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

Contact: fivebeforemidnight@yahoo.com

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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Friday, May 11, 2012

To Haze or Not to Haze, that's the question


UPDATE: 

The Riverside Police Department's newest sergeant is 
Robert Tipre






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. 





 Members of Riverside Police Department's METRO Team ran in the 5K run led by Lt. Larry Gonzalez



Over 300 people including city council members and police officers attended the event. 





The Riverside Fire Department displays the American flag






Riverside Police Department Capt. John Wallace and his son Orange County Sheriff's Department  Deputy Travis Wallace watch the ceremony





Members of the Riverside Police Department cabinet mingle before the ceremony



Dignitaries on the stage including current and past law enforcement management







The "Riderless Horse" is led down Main Street by the police department






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?

To be continued...







A panel of people discuss the future of policing at the University of California, Riverside including three current and past chiefs of UCR:  Chief Mike Lane and former Chiefs Hank Rosenfield and Bill Howe.


City Hall rejects the claim for damages  filed by the family members of David Ledezma was reported in the Press Enterprise.  The city routinely rejects claims and most of them are filed as precursors for civil litigation filed in federal and state court so that announcement was hardly surprising. All the cases that the city wound up paying six figure settlements began as rejected claims, according to documentation from City Hall and both U.S. District Court and Riverside County Superior Court. In fact, Riverside is now "self-insured" (and seemingly proud of it) because it lost its carrier after the carrier allegedly warned it to stop settling so many different kinds of lawsuits against the city and to start taking them to trial. In fact more than one settlement was paid out by monies in the general fund though the city does have some monies in what's called its litigation fund.

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. 


General Order Issued Against Hazing and Initiation Activities in the RPD




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.


Individual dignity is an integral part of the Department's management
philosophy and must be practiced by everyone
.


This is a very important principle, worthy of an entire blog posting in itself but it needs to be applicable to everyone and that includes those in management and it definitely includes those in the position of power and responsibility to issue these general orders.  But is the management held to the same standards that it's imposing on the officers including those in the field training program? Are supervisors held to those same standards?

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?

That will be the topic in a future blog posting.

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.


Statistics for the Field Training Program
(by the numbers)



Sergeants:

Total: 9

Male: 8
Female: 1 
Caucasian: 9 

Field Training Officers: 

Total:  62

Male: 60

Caucasian: 43
 Hispanic: 13 
African-American: 1
Asian-American: 3


Female: 2 

African-American:  1
Caucasian: 1 
   


A new program which has been instituted with the field training program resulted from the 2010-2015 Strategic Plan   (Adobe Flash required but a link to download included on RPD site) just issued by the police department this spring. It's under Strategic Goal #3 which reads as follows. 


"Develop and Mentor Personnel to Ensure They Are Prepared to Lead the Department"


This is one of the most critical parts of the Strategic Plan because it is included to announce a commitment to the future in terms of building the future management and supervisory teams in the department. This of course hasn't always worked too well for the police department in the past.  How quickly the management level fell apart after the DUI incident and departure of its last police chief.  When Diaz was hired, he announced publicly that he would produce in the next decade someone from inside to lead the police department when he departed. However, there might be departures before that as two members of his own management team are "at will" employees and only contracted until the summer of 2013. Will they stay on or are they what are called "short timers"?  That remains to be seen of course. 

But when one of the captains allegedly pulled her PERS papers generating anticipation that there might be a captain's position opening up, the lobbying began, including allegedly dinners with the police chief himself. That's what the police department has taught from the top of the hierarchy to its lower levels, in that in order to have any chance at all of advancing especially in management it's not necessarily about your skill levels and leadership capabilities, it's how aggressive the candidates are about lobbying for the position. One long-time observer of the department's management going back to before Leach's reign said that the problems with the management team is that it's too often about what people there can do to look out for themselves and not as much emphasis on teamwork. It's not about creating a layer of leadership, it's about carving out individual fiefdoms. That led the police department on a rather destructive path with public scandal as its conclusion.   There were talks of short lists and which candidates led them when the PERS papers were un-pulled (perhaps in response to the reality that within five years, most of the top will be at or past retirement age) much to the disappointment and frustration of candidates both on the short list and on the longer version.

But what has been learned since, that's a question that still awaits an answer including from the latest out of town slot of management personnel including a chief to come to Riverside.   

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


Did Woman's Medical Condition Nearly Make Adams Go Ballistic?


 http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-VhOSjeNBNTQ/T3v3yoq2UkI/AAAAAAAABVg/p_Jym2xr8sA/s1600/adamsboatrace.jpg



 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.







 FOR LEASE


 Hi, I'm Garage #6 and also housed the headquarters for Riverside Public Utilities. I'm currently seeking a tenant from the private or public sector. You see, the police department was supposed to take over my hefty lease after RPU left but something happened to throw a wrench in  that plan.  So you gotta help me out and very soon! 

If interested, just contact City Manager Scott Barber at his office or on his blog.

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