the ranks in a department where there's a strong perception that promotions are given out based on who you know, who you drank with, who you vacationed with, so much so that some officers who ranked well on the promotional lists removed themselvees from consideration for being on the wrong "team".

However, what put a wrinkle in the power play that apparently was enacted against Esquivel by DeLaRosa and his mentor, now Deputy Chief Mike Blakely is that their pawn, Nakamura had found her voice and filed a personnel claim against the city as well. After the idea is that men file claims and women are to been seen and not heard because if to advance means to be a good old boy whose idea of a woman's role is to dance topless, then that doesn't leave much room for either women or male officers who don't play those parts.

But Nakamura had definite objections to the way that she had been treated by a "sensitive" interrogation and investigation process and most likely she wouldn't be the only one. Because being the female and the subordinate, she was merely seen as a means to an end involving the apparent downfall of another high ranking police management employee. But questions arose immediately about her treatment as a female subordinate employee and that of the higher ranking male. Why was she being asked graphic questions about sexual acts after having admitted to a consenual sexual relationship with Esquivel? Why was she escorted to the bathroom by a sergeant without her personal phone?

Was she really the "witness" she had been assured she was or the criminal suspect as treated? Finding out which one could wind up being very expensive to the city.

The answers to those questions are what truly pose a risk to the city and department making her claim the more formidable of the two faced by both. Because from her allegations, it appears that there's a definite possibility that her interrogation was done in violation of the Police Officer Bill of Rights and perhaps other related state laws. And even worse for the city, her treatment has raised questions especially in light of the handling of the Leach incident about whether subordinate employees are held to a higher standard than those who manage them. Not to mention whether a pattern and practice exists of treating subordinate female officers in these situations more harshly than the higher ranking male officers.

For example, was Esquivel asked the same questions about sexual practices that were asked of Nakamura because the one excerpt of the interrogations provided in the claims came from her interview with investigators. Was Esquivel detained in a similar manner and required to have his personal phone confiscated and to be escorted to the bathroom by Sgt. Frank Assuma or anyone else? These allegations kind of bring back to mind how the only player in the Leach incident who was actually penalized through loss of potential future income was its watch commander, Lt. Leon Phillips. Management employees who outranked him including one who violated state laws were allowed to quietly retire while Phillips will likely also retire eventually as well but unless his situation has truly changed, it will be at the lower salary of a sergeant instead of that he made as a lieutenant.

Interestingly enough Press Enterprise Columnist Dan Bernstein only appeared to have asked Diaz about Esquivel's allegations which Diaz addressed but Nakamura's name didn't appear in the column at all. She's not the star player in this latest scandal but is almost being referred to as its prop. That's not particularly unusual either.

But what the city will ultimately have to either decide to face in a public arena or pay out in private, will be the disturbing elements of this particular internal investigation and the treatment of one of its "witnesses". It wouldn't be surprising if the city management including DeSantis were adding this case to the others which need to be cleaned up behind closed doors given its troubling nature and what exposure through deposition and testimony could reveal about the practices being utilized by the short-term regime of DeLaRosa during one of the most turbulent times in the department's recent history.

The issues which will have to be addressed by the city at some point including the following.

After all as stated, the "graphic" questions that Internal Affairs Division head Lt. Mike Cook asked Nakamura about her sexual history with Esquivel had been asked even after she admitted to a sexual relationship with the former deputy chief. That was clear in the excerpt of the interview cited in the personnel claims. So why then with that establish and any related policy violations on fraternization that may or may not have existed sustained, did Cook (who was likely receiving direction from his superiors) go further by asking her "graphic" questions about whether or not she and Esquivel engaged in particular sexual acts such as oral copulation and masturbation?

Were those questions appropriate or were they outside the scope? Were they done to gain information or simply to embarrass, intimidate or shock? It's hard not to believe the latter was the case when the "sensitively" handled interrogation was grist for the rumor mill only a couple days after it had been conducted as an allegedly confidential process. So what appeared to have been taking place was 1) to ask graphic questions on sexual practices to invoke a reaction of humiliation and intimidation on the part of the person being questioned and 2) to then make sure that everyone knew about it.

Cook is helpful in pointing this out particularly when he apologizes for the "graphic" nature of the questions beforehand. Is it sincere, maybe but it also just seems that Cook is filling his role as "good cop" in that dichotomy that police officers use when assigning themselves in pairs and questioning individuals.

But when the claim was written about in the Press Enterprise, it also circulated and many people were able to read about its contents including the disturbing allegations which were made by both Esquivel and Nakamura. And that provided a counterbalance to what had been floating around courtesy in part of one of the most (and apparently least) secretive investigative divisions in the police department. People who read about it had different views of the interrogation of Nakamura than its handling being "sensitive".

But it's been interesting and very disturbing at the same time to see what's apparently been playing out at City Hall in the wake of personnel claims and threats of claims being filed by police personnel in the wake of the Leach incident and its aftermath. Not to mention the city government's countermove against its own management, which in this case might actually be as costly down the road as its previous inaction towards the same management.

One former councilman who's been arrested and convicted of a crime discussed his situation.

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