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, November 22, 2010

Where Bell Goes, So Does Riverside and That Elusive "It" Factor

UPDATE: Not long ago, it was blogged here about the city putting out a job description for a new library director on its jobs site but now it's official, the city's current director, Leonard Hernandez is leaving.

[Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz oversaw the promotional testing process for the first time...and there's been changes.]

The "It" factor: A More Mathematical Approach

The very short lived reality show about the elusive search for "It".

Is Paris Hilton "it"?.

Is this "It"? ----unfortunately this link can't be posted because this is a family oriented site but yes, there are some that "It" is something found in a select representation of the population sharing some commonalities.

"Never play checkers when the game is chess"

---Source, unknown

The Riverside Police Department has completed its promotional testing process for both sergeants and lieutenants after a two tiered testing process. The candidates for both positions took their written tests and then moved onto oral panels. The lieutenant's process had changed so that instead of two separate panels comprised of a panel of high ranking officers from other agencies and a panel of community leaders, the department opted for something different this time. Instead, the two panels which each encompassed a third of the overall score, were merged into a panel with equal representation of each including one member of the Human Resources Board.

The interview process of the 12 candidates who passed the written exam took up an entire day's worth of time and then the process was done between the upper management of the police department and the Human Resources Department. The sergeant's process remained the same involving a list of numerically ranked individuals but things went differently this time around for the lieutenants.

Instead of using numerical ranking, the lieutenant's process was heavily rumored to have eliminated numerical ranking for the list that will be posted by the end of this month. In the past eight months, the lists had come from behind closed doors and had been brought to light and a grievance claim had been filed against the city by a lieutenant's candidate who alleged racial discrimination in the promotional process and selection. That claim most likely will continue as formally filed civil litigation. But the change in practices has turned heads with the conversion to the A,B and C banded system. And this time around, there were only two candidates who qualified under A band and another eight under B band with the remaining two under C band.

It will be interesting to see how the top candidates who remained on the list that recently expired have fared this time around including two female candidates who were in the top three last time, with at least one of them having qualified under the A band this time around, not to mention an African-American candidate who ranked fourth last time.

Off the last list, there were five promotions made with two being in the top five, two being in the middle third and one being in the bottom third. So that's led some to think that the list itself isn't really worth much unless the listing is alphabetical instead of numerical. For the women, this has been most ironic given that women were traditionally told in earlier years by members of management both past and current that they had to score highly in the testing process to have a chance of being promoted, meaning they had to bring it.

Well three women brought it, placing in the top five of the latest lieutenant's list and of them, only Melissa Bartholomew at #5 was promoted while #3 Lisa Williams and #1 Jaybee Brennan were passed over. Some say because they apparently lacked that "it" factor which sounds more like an ad for a brand of shampoo than a promotional quality, that was more prevalent in the bottom half of the list than its top half. Speculation has been rampant about what exactly this "it" factor has been with this latest list that has now seen two chiefs make selections off of it, including one that had made comments in front of male and female officers that he preferred promoting SWAT officers in his promotions.

Some men were confused by that and the women, well one would guess that they weren't included on that comment made by former acting chief, John DeLaRosa because the SWAT division remains one not inhabited by female officers. But most of the recent promotions on the lieutenant's list and that of the sergeants too came from two places, Special Operations and Personnel and Training which fell under the helm of both DeLaRosa and his mentor, then Capt. Mike Blakely. And DeLaRosa remains fairly tight with Diaz even after his departure, his appearance walking the halls of one field station in recent weeks raised more than a couple of eyebrows.

Although once two females did try out for SWAT positions, and then allegedly found out that the number of upper body exercises like pullups and pushups had been increased the year they tried out for a spot. They probably thought wow, they're holding us to a higher standard because why else raise the bar to pass for the candidates? That's one way to look at it for an optimist, that the women of the RPD are of such high quality, they require more stringent screening to qualify for some special assignments. Why else would the list of qualifying exercises be increased when they went out than they were when only men applied?

The testing process for a special assignment like SWAT should require high standards to get the best qualified people but wasn't the testing already pretty much to that standard to comprise the current and earlier units? If it's already tough why make it more so when the pool applying changes? If the women who try out have to do more upper body exercises to qualify than the men already there, what is really being said here?

Deputy Chief Jeffrey Greer who hails from a long and fairly distinguished career at the Los Angeles Police Department said after being here for about five minutes while attending a community meeting that he was interested in working with women who were "lacking" in the promotional process. There were a couple different ways to read that statement.

[Deputy Chief Jeffrey Greer discussed how he would help fix candidates for promotion where they were "lacking" but didn't elaborate]

It could be read as an offer to create mentorship programs within the department which are sorely needed for many male candidates as well as female. The majority of those interested in promotions were disenfranchised during the past five years, once every person and their dog decided they wanted in on making promotions including denizens at City Hall. When promotions depend on who you drink with, who you party with, who you are essentially down with or go to church with (with one institution holding greatest favor), then yes, most of the people are left out of that system. People with the most game points amassed, the most political favors owed were able in some cases to parlay them to bounce out an original candidate as happened in late 2005 when then Lt. Meredyth Meredith was bounced out of being promoted in favor of another candidate. Sworn testimony by several parties indicated that Councilman Steve Adams had been behind that little bit of intrigue that took place, though she was allegedly promoted after telling then Chief Russ Leach she had consulted an attorney in the matter who had told her she had a case.

[Councilman Steve Adams, a former police officer, was implicated by several individuals in a recently settled lawsuit of vetoing one captain's promotion and having to vet another, and rumor has it that he even made some "suggestions" to the new chief, that apparently weren't taken.]

But the end result was a management promotional process so thoroughly corrupted at the top and what is there to say when it comes down to having City Hall make some of the final decisions involved with kicking some candidates to the curb and making others jump through hoops. It teaches the rest that the tools that make good leaders and managers are a very distant second in importance to the skills needed to get ahead, to put yourself in top consideration. But who you drank with, vacationed with, fished with or worshipped with, might be enough to move yourself up a list with no numbers next to it, but how does that translate to being prepared for management and its responsibilities?

That process became a different type of mentorship than one that is healthy for the department or even inclusive of most of its officers, male or female of all different racial backgrounds. Perhaps Greer's intention given his extensive background in mentoring at the LAPD (not to mention being a card carrying member of that organization's Oscar Joel Bryant Foundation) is trying to bring something positive to the process, to open it up as a more equal playing field for more people who have been essentially shut out of the party and womanizing culture of the RPD. If Greer were interested in tackling the problems that have plagued the promotional process, then more power to him in his efforts.

Because the police department has a huge gap in place between its supervisory ranks and the top management level including the top spot in part due to the lack of mentoring (which requires thinking outside yourself and engaging in cooperation over cutthroat competition) that it's paying for now even as it's left to Diaz and his management step to address that by coming up with a strategy to build the next generation of leaders and managers in the police department. A task that has to begin pretty soon if it hadn't done that already and the development and implementation of the new Strategic Plan might help in this process greatly.

But the more cynical way to read Greer's comment is that he believes that candidates including women failed to get promoted due to something "lacking" them, perhaps that "it" factor that is more often used as a slogan to sell products than sell the promotional process. That certain well, something that can't be articulated in a way that makes sense but is apparently instantly recognizable by the person looking for the next lieutenant or sergeant. Something that apparently is more common in males who rank lower on lists than women who fill the top spots. After all, women led both the sergeants and lieutenants lists last time and one apparently didn't have "it" and the other candidate only apparently obtained "it" when the department had found itself facing pressure for failing to promote a candidate with over 20 years experience, eight in investigations, a diverse portfolio that didn't include discipline, certainly not a prior termination. She had been passed over by men without investigative backgrounds (ironic given that a prior female candidate or two for sergeant was told to be a detective first) including one with a disciplinary record.

But if something's "lacking" then there should be more explanation by Greer or the management team including Diaz as to what that is, what's "lacking" in candidates in the top five of the lieutenant's list that's found at #12. And what will be "lacking" in at least one of the "A" band candidates this time around, who when thrown with a new process still did well with it, especially if it's true that the next lieutenant's promotion takes place as early as a month if the city decides to fill the position that will be vacated by retired lieutenant, Darryl Hurt in January. The department has already announced that it will be reactivating its Community Services Division which apparently will be headed by Lt. Guy Touissant which will leave the Traffic Division without a lieutenant for the third time in less than three years.

Leaving Special Operations Capt. John Carpenter (as happened with his predecessor, John Wallace) with one lieutenant manning his division albeit one with strong administration skills.

But it would be puzzling indeed to hear that the candidates at the top of the lists regardless of race and gender were "lacking" as many of them have struggled to get promoted, including Daniel Hoxmeier who was on the list for some years before his recent promotion. But he had been the highest ranking person at #2 with "it" and he had a stint in communications replacing Sgt. Lisa Williams who had gone back to patrol after her division had gone from being under the chief's office to being under the personnel division instead. Sgt. Jaybee Brennan also left her tripartite job in the chief's office abruptly before the arrival of Diaz but in a strange twist of fate, the department has seen her return to some of those duties including being involved with the Strategic Plan with Asst. Chief Chris Vicino who alternated singling her out for informal references and calling her a "partner" in that process. And in recent weeks, she is not only a field sergeant but has been referred to as the press information officer, a position she held before DeLaRosa was made acting chief, though one living on borrowed time.

Then again any woman recognizes what it means to be called on to do the jobs because you have the experience, but the men still get the credit for the work product at the end of the day or the shift.

But seriously there are a lot of talented men and women in the RPD who should be facing a promotional system that's much better than the ones of times past. It shouldn't come down to these very coyly allusions of some "It" factor without further elaboration or inclusion of this "it" factor in the policies and procedures of the department and city's promotional practices so that every candidate can be educated on the definition of "It" and have an equal opportunity to work towards being very accomplished in "It" and/or have a chance of acquiring. The definition of "It" shouldn't be left to speculation and it shouldn't be the most deciding factor and yet remain unexplained to the masses. And if surgery is truly required to get "It" then that should be explained in the promotional literature as well.

Very strong candidates from different backgrounds have either been left feeling shut out of the process because not only do they not have "It", they are at a loss to explain what "It" is...beyond some vague words about that certain the secret ingredients in Coca Cola except maybe without being kept locked up in a safe somewhere under tight guard or well...that secret ingredient like McDonald's special sauce (hint, it's either thousand island dressing or tomato sauce mixed up with diluted mayonnaise depending on the fast food restaurant) or what gives Herbal Essence shampoo the ability to give extra body to hair. The "It" factor belongs in advertising campaigns to sell products not in a promotional process to pick the department's future leaders and least without someone coming forward and explaining "It" to level playing field. And other great candidates of all backgrounds, male and female, feel discouraged, too much so to even try it at this point which is a shame. But you can't blame folks who don't know if they have the "It" factor which face it is so powerful, it can elevate a candidate from the bottom of the list straight into a promotion.

At any rate, it will be interesting to watch how this all plays out in the weeks and months ahead, because it's part and parcel of doing as Diaz has said is necessary (and he's definitely right about that) which is to build the next generation of leaders and managers, including the police chief that will ultimately replace him. Diaz big task remains rebuilding a better promotional system to replace that which rested on social connections and political favors above all else and to create one that many men and women feel like buying into and participating in as a viable mechanism to rise through the ranks.

Whether he's up to that which might involve a wrestling match with a denizen or two at City Hall not to mention relying less on the RPD's own version of Marley's ghost and being his own leader and manager. Not an easy task in this city by any means.

The department had already finished the testing and listing process for the detectives rank and released that list. And has been collecting information both from the public and from inside its own walls to use to draft the new Strategic Plan which had been moving in fits and starts due to a variety of reasons since its inception in early 2009.

Some interesting feedback has apparently been generated on some of the RPD's cast of characters at the top including the new additions from outside River City who are starting to become woven for better or worse into its fabric with the passage of time.

[Assistant Chief Chris Vicino, shown here while employed by Pasadena Police Department, has started to earn some points with the "troops" even as he gets ready to continue the solicitation of public input for the Strategic Plan this month]

Asst. Chief Chris Vicino has seen his stock steadily rising even as he didn't get his wish and have his office at Lincoln Station instead of with the suits in downtown Riverside. He's very outgoing and jovial if a bit domineering in discourse but the main question remains, how long will be be hanging his holster in Riverside? After all, unlike Diaz, Vicino actually came into the hiring process for the top spot with experience leading a department, twice as an interim while others were hired to fill the permanent spots. The man so clearly wears his heart on his sleeve in that he'd love to have a chief's position some day and one wonders if this job is a stepping stone to a greater dream. If that's the case, well he's going to have to pass some serious tests here to move on up and out if that's his aspiration.

Greer has factored someone less so far that Vicino but that's not entirely his own doing as he's had help from another party as a much speculated about dynamic in the management level of the department has already started, but whether Greer is quick on the updraw remains to be seen and will define his tenure at the RPD. Like Diaz, Greer has a much different style of presentation than Vicino. But being LAPD, he's probably not exactly a lightweight and he approached the job differently than Vicino, with a little less oration and more observation which might serve him well in the long run.

But he has to remember that he's got competition for his position and that the chess players have already placed their pieces into position with Diaz assisting them whether he's aware of it or not and the game's begun.

[Deputy Chief Mike Blakely (l.) apparently didn't fare as well in the officer survey being collected on input for the Strategic Plan as some of the other management team.]

Deputy Chief Mike Blakely had waited over a decade to ascend back to the position that he had arrived to fill in the RPD which when helmed by former Chief Ken Fortier (stronger on administration than people skills) had been invaded some say by higher ranking individuals from the outside even down to the lieutenant level having witnessed the hiring of retired Deputy Chief Dave Dominguez (now chief in Palm Springs) among others.

But when Fortier was forced out of the agency on the heels of Sonny Richardson and before the chess game that led to the outster of Chief Jerry Carroll in 2000. Blakely's the most experienced of the captains by far and he's avoided being elevated in the same way that most of the current roster faced. His work ethic has led the others to play catch up which was more challenging to some than others and he continues to play a large role in the leadership of the police department even under the change of administration. The fact that he's a pivotal force hasn't changed even with the semi-depature of his protegee, DeLaRosa as his chess pieces have all lined up accordingly forming a solid column of leadership throughout the department.

And you have to remember that because of years spent in his particular haunt, he is the expert on this police department including most of its secrets, which can in a city like Riverside be the most powerful commodity at the middle level of management looking up even higher than that.

Blakely was a captain, in investigations and later personnel which oversaw both the Personnel and Training divisions as well as Internal Affairs Division which some say is being used for more than just investigating inhouse and outside complaints against its officers. Not to mention being closely watched in the past year by those assigned the task of overseeing it, to the point of perhaps to levels its own employees might not be aware. That division's assignments had allegedly been heavily influenced by some of the same factors that had been governing promotions under the former regime, which created some of the same problems. Was the division an investigative division to address allegations of misconduct, or did it also engage in acting as some version of the film, Minority Report by predicting patterns of misconduct to be investigated when certain officers had filed claims for damages or lawsuits against the department and city?

If so, that wouldn't be anything new. Allegations of this use of this division or its misuse had been made in a recently settled lawsuit filed by two former lieutenants. One claimed in his lawusit that he had been told that this division had been instructed to find something, anything to form the basis of arresting him. That would have been one of the many issues in the troubling lawsuits that would have been raised at the April 20 trial before the city and lieutenants settled but allegations had been raised by another former and recently medically retired detective that an investigation had first been initiated and then expedited against him for retaliatory reasons. Apparently the roster of deposition witnesses this detective had provided the city including former Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis with some reason for pause. Enough so that DeSantis had brokered an earlier settlement which he had hoped would be rubber stamped by the city council in a closed session not long before his announced resignation, but the city council had sent it and him packing and tried to get Diaz to involve himself.

Diaz himself made some comments to the press that the detective had done some "very bad things" not elaborating because he had been shielded from doing so ironically by the same confidentiality laws that the detective had fought to protect. But allegedly Diaz and former Chris Lanzillo had some emotionally charged words in front of one of the police stations not long before the press came calling. A board member from the Riverside Police Officers' Association but apparently not its president, Sgt. Cliff Mason had allegedly called Diaz asking him under his capacity as a union leader, what's up with that. Diaz allegedly said that said that it had been a mistake.

But Diaz has also proven to be a powerful speaker and he has shown that he's open to changing practices when people make suggestions, and he's thought about them which is an important quality to be found in a police chief. But it remains to be seen whether he's truly a "reformer" as claimed by his boss, City Manager Brad Hudson who truth be told, probably isn't as warm to that as he claimed, or is he part of a status quo?

The department needs positive change as the last few months have shown, through the shameful actions of some of the most powerful people in Riverside. And it needs a chief with the vision and the independence (and one who's willing to risk pushing for that type of leadership) to do that and a management team committed to that task at least as much or not more than engaging in reinactments of some of Shakesphere's beloved dramas and a tragic comedy or two as well.

Riverside to Fire Bell's Auditor?

Should Riverside seek an independent auditor? That's a question that's being asked and it's long overdue given that it's no secret that the auditing firm that examined Bell's finances and didn't find them wanting has been hired to oversee the same process with Riverside....which has also had audits bordering on perfection. But is that the truth or is that how the truth is being spun, that remains to be seen. But at least the issue is being raised and the appropriate questions are starting to be asked.

[Riverside Councilman Paul Davis advise the city to hire a new independent auditor who reports to the city council not the city manager]

Councilman Paul Davis and Mayor Ron Loveridge have asked for this issue to be examined and that possibly the chief financial officer would report to the city council and mayor and not the city management. Some people like Asst. City Manager Paul Sundeen who provided a pithy response appeared to be taken aback as if this were something very bizarre and had never been done by anyone as one individual with a very short memory averred.

Because before City Manager Brad Hudson came to town and expanded his office's management team this was exactly how business was conducted as former Finance Director Jim Smith and Sundeen who had worked under Smith in the Finance Department before being promoted over him. The Finance Department was independent of city management, a separate entity until it was transferred by the government to being included under the umbrella of Hudson just like other departments like the police department for example. This was back when the city council actually served as a more viable check and balance mechanism for the handling of its primary responsibility, the city's budget.

Riverside had employed as its auditor Mayer Hoffman McCann P.C. to serve as its independent auditor, the same as employed by the scandalized city of Bell. The audit firm did respond to questions about its involvement in that process which is of course to say that everything's fine...even though financial misconduct by most of Bell's leaders, elected and otherwise, led to a series of arrests to round them up for indictment on corruption charges. Riverside and other cities that received oh so perfect audits from that same firm rivaling those high marks received by the likes of Bell should be asking some serious questions about now.

But this provision of the city's charter states that no firm can work longer than five consecutive years which should put this firm out of the running if the city chooses to abide by a charter provision that the large majority of the city's voters passed in November 2004.

Still the city has to prove that its charter, its constitution of law so to speak, is more than just a piece of paper with writing on it.

[Riverside City Manager Brad Hudson was given oversight of the previously independent Finance Department just after arriving and before City Hall launched Riverside Renaissance]

It remains to be seen what if anything will happen to address this situation which in the wake of the crisis that rocked Bell. Important lessons should have been learned from that situation and hopefully Riverside's City Hall has the leadership to tackle this difficult topic which goes against the grain of selling the city as the next cultural and economic jewel of the Inland Empire, region, nation or whatever.

But the city government in piecemeal cheerfully voted away most of its financial accountability mechanisms entrusted to it by the residents of Riverside including those who vote. That included closer oversight over interdepartmental loans or transfers which happened in the wake of news that the city had overextended its sewer fund which had been used as an ATM machine for such borrowing in at least one case to purchase properties on Market Avenue in downtown Riverside under threat of eminent domain so that some developers who donated into the campaigns of several former and current politicans could erect fancier and very empty rental property in the downtown area. Seriously what kind of visionary leadership would promote the construction of new housing especially condos on the eve of the collapse of that market?

Well Riverside of course.

[The Finance Committee didn't meet for almost a year at one time but has met more frequently since breaking that drought on December 2009]

The above photo shows Councilwoman Nancy Hart actually helming a meeting of the city council's Finance Committe which had been stored in mothballs during almost all of 2009 as first Chair Chris MacArthur and then his replacement, Hart had apparently decided to put it on hiatus indefinitely as shown by the dearth of meetings that before Hudson's arrival took place once or twice a month. But the number of times this commitee met begun to drop abruptly after June 2005 when Hudson came aboard and started tinkering with the handling of the city's finances. At least one former chair said that his attempts to put things on the agenda had been blocked by the Seventh Floor and Hart herself said at a public meeting that she only met when city management informed her there was business to discuss.

The freeze that had the Finance Committe in its grip thawed somewhat this year after public pressure about what was up with the meeting drought and some behind the scenes handling forced Hart's hand.

But in the light of what's emerged about Bell and the fact that so much of the changes regarding the handling of the city's finances and the careful shift in both accountability and power from the city government to the city management while mechanisms like the Finance Commmittee essentially fell off the canvas has generated some concern. Not to mention that all of this took place during the perfect audits issued by the firm that the city used the past five years, which incidently or not goes back to about 2005 and 2006, the time period when the city decided to change more than just how it audited its books.

Some links:

Coping with the death of an officer

In 1937, A woman saves the life of an officer.

Fallout generated by the scandal involving some Rialto Police Department officers.

Happy and Safe Thanksgiving Holidays to Everyone!

It took a while to get to Thanksgiving dinner due to some Metrolink problems. Two trains, one from San Bernardino and one from Riverside experienced delays due to mechanical problems causing the train trip from Riverside to Union Station to last over four hours, instead of just under two.

[The passengers from the Riverside train after being ordered to transfer to the train that the Riverside train had just been attached to in order for both of them to make it to Union Station.]

[The conductor of the San Bernardino train talks to a mechanic about the difficulties which prevented the train from working properly.]

Someone forwarded this this interesting comment that mentioned this Web site.


The citizens should not be surprised that the cop killer was black. Over 70% of suspects that have killed RPD cops were all black. While blacks are only about 10% of this cities population. Where's Chani Beeman, Mary Shelton and they Riverside Coalition for Police Accountability now?
Sadly the RPD still has to endure those 'leftist extremists called the ‘Riverside Coalition for Police Accountability.’ They constantly demonize RPD officers when they use force. A police officers primary concern would be to survive, not to be worried about what the critics will say. Will Mary Shelton & her hateful blog make a memorial page for this fine officer as she did for Tyisha Miller the female lesbian gangster that was shot and killed by the police?

To each his own I guess, but hadn't heard from this guy in a while. He's actually much more quieter in person than in his online writings.

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