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Rialto Police’s Success with Body Cameras, LASD Racial Profiling Allegations in Long Beach, , and The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die

RIALTO POLICE SHOW HOW EFFECTIVE BODY CAMS CAN BE

The city of Rialto, CA has seen complaints against officers drop almost 90 percent, and officer use of force by nearly 60 percent, since an officer camera program was implemented in February 2012.

The NY Times’ Ian Lovett has the story. Here’s a clip:

Rialto has become the poster city for this high-tech measure intended to police the police since a federal judge last week applauded its officer camera program in the ruling that declared New York’s stop-and-frisk program unconstitutional. Rialto is one of the few places where the impact of the cameras has been studied systematically.

In the first year after the cameras were introduced here in February 2012, the number of complaints filed against officers fell by 88 percent compared with the previous 12 months. Use of force by officers fell by almost 60 percent over the same period.

And while Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg railed against the federal court, which ordered New York to arm some of its own police officers with cameras, the Rialto Police Department believes it stands as an example of how effective the cameras can be. Starting Sept. 1, all 66 uniformed officers here will be wearing a camera during every shift.

William A. Farrar, the Rialto police chief, believes the cameras may offer more benefits than merely reduced complaints against his force: the department is now trying to determine whether having video evidence in court has also led to more convictions.

But even without additional data, Chief Farrar has invested in cameras for the whole force.

“When you put a camera on a police officer, they tend to behave a little better, follow the rules a little better,” Chief Farrar said. “And if a citizen knows the officer is wearing a camera, chances are the citizen will behave a little better.”


LONG BEACH GROUPS SAY LA DEPUTY TARGETED UNDOCUMENTED DRIVERS

Community organizations in Long Beach rallied Wednesday, calling for an investigation into an LASD transit deputy’s alleged racial profiling and illegal vehicle impounding.

The deputy allegedly targeted Latino drivers, impounding the vehicles of undocumented immigrants and those with out-of-state licenses. One woman said the deputy told her that he would continue to do so until the immigrants “went back to their country.”

The Long Beach Press-Telegram’s Beatriz Valenzuela has the story. Here’s how it opens:

Long Beach community groups are pushing for a complete investigation into allegations a Los Angeles County sheriff’s transit deputy once stationed in Long Beach racially profiled motorists, illegally impounding vehicles and targeting a person who filed a complaint against him.

“We had a meeting with (Sheriff Lee) Baca back on March 2, but we haven’t seen any resolution to the issue,” said Laura Merryfield of the Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition, one of the groups that organized a rally Wednesday over the issue.

A report by the Los Angeles chapter of the National Lawyers Guild called the unidentified deputy’s alleged actions a “serious abuse of police power” that included racial profiling and denial of due process rights.

The report alleges the deputy violated the law by impounding vehicles of drivers with out-of-state or out-of-country licenses, by denying impound hearings, conducting legally flawed impound hearings and by failing to release vehicles to licensed drivers — in one case, the registered owner of one of the vehicles. It is illegal to drive without a license, but generally vehicles are not impounded unless a licensed driver is unavailable to take the wheel or the driver’s license has been revoked or suspended.


LASD DEPUTY AND JAIL EMPLOYEE CHARGED WITH COVERING UP INMATE ABUSE

Former Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputy Karin Cring and a custody assistant at Twin Towers, Jayson Ellis, were arrested Wednesday and charged with filing a false police report regarding another deputy’s alleged 2010 assault on an inmate.

The LA Times’ Richard Winton has more on the arrests and the alleged abuse of inmate Derek Griscavage. Here’s a clip:

Karin Cring, a former deputy now living in Switzerland, was taken into custody Wednesday after authorities received information that she was at a residence in Covina.

Sheriff’s investigators also arrested custody assistant Jayson Ellis, who has been on paid leave since July 2012 in connection with the investigation. Both were ordered held on $20,000 bail; Cring and Ellis were released on bail Wednesday evening, jail records show.

They have been charged with falsely reporting an incident in which authorities alleged that another deputy, Jermaine Jackson, assaulted an inmate using “a deadly weapon” — his feet.

Jackson was charged last year with causing great bodily injury, assault by a public officer and filing a false report in connection with that incident and another incident at the Compton courthouse lockup in 2009. He is awaiting trial.

Ellis, who has worked for the department since 2006, has been on paid leave, but after his arrest Wednesday, his status was shifted to unpaid leave, Sheriff’s Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said.

These arrests bring up a great many questions. For one thing, why were Cring and Ellis not arrested until now, when the reported assault was in 2010?  Similarly, why was custody assistant Ellis put on paid leave a full year ago, in 2012?
 
More as we find out more.


NEW LONGFORM NONFICTION RECOMMENDED READ: THE GIRL WHO WOULDN’T DIE

This month, a new journalism project called The Big Roundtable, has published a remarkable story titled The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die. The narrative, which chronicles Christina Martinez’s fight for her life after she was savagely beaten, stabbed, and left for dead in Turnbull Canyon, is by award-winning former LA Times reporter, Erika Hayasaki, now an assistant professor in the Literary Journalism program at UC Irvine, and the author of the upcoming The Death Class: A True Story About Life (January 2014).

The Big Round Table is a publishing platform that exclusively features longform nonfiction—in other words, the kind of dynamic nonfiction storytelling that is now frequently ignored by the mainstream media. TBRT received its initial funding via a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $19,000 (the goal was $5,000).

Okay, here’s a clip from The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die:

If her father were alive, Christina Martinez knew, he would not approve of her riding in this car, through these unfamiliar neighborhoods, with these three men. She looked out the window. The green Mitsubishi made its way down Beverly Boulevard, but not in Hollywood. Here the street stretched through the Los Angeles outskirts of Montebello and Pico Rivera, past the East L.A. sheriff’s station, past billboards in Spanish scrawled with graffiti, past check-cashing shops, liquor stores, taco stands, and men wearing long sleeves to cover their tattoos. This was a warm Tuesday in August 2009, and the moon was bright.

Christina, who was 20, called the men in the Eclipse her friends, but they were hardly more than acquaintances. She had hung out with them a few times, and they knew her boyfriend, Kilo, whom she had been dating for two months. She had spent much of this evening with Kilo at the home of his cousin, in Bellflower, north of Long Beach. The three men had stopped by, but mostly stayed outside.

When it came time to go, Kilo stayed behind. The men offered to give Christina a ride home. She accepted, because rides were not easy to come by, and because she’d accepted rides from the driver before. Christina and her son, Alexander, only a year old, lived with her mother, farther north in Lennox, next to Los Angeles International Airport. To the west was the beach. On the way, the men said, they might walk on the sand and smoke a little weed.

Christina was small, not even five feet tall. Even with the front seat pushed all the way back, she fit comfortably in the back, behind the driver. She wore shorts, Kilo’s black T-shirt, and Etnies, size 5 ½, with pink E’s on the sides. She had dark hair, freckles, arched eyebrows, piercings beneath her bottom lip, and a star tattooed on her right shoulder. She carried a white backpack with cow designs, along with a small red bag with a turtle print. Inside were her makeup, Social Security Card, zebra-printed sunglasses, and a marijuana pipe.

The Mitsubishi turned east. Christina realized: They were headed away from the beach. They stopped for gas, some cigarettes, and two Arizona iced teas. Then they headed east again.

“Where are we going?” she asked.

No one answered. Lil Wayne spewed from the stereo.

Christina felt a twinge of uncertainty, but she let it pass. Maybe the men had another stop to make before turning west toward the ocean.

[BIG SNIP]

Now Christina could see that they were headed toward the hills southeast of Los Angeles. Mike was sweating, driving 50 miles per hour through 30 mph zones in Whittier, past Spanish-style apartment buildings, pick-up trucks and older cars, and homes shielded from the sidewalks by sculpted trees. He drove through an intersection near the mouth of Turnbull Canyon. The road narrowed and wove into dirt hills on the left, past tree branches on the right that hung over the street like claws.

Mike cocked his head. He had an indecipherable tattoo, partly inked-over, on his neck.

“I’m going to have to tie your hands,” he said.

“What?” she said.

“Tie her hands,” Mike told Eddie.

Christina looked at Eddie, confused. Suddenly, Eddie was holding a rope…

(For the rest, go here.)

If you like the story, you can donate money to fund the author’s future pieces.

Here’s a little bit more about the Big Roundtable’s format (but if you go over to their “About” page, there’s a great little explanatory video):

The Big Roundtable is a digital publishing platform that aims to connect passionate nonfiction writers with readers who will support their work. We do this through experimental methods of gathering, selecting, editing, and distributing ambitious narrative stories, and, eventually, researching the reading and sharing behavior around those stories. And by convening forums—online and in person—where writers can learn and connect for mutual support.

The inspiration for the Big Roundtable came from the Algonquin Round Table, a group of New York City writers who called themselves “The Vicious Circle” and who’d meet at the Algonquin Hotel in the early 20th century. They were vicious; we are not.

18 Comments

  • Re the webcam glasses I have a great idea about who could use a pair. Give Baca a pair of webcam glasses and tell him that they are Google Glass. Baca won’t know the difference! LOL

  • Baca needs the glasses to see the writing on the wall. I hate these stories, because they are a true reflection of the management priorities and not the department as a whole.

  • It is ILLEGAL to drive without a license, but GENERALLY vehicles are not impounded unless a licensed driver is unavailable to take the wheel or the driver’s license has been revoked or suspended.

    So what is the problem here? What happens if the deputy lets the 12500/14601, (driving with no or suspended licence driver) get back behind the wheel, then gets into an accident and kills a person(s). Celeste, I’m sure you will praise the deputy for not “racially profiling?” Right?

  • #4: “So what is the problem here?”

    The problem is that illegal immigrants–of which there are millions in California–are prohibited, by California statute, from obtaining a Calif. Driver’s License based on their immigration status, not on their driving ability. Rather than giving them a Calif. Driver’s license, and thus almost certainly encouraging a greater influx of illegal immigration, I think the better option would be to make the Driver’s license from a foreign national’s home country valid in Calif. Currently, such a license is valid, by statute, for only ten days or so, but you and I have both seen how rapidly laws have been changed under pressure from various activist special interest groups, so, based on what we have seen already done, a change in the “ten day rule” shouldn’t be too difficult.

    Thus, a foreign national caught driving without a driver’s license can go the the Consular Office of his home country, of which there is a plenitude in California, and obtain his home country’s license.

    Problem solved.

  • EDITOR’S NOTE:

    J. London, if you want to listen to the various candidates’ interviews, you have to subscribe to Elder’s club. There’s a yearly subscription that’s $50 or so, but you can subscribe for just a month for $4.95 and thereby access all the LASD candidate interviews. (It’s an auto renew so if you don’t want to continue your subscription, be mindful of that.)

    In any case, that’s what I did, since I rarely listen in real time.

    Here’s where you can join.

    http://www.larryelder.com/membership

    If you elect to join, you can either download podcasts from iTunes, or just go to the tab marked “shows” on Elder’s site.

    If you do the latter, Gomez was on the show on Thursday, 8/22, and it’s at about the 1:06:30 mark.

    As for your earlier questions about Elder, I don’t have any problem with him as a radio host. I find him generally a smart and thoughtful interviewer. I’m merely cranky that he charges a subscription fee to access his podcasts, which I’m unused to.

    I don’t even mind buying a single podcast. I don’t, however, particularly want to be a paying member of someone’s club in order to access an episode or two of their shows broadcast on commercial-loaded AM radio.

    But maybe I’m just bad tempered about such things.

  • #5
    Let me elaborate for you. What does is the problem with deputy impounding/holding a car who’s driver is unlicensed?

  • #8: “What does is the problem with deputy impounding/holding a car who’s driver is unlicensed?”

    I think you mean “What…is the problem…?” so that is the question I’ll answer.

    The problem is that in most cases the driver is unlicensed because of immigration status–illegal immigrants are prohibited from even getting a driver’s license–not because of driving ability, and this problem can be solved by allowing use of the driver’s license from the illegal immigrant’s home country.

    So the problem is one of basic fairness; for illegal immigrants, a Calif. driver’s license is denied for political reasons, not because of driving inability; this problem can be circumvented by allowing use of the driver’s license from the illegal immigrant’s home country.

  • “The report alleges the deputy violated the law by impounding vehicles of drivers with out-of-state or out-of-country licenses, by denying impound hearings, conducting legally flawed impound hearings and by failing to release vehicles to licensed drivers — in one case, the registered owner of one of the vehicles.”
    How curious. Whenever a driver feels that their vehicle has been illegally towed, they are entitled to a Stypmann hearing. To obtain this hearing all they need to do is go to the station where the vehicle was towed and request to speak with the on duty watch commander.
    The deputy who impounded the car is prohibited from having any role in this process. Department policy even prohibits the supervisor who approved the CHP 180, the form on which the impound is documented, is prohibited from acting as the hearing officer in a Stypmann hearing should they be the watch commander when the hearing is requested. If at this hearing, the watch commander determines that the tow was illegal, all the fees will be waived and the vehicle released to the registered owner.
    Whatever the involved deputy’s motives may or not be for towing these vehicles, a fair hearing process existed for each of the drivers whose car was towed. The involved deputy could not be part of this process in any way.
    To assert otherwise, or that the deputy somehow denied this process, is untrue because it is not possible.

  • Then why are deputies getting discounted vehicles of our tow yards. A Compton Station deputy received a red Jeep Wrangler, license plate: 6HKR215. No joke…

  • The good folks in Long Beach who met with Sheriff Lee Baca in March need to remain patient. Their complaints about overly aggressive vehicle impounds by a Transit Services Bureau Deputy are taken seriously by Sheriff Baca. He has already taken action as a result of the National Lawyer’s guild report and the vocal public criticism – the deputy in question has been reassigned far across the county where he can be safely hidden from his accusers in Long Beach while the Sheriff blocks any attempt to disclose his identity.
    During this time, Sheriff Baca has prepared a complete report covering the Department’s internal investigation of misdeeds by the TSB Deputy, their findings and the application of any suspensions or sanctions upon the anonymous deputy.
    Rumour has it that Sheriff Baca has levied a 30 day suspension – which the offending deputy has chosen to serve out by attending a 4 week course of study with full pay at the Deputy Leadership Institute. A very good choice indeed – an air-conditioned classroom compared to working patrol under the hot summer sun.
    The internal response and report is already complete. Sheriff Baca has scheduled a release date to garner the most positive impact. Behind the cold Gennaco-speak terminology is the story of an effective incumbent Sheriff implementing reforms and administering discipline.
    The Lawyer’s Guild and the angry vehicle owners in Long Beach should be quite pleased with the result.
    No one should jump to accuse that they have been shut out of the process – because that’s not true. Sheriff Baca is currently seeking public input.
    It’s true that the internal resolution and report are complete, but the Sheriff needs your help with most important part – the “naming”.
    Sheriff Baca hopes to match the cellblockbuster success of his previously released disciplinary scandal – “ScannerGate”.
    Naturally, the Sheriff is ready to go with “ImpounderGate”.
    He needs to hear from the folks in Long Beach – do you just love it, or do you think you have a better name?
    Steve Whitmore is waiting to take your calls, right now!

  • #12, I heard the Ex-Traffic Sgt at Compton Station received two (2) gifted vehicles from a tow company in Compton, just days after a DUI/Unlicensed Driver Chech Point. I’m sure the unlicensed drivers who lost their vehicles are unaware of this detail.

  • So tell me this old wise ones. I am hearing that this deputy had a couple of tow trucks sitting in the area he was working. Did dispatch call for the tows are did he. Citizens were complaining that the same guys were there everyday he was in the area. Wonder how many vehicles were towed for him?

    Not difficult for IA to figure out who called for the tows. Is it true the majority of citations were of hispanic women with child seats in the back of the cars/vans?

    With all the crap going on is the department going to be investigated for taking kick backs ? I wonder who will take the fall for that if it is true.

    Another day another proud moment for the LASD

  • #12, those cars are their commuter cars or for their children who just turned 16 and going to be driving soon. Just might be a guess though. WTH????

  • #16, hahahahahaha, only in American. #14, I will soon publish the license plate numbers of those vehicles. That Ex-Traafic Sgt, we’ll only refer to him as Sergeant Zero, was booted to Parks Bureau.

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