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

Thursday, September 09, 2010

The Chief Gets Welcome and His Cabinet Gets Settled

[My sister took this photo of what Bridge Street looked like after the Christchurch, New Zealand 7.1 earthquake earlier this month. Her house survived with some cracks and many broken things. This is an important bridge at getting from point A to point B and normally heavily traveled.]

UPDATE: Wi Fi network in Riverside is experiencing technical difficulties involving the network apparently dropping the IP addresses and going down for a period of time and requiring people to log back in since the evening of Sept. 9 in at least several areas of the city. It's also experiencing an apparent outage near the University Village and Iowa Avenue.

This issue with the system is entering into its second day. ETA of a fix is not available.

Some field testing today produced some interesting results. Appearing on the wireless network list at Chicago and MLK was ATTMETROFREE instead of Smart Riverside. When the list was refreshed, it automatically switched back to Smart Riverside but the ISP was offline and unusable for 30 minutes and then came back on requiring another login. Later review of the network list on the computer showed that ATTMETROFREE had recently been added to that network list during that time even though the computer hadn't actually been connected to the network. So I'd look for an IP address or network name conflict on the system between the old ATT address and the new city-owned one.

If anyone reading tries to use the Wi Fi and reports multiple logins or timeout internet connections, call the 311 center.


[Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz, his wife and one of his daughters are welcomed by community residents at Zacatecas in the Eastside.]

[The emcee greats about 50 people attending chief's welcoming at Zacatecas]

A group of community residents, leaders and elected officials appeared at the Latino Network's welcoming for Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz that was held at Zacatecas in the Eastside. Musical entertainment and food was provided and Diaz, his wife and one of his daughters were introduced to the crowd. Diaz told people there that everyone who he meant (most of whom were lifelong Riversiders) had been very welcoming to him and that the department was doing very well at the street level and receiving calls for service and responding to them as well as investigating them at the detectives level.

The Construction of the Cabinet is Complete

Assistant Chief Chris Vicino

Deputy Chief Mike Blakely
Administration and Personnel

Deputy Chief Jeffrey Greer
Field Operations and Investigations

Chief Sergio Diaz had said to the Press Enterprise that his command staff wouldn't be traditionally organized. He explained it in the following way.


What I have in mind right now is not easily describable as a 'second-in-command' or 'chief of staff,' " Diaz said Thursday. "It'll be all those things. My goal is to develop a team that will work collaboratively. The lines are going to be a little bit blurry."

Apparently meaning that the chain of command at the management level below Diaz might not be rigid in structure but more blurring between the lines that separates the different rungs on the ladder. It will be interesting to see what unfolds and how the various personalities that comprise the management cabinet interact with one another. Will it be a more productive way of doing business and delivering on services, or will it be mired as individuals more used to rigid command structures struggle in newer roles? Will it enhance relationships between three very different individuals with different backgrounds who never worked together before next week or will it see power plays? It's too early to tell but how the management staff works together or not is very important. Two of them come from different agencies with essentially blank slates at this one but given the history of dynamics at the top, it's hard to take it with anything different than a watchful eye.

The only one who has had any prior affiliation to Diaz is Greer through working for the same agency as both have lengthy careers there. But for the most part, everyone is on new footing in a police department which has faced a lot of internal turmoil in the past eight months and witnessed its management personnel topple over like dominoes leaving a big hole behind because they were built and set up that way.

Very interesting will be how Blakely and Greer interface. Whether a traditional organizational hierarchy is followed or a different one as referenced by Diaz, their positions will place the two men at an equal level, while they preside over different divisions of the police department. Greer is the department's first Black deputy chief and the highest ranking Black officer in its history. He holds a rank higher than the department's only two Black captains Lee Wagner and Jim Cannon though he's an outsider. In the mid-1990s upheaval surrounded the departure of Wagner under Fortier and some say that Blakely played a role in it. The National Cops Evaluation done by a fellow at the Urban Institute provides some details about the departure of Wagner. Blakely's portrayed in the study as Fortier's right hand man who's out to wipe the slate clean on the department and start over again with the Fortier plan. The problem is that while Fortier had strong administrative skills, he had relatively poor interpersonal communication skills and alienated most of the people around him.

(excerpt, Urban Institute)

There was no panic. We knew these types of changes were going to result in the kind of responses we received. I think we did a good job of educating our bosses, the city hall and the council, as to what to expect. We were not surprised . . . As that path took its course, we were able to continually point back to our projections on what would transpire. And we established greater credibility in the eyes of city hall and the Council as they saw that what we had predicted would happen did happen. . . . Examples that we pointed out would be that we’d be better on liability issues: We would develop an internal control mechanism and there would be a greater willingness to stay within the confines of the law. We reduced our awards, and we could become more assertive in defending ourselves as opposed to having to settle.

In the aftermath of Wagner's departure, a group of community leaders including retired UC Riverside Police Chief Bill Howe called for an investigation into the department's personnel practices and the Human Relations Commission did research it and provided recommendations which according to the Urban Institute study were pretty much ignored by the city government. But then that's pattern and practice for this city in terms of any type of recommendations issued out on any topic by a board, commission or ad hoc task force.

In 1999, Blakely as a captain assisted a group of white male sergeants who were suing the police department and city in a reverse racial and gender discrimination claim and then lawsuit (over the promotions of two men of color and a White women) by overriding Carroll's upholding of his promotions and dismissal of the complaints and taking them to the Human Resources Department. In an act, some might view as insubordination against the police chief.

The only two players in that situation still in the department today are now Capt. John Carpenter who was in the group of suing sergeants and Capt. Meredyth Meredith whose July 1999 promotion to lieutenant was protested by the group of sergeants. Carroll was hanging onto his chief's position by a thread at that point but that had been the final straw for him after he apparently discovered that the city council and Mayor Ron Loveridge were in negotiations with the white male sergeants and offering two of them lieutenant positions behind his back. If this is the case, then the city government violated the city's charter against administrative interference by specifying who would be placed in the newly created positions. Naturally once word got out the whole situation blew up in a major controversy which was the last thing the city needed at that point.

So the long-time police employee who had come out of San Diego witnessed the contentious departure of one police chief and allegedly participated in the downfall of his replacement. Under Leach, he remained in different divisions including overseeing Investigations and spending a lot of time as the personnel captain. He had a tremendous work ethic working from the time he got on duty to the time he was off in contrast with other captains who put in much fewer hours during the day and even took time off to play golf in the afternoons. That put him as the only candidate from inside the department to elevate to the position he's already held years ago. If Diaz had planned to pick one of his cabinet members from within the captain's rank of the department, there wasn't a large pool to draw from and that didn't leave much of a choice. He was the only one qualified to step in that position from inside.

And in a department where alliances and loyalties to one team over another defined it, Blakely was an anomaly certainly at about his level in the chain of command as captain.

Because he was loyal to no one in the department, though he mentored officers including DeLaRosa who apparently felt inadequate in Blakely's presence even when he outranked him.

Blakely's loyalty isn't going to be bought with pay increases or that in rank. He'll sink someone's ship because as a long-time player in the department who has often been viewed as an outsider, he has the information on just about where every body is buried and he has no reluctance to go after what he wants at a given time no matter whose in front of him. He's been called a "snake in the box", the management member that people use to do the job they don't want to do and he does it if he chooses but he's smart enough to make his own moves. Others say he's a hard taskmaster but doesn't ask anyone to work harder than himself or demand anything greater. These days he's been piling his captains most particularly John Carpenter with heavy workloads.

And some say the combination of the different traits made him ruthless including inside the interrogation room of personnel investigations or outside of them when he handed the scripts to both his "bad cop" and "good cop" sergeants inside the Internal Affairs Division. To ask questions in interviews that the interrogators would apologize to the officers involved before asking them says something. To strike back against those who he believed wronged him and during the period of times between permanent chiefs, to essentially run the police department in a department where historically others in high places have done like. But DeLaRosa's indecisiveness after the revelation of his cell phone records tied him irrevocably to Leach's non-DUI traffic stop and left a huge vacuum of leadership open and when Esquivel made a play for it, he found that those who held the keys to the department's internal affairs division either opened up or revived investigations involving him without hesitation. Det. Chris Lanzillo after he left the presidency of the Riverside Police Officers' Association and also had a verbal confrontation with DeLaRosa about his handling of the Leach incident in roll call discovered that quickly enough too.

His 18 year career lasted about four months after that roll call session.

Officer Neely Nakamura saw that side in her interrogation by Internal Affairs Lt. Mike Cook who grilled her about graphic sexual acts with Esquivel even after establishing through questioning that the two had a consensual relationship.

Since that had been done, it's hard to view these additional questions which Cook qualified with an apology as being asked for any reason but for the purposes of embarrassment and intimidation. Whether or not they were "sensitive" relatively speaking according to Diaz, the intent clearly was not. And inside a police department where it's not clear exactly how many management employees had sexual relationships with other police employees, it's not clear who is on the moral or departmental policy high ground to serve in judgment inside or outside the interrogation room. Considering that several employees who had onduty sexual encounters with women were able to continue their upward development with perhaps brief interruptions, it makes one wonder if the department only takes this situation seriously or not unless there's a political reason tied to it. Meaning it's nudge, nudge wink wink in one circumstance and a capital offense in the next and it can even change from one to another in the same individual depending on the political climate or someone's game plan.

It just seems that history has shown that subordinates in the lower ranks, most of which are female in part because of their lower numbers overall and concentration in the lower ranks, are judged more harshly where those in management seemed to have advanced with either their inhouse sexual relationships not harming their upward enhancement or perhaps as some have said, it's even been beneficial to their career advancement. Is engaging it truly beneficial to getting ones stripes, bars and higher than that or is it known about but just ignored until it becomes a political chip for one side to use against another? And if so, how does a system built on that rather than building the department's leadership through developing skills and experience in management in the next generation of officers impact the majority of those who serve under it?

But the people asking the questions of the officer in the hot seat are in the position of power.

After all, if asked questions in an administrative investigation, an officer has to answer them or be charged with insubordination and possibly fired. If she had violated any existing fraternization policy then it's clear in the excerpt of her interview included in the personnel claims that this had already been satisfied.

It also begged the question as to whether higher ranking male officers in these consensual relationships like Esquivel are grilled nearly as intensively or treated in a similar fashion to subordinate female officers like Nakamura. Apparently her experience isn't exactly unprecedented.

Despite being labeled only as a "witness" by investigators, she apparently couldn't even go to the bathroom without Sgt. Frank Assumma "babysitting" her and having her personal phone confiscated. The only advice in the future would be if interrogating and treating a person as a criminal suspect, be up front with the employee and say that's what they are rather than diluting what's being done by telling them they are witnesses. Nakamura had the added embarrassment of being interviewed one day and within several days, everyone apparently knew about the content of her interview. The department's application of the fraternization issue or any policies from what little is seen hardly seems uniform even with onduty sexual conduct.

The DeLaRosa/Blakely months were striking to watch as the dynamics including those which had probably taken months or longer to build played out in full frontal display. City Hall was actually too busy addressing its own scandals for some elements to engage in much micromanagement of the police department. But based on revelations of all the wheeling and dealing that Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis was doing or apparently trying to do with different police employees, what is becoming clear is that the financial costs of this brief regime might be quite high.

This year has seen numerous individuals in the DeLaRosa or Blakely camp promoted even after DeLaRosa had departed for retirement. Not that DeLaRosa has disappeared from the canvas as he's been busy lunching with key department personnel including newly arrived Asst. Chief Chris Vicino who mentioned that at a meeting he had with some RPOA members.

But Blakeley's colorful history aside, what will be the interplay between him and Greer, who after all has become somewhat of a pioneer though ironically one who moved up through the ranks of an entirely different law enforcement agency with its own complicated history including involving race relations, an area that the Riverside Police Department has been called on the carpet by community leaders in past and recent history. Chief Russ Leach as a parting shot had said there was racism and sexism in the department along with infighting in a Press Enterprise but never elaborated even when asked by RPOA President Cliff Mason asked him to do so and never said whether he had addressed it within the department or not. Did he address the problems or did he do nothing or contribute to them? In the area of infighting, it appeared to have been the latter and that's a problem in itself. As a management head, it would seem that if you identified a problem or problems, it might be helpful to say the steps or strategies that you took to address it to move it towards resolution or whether your own actions allowed it to fester instead but to this day, Leach hasn't done that.

Greer was a member of the Oscar Joel Bryant Foundation whose president Ronnie Cato had some pretty stern words to the Los Angeles Police Department in the areas of racism.


While racial insensitivity continues to be the primary barrier affecting African American employees on this Department, it is not the only issue confronting us at this time.

We must work together to expose the obvious double standards in the area of discipline, recruitment, pay grade advancement, promotions, selections to coveted positions and selections to specialized units.

These are just a few of the areas in which African American employees have experienced double standards on the LAPD. We must not forget about the other areas less likely to be detected because of the way they are crafted behind the scene.

OJB promotes and advocates the best interest for African American employees on the Department. We cannot achieve our full potential, in the battle to promote fairness and equality for our members, without the full support of our membership.

Every minority group of employees has an organization representing their interest, we as African American employees will continue to be left out of the main stream, unless we fully recognize the value of unity.

Ronnie Cato, President

So did Greer share these beliefs and if so, how did that impact his tenure at the LAPD? It's good that he's being read by many as a "qualified" deputy chief who has yet to take the helm of his position at his new job which starts on Sept. 17. Will Blakely take any initiative to show this newcomer the ropes or will he leave him to figure it out on his own, which being a long-time LAPD officer with his background as an officer, he will quickly enough. Having two former LAPD officers at and near the top of the department brings an interesting and outside dynamic to the department which witnessed the implosion of most of its own home-grown upper management due to a variety of factors that arose from Leach's tenure particularly the micromanagement of the department by current and former city management employees at City Hall.

And in that high ranking position inside a police department that hasn't seen a third Black captain rise up through the ranks yet with the highest ranking Black officer being Lt. Vic Williams. When Blakely meets up with Greer in a working environment where the two of them in any organizational system will be essentially equals, how will Blakely relate to Greer and vice versa? That will be interesting to see how it unfolds and how quickly it does so. Because if Greer's race is an issue with anyone near the top, he'll likely pick it up quickly and he'll probably deal with it in some way.

It's not likely that the majority of officers will give Greer much second thought especially those at the lower ranks because they usually tend to focus more on supervisors than management personnel several steps above them and whether they are adequately equipped and staffed to do their jobs in their positions including in patrol. That appears to be the nature of fairly rigid chains of command. Moving up the organizational chart is when the situation changes as employees become more concerned about personnel serving in management or at least more interested and what happens at the mid-supervisory and management levels will be interesting particularly given that their ranks have been filling with members of the DeLaRosa and Blakely teams. If any issues arise over Greer's race, it probably won't be from those at the bottom but quite a bit higher up.

So the Blakely/Greer dynamic will definitely be one to watch. It's not likely they'll be assigned to the same facilities. Most of Blakely's divisions are located at the Orange Street Station though Internal Affairs might soon be heading to most likely, the Magnolia Police Station whereas Greer's divisions are located both at Magnolia Station and Lincoln Field Station.

Another will be the addition of Vicino to the more collaborative structure that Diaz has in mind including the role of the assistant chief.

Traditionally, the police chief had only one deputy chief that served under him. Chief Ken Fortier had Mike Blakely, Jerry Carroll had Gary Barnes and Michael Smith.

Under Chief Russ Leach, the structure changed so that Smith had been appointed to become the department's first assistant chief partly as a reward by Leach because he had served twice as acting chief for the department in 2000 after Carroll retired. Leach also filled two deputy chief positions and a commander position with various personnel including Dave Dominguez, Pete Esquivel, John DeLaRosa, Audrey Wilson and Richard Dana. DeLaRosa was later elevated to become the department's second assistant chief in March 2007 at the time that Esquivel had been moved up to deputy chief during the "at will" controversy that shook City Hall.

Vicino is the department's third assistant chief and he comes into that position as a former deputy chief in Pasadena's Police Department who served twice as interim police chief including last time out when he had been appointed by City Manager Michael Beck who had served in the assistant city manager position in Riverside. Vicino has been making the rounds and started work on Sept. 3. He hit a meeting by the RPOA and told them he was hoping to be stationed near the front-line "troops" but it's not clear where he will actually be assigned office space. Interestingly enough, he allegedly told the RPOA that he didn't think that the lieutenant (Leon Phillips) should have been given all the blame in the Leach incident.

His interaction with Blakely will also be interesting to see unfold given that Blakely pretty much took control of the police department after Leach's retirement and DeLaRosa's withdrawal to the Orange Street Station. Will Diaz have Vicino as an assistant chief serve as a buffer between him and his deputy chiefs or will they be any interplay between the two of them as to how they serve their roles since Blakely will be sharing administrative and personnel responsibilities with an assistant chief that he didn't mentor through the ranks. But Vicino seems to be trying to align himself somewhat with the street level police officers and supervisors or at least try to foster good relations with them including through their labor union and Blakely traditionally has been more internally focused in the administrative side of the department's operations.

Speaking of organizational structures, the police department's Web site removed the old one dated Feb. 22, 2010 which is of course outdated. Hopefully a new one will be posted soon that reflects the department's organizational structure which has elicited questions in terms of who is working what assignment where and whether any vacancies remain in the organizational command structure.

Pending federal lawsuits filed against Riverside include a few familiar names. As are these filed against the Riverside Police Department including this older one by the Riverside Police Officers' Association against POST.

City Employee Resigns

Riverside's Art and Cultures Manager Jonathan Yorba resigned from his position two weeks ago. He joins the recently announced resignations of Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis and Community Police Review Commission Manager Kevin Rogan.

When it rains, does it pour in River City?

Councilman Steve Adams Attends Community Meeting in His Own Ward

[Riverside Councilman Steve Adams allegedly had a busy time at a recent meeting of LANA which he appeared at with City Attorney Gregory Priamos in tow.]

Speaking of Councilman Steve Adams The Web site Our La Sierra posted this crazy episode from his stint as an elected representative when he attended a recent meeting of the La Sierra Arlanza Neighborhood Alliance and commandeered it.

No doubt warming up for the upcoming discussion on the ethics code and complaint process by the city council and mayor on Sept. 21 at City Hall.

Riverside County's financial officer says no massive hiring at the District Attorney's office. Which actually makes sense because if you have a massive exodus leaving it, it's probably going to be hard to find anyone to come aboard at this point in time anyway.

Moreno Valley's interim city manager responds to that whole hiring fiasco involving a more permanent one. His own desire for the job generated a lot of the controversy and no shortage of upset from a citizen panel entrusted in the search. But the search is back on.

Another kind of "gold parachute" than the one we're more familiar with these days.

In Hemet, employee layoffs loom and Hemet Police Chief Richard Dana goes on medical leave. Hopefully he will be taking that week long vacation that he hasn't had since 1982, important for any healing process.

City of Riverside - Code of Ethics Review - September 21

The City of Riverside will be conducting its annual Code of Ethics review Tuesday, September 21, 2010, at 7:00pm, as required by our City Charter. This year, as well as in past years, a few questions will need to be addressed:

1. Are city elected officials bound by the Code of Ethics 24/7, even though the Charter states a Council Member is a part time position?

2. Should the City Council consider including our appointees, such as the City Manager, Attorney, and Clerk, within and bound by the Code of Ethics?

3. Shall an independent panel hear complaints filed against the official, or to continue with the Mayor's Nominating and Screening Committee, who is currently charged with this duty?

4. If it is to be an independent panel, then what should the panel make-up be and how should they be compensated?

What's your opinion?

As your representative it is imperative that I get your input into these matters and to help me formulate my directives and response.

Please feel free to contact me:

E-mail at

Call 951-453-1625.

Paul Davis

Council Member - Ward 4

City of Riverside

Public Meeting

Tuesday, Sept. 14 at 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., the Riverside City Council meets to discuss this agenda which is pretty slight save for the consent calendar which includes this item on giving Asst. City Manager Belinda Graham the authority to be interim city manager when necessary.

Female United States Swimmer to train for sixth Olympic Games at 43.

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