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

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sparks Fly at the CPRC Meeting and Diaz Promotes in Roll Call

[The Riverside Police Department's Aviation Division receives an award on the 40th anniversary of its service]

[The members of the SWAT Metro team which is partnered with Aviation under Special Operations stand up when introduced by the city council.]

The helicopter pilots, mechanics and their chain of command including Lt. Larry Gonzalez, who heads the SWAT/Aviation Unit, Capt. John Carpenter, who heads Special Operations and Deputy Chief Mike Blakely who oversees administration and personnel along with Chief Sergio Diaz were at the city council meeting which honored the 40th anniversary of the police department's aviation unit.

Police Chief Promotes Another Sergeant

During a roll call session on Wednesday, Oct. 27, Chief Sergio Diaz made allegedly his first appearance since his last round of promotions along with his entire command staff to talk about the retirement of Sgt. Frank Patino which is taking place. After that, Diaz pulled a shield out and promoted long-time patrol and Youth Court officer Hal Webb, an African-American to fill the sergeant's vacancy, perhaps the last promotion involving the soon to expire sergeant's list.

Webb and others allegedly were a bit shocked about the surprise promotion. Webb became after Brian Dodson, the second Black employee to be promoted to the sergeant ranks this year after a drought that lasted since 2006. The promotion came in the wake of a racial lawsuit and retaliation claim filed by Sgt. Val Graham who alleged he had been passed over in the promotional process including by Diaz in July despite placing in the top five on that list.

It was an interesting development as Diaz' tenure is still in its earliest months. The testing process for sergeants and lieutenants has been completed, and the detectives list has been posted. Webb was promoted off of the sergeants list set to expire although he had tested for the process this time along.

Hopefully he will have a public ceremony that his family can attend if they choose to do so as in other promotional cases.

Sparks Fly at Community Police Review Commission Meeting

[Interim Community Police Review Commission Mario Lara tangles with some commissioners over some of his recent actions while the city has yet to announce any update on the hiring of a new manager even though applications closed on Oct. 12]

[Riverside City Manager Brad Hudson who oversees Lara wasn't a recipient or even carbon copied in Lara's email missive to the city council about requests made by commissioners.]

Sparks flew at the Community Police Review Commission meeting after it became clear that the interim manager, administrative analyst Mario Lara (in his second stint in this spot) was obstructing the commission's ability to do its job under the city's charter. He began by clashing with several commissioners after it was learned that he blocked the information exchange from the commissioners and their investigators on one of the officer-involved deaths by filtering the information or saying that certain questions or requests for information was "outside the scope" of the commission.

But the bigger exchange of sharp words took place on the outreach item which focused partly on attempts by the commission to attempt to interface with a community outreach worker for the homeless to provide information on the commission and the complaint process for the homeless people impacted by the incident involving the police department where officers allegedly destroyed property at a homeless encampment. Chief Sergio Diaz had said to the Press Enterprise that a witness had come forward and a criminal investigation of the incident had been launched.

There were a series of emails sent by several commissioners including Chair Brian Pearcy to Lara to get this done but no such information was provided to the commissioners on how to provide this information to the homeless individuals or the community outreach worker. Lara then wrote the following email on Wednesday, Oct. 6 to the city council and Mayor Ron Loveridge and carbon copies it to City Attorney Gregory Priamos. But not his own boss, City Manager Brad Hudson.

This is the one where a city employee from Hudson's office pretty much advocates that the elected officials violate the city charter prohibiting administrative experience. One wonders what if anything Priamos had to say about it or what advice he gave to the elected officials on their own response.

(excerpt, emails)

Mayor and City Council Members,

Atttached below for you[sic] informatio, is an email from Ms Chani Beeman suggesting, among other items , that CPRCstaff should contact a person by the name of Ms Ruth Record who was mentioned in a recent PE article (attached) to inform Ms Record of the complaint process. Ms Beeman also suggests that CPRC staff should work directly with city Homeless Outreach team to provide them with complaint forms and information about the complaint process for distribution to the homeless population.

I also received a phone message from Mr. John Brandriff requesting that staff provide Ms Record, the person mentioned in the PE article with complaint forms. I shared with Mr. Brandriff my concerns for reaching out to Ms Record would in effect be soliciting complaints. Mr. Brandriff did not concur with this assessment and I am aware that he picked up complaint forms presumably to distribute to Ms Record and others in relation to this issue.

Please note that since Ms Record has not contacted staff directly and I do not have her contact information, I have not provided her with complaint forms or information about the complaint process as requested by Commission members Beeman and Brandriff.

Please let me know if you have any questions/concerns or would like additional information.

Mario Lara

Interim CPRC Manager

Pearcy then responded to Lara after being pretty much left out of the loop, saying that the complaint forms by Brandriff who had gotten copies of them because he had ran out, had been returned to the office and that the commission's chair and vice-chair needed to be on the email list.

This whole email exchange and what erupted at the meeting as several commissioners pushed Lara on the issue was interesting. Essentially one of Hudson's employees doesn't take any concerns he might have had about what happened to his own direct boss (besides the former assistant city manager who resigned), but to Hudson's bosses the city council and mayor asking them essentially to violate the charter by taking action on his behalf apparently over Hudson's head. It's not clear what the city council or mayor's actions if any or responses might have been but members of the city government would bring some more clarity to the process if one or more of them would step forward and respond on the issue. Because that's a cloud hanging over the situation.

It's not clear why Lara didn't go to Hudson or even Priamos rather than carbon copying the latter on his email to the elected officials.

The whole situation is disturbing because distributing information even to people who don't directly ask for it on the complaint process isn't "soliciting complaints" (a coinism created by Hudson and former Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis that goes back to attempts to muzzle former manager, Pedro Payne), it's called outreach and it's been done by commissioners at meetings with a wide variety of organizations from business, educational and community backgrounds. Even in the aftermath of controversial incidents that have taken place. The commissioners are not telling people to file complaints but they're saying what their options are and providing the information to make that choice themselves. Why that's called outreach with some populations of city residents and suddenly "soliciting complaints" with the homeless, is called discrimiation the basis of economic and residential statuses and it's just odious.

Providing information is to broaden horizons. It's up to these people and it should be left up to them what to do with the information and even complaint forms. The CPRC has done next to zero outreach with the homeless and didn't stock complaint forms in any of the shelters or other places where homeless people might go. Community Centers and City Hall personnel have chased homeless individuals from these facilities or told them to go away because they don't like them there. Yet these same individuals including Lara expect them to come walking into these public-owned buildings to get information and/or complaint forms? It's clear that the city might not want complaints filed by homeless on this controversial incident because perhaps it fears they might get lawyers and sue the city. But blocking commissioners attempts to outreach including providing complaint forums to the homeless even in the wake of a specific incident is discriminatory since the commission has been able to do this with other organizations and groups of individuals. The decision of whether or not to file a complaint should be left to the individual and that would have been the case here as it would be with the Greater Chambers of Commerce, the Rotary Club or the Casa Blanca Community Group or any other.

Lara's actions were completely inappropriate and to knowingly or not push the city officials to potentially violate the charter provision against administrative interference shouldn't go unaddressed. As the attempts to violate the city's charter on the commission's role of providing outreach to all of the city's residents not just a select few. A lot of this might have to do with the fact that the city's been awfully silent on the hiring process for the new permanent CPRC manager (its second since 1987)and Lara has not one iota of experience in this position so perhaps it's not surprising that this took place. But the machination that have been going on with the beleaguered commission since its founding and especially 2006, would fill not only a book but quite possibly a set of encyclopedias.

As for the charter, it's pretty much at this point a piece of paper with writing on it that seems to be very selectively enforced and upheld by City Hall especially the provision on administrative interference.

Members of the police department's management, Deputy Chief Mike Blakely and Capt. Mike Perea along with Lt. Vance Hardin, Sgt. Pat McCarthy and Sgt. Brian Kittinger appeared at the meeting to provide an interesting presentation on the Early Warning System. More about that will appear in a future blog posting.

The commission also as a future item to be put on the agenda to discuss former Chief Russ Leach's comments about racism and sexism in the police department. Expect that item to be quickly vetoed by Hudson and/or Priamos pretty quickly as they've done with contentious agenda items for both this commission as well as several others including most recently the Human Relations Commission.

Casa Blanca Hosts Strategic Plan Forum

[City residents attending a Strategic Plan Forum in Casa Blanca watch a presentation on the process.]

[Councilman Paul Davis sits in attendance at the Strategic Plan forum in Casa Blanca]

[Riverside Asst. Chief Chris Vicino who had been leading the Strategic Plan Forums sat this one out attending a conference.]

[Riverside Police Deputy Chief Jeffrey Greer had been attending the forums but wasn't at this one. Deputy Chief Mike Blakely represented the management staff along with Diaz but disappeared when the meeting ended.]

Casa Blanca was the focus of a strategic forum provided by the police department on Monday, Oct. 25 that was this time led by Chief Sergio Diaz whose style of handling meetings is clearly very much different than it was when Asst. Chief Chris Vicino led the meetings. Community residents spoke more on issues impacting the community being given the leeway to do so, including drug dealing and prostitution on Madison, traffic issues and that dispatchers and officers should be courteous and professional.

Two new forums have been added for Nichols Park and California School for the Deaf possibly in November.

Redlands city manager could be going bye bye.

UCR is teaching a class on the county grand jury system.

Hemet city council cuts a deal with the city's SEIU bargaining unit.

One of Temecula's city council members is working in redevelopment in scandal plagued San Jacinto.

The Press Enterprise Editorial Board has been urging the courts to return to hearing civil case and for people to be careful when voting for political candidates without researching them first in the wake of a member of the Nazi party running for water board.

Will voting on measures destroy Murrieta?

Fontana's mayor upset with state.

Charter Review Committee Applications Being Taken

Riverside City Councilman Paul Davis has announced that the city will be seeking applications to fill nine spots on the Charter Review Committee.

The City Charter is a unique document that, in many ways, acts like a constitution for the city adopting it. It can only be adopted, amended, or repealed by a majority vote of a city's voters. One advantage of a charter is that it allows a city to tailor its organization and elective offices, taking into account the unique local conditions and needs of the community.

Nine members will be appointed to conduct a full review of the City Charter and recommend to the City Council which charter amendments, if any, are to be placed on the ballot at the next regular municipal election for Mayor.

For more information and an application for the Charter Review Committee, visit clerk or the City Clerk's Office on the 7th floor of City Hall.

Additionally, I am now accepting applications for many of the Ward 4 Commissioner positions that will come available in March 2011. Let me know if you are interested in any of the commissions. Please visit the city web site at

Paul Davis

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