To Haze or Not to Haze, that's the question
The Riverside Police Department's newest sergeant is
Riverside Police Department volunteer equine unit participates in Chili cookoff
Losing More Money than Anticipated?
In Other News Rain is Wet
The Riverside Police Department hosted the annual Safe in His Arms Memorial and dedication for fallen peace officers from different agencies. Over 300 people attended the evening event by Orange Street Station.
Why investigations of politician's conduct can't be local. How can you investigate an official and have him sponsor a fundraiser for you at the same time?
And will the chief's address about evil bloggers at his "breakfast" have people demanding their money back?
Most of which were his own employees, as lieutenants and above allegedly were compelled to come but paid their own way.
How Learning About Your Police Department Became By Invitation Only
And is their friction between the chief and his chief?
So despite what the city attorney's office reported, it's likely that the claim for damages was a precursor for a lawsuit filed that the city will claim that it will aggressively contest...right up to the point of settlement. That's just history talking based on the roster of lawsuits involving all the city's departments both internally and externally that have been addressed by Riverside's City Hall.
Email distributed in the wake of the departures of two LAPD laterals from the department after alleged hazing
On May 2, Riverside Police Chief issued what's called a "general order" department wide via email to prohibit hazing and other initiation activities inside the department especially through its field training program. This general order came in the wake of the alleged departure of two lateral hires from the Los Angeles Police Department which was Diaz' own former haunt. In some cases, it's been called not a "general order" but an "email" but if you look at the top of the page of the document it provides its own definition and purpose.
The direct order or email as some call it stated as follows:
ALL PERSONNEL FROM:
SERGIO G. DIAZ
CHIEF OF POLICE
RE: HAZING AND INITIATION ACTIVITIES POLICY AND PROCEDURES MANUAL - REVISIONS, DELETIONS AND ADDITIONS:
The Department recruits and selects only the most qualified applicants. Appointment to this Department is based on qualifications not requiring "rites of passage," such as hazing or initiation.
Since hazing is a form of harassment, it is misconduct and will not be tolerated. Hazing includes any activity related to initiation which causes, or is likely to cause physical harm, personal degradation, ridicule, criticism, or mental anguish.
Hazing not only exposes the City, the Department, and involved employees to civil liability, but also lowers morale, increases job stress, and negatively impacts the overall effectiveness of Department operations. Of utmost importance is that employees treat one another with respect and courtesy. Individual dignity is an integral part of the Department's management philosophy and must be practiced by everyone. Employees shall conduct themselves in a manner that will foster the greatest harmony and cooperation between themselves and other members of the Department.
Employees shall act in a manner that cultivates and maintains a healthy and productive environment. Employees who become aware of hazing/initiation activity shall take immediate action to stop the activity and report the incident to their immediate Supervisor and or Bureau Commander. This General Order is effective immediately and will remain in effect until the Riverside Police Department Policy and Procedures Manual is revised to incorporate the order.
This general order appeared to be complaint generated in the wake of the officers' departure, perhaps based on information provided through an exit interview process. By definition, a general order is instituted when a behavior happens that is considered misconduct but there's no policy or procedure in writing defining it as such. The Field Training Officer program's policies at least back in 2008 didn't include language on hazing and when I asked the then department management upon receiving copies of these policies why not, that didn't generate much of a response. The department is in the process of revising and in some cases rewriting its current policy and procedure manual and this is one of the policies that will undergo that review and revision. For a policy that's so clearly defined on the structure of the program itself including the training modules or phases of training, there's scant language on the accountability mechanisms to insure that misconduct doesn't take place in this program. The fraternization language for example what little that the department produced under a California Public Records Act request in 2008 (again complaint generated by allegations received of sexual harassment in the FTO program in the era where police chiefs frequent strip joints) was very brief and appeared to put the burden of addressing it on the trainee rather than the field training officer and/or the field training supervisor.
Hazing has been a problem not just in law enforcement itself (though it's cost cities and counties millions in litigation costs in some cases) but in different organizational structures from the military to college fraternities. Diaz does raise important points about its detriments in his general order and how it doesn't just harm individuals but the agency as a whole. It's difficult for community members for example to believe that an environment that fosters hazing and similar behaviors can coexist with a professional workforce. In many agencies, male officers of color and female officers have born the brunt of hazing which appears to define it as a method of exclusion rather than inclusion but white male officers (as is the case with the LAPD laterals who presumably had undergone field training before back there) experience it as well. Hazing had been experienced by men of color and women along with others inside the police department before these two individuals departed as a reaction to being hazed. But this is the first time at least in recent history that this behavior will result in changes in the policy that governs the field training program which specifically prohibit it. How many employees have departed from the department in relation to it, that isn't known.
Its purpose is usually stated as a means of bonding between more veteran employees and newer ones. But in many cases it seems to do the opposite.
philosophy and must be practiced by everyone.
Based on a recent incident I experienced in front of a lot of people, I'm thinking that the standards imposed by management on itself are somewhat more lenient than even the ones expected to be adhered to in this general order. Say a field training officer as hazing tried to intimidate a trainee, then that training officer has an order prohibiting him from that behavior with consequences attached. Yet the persons who make the decision to generate this order can then try to intimidate primarily women in the community who have criticized them with no such general order attached. That's why while I agree with proponents of the order and perhaps its necessary and future inclusion in the FTO policy, it's very difficult to put much credence and weight into it given that the individual who drafted it is seemingly accountable to no one for his own increasingly public displays against women who have criticized him. Because his boss, the city manager certainly isn't holding him accountable or else he wouldn't be acting out as he has in front of so many witnesses.
I received quite a bit of responses including phone calls after what happened last week.
That amid the great professionalism shown by representatives from inside the police department and other law enforcement agencies that the police chief showed a disappointing contrast to that. But if he's providing that contrast, that goes back to his own boss the city manager and his expectations for his conduct including in public.
It's always made more sense that the higher ranking a person is in an organizational structure whether a law enforcement agency or City Hall, the greater accountability they should accept not that which is less. But too often as we all have seen, that hasn't been the case has it?
The general order amends the policy and will stand in affect until the policy itself is rewritten and completes the vetting process including by both the City Attorney's office and the Riverside Police Officers' Association. That's a process that many policies will face as the manual is about 70% completed in terms of its revision.
The field training officer program is operated under the Personnel and Training Division, on its training side. Currently it's headed by Lt. Bruce Loftus. But included are 62 training officers and in accordance with maintaining the standard ratio of supervisors to officers which is 7 to 1, there are nine sergeants.
Field Training Officers:
Anyway, one of the objectives of the Strategic Plan would be to "develop and implement a program to rotate Field Training Officers to investigative assignments to increase experience and further development".
It doesn't state specifically but what this appears to be is a means of mentoring individual officers to encourage them and help prepare them to test for the detective position. This can be a very useful strategy to put in place if used with other similar strategies. It's one that's been used informally even before Diaz, the use of "special assignments" as unofficial means to mentor chosen individuals to test for mainly supervisory positions. Field training positions are quasi-special assignments collateral with being patrol or traffic officers.
The proliferation of recent promotions and even high rankings among candidates for lieutenant had been noticeable particularly in the past two rounds of testing when "banding" was introduced at this level. Some of these individuals had multiple special assignments even while a policy existed (which was discretionary) that after completing one special assignment, an officer or supervisor had to work in a field patrol assignment for one year before being eligible to apply for another. This practice of policy including under Diaz allegedly led not surprisingly to some informal complaints by the Riverside Police Officers' Association involving the implementation of this policy in the cases involving about seven supervisors.
But after looking at the stats, it's clear that to create a situation where the field training program is the sole means of offering officers experiences to learn more about investigations to prepare for detective testing would be exclusive of many potential candidates. For example, though women are now 11% of the department's composition according to the latest EEO generated statistics from the department's Personnel and Training Division, they make up about 3% of the FTOs and very roughly about 8% of female patrol officers are field training officers. For African-Americans, they represent also about 3% of training officers while they comprise about 7-8% of the department. These statistics aren't remarkable in their newness. The numbers of female field training officers for example have remained constant, the overall number of field training officers has greatly increased and so the percentages of females in the training side of the program has dropped accordingly.
So what does this representation mean for utilizing the field training officer program under a selection process not yet disclosed for mentoring people to test for detective and even the rank of sergeant where investigative skills play a role in that position and perhaps its selection process as well? How will that mentorship program affect the influx of officers and the selection process for field training officers by the management? How will it impact the roles played the supervisors who no doubt would be involved with helping select among this roster of training officers for those to mentor? Given the dearth of women and African American male officers in the field training program, how will this impact their means of accessing mentorship opportunities for detectives' and/or sergeant testing?
But even beyond race and gender in terms of minority populations, how will this impact the ability of many white male officers to access these opportunities as well? Given the history of the department involving the formation of rivaling teams divvied out among management personnel, will that dynamic (which allegedly has been going strong)impact the ability of these officers to access these opportunities through the field training program as well? Many white male officers also have faced the problem of not being on the "right" team and if that team mentality or what were called creating individual fiefdoms is still the rule, then the majority of patrol officers in general will not be in the right grouping. But then if you look at how promotions have been carried out and how the testing including the use of bands has played out, the patrol officers haven't benefited from that system. Those in special assignments especially multiple special assignments are the primary beneficiaries, a trend that is markedly different than that seen in the past.
So why this addition to the Strategic Plan's goals and objectives can be seen in a positive light as long as it's not the only tool in the box when it comes to mentoring future detective and sergeant applicants, it also generates concerns and questions considering the current representation of the field training program. Women are underrepresented and there would be different and disparate reasons for that from low numbers of women in patrol, low interest in general to take on this assignment all the way up to a glass wall between patrol and field training experienced by female patrol officers. So if the FTO program is being used as a mentorship tool to help prepare people to move up the ranks, given the under-representation of women in that assignment would more women become interested to increase their numbers or would management then take to recruiting more women (as an underrepresented group) to go out for the field training assignment? What will tell the tale is what actually happens when this mentorship tool is added to the tool box along with the others advertised by the current management led by Diaz.
Councilman Steve Adams Orders Women in Audience to Stop Coughing
During the city council meeting last week, Councilman Steve Adams actually managed to stay in his seat during public comment which indicates major improvement in this area of his service. But when a woman sitting in the end of the row started coughing due to sinus problems (and it's allergy season for many folks), he berated her and ordered her to stop coughing. He said she was a critic of his and more than implied that it was done to undermine him in some way. It's the first enforcement by the city council against people who are experiencing medical conditions. Emails and phone calls came in commenting on this incident including by those who didn't attend the meeting but watched it on television or online.