Riverside, California

David Thacher
Research Associate
Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management
John F. Kennedy School of Government
Harvard University

Case Study Prepared for the Urban Institute


Riverside, California is a rapidly-growing city of close to 250,000 residents at the heart of California’s Inland Empire, an agricultural powerhouse that lies to the east of Los Angeles. Since the city’s first orange groves were planted some one hundred years ago, Riverside has been the source of nearly all of this country’s navel oranges, and to this day the citrus industry occupies a central place in the local culture. But as Riverside has matured and its agricultural industry has lost the power to carry the local economy entirely, the city has shown some characteristic signs of age and growth, such as a declining downtown and rising crime rates.

At the beginning of the 1990s, Riverside began undergoing important changes in its local government, including the appointment of a new, reform-minded City Manager, and growing activism on the part of its City Council. One of the most dramatic and contentious examples of how these changes have played out is in the local police department. With 323 officers and another 151 civilians, the Riverside Police Department was among the largest police departments in the region, and many RPD veterans point to a distinguished history in which the department enjoyed a reputation as one of the premier law enforcement agencies in the state. But by the early 1990s the department faced some significant challenges, including a lukewarm reputation in the city’s minority communities, a series of lawsuits brought by Riverside citizens, and internal divisions over its current leadership and how to handle the agency’s growth, which had made traditionally informal management practices increasingly problematic.

Ken Fortier, the Chief of Police appointed to meet these challenges in early 1993, has left a complicated legacy in Riverside. On the one hand, Fortier was able to revamp the RPD’s administration, helping to install modern systems for everything from budgeting to the serving of search warrants; and he was able to lay the foundations for community policing in the city by spearheading a system of area commands charged with solving community problems. On the other hand, Fortier’s leadership provoked great resistance in Riverside, the effects of which still linger today, and many of his reforms were embroiled in turmoil until his departure in the summer of 1997.

The following sections review this history in three parts: Section one begins by describing how the Riverside Police Department operated in the years leading up to Ken Fortier’s arrival, examining its relationship to the rest of city government and the community, its operational and administrative systems, and its management. Section two then chronicles the reforms that took place under Fortier, and section three revisits the RPD today through the same lens that section one applied to its past.


As it entered the early 1990s, the Riverside Police Department (RPD) was starting to suffer some growing pains. “When a department usually reaches three hundred [officers],” one RPD veteran explains, referring to the sworn strength Riverside reached at this time, “it changes. The face changes from a family organization to more of a business.” The difficulty was that no change comes without some strife, and many in the department apparently did not particularly want to give up their atmosphere of informality and collegiality for the impersonal style of a business. More to the point, RPD management had long taken a hands-off approach to their job, to the point that policies and procedures were not strongly emphasized, and many who had gotten used to that system saw no need to do anything different.

But at the same time, a substantial number of newer officers and managers worried that their department was becoming too loose and lacked direction, and city officials had also begun to feel this concern. Indeed, because the eventual push to reform the RPD would come from city hall and the community, it is perhaps best to begin by looking at the department from the outside.

1. Relationship with the Environment

Not long before an annual negotiation with the Riverside Police Officer’s Association in the mid-1980s, the office of the City Manager in Riverside received a puzzling wish list from the police union—puzzling not because of the demands it made, but because of one it didn’t make. As explained by Assistant City Manager Larry Paulsen, who has dealt with labor relations issues for Riverside for many years, these annual lists had become quite predictable: “I could go look at one now and it would look like it did in 1975. I mean, it’s got the same things on there that they want and we’ve never given them.” But this particular list contained a notable absence:

There was little the City Manager’s office could do at that point. As Paulsen puts it, “After he has done it, you weren’t going to put that horse back in the barn. It was just gone.” Paulsen admits that the city probably would have conceded to the union on the 4-10 plan at some point, but he says that it would have insisted on some negotiation: “At the negotiating table we would have put some sort of value on that, and hopefully received something in return for giving that very huge, or perceived huge benefit.”

The episode reflected an uncomfortable lack of communication between city government and the RPD. To be sure, Paulsen and other government officials maintain that their relationship with the police was not necessarily adversarial: When they did get together, police managers and city officials were able to work together amicably. But the two groups often didn’t get together on many issues in the first place, and city hall apparently became increasingly uncomfortable with the way police were making decisions on their own. The basic problem seems to have been that Riverside police—like many of their counterparts in other cities at the time—simply did not want to talk much about departmental strategies and operations, choosing to keep such decisions within the family, as it were: Paulsen and others report that past administrations were not very forthcoming about departmental problems, even though some of them impacted city government directly (for example, the RPD reportedly generated an average of $600,000 annually in claims and lawsuit payments); and elected officials maintain that they had almost no communication with anyone in the police department except the Chief and a single overburdened “liaison” who had been designated to handle their inquiries. Police did, of course, usually confer with city government on decisions about things like budgeting and labor contracts, but the 4-10 episode—and there were reportedly others like it—suggested that even that link was a little bit weak.

The RPD’s relationship to the community was similar, in the sense that the department had a relatively good public image with most of the community, but little direct dialogue outside of individual calls for service and newspaper reports on specific crimes (the department did operate a neighborhood watch program during this period, but it was reportedly not very active). On the positive side, many department members felt that they had “a pretty good relationship with the community” (in the words of one RPD veteran), and a 1992 community survey seemed to bear that impression out, as it found that 66% of its sample rated the department’s overall job performance as “excellent” or “good.”

On the other hand, some groups of Riverside residents apparently had serious concerns about their police department: Most notably, while only 25% of whites rated the RPD’s performance as “only fair” or “poor” in the 1992 survey, 54% of blacks did. Moreover, although the same statistics suggested that the city’s Latino community was only slightly less supportive of the RPD than whites (with 31% rating the department’s performance as “only fair” or “poor”), there was clearly tension between police at least a significant minority of Latinos. This was particularly true in the vocal Casa Blanca neighborhood, where resident groups maintained that the department ignored crime and even emergency calls and accused police of heavy-handed tactics when they did take action. For their part, many police felt threatened by increasingly violent gangs in Casa Blanca, and they denied the charges of both harassment and under-enforcement. Many of these disagreements crystallized in a series of high-profile confrontations between police and Latino community members.1 This sort of high-profile tension with the community was apparently the exception rather than the rule, but even RPD supporters admit that the department tended to weaken its relationships with the community by closing itself off from outside opinion (though they rightly point out that many of their counterparts in the law enforcement world were doing the same thing): “Like many police departments,” one RPD veteran explains, “our attitude pretty much was like ‘We’re the police, and we go to school for this and train, and we’re the experts in this area.’”

In part, this sense of professional autonomy was limited to questions about who would have input into police decisions, for officers did sometimes collaborate with outside agencies—such as code enforcement, schools, and nearby police forces—in responding to community problems. But police apparently had some reservations about this type of collaboration: For example, the School Resource Officer program, while extremely popular with local schools, faced some criticism within the RPD, where some felt that the officers were being diverted into work assignments that police should not properly be involved in (a criticism that actually intensified as the RPD moved into community policing). Moreover, even those officers who insist that they would call on agencies like code enforcement to “manage their beats” admit that they would only do so in extremis, and that outside agencies themselves often resisted their overtures—to the point that many officers became discouraged with collaboration altogether.

2. Operations

Though many in the department admit that they were “a little weak on listening to the community,” most insist that the department was strong on front-line operations. Detectives prided themselves on resourceful tactics and a high clearance rate (for example, the economic crimes section—one of four subdivisions within General Investigations—cleared 89% of its assigned cases), and patrol officers were considered to be well-qualified and hard-working individuals who took pride in “handling their beats.” There were apparently concerns that Special Investigations was too removed from the rest of the department: Geographically, it was housed in its own separate facility away from the rest of the RPD; and managerially, a series of wrong-door search warrants by drug investigators raised a red flag in city hall in the early 1990s. Nevertheless, department members maintain that all of their operational units were skilled, inventive, and aggressive.

The concerns that did exist about operational divisions were administrative and managerial. For example, some in the city worried that the department was overspecialized, as it distributed its basic operational units to four separate divisions (Special Investigations, General Investigations, Patrol Services, and Special Services, which housed the Traffic Bureau and some special support functions, such as the aviation unit). To be sure, the generalist Patrol Services Division housed the bulk of the RPD’s personnel and spent the bulk of its money. But specialized units abounded, and they claimed a substantial share of departmental resources, as the following table suggests:



Number of Sworn Positions

Total Expenditures
FY 1992


Patrol Services


$14.2 million


Special Investigations


$3.2 million


General Investigations


$5.1 million


Special Services


$4.3 million

(plus $1.7M for aviation unit)

Other concerns about front-line operations were less live issues at the time than they are retrospective judgments. Most notably, many managers today express dismay over the RPD’s lack of neighborhood focus in the past, when the most important organizing principle for the patrol force was time rather than geography. Officers were organized first and foremost into three “watches” overseen by one or two lieutenants, who remember their main duty as “handling the shift” (in the sense that each sought to get as much staffing as possible to cover beats and handle emergencies during the hours they were on duty). During two of the department’s three watches, the RPD did divide the city into two bureaus named “north” and “south,” and it assigned one lieutenant to each of them. But those lieutenants were reportedly not particularly encouraged to think about their areas’ long-term problems (and in fact their assignment to one area or the other was not necessarily permanent [?]). Officers themselves had relatively stable assignments to one or the other geographic divisions, but not necessarily to the smaller beats within those areas. Interestingly, some sections of the General Investigations division had at least as much geographic focus as the patrol force, as detectives in the youth services section and the property crimes section were assigned by areas.

Another retrospective concern involves problem-solving, as many department members express discomfort with what they remember as a reactive patrol force in which officers had only the traditional duties of 911 response and random patrol. This concern, however, is far from universal in the RPD: Although it is true that the department did not have any formal structure for problem-solving work in the 1980s, some officers insist that they did so informally under the rubric of “handling your beat.” “If you have a problem that you keep going back to over and over,” one explains, “you have got to handle it,” going on to insist that he and others did so long before “problem solving” became a buzzword in Riverside.

3. Administrative Systems

In any case, many of these internal disagreements about whether or not operational units were doing a good job were not really live issues at the time—and indeed, they seem to reflect changing norms about police work rather than universally-accepted standards (for example, many RPD officers simply did not see a need to increase the patrol force’s geographic focus, as they felt that the beat system gave officers enough incentive to take care of neighborhood problems). On the other hand, even the department’s most ardent supporters concede that the RPD faced some serious administrative weaknesses in this era.

The basic problem seems to have been that the RPD was a medium-sized police agency that tried to run in the informal manner of a much smaller department, seeing rules, agreements, and policies as an affront to its atmosphere of collegiality and trust. The few available copies of the department’s policies and procedures manual had not been revised since the 1970s, and many department members felt that they lacked guidance about their work (indeed, the 1992 employee survey reported that almost half of the department disagreed that “written rules and procedures are readily available”). For example, when asked in 1993 about the growing number of wrong-door searches they had made, special investigations personnel could not point to any policy at all that governed their execution of search warrants. Even basic issues like labor agreements were surprisingly informal: In lieu of revising the contracts themselves each year, the department simply kept a file of the annual letters that served to summarize that year’s negotiations, with the unfortunate result that each side sometimes had a different understanding about important issues like when officers earned overtime or what the disciplinary process actually consisted of.

Moreover, basic mechanisms for control and direction-setting were underdeveloped in the RPD—at least that was the conclusion of a 1992 management audit commissioned by Riverside’s new City Manager. The audit, performed by a Sacramento-based consulting firm named Ralph Andersen and Associates, painted a picture of an organization strong on basic operations and with a good public image, but with weak administrative systems. Information systems, for example, were too inaccurate to provide meaningful input into planning and evaluation, so even though the department did formally develop annual objectives as part of the city’s budgeting process, it had no systematic way of following up on these plans. Moreover, quality control was essentially absent, so that department management had no way of knowing whether or not front-line units were doing a good job; and internal affairs lacked an effective system for investigating all but the most serious complaints, as well as for keeping accurate records about those citizens tried to bring. Finally, in the area of training, the normally tactful audit concluded that “although the recruit training in the department meets state standards, in-service training programs are poor and overall training administration appears not to accomplish internal and external training needs.”2 Indeed, at the time the consultants visited Riverside, the police department’s training system was in disarray: Over one-third of the force was in almost unavoidable danger of being out of compliance with state training requirements; a single officer with no training expertise of his own was responsible for coordinating the department’s training efforts; and it was allegedly common practice for Sergeants to misrepresent their officers’ participation in training updates.

Such criticisms were not simply those of an outside consulting firm, as many RPD members today admit to serious administrative problems, and at the time some groups within the department were reportedly restless about the department’s lack of policies and direction. In any case, when the Ralph Andersen report came out, the RPD responded earnestly to many of the problems it identified, and it had already taken steps to address some of them (notably in the area of information systems, where it had purchased a new CAD system that was intended to improve information processing capabilities, although implementation difficulties derailed some of these hopes). Nevertheless, administrative systems were a major outstanding weakness in the RPD in the early 1990s.

4. Management

Many of these administrative deficiencies may have been related to the department’s long-established philosophy of management, which many people inside and outside the department refer to as one of “high trust, low control.” The basic idea—supported by many RPD members both then and now—was apparently that police should be treated as independent professionals who did not need much direct supervision and structure in their work, whether directly from managers or indirectly from the administrative systems they created and monitored. It was not, of course, that basic organizational checks were not in place: For example, Sergeants and Lieutenants were expected to make sure that patrol officers followed established procedures, like those that governed pursuits. But in critical areas—notably discipline and the search warrant process— many RPD veterans report that management took a hands-off approach, preferring to leave matters to officers and detectives themselves with an appeal to their sense of professional integrity.

In this sense, RPD management was radically decentralized in the years before community policing. But some department members and outsiders also suggest the opposite pattern. For example, the Ralph Andersen report maintained that departmental goals and objectives were determined solely by the Chief and his command staff, and it went on to cite an employee survey to suggest that this decisionmaking style left the rank-and-file feeling that they had no control over the department’s direction (68% of survey respondents disagreed with the statement that “I have input into the development of department goals and objectives”). One RPD veteran echoes this sentiment: “[We were] very much a traditional police agency, in the military kind of style, [with] Captains, Lieutenants, and Sergeants. I say this and you do that . . . Although we all got along, I think the expectation was, ‘Hey, you have got a bigger bar than me and you are the boss.’”


1. Developing an Agenda for Change

1992 was a pivotal year for the Riverside Police Department, as its administration found itself under attack or at least admonishment from several directions. Internally, the police union passed a vote of no confidence not just in the Police Chief but also in his Deputy Chief; and although the immediate source of tension concerned negotiations over pay and benefits, some in the RPD were reportedly becoming restless with their agency’s lack of direction. Outside complaints were even more numerous, to the point that Riverside’s police were beginning to face something of an image problem within the city.

First of all, there was reason to be concerned about the department’s reputation in the community: Accusations of brutality or harassment had repeatedly made front-page news, and relations with the Casa Blanca community had deteriorated to the point that a well-known neighborhood group in the area had pulled out of talks designed to improve relations between the two sides. Equally important, city hall was starting to pay closer attention to potential problems in its police department. One crucial juncture came in August of 1992, when Ralph Andersen and Associates delivered its management audit to the City Council: Although the document was not entirely critical of the RPD, it pinpointed significant deficiencies in training, policies and procedures, and the department’s ability to set a direction. But even before the report was released, the City Manager’s office was becoming concerned that the RPD was “becoming a loosely-controlled organization,” as city Manager John Holmes puts it. Holmes, who had been appointed to his position in the fall of 1990, recalls how this sense gradually dawned on him:

Holmes also remembers being concerned about the low number of citizen complaints the department was reporting. “We are a city of 250,000 people,” he explains. “I started wondering why we were having so few [complaints]”—a concern that the Ralph Andersen report seemed to confirm, as it identified substantial problems with the department’s system for handling citizen complaints.3 City Council was reportedly not aware of these particular problems at the time, but it had begun taking more of an interest in the police department in its own way, notably by advocating for the increasingly-popular idea of community policing: Individual council members proposed related reforms like bicycle patrols, and the body as a whole had discussed the idea and passed a resolution setting a deadline for a progress report.

Sonny Richardson, who was Riverside’s police chief at the time, initially responded constructively to many of these demands. With respect to the audit, for example, Holmes maintains that “Chief Richardson thought it was fine, and if he stayed he probably would have worked on it.” On the community policing front, Richardson was reportedly quite receptive in principle, seeing the approach as a way to soften the department’s image and perhaps alleviate some of its public criticism. In response, the Chief assembled a committee to study the idea, sent several department members to seminars on the topic, and approved site visits to police agencies around the country that were considered to be leading examples.

But in the end, none of the calls for reform would come to fruition under Richardson, who announced his retirement from the Riverside Police Department in the fall of 1992. Holmes, who would have had the power to replace the Chief if he had wanted to, insists that Richardson made the decision on his own. “He left of his own volition. He had a number of strengths as a chief of police, and I was not at the point where I would have made a change in leadership,” he explains. But when Richardson did retire, Holmes took the opportunity to lay out a basic agenda for police reform.

Choosing an Agent for Change

As Holmes saw it, the basic challenge for the RPD was to develop into a “modern, professional police department”—one that had “modern technology and crime analysis” as well as “excellent standards of conduct, professionalism, a community-based policing approach, and [a system for] taking citizen complaints seriously.” The city charter gave him full authority to hire and fire the police chief, so he was able to make these ideas the centerpiece of the hiring process, and he had them written in to the position announcement itself.

But at least as important as these substantive guidelines for the job was Holmes’s decision to open up the position to outside applicants. “My policy was to conduct a national search for a department head-level position. Then if you select an in-house candidate, that individual earned the position against national competition.” At the time, the decision was not particularly controversial even within the RPD—a sentiment that the City Manager had already checked out for himself. “I interviewed a number of the officers, including some of the [Riverside Police Officers’ Association] members,” Holmes remembers, “and they all told me that they felt we needed to be more professional and bring in an outsider.” Indeed, many Riverside political figures felt that the Association had broadcast its opinion about inside candidates in its recent no-confidence vote against the Richardson administration; as one city official puts it: “They had a no-confidence vote both in Sonny Richardson and [Deputy Chief] Mike Figueroa. Very strange to give [him a vote too]. I understand a no confidence vote for the chief, but Mike Figueroa was the heir apparent. In effect they said, ‘Don’t go for him either.’” In the event, Figueroa did apply for the job, but he had to compete against other highly-qualified outsiders.

The city hired the same company that had recently completed the RPD’s management audit to oversee the national search, and a number of candidates applied. The field was whittled down in two phases: First, Holmes enlisted the help of two panels made up of community members and professionals (including the RPOA president) to select three “finalists,” and there was reportedly broad agreement among the group that any one of these three candidates would make an acceptable choice for the job. Second, Holmes made the final decision among these three candidates based on his own reading of how well they would be able to deal with the strategic issues that he and others had identified for the department.

The man Holmes ultimately chose for the job was an 51-year-old Assistant Chief from the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) named Ken Fortier. Fortier had a reputation for being the strong manager in the SDPD, and in Holmes’s mind, that was precisely what Riverside needed. “We had a number of excellent police officers, but at the time the organization did not appear to have developed managers capable of making the changes we needed,” He explains. “Based on our hiring criteria and our desire for improvement, I selected a professional with an outstanding managerial background in a large urban police department. In short, based on the interviews and a thorough background check, I hired a very strong manager.”

Fortier had worked for the SDPD from the beginning of his career, just over thirty years before he took the chief’s job in Riverside. Starting out as a patrolman and then a detective, he had moved up the ranks quickly. “I happened to hit the department at a real growth spurt,” Fortier explains, “and so there were about four of us that really went through the ranks fast.” Indeed, by the time he was 30, Fortier had made captain, and he took a commander’s position at 34. Over the next sixteen years, he held a variety of command positions in the department including both patrol and investigations, but administrative matters were his forte. As he explains his duties:

At the time, San Diego itself was gearing up to look for a new police chief, and Fortier was considered to be one of the two leading candidates for the position. But he himself was not sanguine about his prospects: “As I read it, I was not going to get the top job [in San Diego],” Fortier remembers. “As things will happen, you go through an organization, you make friends, you make enemies. And looking over at City Hall, it was not going to happen.” In any case, Fortier was not sure he wanted the job, which in his view had become “extremely political” in recent years, so he resolved to take advantage of a generous early retirement package that the recession-strapped city was offering.

Brought to his attention by a recruiter, the Riverside job appealed to Fortier on many levels. Personally, the move would be to familiar territory: He and his family owned a second home in Riverside County, and in any case the city was only a short drive away from San Diego. “I have family in San Diego, so it’s close to home, just an hour-and-a-half away, and it seemed like a very easy move to make. I could keep my San Diego ties—friends, family, that sort of thing— and still do the police chief’s job.” Riverside also seemed to be a good choice professionally: Fortier had heard that the police department was facing some problems, but he sensed a commitment to change together with an ability to carry it out. “At the time they were not experiencing the severe financial problems that a lot of cities were in California,” Fortier remembers, “so there were still upsides—some potential to do some things.” More important, City Manager John Holmes seemed have the independence and seriousness of purpose that would be needed for the job:

Fortier took it as a particularly good sign that Holmes had been able to offer him the job unilaterally, with input only from the two panels he had assembled for the purpose. As he remembers it: “The City Manager was able to go through this process [and] hire me, and then he asked me if I would come up one night to be introduced to the Council. That was his first announcement that he had appointed me Chief.” To Fortier, this was precisely the sort of professional government that was slipping away from San Diego: “[Holmes] kept it tight, and it was obvious to me that the Council had not had a hand in the decision, which impressed me very much. That’s the way it’s supposed to be: That’s the way council-manager governments are supposed to work.” In any case, although Fortier was also in the running for the Police Chief position in another city, Holmes and his staff moved quickly to make him an offer, and he ultimately accepted it, beginning work in January of 1993.

Chief Fortier

As Fortier remembers his first days in office, he took over the RPD with a broad mandate for change that focused on implementing community policing and carrying out the main recommendations from the Ralph Andersen audit. The audit was particularly influential in shaping his sense of the RPD’s strategic issues. “I asked for a copy of the report before I was hired and looked it over,” he remembers, “and it was clear to me that there were some managerial problems that needed to be dealt with. It wasn’t really a blueprint necessarily, but it was pretty clear.” In particular, deficiencies like the lack of an effective internal affairs unit and the lack of an organized training effort were red flags to Fortier that some basic managerial issues needed to be addressed.

Some early experiences helped confirm this diagnosis in Fortier’s mind. The first was the RPD’s response to his request for a copy of the union contract:

Similarly, when Fortier requested information about citizen complaints and discipline, he was told that no accurate records were available and that the nominal head of internal affairs simply did not know the answers, since the Chief had handled discipline himself. To Fortier, all of these experiences suggested an overly informal department that was out-of-touch with modern ideas about how to run a police department. “They weren’t set up managerially to run this department in a contemporary manner,” he maintains.

The new Chief received what he took as impartial confirmation of this growing sense from a promotions panel made up of outside police managers, which had been assembled to help him appoint his first round of sergeants. At the end of their week in Riverside, the board collectively expressed serious concerns to him about the fifty-plus officers they had interviewed.

This opinion too seemed to be confirmed by the Ralph Andersen audit, which had found that much of the department simply had not received required in-service training from outside agencies—training whose central purpose was to keep officers up-to-date with current trends in law enforcement.

Community Policing

Fortier’s conclusion from these experiences was that the RPD faced some basic problems with its organizational infrastructure, and that these problems needed to be addressed right away. The news was not exactly welcome for the new chief. “I didn’t really intend to do that,” Fortier remembers, referring to the litany of infrastructure efforts that wound up on his agenda for change.

Despite his initial intentions, Fortier felt that it would be impossible to make progress on community policing without dealing with the infrastructure issues as well, arguing that the RPD simply would not be able to inspire trust in its community partners. “As far as I was concerned,” he explains, “the underpinnings of the department that instill confidence and trust that there is a competency level in the department just weren’t there. And that had to be dealt with either first or along with trying to get them in a position to work in partnership with the community.”

Basic competency issues aside, some of the department’s problems seemed directly related to community policing. Mike Blakely, another SDPD veteran who came to Riverside to serve as Fortier’s Deputy Chief, singles out the department’s process for handling citizen complaints as especially damaging to community partnerships: “Community policing requires that there be a willingness to work together and have trust in each other,” Blakely explains, “and one of the most critical facets of that is to have a legitimate, valid complaint process.” He and Fortier felt that the RPD was simply not up to that standard. As Fortier puts it: “The way to resolve a conflict with the public [was] for a member of the public to . . . sue us and to try to get a Federal court judgment.” As a result, the two men felt that implementing a new complaint process was a prerequisite to community policing.

More generally, Fortier felt that the existing RPD culture was unfortunately not always respectful of all facets of the community. “The relationship with the minority community was miserable, especially the Hispanic community,” he recalls, explaining that he got that impression from his own early meetings with community members. Those encounters had not painted a uniformly negative picture of community sentiment: For example, Fortier recalls that the local Chamber of Commerce positively “loved the cops,” believing that they were “fighting crime and . . . doing what needs to be done.” In fact, the very week he took office as Chief, an RPD officer received an award from the Chamber for his efforts to deal with graffiti. But it was precisely this schism in community opinion that concerned Fortier. “If you were on the right side of town and you were the right sort of person—especially business people—[you] were treated extremely well by Riverside police officers,” he maintains. “If you were not, there was a question about whether you would be dealt with that way.” For the new Chief, that situation seemed fatal to community policing:

An Agenda for Reform

In these ways, Fortier’s initial resolve to bring community policing to Riverside became complicated by a set of unanticipated issues, and his plan for change evolved along two somewhat separate branches. The first, which dealt with infrastructure development, consisted of a list of administrative systems that were in sore need of reform—including things like the department’s outdated policies and procedures manual, its unacceptable manner of taking citizen complaints, and even economic issues like the haphazard way it sent officers to court on overtime. The second was community policing itself, which would be further developed through a visioning process within the department.

Several problems would soon emerge with this two-pronged strategy, and it is worth prefiguring some of them here. First of all, the infrastructure effort turned out to be deeply problematic for many officers in Riverside, which had an established history of doing things informally and did not necessarily see a need to change. For example, one of Fortier’s first initiatives as Chief was an attempt to deal with the informality of the RPD’s labor agreements by putting together a group that was charged with writing up a formal contract. Fortier hoped that the effort would be a quick, easy win, but it turned out to be very difficult. In the end, the RPOA, which had been involved in the negotiating process, balked on signing off on the document, forcing the administration to compromise on its scope by giving the union the right to appeal to the “old” version in case of a conflict. Moreover, when the department released booklet copies of the new agreement to all employees, it had an effect opposite to what Fortier intended. “We thought this would be popular,” he remembers. “‘Hey, there’s the rules.’ [But] I think it scared everybody: ‘My gosh, why do you need to do this? We’re all one big family, why do we need to have these things written down?’” This experience, in particular, convinced Fortier that there was a severe division between management and the rank-and-file: “There’d just been years and years of miscommunication and distrust and ineffective management—there’s no other way to put it. It was really an us and them.”

The second problem was the somewhat ad hoc nature of the infrastructure effort, emerging as it did by pieces, with the result that some RPD members could not perceive any clear vision guiding the changes that were going on. Jerry Carroll, who took over the Chief’s job after Fortier resigned in 1997, maintains:

More pointedly, Carroll suggests that Fortier’s role as a change agent made it positively inadvisable for him to articulate what he was doing. “I asked the Deputy Chief one time, ‘I want to see the vision,’” Carroll remembers. “He said, ‘He’s not going to show you the vision’—because the vision was an agenda and the agenda was to come in and change the culture here in this police department.” In any case, the result was that there was little buy-in to the reforms Fortier had in mind. “I don’t think anybody knew what the vision was,” Carroll maintains. “It was not articulated.”

Community Policing in the RPD

Fortier was apparently more explicit about the community policing side of his reforms, as he describes a constant effort to stress what he felt community policing meant: “The message I kept giving over and over again was, ‘We’re not here to just make people like us—that’s passé. We’re here to do something about crime.’” For example, Fortier recalls one meeting with a newly-promoted lieutenant who was to be assigned one of the department’s new community policing areas:

Fortier understood the tendency to fall back on “PR” activities, but he insisted that dealing with crime should be the main focus of Riverside’s community policing efforts.

A Plan for Community Policing

Riverside had begun thinking about community policing under Sonny Richardson, who had responded to City Council’s inquiries about the topic by appointing a task group charged with studying it. Apprised that this groundwork had been laid, Fortier called the Captain in charge of the group into his office, but he was disappointed with what he found. “I had him in the first few days I was there, and I said, ‘Great, you’ve had this committee, you’ve been working for a year, let’s talk about what you’ve done.’ [But] after spending twenty minutes with him, he hadn’t done a damn thing except wait for retirement. . . . He traveled a little bit, and he’d looked at some other cities, and he hadn’t written a paragraph about it.” Other department members believe that Fortier overlooked other potential starting points—notably the RPD’s emerging partnership with police at the University of California at Riverside, which they felt laid the foundations for team-based community policing in the city. But Fortier was convinced that the department needed to start from scratch, and he asked his command staff to see that a tentative implementation plan was developed quickly.

The job ultimately fell to a young Lieutenant named Mike Smith, and although he had no particular background in community policing, his Captain apparently felt he could get the job done. Smith remembers the task as a fast-paced one:

Fortier sat down with Smith personally to lay out his own framework for the task, directing the young Lieutenant’s attention to the ideas of neighborhood focus, the role of detectives, and the roles of patrol officers and their supervisors.

Smith worked furiously over the course of the week, drawing heavily on the materials that had been brought back by Richardson’s community policing group, and by the end of it all he had produced the conceptual outline of community policing for Riverside that Fortier wanted. The document helped establish some basic building-blocks for the efforts to come, including the commitment to a system of area commands, the idea of devolving responsibility to patrol officers, and the intent to develop priorities in dialogue with the community.

At this point, Smith began working with a committee of other Lieutenants in the department to fine tune the ideas further. Perhaps the most significant choice this group made concerned the geography of the area command system. Smith himself reports that he had never thought of Riverside in that way before:

As it turned out, city hall more-or-less officially identified 18 neighborhoods in Riverside, and these existing demarcations were one factor the team considered in dividing the city up into policing areas. But the group simply could not make each neighborhood into its own policing area: The RPD had already decided that each of its five Lieutenants would be put in charge separate areas, so that the question became how to turn 18 “neighborhoods” into five areas. Several factors became important in this decision, including demographics, physical boundaries, and the seven council wards. The latter consideration was mildly controversial: On the one hand, some in the group reportedly wanted to have some degree of match between areas and wards so that the area commanders could be responsive to constituent complaints.4 On the other hand, the group agreed that too close a match risked trouble, since political influence might get in the way of professional management by the Lieutenants. In any case, the committee settled on five areas that they felt constituted a meaningful division of the city, and Fortier approved the scheme.

With elements like this one in place, the department fleshed out its community policing plans over the course of the next six months. The first and most important milestone in this effort was a three-day retreat at Lake Arrowhead known as “the meeting on the mountain,” which focused on formulating a mission statement, fine-tuning some central ideas of the community policing effort, and laying out Fortier’s expectations for the department. In addition to the Chief himself, the retreat was attended by the department’s Lieutenants, Captains, and Deputy Chief, under the assumption that these command-level people would formulate the basic ideas and articulate them to their first-line supervisors. It was followed up with a number of work groups intended to put the finishing touches on Riverside’s plans for community policing, laying out key elements like a strategy for securing necessary funding, the Problem-Oriented Policing teams, and the intention to make problem-solving a department-wide philosophy. The entire plan was presented to the RPOA and the public in early April of 1993, not quite four months after Fortier had taken office.

The story of what happened to these plans—including both how they went awry and what lasting effect they did have—is best told in terms of three audiences that they spoke to: The troops themselves, the Riverside community, and city hall. Fortier’s reforms unleashed intense feelings both inside and outside of the RPD, and by the time he left Riverside in 1997, intractable opposition had arisen on many fronts. To understand community policing in Riverside, it is essential to understand these dynamics; and while it is of course impossible to know exactly why resistance became as severe as it did, it is at least possible to lay out which groups turned against reform and when, and what they have to say about their reasons behind their reactions.

2. Reform and the Riverside Police

When Fortier began work as Chief in January of 1993, he had broad support in the city. Even within the police department, which might have been expected to be wary of an outside leader, many viewed the new Chief as something of a savior. One RPD veteran explains:

There were some who felt right from the start that the new chief was an outsider who knew little about Riverside, and that his early rise in the SDPD had meant that he had been away from the street for too long. But most RPD members remember an initial period of good-will between the department and its new chief of police.

Fortier did not take this good will for granted, and he recognized that he would need to work to generate support for the sometimes difficult reforms he had proposed. He started doing so quickly with a few popular decisions that undid some of Richardson’s final reforms, such as his elimination of the department’s 21-man traffic unit (Fortier reassigned 10 of these officers back into traffic, using the remainder to help start up community policing units). But most of his strategies for building support were intimately tied to each of the reforms he proposed. Consider the two strands of those reforms—community policing and the infrastructure effort—in turn.

The Transformation of the Patrol Force

Fortier’s community policing reforms centered on the decentralization of the patrol force into the five new policing areas that Smith and his fellow lieutenants had agreed upon, with the goal of creating new units of accountability based on geography that would replace the old ones based on time. Lieutenants would stand at the helm of each of these five miniature police departments, and their role would be transformed completely. As then-Deputy Chief Mike Blakely explains it:

Ranks beneath Lieutenant would undergo changes as well: The watch commander duties that Lieutenants previously had—the nuts and bolts of things like staffing, equipment, and notifications—would be devolved to the Sergeant level, adding to that rank’s existing supervisory duties. Finally, at the bottom of the hierarchy, officers would be encouraged to look behind incidents to identify the problems that underlay them, and they would be empowered to use whatever legal and ethical means were necessary to deal with those problems. The end result of all this restructuring would be the creation of coherent teams of officers and managers who felt responsible for Riverside’s neighborhoods.

To put these ideas into practice, Fortier focused his attention on management, an emphasis that he describes as a matter of personal philosophy:

“Working through management” meant at least two different things: Seeking to assemble a new management team that was enthusiastic about reform, and trying to articulate what the new roles meant in practice. Consider each of these tasks in turn.

Building a New Management Team

Over the course of his four years in Riverside, Fortier sought to put together a management team that was committed not just to community policing in particular, but to organizational reform in general. To that end, he sought to quickly promote people to management positions who were capable and committed to reform, and to speed up the retirement of those who were not. “If we’re going to move the department into community policing,” Fortier explained to the City Council, “we’ve got to change the culture and it’s got to start with these managers, who have such an influence over the rest of the organization.” In particular, Fortier felt that “some people . . . would have held us back on community policing [because] they were just from a different era.” In response, he and City Manager John Holmes worked together to create a “retirement incentive program.”

Recognizing that the offer might be perceived as a threat, Fortier insists that he made clear it was not, telling the group: “This is not mandatory. If you don’t want to be interviewed all you have to do is say so and that’s the end of it. There will be no retribution.” In any case, most of the group agreed to be interviewed, and about a half-dozen Captains and Lieutenants were eventually offered incentives to retire that they accepted.

As those less inclined towards reform retired, Fortier and Deputy Chief Mike Blakely (who came to Riverside in early 1994) sought to promote people who exhibited the proper skills and attitude. As Blakely puts it:

The two RPD chiefs did not, of course, expect that anyone in the department would be completely versed in community policing itself, since the agency simply had not provided them the necessary opportunities. But Fortier and Blakely sought to create those opportunities and monitor how people responded. Fortier explains:

Fortier and Blakely also looked outside the department altogether for people who had some of the qualifications that its own officers lacked. From the start, Fortier actually tried to bring in lateral hires at the management level, opening up all management jobs to outside applicants. Fortier remembers this strategy as a radical one that “threw down the gauntlet” to RPD managers: When he announced the new policy to the assembled command staff, he told the group, “if you want these jobs, you’re going to have to change,” laying particular stress on their need to embrace accountability. Fortier quickly made good on the promise by making two lateral hires—a Lieutenant from the San Bernadino Sheriff’s Office, and Blakely himself, who was hired from the SDPD as a Captain and immediately promoted to Deputy Chief.

The backlash against this effort was severe—at best department members resented the loss of a rare promotion opportunity, and at worst they took the move as a statement that in Fortier’s eyes, “in-house people weren’t good enough”— and many RPD managers believe that the Chief backed off on it. But Fortier insists that he did not, and that he was willing to consider outside applicants for all fourteen of the management positions he eventually filled during his four years in Riverside.

In any case, at the officer level, many people still entered the RPD laterally, and some RPD veterans believe that Fortier sought to promote these people in order to further cultural change. While neither Blakely nor Fortier describes a conscious strategy for doing this, Blakely does report that he consciously drew on outsiders for some assignments. For example, he reports that RPD officers’ strong feelings about the history of tensions with the Casa Blanca neighborhood made it difficult for them to view the situation objectively, so he tried to “reach [out] to people that were laterals, that had other outside law enforcement experience.”

In any case, many around the department recall a general sense that promotions sped up during this period, particularly from the officer level to Sergeant. One RPD veteran recalls: “Fortier came here and then he made fifty-two promotions in like three years, which is incredible because we were averaging like one promotion every three or four months before.” Another elaborates:

More important, as the sheer pace of promotions sped up, the criteria used to decide who got them changed dramatically. Fortier embarked on a complete overhaul of the promotions process, assigning a laterally-hired lieutenant to review “best practices” in the field, help develop new written tests, and assemble three panels that would have input into each promotion decision. Finally, officer evaluations began to incorporate problem-solving as a central component, and these evaluations in turn fed into promotion decisions.

Fortier insists that these efforts to build up a committed and able management team paid off. “The difference of what I left in place from when I started is like night and day. I mean, there really are some awfully good management people there.” In particular, of the RPD’s five patrol lieutenants who ran the city’s watches in 1993, only one is among today’s five area commanders, and Fortier expresses immense confidence in this group:

In this sense, the Chief felt that he accomplished his job of building a core of support in the management ranks who could in turn carry the message of reform to the rest of the department.

Nevertheless, the efforts also alienated many RPD members and thereby backfired with respect to the goal of building support for reform. Most simply, while Fortier could fill management positions using new criteria, he could not ensure that the new managers would have the necessary influence over their rank-and-file. Indeed, as the criteria for promotion changed, the entire process apparently lost some legitimacy in the eyes of the troops,5 so that many officers became cynical about how their new superiors had made their ranks. Particularly controversial was the fact that Fortier bypassed the traditional route from patrol officer to Sergeant: In the past, almost no one in Riverside had made that jump without passing through the detective rank. But under Fortier, a number of energetic officers were promoted directly to Sergeant without ever working as investigators. Many RPD veterans considered this route irresponsible: One explains, “We have supervisors who have been here just a short period of time that have no idea where that criminal report goes or what happens to it when they’re done with it.” Another elaborates:

Some officers specifically resented the promotion of outsiders, who they felt did not understand the “Riverside way of doing things.” More generally, many of the recent promotions got labelled as “Ken dolls” (after Fortier’s first name), the implication being that they had pandered to what the Chief wanted and now simply operated as his tools. So although Fortier was successful in changing the face of management and even supervision, the new face did not necessarily have the authority to bring the rest of the department along.

The opposite problem was perhaps even more severe: Despite their moniker, many of the department’s new promotions were not particularly loyal to the new administration and the reforms it valued, to the point that some of them actively stonewalled against them. “[Fortier] thought that all these folks that he was going to promote were going to buy into and go off down this road,” one RPD veteran explains. “[But] they didn’t. And it was almost like he would promote people—particularly guys who wanted to be Sergeant really bad—he’d promote them and then they’d kind of turn on him.”

A New Role for Middle Management

The basic problem was that promotions themselves did not necessarily breed loyalty in a situation where reform stirred up many other sources of resistance. It was not simply that the face of management was changing: Its mandate was changing as well, and in ways that exacerbated growing tensions within the RPD.

As described above, the Lieutenant role underwent perhaps the most dramatic changes in the new, community-oriented RPD, with middle managers shifting their duties from those of a watch commander to those of an area commander. Fortier tried to convey the content of the new role personally, sitting down with each area commander to explain what would be expected of him or her, and to discuss the Lieutenant’s plans for his or her area. As one of the first area commanders remembers it, the basic message in these talks was that “this area was [my] responsibility 24 hours.”

Lieutenants got substantial flexibility to accomplish these jobs. Managerially, they received many of the same powers as a police chief over their respective areas, allowing them to deploy personnel, reassign schedules, nominate projects, and do whatever else seemed necessary. Organizationally, they were moved out of the uniformed services branch and became salaried employees rather than hourly workers: Given their new 24-hour responsibilities, they needed to have flexible working hours, so it no longer made sense to employ them under the old shift system.

Some Lieutenants reportedly filled their new duties admirably, putting in long hours to meet with various community groups and respond to their concerns. But many department members report growing pains for some of the Lieutenants. As Fortier himself concedes:

Indeed, Fortier felt that Riverside’s longstanding ethos of “high trust, low control” had eviscerated management, making the sort of reform he proposed for lieutenants—which traded in the supervisory duties of a shift commander for the management duties of an area commander—particularly difficult.

Fortier’s call for management to press officers to buy into reform ran headlong into this norm. “They didn’t really want to face these troops,” he recalls. “I watched Captains stand in front of roll calls trying to explain some policy . . . and just wither away. They just could not bring themselves to tell these people something they didn’t want to hear. And so they would try to couch the terms, and maneuver.” Fortier recalls that some managers performed admirably, standing up to say “This is the right thing to do, and here’s why we’re doing it;” and he sent managers to assertiveness training to help deal with the problem. But for the most part, Fortier felt that the existing management culture frustrated his efforts in this area.

In the short run, the seemingly small detail of making Lieutenants salaried employees turned out to be even more damaging to reform, as it led to a sequence of problems that began to tear the Riverside Police Department apart. The trouble began as a matter of pay: When their new role made Lieutenants into salaried employees, they suddenly became exempt from certain provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. In particular, the group no longer got paid for overtime and holidays the way they had as watch commanders, with the result that their total compensation dropped some $300 per month (mostly out of retirement benefits). One former Lieutenant remembers:

The Lieutenants recognized the potential problems (though perhaps not their magnitude) from the start, but they went along with the reform anyhow. One remembers: “The lieutenants signed off on it, I think, just because they were going to be part of the team. They got on board the train and just wanted to be part of the movement towards C.O.P.P.S., and they felt this was something they had to do.” But over time the issue became the source of increasing concern, and in October of 1995, the city raised the Lieutenants’ pay by 5% in order to undo the damage that had been done.

From Supervisors to Watch Commanders

The move helped shore up support among Lieutenants, but it did so at a tremendous cost to relations with the Sergeants. That group had felt somewhat left out of community policing from the start: Sergeants had not been invited to participate in the “meeting on the mountain,” and their introduction to the new ideas came off as perfunctory. Mike Smith, the Lieutenant who spearheaded the area command effort, explains:

The Sergeants’ official “introduction” to their new jobs came in what is widely remembered as a 45-minute meeting that presented the changes as non-negotiable—most notably, that Sergeants would take over the Lieutenants’ old watch commander duties. “The salesmanship [to] Sergeants in that process never really occurred, it really did not,” Smith maintains. “It was just kind of like ‘This is what we are going to do.’”

Against this background, the Lieutenants’ pay raise turned into an explosive issue. When the new roles were first announced, neither group was compensated for what each perceived as an increased workload, and the two ranks began strategizing as to how they could jointly ask for a raise in salary (both Sergeants and Lieutenants belonged to the same bargaining group at the time, which was essentially the “management branch” of the Riverside Police Officers Association). But Smith explains that the Lieutenants’ raise shattered this emerging coalition:

Ironically, Smith and others maintain that the Lieutenants did not want to take the 5% raise when it was offered—despite Sergeants’ perceptions that the Lieutenants had “settled and laughed and left,” as one put it. But Fortier reportedly made the change unilaterally: “He called the Lieutenants into his office [and said], ‘This is what I am going to give you,’” Smith remembers hearing (by this time he had been promoted to Captain). “And they said, ‘No we are not going to take it,’ but he gave it to them anyway, just to get it resolved.” When he did, the Sergeants immediately looked into filing suit for breach of contract, and some of the simmering concerns about increased workload—which up until that point had not fundamentally damaged the reform efforts—reached a critical mass.

As Smith suggests, Sergeants were partly infuriated at the move because they felt the Chief had bypassed the existing collective bargaining arrangement by awarding a raise to one group within a single bargaining unit. Indeed, the pay issue ultimately led the Lieutenants to break off with the Captains into their own bargaining unit, institutionalizing the growing wedge between Sergeants and upper management. To be sure, Smith explains that break had other sources as well:

More concretely, as reform brought issues of compliance and discipline more and more to the fore, the Association focused more and more attention on defending members accused of wrongdoing and filing grievances about unwanted changes. As a result, Smith explains, Lieutenants and Captains found themselves in an increasingly awkward position in the old bargaining group:

Nevertheless, even if the flare-up over the pay raise was not the only reason behind the bargaining group’s split, it apparently served as the catalyst.

In any case, beyond the technical issue of whether or not the Chief had the authority to grant a raise to a single element of a bargaining unit, the Sergeants simply felt that they deserved a raise as much as the Lieutenants did: Their jobs, too, had become more demanding. As Lieutenant Pete Curzon, who as a Sergeant had served as the representative of his rank to the administration, explains:

The Lieutenants, of course, insisted that they were not really getting a raise at all but simply being compensated for their loss of holiday benefits—“to right a wrong, so to speak,” one explains. But that distinction was lost on the Sergeants, who saw their responsibilities increasing without any compensation.

In any case, Curzon raised some of these issues with Fortier, but he felt rebuffed by the Chief. “[He said], ‘Well, basically, that’s the way it’s going to be,’” Curzon remembers. “He was not responsive to any of the concerns that the Sergeants really had.” Curzon attributes the problem to Fortier’s management style—particularly his background in a large agency, which made him unfamiliar dealing with Sergeants at all. “He wasn’t used to speaking to Sergeants,” Curzon maintains. “They were just people: If you come from a big agency, the Sergeants are nothing at all.” Whether or not that was true, the perception that Fortier was unconcerned with their plight led Sergeants to withdraw. “We would go to these quarterly management meetings, and you would hardly ever hear a Sergeant ask a question,” Curzon remembers.

Fortier himself had expected the Lieutenants and the Captains to keep encouraging their Sergeants to carry out their new duties, but that apparently wasn’t happening. RPD members offer several explanations for this failure. Some felt that the new area commander role simply took Lieutenants too far away from the department. “Lieutenants became area commanders and they embarked on more of a mission of getting out into the community, going to chamber of commerce meetings, going to neighborhood advisory committee meetings,” one Lieutenant from the period explains. “[But they were] not spending a whole lot of time mentoring Sergeants, giving Sergeants expectations, and those kinds of things. And so the Sergeants just kind of continued being supervisors.” Others explain the problem in terms of a mismatch between the two ranks’ areas of responsibility: Each Lieutenant was formally assigned four Sergeants to supervise, but because of insufficient manpower, Sergeants did not always get permanent assignments to their Lieutenant’s area—with the result that any given lieutenant might supervise sergeants in different areas of the city. Moreover, the system of one Lieutenant per area virtually ensured that a Lieutenant would not physically see two shifts of the sergeants who reported to him or her. Together, these two problems undermined the Lieutenants’ ability to manage their Sergeants closely. One current Lieutenant explains:

Finally, some Lieutenants argue that they simply did not have enough authority to make recalcitrant Sergeants take their new roles seriously, because performance evaluations did not cover many of the relevant responsibilities. “Sometimes they will call people back to work or hold people over on shifts when it is convenient to them,” one Lieutenant maintains, “because the budgetary responsibility falls usually on management and administration. They’re never held accountable: There is nothing in the evaluation that holds them accountable for budgetary decisions. And yet as a watch commander sergeant, they have the ability to call people back.”

Whatever the causes of upper management’s failure to mentor Sergeants effectively and secure their cooperation, the consequences were clear: With some exceptions, Sergeants were not taking over the Lieutenants’ old watch commander duties, and basic operations were falling apart. Curzon maintains that “this watch commander and Sergeant responsibility . . . still is a burning issue in field operations,” and one Lieutenant argues that while “some of the Sergeants are excellent,” many never accepted their new duties:

Again, some of these issues reportedly worked fairly well at the start of the area command system, but as resistance grew because of problems like the pay raise, the system broke down. Lieutenant Pete Esquivel makes the point clearly:

Fortier concedes that he was never able to get the Sergeants to buy-in to reform: “We really found, toward the last year that I was there, that the Sergeants were really adrift,” Fortier explains. “They were all doing things differently, and they weren’t buying it. Community policing tended to stop at five o’clock, when the Lieutenants went home.” In retrospect, he believes that he should have worked more directly with his front-line supervisors: “I tended to rely very heavily on the management side, and we probably could have done it a little bit differently—spent more time with the Sergeants.”

Compared with these problems in management and supervisory levels, community policing was both more and less successful in the patrol force. It was more successful in that the department created several innovative special units focused on community problem solving, and these units began to create a home-grown capacity for community policing that may serve as a springboard for future evolution. But it was also less successful, because it was in the patrol force that resistance became so severe that it began to become a public issue and take a toll on Fortier’s political support.

The POP Teams

At the center of the brewing storm about Riverside’s reforms, the problem-oriented policing (POP) team was relatively sheltered from turmoil. Together with the area commands themselves, the team was the early locus for Riverside’s community policing efforts—one that Fortier describes as “a way of jump-starting community policing.” In his estimation, the POP team became an unequivocal success: “They did an excellent job. The people that were assigned to [the POP team] and their supervision really took it seriously . . . They really began to attack neighborhood problems.”

The POP team was born in July of 1993, when eight officers and one Sergeant were removed from the patrol force, assigned to a special unit with no required 911 responsibilities, and charged with identifying and solving neighborhood problems. The first assignment to oversee the unit went to sergeant Alex Tortes, who set about soliciting interest for eight diverse, proactive officers who would make Riverside’s first formal forays into neighborhood problem-solving.

The POP team’s basic duties were to identify and respond to neighborhood problems—particularly those nominated through the new area command system, but also those raised in the community meetings POP officers themselves attended, as well as problems that they or the patrol force identified on their own. But Tortes sought to expand the unit’s duties beyond this core: Recognizing the potential for special units to detach from the mainstream of operations, he insisted that his officers participate in patrol work when time permitted by attending regular roll calls, taking calls for service, and serving as back-up to other patrol units. In any case, the eight officers were split into four teams of two, each assigned to one area (with the exception of areas three and four, which split a team between them; later on the unit would add two more officers so that every area would have its own POP team).

Tortes sought to school his unit in creative problem-solving techniques that went beyond the traditional tactics of arrest and patrol (though those tactics were not ruled out). His previous experience offered some starting points: During a recent stint as Sergeant for the RPD’s gang unit, Tortes had learned how the city’s civil abatement laws and its code compliance department could help deal with chronic neighborhood problems, and the POP team adopted these tactics for its own use. For example, when one local hotel was identified as a hotbed of drug dealing and prostitution, POP officers were able to persuade the hotel’s management that the problems were serious by explaining how civil abatement laws could be used to levy fines against them. With management’s attention piqued, the officers could then suggest more immediate solutions to the problem, like requiring both a driver’s license and a credit card to rent a room—identification that many dealers and prostitutes did not have.

Developments in Riverside’s Office of the City Attorney gave the POP team a boost in using these tactics. Long a relatively low-profile operation, the City Attorney’s office got a new breath of life in the summer of 1992, when City Council appointed Stanley Yamamoto as its new head and gave him a clear mandate for reform. Yamamoto quickly sought to refocus the office’s flagging attention with a fervor that matched Fortier’s own efforts in the RPD. For police, his efforts to use civil laws to fight crime in the downtown area stood out as especially important. For example, in the Spring of 1995, Council approved a plan Yamamoto had drawn up that would allow the city to sue gang members in civil court, arguing that they had created a “climate of fear” that constituted a public nuisance; using a similar logic, the plan also empowered the city to sue landlords who rented to drug dealers. Later that same year, Council approved another plan from the City Attorney’s office that would help manage growing difficulties with the homeless, making it illegal to panhandle aggressively and to lie down on city sidewalks. Many of these efforts were controversial: For example, an ACLU attorney called the anti-gang ordinance “a cheap shortcut around constitutional protections,” and a federal judge struck down the anti-begging ordinance as an unconstitutional violation of free speech.6 But Yamamoto’s efforts brought many old and new anti-crime tools into use, and the POP team in particular added them to its repertoire.

Other city agencies were not always so forthcoming, at least in the POP unit’s early days. Code compliance, for example, turned out to be an extremely useful partner for the POP team, but it initially resisted officers’ overtures about problem properties. It was not that code enforcement officers absolutely rejected problems nominated by police: It was simply that they did not get to them in what police considered to be a timely fashion, and when pressed, some would argue that their agency had its own backlog of work that needed attention first. “It was a real problem,” one officer recalls, “because the citizens were starting to lose faith in the officers. They were saying, ‘We tell you about these problems, but nothing gets done.’” It was sometimes possible to persuade code enforcement that the projects police were nominating were community concerns rather than pet projects of the police. But the POP team eventually had to raise the issue with Fortier and Holmes, who directed the agency to give POP projects a high priority—reinforcing a general mandate he had given to all city agencies at the outset of community policing.

With these interventions from above, the code enforcement relationship improved over time, and many other agencies began contributing to the POP team’s growing toolbox. The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), for example, was reportedly very enthusiastic about cooperating with POP officers—indeed, the local HUD office was relieved that it finally had someone in the RPD to work with as it tried to bring its own problem properties under control. Parole and probation have also become close partners with the POP team, and they have been instrumental to the RPD’s efforts to deal with problem people around the downtown bus stop. Finally, the POP team has also involved social service agencies like the county mental health department in its efforts to deal with the homeless.

Many of these interagency efforts shared a common focus on property owners, and the POP team brought that emphasis to its logical conclusion by organizing a special program for Riverside’s landlords. The initiative, called the “Crime-Free Multihousing Program,” was essentially a training program for landlords that advised them about strategies they could use to deal with crime. A number of programs of this sort were becoming popular in policing circles at the time, but Riverside imported the idea from Mesa, Arizona. Sergeant Lisa Williams, who oversees the POP team and Crime-Free Multihousing today, explains that Riverside had more affinity for Mesa’s program because of its “aggressive” posture:

Sympathetic to this approach, the RPD sent a detective to Mesa to be trained in the program, and it received support from city government to move forward. The first eight-hour class, run by two officers from the POP team, was held in the fall of 1995.

The program works in a number of phases, the first of which is the training itself. As Williams describes it, the training center on one basic message: “You can set the tone. You’re the owner, and if you want to set very high standards for your property, then by all means, do so.” Screening techniques are one strategy, and landlords are taught that so long as they apply legitimate categories consistently (such as prior criminal record), they can keep certain types of people out of their property. But the sessions also describe things like how to evict problem tenants who slip through that process, how to implement effective crime prevention techniques, and how and when to contact police. The trainings are mostly designed and run by POP officers (today the RPD gives full-time responsibility for the program to two officers within the POP unit), but others participate as well. For example, Yamamoto lectures the class on how managers can protect themselves from civil liability suits, and his office prepared the curriculum for evictions. Landlords are not required to use specific techniques; instead, the training seeks to describe the menu of options available to them so that they can make informed choices about how to manage their properties.

RPD officers follow up the training after a set period of time by visiting each participant’s property and checking it for compliance with program principles (for example, to be considered “compliant,” certain standards of physical security and upkeep must be met, and a landlord must have some process for screening applicants—though the department does not prescribe what screening criteria should be used). Compliant properties then host an open tenant meeting attended by POP officers, who explain to residents what their landlord is doing and ask for help in monitoring the property’s compliance. Properties that satisfy all of these requirements are issued signs that announce their participation in Crime-Free Multihousing, and which serve as something of an advertisement to potential tenants that the landlord is serious about safety. The signs can be revoked if a property fails to meet program guidelines, and new owners or managers must attend the class to keep their property in compliance.

Crime-Free Multihousing became a central tool in the POP team’s repertoire. Property owners learn about the program in many ways: The RPD sends out periodic invitations to many landlords (everyone who owns more than two apartments must have a business license on file with the city), and it sometimes tries to target these mailings to areas with growing crime problems. Patrol officers who take a call in an apartment complex may also leave information about the program, and they sometimes alert the POP team to a property’s troubles. Finally, POP officers themselves often use Crime-Free Multihousing as part of their plans to tackle neighborhood problems, using it to elicit cooperation from landlords. In most cases, landlords sign up willingly for the classes, seeing them as a way to help bring crime under control. “[A lot of] people,” Williams explains, “come to class and take it real seriously, with the attitude, ‘I have to live here, and my kids have to live here.’” But some landlords are not so cooperative, and in those cases the team may move on to what one POP officer calls the “hammer” approach: The use of civil laws to put pressure on landlords, as in the hotel example above. Occasionally, local courts have even ordered landlords into the program as part of a civil judgment.

Civil abatement laws, interagency collaboration, and the Crime-Free Multihousing class have developed into a broad array of weapons that the POP team can use to deal with neighborhood problems—particularly those centered on problem properties, such as apartment complexes or hotels. In essence, these strategies attack recalcitrant problems by identifying a new set of pressure points, so that it is fair to describe Riverside’s POP efforts as oriented towards sanctions (though environmental and social service interventions are not absent in the city). As one officer puts it, “POP is the most aggressive form of policing in the world. Some of these landlords, we’d come after them with the gang enforcement, we’d come after them with codes, we’d come after them with HUD . . . [They would] come up to me and say, ‘What the hell is going on here?’”

The POP teams quickly became viewed as a success in the city: City council members who raised neighborhood problems with area Lieutenants found that the POP unit dealt with many of them successfully, and residents too developed a relationship with some of the POP officers who were responding to their concerns at last. Finally, although some city agencies resented the work that the teams were sending their way, others were thankful that they finally had steady contacts in the RPD to work with.

There were, of course, some concerns about the POP unit. Some community residents felt that although many of the two-officer teams were excellent, others were less productive. Within the RPD, some felt that particularly at the outset, POP “solutions”—like moving phone booths out of street drug markets—could be superficial; and others worried that the team was monopolizing problem-solving experience (many area Lieutenants bypassed the patrol force altogether, assigning most of their POP projects directly to the teams). Moreover, the POP unit itself had disagreements about its focus—notably whether it should act like an autonomous “target team” or, as Tortes believed, it should be more integrated with the patrol force. Finally, the teams did not entirely escape wider departmental tensions, which could influence an officer’s motivation to bid for community policing assignments such as the POP unit, the department’s bicycle teams, and its University Neighborhood Enforcement Team. Indeed, in March of 1997, as Fortier’s tenure wound down, almost all officers in community policing assignments requested transfers out of them to show their displeasure with the Chief. Earlier on, revisions to the citizen’s complaint process reportedly made some officers wary of all proactive assignments, which by virtue of their visibility were seen as lightning-rods for complaints. One community policing officer explains:

But despite these concerns, the POP teams in their own right were on balance a clear success. The real difficulty came in trying to diffuse that success to the rest of the RPD.

Spreading The POP Teams

From the start the POP team was intended to jump-start rather than carry community policing in Riverside, and upper management took several steps to spread its methods to patrol. First of all, just as the meeting on the mountain had led to a redefinition of management and supervisory roles, so it also led to a redefined role for officers. A new emphasis was placed on looking behind incidents for the problems that were generating them, and officers received a mandate to draw on whatever resources they needed to solve those problems. As Deputy Chief Mike Blakely puts it, the new charge was to “go fix that problem—find out what it is and go fix it.” The new mandate was supported by new authority: “I don’t care where you get the resources from,” Blakely remembers explaining to the troops. “Go get them, but go fix the problem. [So] officers were getting greater freedom not to be restrained by working days, by working hours, by who they could talk to, and the chain of command.”

Indeed, this radical decentralization was the only way to make community problem-solving work in an agency with growing resistance at the Sergeant and Lieutenant levels: It became critical to protect officers doing community policing from recalcitrant supervisors by giving them direct authority to act and by offering them support. Blakely explains the situation from the officer’s viewpoint:

Expanding on the last point, Blakely explains that Fortier’s reforms to the promotions process ensured that problem-solving, and not loyalty to the existing system, would be rewarded. “It was not uncommon for . . . middle managers to come up and recommend this person for promotion, [but] the Chief would come out and say, ‘I’m not [promoting] this person because this person isn’t fulfilling the vision that I have for the organization.” Blakely admits that this strategy had the effect of further alienating middle managers, but he felt that was a necessary cost to pay.

More positively, the department sought to encourage community problem-solving through an initial training on the topic that came soon after the meeting on the mountain. Unfortunately, this training turned out to be a disaster on many levels. First of all, many RPD officers resented the fact that the training came from San Diego: The sessions were run by two young7 SDPD Sergeants, and as many RPD veterans remember it, the basic message that came across was that “everything you have been doing here in Riverside is wrong, and we are going to tell you how to do it like we do it in San Diego.” Beyond such allegedly direct challenges, the simple fact that the officers came from San Diego and referred to SDPD programs exacerbated existing tensions over Fortier’s frequent references to his old department. “Everything was San Diego, San Diego, San Diego,” one RPD veteran explains; and another elaborates on departmental sentiment about this issue:

Indeed, at one point Holmes counseled Fortier to stop referring to his old department, for while he himself knew that the Chief had great respect for RPD personnel, the City Manager recognized that repeated references to other cities “irritate the staff.” Nevertheless, though Fortier understood the downside of using San Diego trainers, he felt that it was the only option. “If I’d been able to do it another way I would have, because I knew there there’d be some certain resentment over San Diego cops coming and training Riverside cops. But these are the best available, and they were paid for by the state [which reimburses police agencies only for training it has certified]. It was a very good way to do it.”

Either way, there were several other objections to the training. Some officers apparently disliked what they perceived to be the sessions’ basic message—that “problem oriented policing was about moving some phones, shaking hands and talking to folks,” and that “it was this warm and fuzzy thing,” as one puts it. Others simply did not find the training very encouraging, as they heard the teachers describing programs that they themselves admitted had not completely succeeded. Even dispatchers took personal offense at the criticisms of 911, for both the trainers and RPD officers portrayed that system as a burden that stifled creative work. In the end, some of the sessions deteriorated into arguments between the trainers and their students.

The training was not a complete wash: Some of the techniques it introduced—like the much-maligned moving of phone booths—quickly showed up in POP logs as the response to a number of neighborhood problems. Moreover, some Sergeants and Lieutenants would occasionally supplement it with informal instruction in community problem solving for their own officers. But this first training, at least, clearly did not meet the need for a department-wide indoctrination into C.O.P.P.S.

The administration’s final strategy for bringing community policing to the patrol force was through assignments—specifically, putting a two-year limit on assignments to the POP team. The idea behind this limitation was that POP officers would gradually spread throughout the department and bring their knowledge and experience in problem-solving with them. One RPD Captain maintains that it paid off: “Now we have thirty or forty people out there that have been POP officers, [and] they know how to problem-solve.” Indeed, POP logs show that outside POP officers themselves, former POP officers are among the most frequent problem-solvers in the RPD.

But despite these strategies for decentralization, training, and POP assignments, it does not appear that problem-solving has truly taken off in the patrol force at large. One former POP Sergeant, for example, recalls that his team was immensely productive, “but in essence we were the only people doing it.” Even today, one Captain who strongly supports community policing admits that “right now, I think the POP team is probably the focal point,” though he maintains that the department is “moving towards [involvement by the patrol force]—we really are.” Statistics bear these impressions out: In 1994, the POP team worked on nearly 6 POP projects for every one in the patrol force, and while patrol did get somewhat more involved in POP projects during the following two years, the POP teams still worked on three times as many projects as the patrol force in 1995, and four times as many in 1996.8 In other words, by the beginning of 1997, four years into reform, POP had not spread into the patrol force at large.9
Sources of Resistance

The problems with the specific strategies used to build support among the troops—like the backlash against the training sessions and the difficulties with supervisors—might have been enough to cripple community policing in Riverside. But resistance became even more severe because of the other reform efforts that were going on at the same time.

First of all, the POP teams themselves became a source of some minor tension in the RPD. For a time, at least, the unit became isolated from the rest of the patrol force: At best, other officers simply had no idea what the teams were doing, and at worst, they resented POP officers as yet another elite unit that had upper management’s favor. But more important was the concern that POP teams and other community policing units robbed the patrol force of manpower—something the RPD, with only 1.3 officers per 1,000 residents, felt it could not afford. Indeed, the manpower issue was a live one even before the POP teams got started, and moving officers out of patrol to fill them made it even more salient. RPOA president Ron Wright maintains that the lack of staffing began to affect every patrol officer. “What was starting to happen in patrol is you would get down to a certain level and you could not get time off, so people were turning around and calling in sick when they were not sick,” he maintains, arguing that the POP team helped create this situation by taking eleven positions out of patrol. “I think the concept [of community policing] is good, but it is labor-intensive depending on how you do it.”

Fortier apparently recognized some of these concerns: When Police Hiring Supplement money first became available in 1993, he had proposed using the money to hire seven officers for a second POP unit. But as complaints about coverage in the patrol force grew, the department sought and received permission from the federal government to redirect these new hires to patrol. Moreover, the Chief supported several other efforts to raise funding for more officers. For example, in 1994, he and Mayor Ron Loveridge joined Fire Chief Mike Vonada in an effort to pass a referendum named “Measure JJ,” which would raise property taxes in order to fund 30 new police officers (among other expenses). The idea initially came from Loveridge, who had campaigned on it two years earlier, but the Mayor credited Fortier with pushing him to get the council to put it on the ballot.10 But although Fortier, Loveridge, and Vonada routinely talked about JJ in their presentations to community groups, a real campaign to support the measure never materialized, and it went down in a thundering 2-1 defeat. (In fact, a single opponent apparently outspent the entire pro-JJ effort, which raised little more than $2,000.) Despite this setback, the RPD was able to draw on COPS AHEAD funding for one more officer, and city government increased general fund money for police slightly, with the result that sworn staffing grew by 18 from 1993 to 1996 (at its peak in 1995, staffing reached 331—26 more than at the start of 1993). But these small improvements did not seem to register with the patrol force, as the complaints about lack of manpower never went away.

Unfortunately, the RPD faced a situation where it would have been very difficult to find more money to fund hiring. When Fortier took over the department, Riverside’s government was doing better than much of the rest of California financially, but that was only because it had used revenues from its publicly-owned electric utility to offset declining tax receipts: In 1991, council voted to increase the proportion of gross utility revenues that went to the general fund from 7.5% to 9.1%, and in 1993, it raised the figure again to 10.5%. (In part, the second hike aimed to put 25 more officers on the street, though later financial troubles forced the city to back off from that figure.) But as the recession deepened—local sales tax revenues dropped 5 million dollars in 1996 alone, and state government began keeping a greater share of the pie to make up for its own lost income— that strategy became increasingly problematic. Worse still, perennial talk of deregulating utilities in the state became increasingly serious until 1996, when state government passed deregulation into law. The result was that Riverside needed to begin weaning itself from utility money, and every city agency was forced to make steep budget cuts, reducing the payrolls by the equivalent of nearly four hundred positions in two years. Police and fire were spared from some of this pain, as their share of the budget has climbed from 45% to 62% in the past five years. But even that growth did not completely eliminate the financial pressure on them. In any event, pay raises and staffing increases were out of the question. “Last year we cut $5 million out of a general fund budget of $105 million,” Mayor Ron Loveridge explains. “In the last two years the city work force is 400 fewer people. I mean, we’re not talking about cutting a small thing here and a small thing there. We’re talking about a significant number of people. There simply was no money available.”

Tightening up Administration

Fortier’s response to this situation takes us out of the patrol force and into the category of administrative reforms, including the “organizational infrastructure” efforts described at the outset of this section. Specifically, Fortier’s strategy for dealing with growing budget pressure was to embark on a program of fiscal rationalization, seeking to cut costs, find new sources of revenue, and reduce workload through call diversion and prioritization.

Cutting Costs in the RPD

Fortier performed these jobs with more success than anyone had felt possible. Reducing court-related overtime expenses, for example, had been considered an impossible job: “There was a belief here from everyone that you couldn’t control overtime, that it was unmanageable,” one RPD member explains. But Fortier was able to identify unnecessary costs in the system—for example, the D.A. would regularly call every officer at the scene of a crime when testimony from one would suffice— and by creating a “Court Services Unit” within the police department to coordinate appearances with the D.A., he was able to reduce expenses by $300,000 in little more than three years (almost every quarter after the program’s inception showed a one-third drop in court overtime expenses compared with the same quarter the previous year). On the revenue side, Fortier willingly worked on a citywide effort to attach fees to any services provided to a select group of people rather than the public as a whole. For example, people convicted of alcohol-related traffic accidents can now be billed for police and fire department time, and a “loud party ordinance” made party hosts liable for police costs if officers had to return to their house after warning them about noise. The department also identified new sources of funding for some projects, like its seven community policing storefronts: Two of these storefronts are funded by Community Development Block Grant money, and space for some of them was donated by area shopping centers.

Despite their success, the fruits of these savings were only able to hold the line against staffing cuts, rather than expand the department outright, and Fortier’s budgetary success never translated into political capital with the troops. Indeed, not only did these efforts fail to turn Fortier into a hero: Some actually undermined support by infringing on the agency’s sacred cows. The reduction in court overtime, for example, reportedly “went over like a lead balloon,” as one city official puts it: However rational, the effort robbed officers and detectives of additional income from overtime. An effort to change detective work schedules also became controversial: Shortly before Fortier had arrived in Riverside, the city and the RPOA had agreed to try out the 4-10 schedule in the detective division on a trial basis for six months. But the agreement gave the RPD Chief the right to recommend against making the change permanent, and when Fortier told the RPOA he intended to do so, the Association threatened to sue. Each side carried out its announced intentions, and after a protracted struggle the detectives wound up with a compromise 9-80 plan.11

Perhaps the most explosive cost-containment effort Fortier undertook was reducing Riverside’s fleet of patrol cars. The effort took shape at the intersection of two forces: The budgetary trauma just described, and an automation initiative that Fortier brought with him to the RPD. Most simply, the department’s huge patrol car fleet was simply becoming unsustainable in the light of a tight fiscal policy. “I was asked to cut a little over a million dollars from the upcoming operating budget,” Fortier remembers of his first months on the job.

Moreover, the size of the patrol car fleet came at a cost to the investment in each car, as the RPD had to spread an essentially constant amount of money over an increasing number of vehicles. Consequently, the department put minimal equipment in the patrol cars, and some argue that fleet quality and maintenance suffered as well.

The size of the fleet turned out to be the result of an earlier policy decision to provide one car per officer: As complaints about getting into cars that someone else had driven grew, the administration conceded to officer demands for their own individual cars. (In fact, Riverside was just finishing its four-year phase-in of the policy when Fortier arrived in the city.) But Fortier felt that the practice could not continue, so he proposed switching to a pool fleet in which officers would share cars—a change that would ultimately cut the number of cars by more than half. In his words:

But despite these attempts to build support for the effort, many officers rejected it with a vengeance. “That didn’t work,” Fortier admits. “We just got nothing but total resistance to that. And we really got no help from those who could have helped us in terms of [keeping] these cars maintained. The opposite happened: They started trying to find things wrong with the fleet, and started damaging [the cars] and not reporting damage, and stuff like that. They really worked against it.”

Despite the backlash, the administration did not relent on the effort. It perhaps took heart from the fact that while some officers were visibly angry about losing their personal cars, others—including some well-respected and senior members of the force—did not much care either way. In any event, the City Manager’s office felt that the reform was an eminently practical one, and the smaller fleet enabled the department to install MDTs and thereby advance Fortier’s effort to begin computerizing the department. Nevertheless, these gains came at a severe cost to Fortier’s support in the patrol force: Against the background of innumerable smaller gripes about reform, the patrol car issue stands out as one of a handful that were viewed as serious affronts.

Thus if cost-containment efforts succeeded on their own terms—and indeed, they realized savings that many city officials had never dreamt possible— they did so at a cost to Fortier’s support in the department. Many of these reforms reflected conventional wisdom in the professional community and had been specifically proposed in the thorough Ralph Andersen audit. But they represented a radical departure from the way things had been done in Riverside, and no effective strategy emerged to dampen the friction between the old and the new.

Improving Accountability in the RPD: The Case of Citizen Complaints

The same combination of success and failure arose in Fortier’s other administrative reforms, which focused not on cost but on improving accountability and on formalizing many of the department’s loose organizational systems. The scope of these efforts was staggering: Innumerable departmental functions were computerized, formalized, and automated, including areas as diverse as budgeting, hiring, asset forfeiture, and payroll. Moreover, many previously ad hoc functions became institutionalized, including grant-getting, crime analysis, and recruitment.12 It is clearly impossible to review all of these efforts in detail. Instead, we will try to understand the challenges they entailed by focusing on one example of them: Riverside’s reforms of its citizen complaint process, together with related changes to internal affairs.

The idea to reform internal affairs and citizen complaints hailed at least back to the 1992 Ralph Andersen and Associates audit, which called for an expanded and renamed IA unit and a more structured process for taking complaints and delegating their investigations. Riverside officials like City Manager John Holmes and Deputy City Attorney Greg Priamos (who was Yamamoto’s police liaison) had also prodded the department to make changes, and Priamos in particular worked closely with IA to make many of the changes that emerged, with an eye to reducing the city’s exposure to liability suits. But the immediate source of the reforms that did emerge was Chief Fortier.

Fortier knew about some potential problems with complaints and discipline from the Ralph Andersen audit, and his first days as Chief confirmed them. “The first day I was there, I asked for a little synopsis of every police complaint that resulted in discipline for the last year,” he recalls.

The lack of records was of course only the tip of the iceberg, for most complaints were not handled formally at all. “A lot of the time,” one RPD veteran explains, “a complaint was pretty much handled informally by a Sergeant who said, ‘Okay, ma’am I’ll take care of it. I’ll talk to my guy.’ . . . There had been minimal tracking of citizens’ complaints and for all intents and purposes minimum accountability.” Those few complaints that were too serious or tenacious to handle informally13 were sent directly to the Chief’s office. In theory, they were supposed to be investigated by the single Sergeant who made up the RPD’s Internal Affairs unit, and who also had responsibility for duties like risk management and workers compensation claims. But Fortier quickly got the impression that this arrangement wasn’t working. “Investigations really weren’t being done,” he maintains.

Thus Fortier felt that there were problems clear through the complaint and discipline system: Many complaints were being deflected at the time citizens made them, never making it into the department’s records at all; and those that did make it through were not being investigated thoroughly.

Fortier approached the Internal Affairs problems with manpower and training. Believing that a single Sergeant simply could not handle the IA workload for a department of some 400 employees, Fortier revamped Internal Affairs and staffed it with a Lieutenant, two Sergeants, a detective, and a clerical support person. The new staff received extensive training in their new jobs from California schools, and Fortier assigned Deputy Chief Mike Blakely to guide the new unit. In addition to working in committee to revise the department’s IA policy and to write up a manual of procedures, Blakely also tried to mentor investigators. As he remembers it:

Blakely concedes that pushing this process “didn’t make you real popular,” and indeed, the department weathered a few tense, high-profile investigations of its own officers.15 But he maintains that it was absolutely worthwhile. First of all, stronger investigations have “ferreted out . . . some significant misconduct,” he argues: Six people were fired for felonious assaults on prisoners alone, and several more for corruption (like stealing money recovered from a bank robbery, trafficking in stolen goods, and selling equipment for manufacturing drugs). Second, Blakely maintains that IA staff ultimately realized the benefits of the approach: “Those who got through it, most of them I think recognized that it was real positive.”

In any case, Fortier himself was satisfied with the results. “After a few years, we had an internal affairs unit that was second to none,” he maintains. “And I don’t mean from the standpoint of persecuting officers or finding things wrong. They were fair; they were getting the truth.” Indeed, the Chief reports that even the RPOA—at least, “those that were pretty reasonable people”—were satisfied that the investigations were fair. “They didn’t like it necessarily,” Fortier admits. “But they had a lot of confidence that when internal affairs got a case it was going to be done right.”

The second prong of Fortier’s attack on the IA system involved revising the policy that governed citizen complaints, and that effort led to more widespread resistance. Fortier assigned the job to newly-promoted Lieutenant Audrey Wilson, who as Sergeant had overseen IA during the last months of the Richardson administration. Wilson’s basic mandate was to craft a policy that would require the department to record and investigate every bona-fide complaint that came in, regardless of how minor it was, who it came from, or who it was made to. Complainants would no longer be told to come back when the officer’s Sergeant was on duty, and Sergeants would no longer try to dissuade people from filing their complaints with them.

Recognizing that the topic was contentious, Wilson tried to build consensus for the revisions by seeking a wide spectrum of opinions. “We had a couple of drafts and we were really trying to be, I would say, collaborative,” she explains.

But Wilson reports that Fortier cut this process short: “It wasn’t going fast enough for Fortier and he called me into his office one day and he said, ‘I want a policy, and I want it today. . . Just do it.’” Wilson expressed her misgivings to the Chief, but he felt the policy was ready to go out, so she made a few additional adjustments on her own and sent the policy out the same afternoon.

The first real signs of trouble came a few weeks later, in September of 1993, when Wilson had to announce the policy to the department’s Sergeants, who would be responsible for investigating the bulk of the complaints that would now be taken in. “I stood up in front of all those Sergeants, and I swear to God, if they could have thrown tomatoes at me, they would have thrown tomatoes at me,” Wilson remembers. “It was that bad.” Many Sergeants reportedly felt that the policy would overwhelm them with mostly trivial and even downright fabricated complaints, and they resented having it forced on them without much say in the matter.

Given this sentiment, some believed that the policy would be still-born—that Sergeants would not accept the complaints citizens brought them. But in fact the opposite happened: Department members accepted literally every issue raised by a citizen as a “complaint” to be investigated, even cases that Fortier himself felt warranted less formal treatment. “What the policy said very clearly was, ‘Use your judgment,’” Fortier explains. “If the issue isn’t really bona fide, say so, and move on.” For example, citizens have been known to “complain” that an officer would not let them remove their personal belongings from a car that is being towed, even though that is entirely within the officer’s right. But many department members were reportedly accepting even these sorts of complaints for investigation, and the RPD’s total number of complaints skyrocketed from 38 in 1992 to 351 the following year, and to 457 in 1994 (the first full year that the policy was in effect).16

Fortier himself interpreted that reaction as a form of resistance. “I think they were taking it very literally and . . . saying, ‘Well, God, the Chief tells me that I’ve got to take these complaints and investigate them. . . . Well, I’m going show him. I’m not going to get in any trouble by making that judgment call, so I’m going to do everything.” But others argue that the problem was Fortier’s growing reputation as an autocrat—brought about by events like the wave of retirements that came after the meeting on the mountain as well as his blunt manner of dealing with people (Fortier himself admits to not being “warm and fuzzy” 17). Pete Curzon, who took over IAD in 1995, explains that “Fortier was viewed as somewhat autocratic. Nobody wanted to get on his bad side, so people just took the complaints instead of applying some common sense.” Wilson elaborates on the same idea:

But Wilson suggests that Fortier did not see such connections. “He never really understood why everyone took it the way they did,” she explains. “He never really saw the effect that he had on people, and he didn’t understand the accumulative effect of the big C.O.P.P.S. training and all of that rumor and conjecture and the big blow-up there, followed by the complaint policy. All of these things sort of added on one another and created this climate of fear. The retirements. It was just an accumulation of things.”

Whether it was a form of resistance to an unpopular policy or simply a natural reaction to Fortier’s reputation, overzealous implementation of the new complaint policy needed to be moderated. The complaint policy was revised a few times to clarify its original intentions, and the administration tried to explain what it had meant at departmental meetings. “Lieutenants were able to convince Sergeants that it’s okay to be a little more selective,” Wilson recalls. “[We would say,] ‘I don’t think I would do this. I don’t think I would take a complaint on this.’” Moreover, IA created a new category of citizen statements called an “inquiry,” which provided an outlet for citizen “complaints” that did not warrant investigation but which could be tracked to gauge patterns. Finally, Fortier himself sought to encourage supervisors to use their judgment by backing them when they did so. “I think it’s safe to say that we backed every judgment call they made,” he explains. “If they chose not to investigate a complaint, even though we may have made a different call, unless it was someone stealing the crown jewels, we really tried to back them.” Indeed, Fortier recalls trying to make a public show of support on this issue:

Over time, the number of recorded complaints did fall substantially, suggesting that the message had begun to sink in: From its high of 457 complaints in 1994, the total fell to 169 in 1995 and just 79 by 1997 (the pre-Fortier high had been 44 in 1988).

Nevertheless, by the time the number of complaints came down, the damage had apparently been done, for the complaint policy remained a burning issue throughout Fortier’s tenure. Some department members basically agreed with the changes: For example, Curzon explains that “I think that the complaint policy was Fortier’s way of bringing a certain level of accountability and responsibility, and people need to justify and be accountable for their actions”—though he like most department members felt that initial implementation went too far. But he admits that many officers did not see the issue the same way—so much so that when asked what tipped resistance to Fortier’s reforms beyond the point of no return, he argues that the complaint policy was central. “Bar none, if you had to point to one thing, it was the complaint policy,” he maintains. “There was considerable resistance by the troops to that because . . . police officers don’t like to be under investigation no matter what the charge. Whether it’s a capital offense or more than three guys at a restaurant, they don’t like to be under investigation.” 18 RPOA President Ron Wright gives a similar interpretation of the reaction:

Many in the department maintain that internal investigations of these complaints rarely led to significant discipline. “Statistically, [there was] minimal discipline behind the complaints,” Curzon maintains. “It brought accountability, but people getting spanked for it—it just never happened.”19 But it was impossible to convey that message to officers. “They didn’t understand how Internal Affairs works. As much as you tried to change that, it just became the albatross around [Fortier’s] neck. It really did. He could not shake that complaint policy.”

The administration expected resistance, so it was not particularly surprised by these reactions. Blakely recalls:

Blakely concedes that “you do react” to the resistance. “You have to react to that.” But the reaction was not to change the policy substantially in response to officer complaints (though those changes that were designed to help supervisors exercise judgment answered some of them). In any case, it was not clear that the RPOA had any formal voice in the matter, since the complaint policy arguably did not affect “working conditions” as defined by the collective bargaining agreement.

The Backlash against Reform

Be that as it may, the issue was one of several that radicalized the RPOA and led to an all-out assault on Fortier’s leadership, punctuated by an overwhelming vote of no confidence. Officer complaints grew one-by-one, from the patrol car issue, to the complaint policy, to promotion decisions, to changes to working schedules. Even reforms that did not get implemented, like a proposal to give the Chief the power to move detectives back into patrol assignments, added to anti-Fortier sentiment. Finally, some complaints centered not on specific policies but on Fortier’s blunt style of management, his reputation for inflexibility, and on allegations that he played favorites and told inconsistent stories to different audiences. The eventual result was extreme disillusionment with working for the department, and arrests began to fall off markedly.20 “You’ve got to realize that our department was going through some big problems at the time with our administration, our old chief of police,” one officer explains. “There were some systems in place of doing business that didn’t set well with people. A lot of guys, you could give them an assignment and they would refuse it. They just wanted to stay away from anything. They just wanted to drive a car around and be left alone.”

Fortier’s backers dismissed accusations that he was indifferent to officer opinion, maintaining that the Chief had made extraordinary efforts to express his support for the troops and include them in decisionmaking. Fortier was, they argued, the first Chief in Riverside’s memory to include an RPOA representative in command staff meetings; he made frequent appearances at roll calls and in ride-alongs; and he repeatedly made statements to the press about the quality of Riverside’s police.21 The Chief also paid attention to small details: For example, when a crack showed up in an officer’s 9mm gun, Fortier ordered new guns for the entire department and asked officers what type they wanted. Finally, new policy decisions were almost always justified in dispatches sent to the entire patrol force, so that officers would understand why changes were being made.22

But these strategies for building support never paid off inside the department. Some argue that by the time Fortier entered his second year in Riverside, it was already too late, for the conflict between management and the officers had become personal. At that time, a veteran narcotics detective named Jack Palm took over the RPOA presidency and began waging an intense battle to remove Fortier from office. In Fortier’s mind, Palm was motivated by his dissatisfaction with changes to special investigations policies—particularly the newly-tightened procedure for serving search warrants. “He really started [saying], ‘This is really affecting the way I do business, all this crap about policy and training and all this’,” Fortier maintains. “[So] he ended up running for POA president and getting the position, and he made it his mission to get rid of the Chief.” Palm himself describes the issue in broader terms of standing up to the Fortier’s excesses and his arrogance, explaining that he acted tenaciously because “somebody has to be willing to stand up to what isn’t right.”23

Either way, Palm’s RPOA took on an increasingly confrontational posture, beginning with two 1994 lawsuits that challenged Fortier’s reforms, and reaching new heights with a no-confidence vote in October of 1995, when 80% of all officers and nearly 90% of those voting expressed their displeasure with the Chief. When that action did not sufficiently mobilize public sentiment against Fortier—particularly the council’s and the City Manager’s sentiment— Palm sent a memo to fellow RPOA members, asking if they would support a picket directed at the City Council and a “by the books approach to law enforcement” that threatened to slow down RPD operations.24 Around the same time, the Association began making repeated Freedom of Information Act requests for information about Fortier’s travels, expenses, and telephone calls (a tactic Fortier believes the RPOA’s board learned from a Texas law enforcement seminar called “Power, Politics and Confrontation,” which the group had attended in order to develop a strategy for fighting his reforms). Fortier remembers the barrage of requests as borderline “harassment”:

But none of the information proved especially damaging—“I’ve been a public official a long time,” Fortier maintains, “so I know better than to abuse any resources.” For example, the only “smoking gun” the union uncovered was information that the chief had failed to report minor damage to the bumper of his city-owned car, which was technically a violation of city policy and which the RPOA sought to portray as a “hit-and-run” accident.

As officers began to feel more and more desperate and as contract negotiations stalled, morale fell even further until April of 1997, when the better part of two shifts of patrol officers called in sick for work in a last-ditch effort to get attention from city hall. This “blue flu”—which was apparently not planned by the RPOA but was instead a wildcat strike by officers themselves—underlined the complete deterioration of officer-management relations, and it made them worse when the city clamped down on those who participated and obtained a court injunction against future job actions. By this time the department was at a virtual standstill. “In that last year it got to the point where he was ineffective basically,” one city official maintains, referring to Fortier. “He probably was not in control other than through real use of power.”

None of this turmoil, Fortier insists, had any direct bearing on his decision to retire in July of 1997, a decision that he says was motivated by growing medical problems. But the former Chief admits that the constant stress of the job—as well as the serious personal harassment he and his wife began facing—contributed to those medical problems.

Encouraged by the doctor to do so, Fortier filed a workman’s compensation claim with the city, and several months later he sat down with Holmes to make plans to leave.

3. Reform and the Riverside Community

Viewed from outside, much of the turmoil going on within the RPD during these years was not always immediately visible (or at least it was not always particularly salient). In fact, with a few exceptions, Fortier’s years in office saw perhaps the best police-community relations the city had seen, particularly in Riverside’s Latino community, and the department was able to forge some very viable community partnerships. But internal tensions did spill over into community relations in a few different ways: Most notably, the failure to win widespread internal support for reform apparently limited the potential for police-community partnerships to grow, as many officers still resisted community policing in principle.

Working with the Community: Casa Blanca

Undoubtedly the most dramatic turnaround in police-community relations in Riverside occurred in Casa Blanca, where as described above, tensions had historically been high between the police and the community. Though some of the conflict between the two sides had subsided in the 1980s, more recent events had re-opened old wounds: In 1991, officers shot and killed an armed teenager in the neighborhood during a struggle in which he fired at them, and residents decried what they considered to be excessive force—particularly the fact that police shot the boy ten times. Residents were also angry with the police reaction to the community’s concerns: When Chief Richardson showed up to a neighborhood meeting to explain the officers’ actions, he brought the RPD SWAT team and the department’s helicopter with him. Police claimed those precautions were necessary because they had received assassination threats, but residents felt that the tableau of their Police Chief arriving at a gathering of concerned citizens under heavily-armed guard underscored the RPD’s distance from their community.

Deputy Chief Mike Blakely, who says he had a mandate from Fortier “to get the officers and middle managers to interact with the community,” describes the daunting prospects the department faced in Casa Blanca:

Given this entrenched history of mistrust and mutual accusations, Blakely and others felt the need to wipe the slate clean, and he believed that he and Fortier were in a particularly good position to do so because of their position as outsiders. “That’s why bringing a chief from outside who didn’t live through these things [was important],” Blakely maintains. “[We could say], ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about here.’ I can get some perspective on it, but it’s not going to hit me as much as would somebody else who would say, . . . ‘That’s the person I used to arrest. That’s the person who assaulted me and shot at me’.” This attitude towards local history led many in the RPD to criticize Fortier and Blakely of being cavalier about the threats in Casa Blanca. But the two tried to dismiss these criticisms, telling officers, “This is not that big an issue. Every community has its threats to law enforcement: This is no greater, no less than any other,” Blakely remembers.

Without the baggage of past conflicts, Fortier was able to reach out to residents of the area, who hosted a welcoming reception for the new Chief as soon as he arrived in Riverside. The new Chief gained instant credibility with much of the Latino community because of his ability to speak Spanish fluently (he repeatedly gave long interviews on local Spanish language radio stations) and his immersion in Latin American culture (the Chief had visited several Latin American countries and had befriended a family in Costa Rica).25 Most important, community activists in Casa Blanca felt that he was willing to listen to their concerns in a way that no previous Chief had. One long-time Riverside resident who grew up in the neighborhood explains that although he personally did not always see eye-to-eye with Fortier, many in the community respected the Chief:

Nevertheless, Fortier clearly could not do all the work of forging partnerships in communities like Casa Blanca alone, and he ultimately had to delegate that work to RPD officers. In doing so, he and Blakely sought to identify people who would be able to get past the entrenched history of conflict that had undermined police-community relations for so long. In Blakely’s words, “There were some . . . very genuine people who were willing to take some risks and step out against some pressures from their colleagues and move forward. And I think my role was to help ferret out who those were and foster that.”

Before Blakely even arrived in Riverside, Fortier made one of these crucial assignments when he promoted then-Sergeant Jerry Carroll to Lieutenant and made him the first commander for Area 4, which encompassed Casa Blanca. Carroll received a broad mandate to deal with crime and improve relations in the community, and he was joined by a committed group of Sergeants and officers (particularly in the POP team) who helped him fulfill that mission.

Carroll quickly got the same sense as the Chief that he would have to “wipe the slate clean” before any progress could be made in Casa Blanca, largely because of experiences at his first community meeting. As he remembers the event:

On the police side, many of Carroll’s officers were willing to make this clean break—indeed, some had been assigned there precisely for their ability to “see things in a fresh light.” But on the community side, Carroll felt that many activists in Casa Blanca were not as willing to let bygones be bygones. “There was kind of an ‘old guard’ out there that were what I would call activists in a negative way,” Carroll remembers, going on to explain that this old guard was always ready to criticize police actions. Fortier’s growing credibility in the community helped build some trust with these RPD critics, but many among them were still insistently anti-police.

Carroll’s response was to connect to a new group within the community. At first, making this connection came as much from serendipity as it did from strategy. Shortly after becoming the area commander for Casa Blanca, Carroll had announced the opening of a storefront for the area in a local Spanish language newspaper. A few weeks after the storefront opened, the new Lieutenant got an important visit.

At the same time, Carroll and his team began reaching out to neighborhood institutions like the Catholic Church and a local community center called the Home of Neighborly Service, where they connected with a number of committed outreach workers who helped open doors to others in the community. Carroll had harbored some skepticism about service agencies—“sometimes,” he explains, “you have people that are in paid positions that come in and start programs and build bureaucracies and are not sincere.” But he sensed that the community center was different. “You could tell that these were very caring people that were focused on making a difference. [They] were out working late nights, spending time with kids and putting together [a] retreat . . . and there was some good chemistry there between the personalities and the willingness to change some things.”

So step-by-step, Carroll’s group began connecting with a segment of the community that, unlike the “old guard,” seemed willing to work with the police. “We connected with a younger group—kind of an up-and-coming group,” he explains. “They were in their thirties and early forties, a new group of leaders.” Indeed, Carroll and his officers actively tried to encourage this leadership to play a more central role in community affairs, taking on something of an organizer’s role as they tried to build leadership capacity in the new group that was emerging. “We wanted to help in developing leadership in Casa Blanca,” he explains.

The result was a well-developed group of community leaders who police could turn to when they needed help.

As they solidified their connections with this “new guard,” Carroll’s group sought to tailor police activities to what they were hearing the community wanted, rather than to standard police procedures (as Carroll did when he decided not to dismiss his first visitors’ complaints about their broken street light).26 For example, the RPD’s traditional response to crime waves in the neighborhood had been to crack down on even the most minor forms of lawbreaking in an effort to re-establish order and arrest those involved in wrongdoing. But Carroll recognized that this strategy only had the effect of alienating the community: “We could not handle that particular area by going in and using zero tolerance,” he explains. “It had to done from the inside out.” Moreover, the new Area Lieutenant also started out in Casa Blanca with a number of activities that had little to do with police work but which seemed to him to be crucial for building trust with the community, like playing games of midnight basketball with local youth, participating in the community center’s weekend retreats (which brought police together with at-risk youth), and spearheading the fund-raisers for the neighborhood boxing club referred to above.27 To be sure, Carroll laid out clear boundaries that the police would not cross: “This is not touchy-feely, warm and fuzzy,” he told residents.

But within limits like these, Carroll was willing to stretch the traditional police role. “We actually tailored many of our activities towards the desires of the community,” he maintains. “[It was] not, ‘We’re the cops, you’re not. We’ll tell you how we’re going to enforce the law in your community.’”

Over time, Carroll feels that the two sides began to develop a mutual understanding of each other’s views and expectations.

Most important for the police, however, was decisively showing that there were people in Casa Blanca who did appreciate the police and who wanted to deal with crime problems as much as the officers did. “If you [said] that the people in Casa Blanca appreciated the police department, the cops would have called you a liar,” Carroll maintains. “What we’ve found was that the overwhelming majority of the people in Casa Blanca had an appreciation for the police and wanted us to go out and work with the major problems they identified.”

Carroll maintains that the emerging partnership had dramatic effects on the ability of police to do their jobs. One way it did so was by securing help from residents in identifying and gathering information on criminals, as in the example of the two elderly women above. But the relationship also helped improve the perception of police in the community and defuse potential criticism. For example, when officers shot a suspect in Casa Blanca, some initially claimed that the officers had acted badly. “You had this very small negative element of the community that would say, ‘Yeah, they shot this guy who was unarmed—they put him down in the street and shot him in the head,’ which was a lie,” Carroll recalls. “[But] when the community outreach worker showed up, the Sergeant and the officers could walk up and say, ‘Hey, here’s what happened,’ give him a brief run down, and then they would stop the rumors immediately.” Carroll argues that more prosaic police work also became easier:

Fortier’s own credibility in Casa Blanca also helped smooth over potentially explosive situations. For example, in late Spring of 1993, officers became embroiled in a minor riot after pulling over a car that matched the description of one that had been used in a robbery: Residents allegedly tried to interfere with officers as they arrested two men in the car, and officers used their batons and a police dog to bring the crowd under control. When residents complained that police had overreacted, used unnecessary force, and provoked the crowd by behaving unprofessionally, Fortier called for an internal review of the incident. With the results of the investigation in, the Chief insisted that the officers had not used unnecessary force, maintaining that “there is nothing at all right with interfering with an officer who is trying to make a lawful arrest.” But the Chief promised to review the department’s policy on the use of police dogs, and he disciplined an officer who was found to have made a vulgar remark to the crowd. Although some residents were disappointed with the finding, many apparently felt that they had at least gotten a fair hearing. “I think that they’re trying,” one local community member told reporters in response to questions about the incident. “There’s definitely been a change since Ken Fortier’s been here and I think that’s been appreciated.”28 In any case, the incident did not seem to seriously damage police-community relations, which a few months later were publicly hailed as the best that either side could remember.29

Within the police department, however, there were still some reservations about the new partnership, and many officers were critical of the efforts Carroll’s group made to reach out to Casa Blanca. Much of this criticism was not very relevant for the group: For example, officers who wanted to maintain the old “zero tolerance” posture simply were not assigned to the area (and many of them would not have bid for the assignments in the first place, fearing that community members would fill up their personnel files with complaints). Moreover, Carroll believes that the positive experience he and his officers had helped convince some officers to change their views. “You can’t argue with success,” Carroll maintains, “[and] as successes came, I think people began to understand that we could go and police the community effectively.”

Nevertheless, criticism from some of their fellow officers never entirely died away for the Casa Blanca team, and when other officers were called in to the neighborhood (as they were after a sniper shot down the RPD’s helicopter on New Year’s Eve in 1994),30 many residents alleged that the old patterns of harassment returned with them. Moreover, police memories of past trouble in Casa Blanca did not entirely subside, and an old blown-up newspaper headline announcing that an RPD officer had been shot there still decorates the department’s firing range. These lingering difficulties in Casa Blanca hardly brand the RPD’s efforts there as a failure: A few years ago, it would have been hard to say much at all that was positive about police-community relations in Casa Blanca, while today, there appears to be at least a presumption of respect between most residents and many police. But a few short years has not yet been enough to completely heal the wounds of at least three decades.
Other Communities

Similar if less dramatic stories were repeated in many other Riverside neighborhoods, as area Lieutenants, POP officers, and Fortier himself reached out to local neighborhood organizations—primarily city-chartered “Community Action Groups” (some of which have existed for decades) and the various Neighborhood Action Committees that allocated Community Development Block Grant money for their areas (though Fortier also hosted a series of open “Meet the Chief” meetings throughout the city). The storefronts, too, became important loci for police-community partnerships, as the civilian Police Service Representatives who staffed them—assisted by a growing contingent of volunteers—tried to reinvigorate the department’s languishing Neighborhood Watch program. Finally, non-geographic groups like the business community and Riversides gay and lesbian community also gave high marks to the RPD’s reforms, though some expressed concern over growing tensions within the department.31

But there were difficulties in some areas, notably Riverside’s Eastside neighborhood. Trouble began early on: Despite having one of the highest rates of violent crime in the city, the neighborhood was one of the last to receive a storefront when it did so in August of 1994. Police argued that they simply were not able to find a suitable space any sooner, but many residents rejected that explanation, arguing that the delay was inexcusable. Matters became worse over the course of the following year because of several high-profile incidents in which police shot or allegedly harassed Eastside residents, and local sentiment finally tipped firmly against the department, at least within much of the neighborhood’s African-American community (the Eastside had long been home to a large proportion of the city’s black residents).

The key event seems to have been the 1995 resignation of RPD Captain Lee Wagner, who had been the RPD’s highest-ranking African American (he was promoted by Fortier during the Chief’s first months in office). As the story circulated in the local community and the media, Fortier had demoted Wagner to Lieutenant in an attempt to force him out of the department (Fortier himself repeatedly maintained that Wagner simply was not fulfilling his new role adequately). The incident caused many in the community to question the RPD’s commitment to hiring and promoting minorities, and a former University of California at Riverside Police Chief who was himself African-American pressed the city council’s Human Relations Commission to investigate the RPD’s personnel policies, as well as the recent no-confidence vote against Fortier. From there the topic took on a life of its own: The HRC undertook an extensive 18-month investigation into the department that culminated in recommendations to institute new programs to increase hiring and promotions of minorities in the department, and to grant the Commission subpoena power to continue its investigation of the no-confidence vote. City Council took little action on these recommendations, apparently because of advice from the City Manager’s office, which felt that the RPOA and other Fortier opponents were using the HRC to “keep the anti-Fortier rhetoric moving and in public view.” But the Commission’s focus on minority hiring and promotions, at least, had the effect of mobilizing many black leaders against the RPD, with the result that the Eastside neighborhood expressed growing displeasure with the department. For example, in February of 1996, a group of church leaders from the area came en masse to the regularly-scheduled City Council meeting to read a letter criticizing the police department and its Chief.32

With this exception, concerns about the emerging police-community partnership arose more on the police side than they did on the community side. One area Lieutenant at the time reports that “we almost had to pull teeth for some of [my officers] to get them . . . attending Neighborhood Watch meetings,” though he maintains that eventually many came around to the idea. Neighborhood Watch as a program was itself somewhat controversial in the department: Mayor Ron Loveridge, who advocated strongly for the program in the early days of Fortier’s tenure, reports that “it took a while” for police to take it seriously enough to assign a Sergeant to run it, and many department members today believe that the program is overemphasized. Nevertheless, Neighborhood Watch has survived and even prospered in Riverside, run by civilian Police Service Representatives who host some 150 meetings with new groups annually (though many apparently never meet again—annual data record only about half as many meetings with “old” watch groups as with “new” ones).

4. Reform and City Hall

As the RPD made these inroads into the community, police also tried to win support in city government. In some ways, those partnerships were simply an extension of the department’s efforts in the community: Ward-based city council members were viewed as representatives of the communities who elected them, and they worked closely with area Lieutenants to identify and solve neighborhood problems. But city hall was also important in a more fundamental way, for the City Manager—and above him, the City Council—ultimately provided the authority for Fortier to continue with his reforms. Finally, problem-oriented policing called for police to work closely with other government agencies to solve community problems, so it was important for police to win support among their fellow public servants. Consider the latter effort first.

Interagency Collaboration in Riverside

Most of the RPD’s efforts to win support in other city agencies rested on intervention from high-level city officials. The POP team’s efforts with code compliance are a clear example: When that agency reacted too slowly to projects police had nominated, the POP Sergeant and ultimately Fortier brought the issue up with the City Manager, who reinforced the mandate he had already given other city agencies to make POP projects a high priority. Blakely explains that similar if less explicit appeals were quite common with officers who tried to craft solutions to neighborhood problems: “Officers were astute enough to know that if they’re going to get Parks and Recreation, and they’re going to get Public Works, and they’re going to get Code Compliance . . . they need some clout. And what’s going to get that [is] inviting a council member for that ward.”

Influence from city council and the City Manager also became important in ways that the police did not particularly plan. One example was council’s push to reform the City Attorney’s office and focus its attention on downtown crime, as the resulting changes made that office much more relevant to police concerns. Shortly thereafter, council turned its attention to growing problems in Riverside parks, charging police with spearheading an interagency task force focused on park safety.33 Finally, in 1994, the Mayor gave a public presentation to police administrators on the subject of gangs in the city, offering several programmatic suggestions and encouraging the RPD to identify new ways to deal with this growing problem. Within months, the University of California at Riverside applied for a federal grant program focused on interagency strategies for dealing with gang violence, and police and about a dozen other city agencies signed on to participate.34 Indeed, council activism around public safety issues seems to be a recurrent theme in Riverside during this period, and it was an important force driving community policing—particularly the interagency partnerships that it rested on.

The RPD’s growing interaction with the city Planning department can serve to illustrate this pattern in more detail. Until 1993, police and city planners had essentially no interaction in Riverside. Planning director Steve Whyld attributes this circumstance to his agency’s traditional mandate: “We didn’t get involved on the social problems of the world and the crime,” Whyld explains. “But over time as crime became such an overwhelming issue, I think it was something we had to deal with as a city, [and that] included Planning.”

The crucial juncture came in the Spring of 1993, when City Council embarked on an effort to deal with bars and entertainment uses in the city. The impetus for that effort came from growing concerns about a downtown nightclub close to the historic Mission Inn, which was undergoing a multimillion dollar makeover that would be the centerpiece of Riverside’s downtown revitalization efforts. The nightclub itself was handled by a $95,000 payment to the owner to relocate, but the real issue was much larger: Under existing law, local government had little control over these establishments beyond generic state laws regulating alcohol sales. In response, council passed an ordinance that required certain types of establishments—including those serving alcohol or offering entertainment—to secure a permit that laid out conditions for operation before opening, and which could be revoked if those conditions were violated.

The responsibility to review applications for these permits fell to the planning department, but Whyld’s staff immediately began soliciting advice from police. As he puts it, the impetus for the new rule was to find a way of “dealing with the social problems that seem to go with some of these kinds of uses,” so it made sense to get advice and information from the agency that was most directly affected by them. “We have some standards in the ordinance, but we also wanted additional mitigation on a case-by-case basis,” Whyld explains. “[So] we started regularly contacting the police department as to what their views were, . . .what they would like to see in terms of conditions of approval, [and whether] it should be approved.” For example, police might point out that a proposal was located in a high-crime area and could make an already bad situation worse, or they might simply recommend the development of an acceptable security plan as a condition of approval.

Whyld describes the collaboration as an essentially positive one, but some difficulties did arise. The main problem was that police were not always timely in responding to Planning’s requests, as Whyld explains:

Another problem was that police never really assigned central responsibility for responding to these requests. “One particular area commander or Sergeant in the field may feel that a particular entertainment use is okay,” Whyld explains, “yet we hear from other officers out in the field [who] typically have lots of problems with those kinds of uses.” But in the end, Whyld considers such problems to be the normal growing pains of any new collaboration: “We’re all going through learning curve. Police officials don’t always know what planners do and what our internal issues are, and planners don’t always know what police do and what their internal issues are.”

Beyond City Hall

Though high levels of city government played a role in all of these examples, some agencies did not need much prodding from above, and others simply did not fall under city hall’s umbrella. Parole and probation officers, for example, reported to state agencies outside of council’s purview, and collaboration with them got started from an enterprising POP team that wanted to deal with crime problems in Riverside’s downtown area. The local school districts were another example, and problems that cropped up in that relationship can serve to illustrate the challenges that many interagency efforts faced—not just in Riverside, but in many police agencies making the transition to community policing.

In the years before the RPD officially moved towards community policing, relations between police and area schools had apparently been quite good. The RPD had assigned seven officers to a School Resource Officer (SRO) program for some time, pairing individual officers with individual schools. City Councilman Chuck Beaty, who worked for the Riverside Unified School District until 1993 (first as a principal and later as acting superintendent), recalls that in his mind, this relationship worked well. “They [the SROs] had been someone that the principal or vice-principal could count on to deal with violent and difficult situations,” Beaty explains. “They were in many ways also intelligence officers [because] they knew the kids, they knew the gangsters on the campus, and they had intelligence that they were able to pass on.” Indeed, Beaty recalls that SROs became such an integral part of area schools that when one of his vice principals had to take time off because of a heart attack, the school’s SRO was actually able to take over the position temporarily. “You just don’t put anyone in charge of discipline in a school like that and just suddenly let them appear on the scene and think they’re going to do it,” Beaty explains.

Thus for the schools, at least, the SRO program worked out perfectly, facilitating exactly the kind of interagency collaboration that the district wanted.

Fortier, however, was unsatisfied with the direction of the SRO program, and he sought to change it soon after his arrival in Riverside. “There had been rumblings that the Chief did not want to continue the school resource office program,” Beaty remembers, “and at a very minimum, that he wanted to change the focus of that program.” Specifically, Fortier apparently had concerns about the program’s budget (which was entirely funded through the RPD rather than the school district), and he wanted to return the officers to what he saw as their original mandates: Crime prevention and education. “We had some problems with being too intertwined with the school discipline systems,” Fortier told a newspaper reporter at the time. “The officers have enough responsibilities already with their mandated duties not to be just a security service for the school.”35 Police were particularly concerned with the use of SROs in functions that Fortier saw as the school’s responsibility, such as attendance review boards, counseling sessions, and even classroom teaching; and the Chief also instructed dispatchers to stop assigning school-generated calls exclusively to the SROs. Many of these proposals could be seen as antagonistic to the idea of community policing: The new dispatch instructions essentially eliminated the SROs’ “beat integrity,” and the withdrawal from attendance review boards and counseling sessions seemed to be an attempt to draw a bright line between police responsibilities and those of at least one community institution (indeed, one RPD member who supported Fortier’s position concedes that it seemed to run counter to the ideas presented in a recent community policing conference, where “they were talking about officers sitting on the school attendance review boards, and officers doing this, and officers doing that”). But police felt that the SRO program had gotten away from its proper focus, and they intended to regain some control over what were, after all, their officers.

Beaty and others with a schools perspective did not particularly welcome most of these suggestions. One example was the RPD’s proposal for the grant-funded Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT) program, in which SROs would teach third, fourth, and seventh graders a curriculum focused on gangs, thereby fulfilling what Fortier saw as their mandate to be “educators.” “That was a change in focus,” Beaty remembers. “And that wasn’t something I particularly wanted to happen. . . . I didn’t, as an educator, see that the police officers were trained to be teachers. They were trained to be policemen.”36 Equally important, the school district already covered similar topics through its own curriculum called Riverside Against Drugs (RAD), which was funded by a local businessman and had wide support in the Chamber of Commerce. Police argued that RAD did not give enough in-depth coverage of important topics like gangs and that it lacked direct instruction by police officers, and the RPD was able to experiment with GREAT for one year. But when the year had run its course, the program was not renewed.

City Council and the Area Commands

Beaty and many of his fellow council members were more positive about other police reforms. Particularly popular was the RPD’s decentralization into areas, which created a rough match between policing beats and city council wards and made it possible for city council members to join each area’s problem-solving team. In part, at least, the area commands were designed to create this relationship, and departmental policy was changed to authorize council inquiries at any level of the chain-of-command. “That type of involvement really fosters what I mean by community policing, which is that we’re all one community,” Blakely explains, referring to the growing dialogue between city council members and area commanders. “We’re all different facets, but we’re all one community working to resolve the same issues.”

The five policing areas did not match perfectly with Riverside’s seven council wards, but in most cases, the bulk of any given ward was under a single area command, giving council members a new point of access into the police department; previously, they had little choice but to talk directly with the Chief or his assistant. The result was a growing relationship between individual council members and (for the most part) individual area commanders, as well as the officers who reported to them.

Council members saw the relationship as a way to accomplish several things. For one, it gave them an effective new way to relay constituent concerns to police, bringing up issues ranging from lax traffic enforcement, to problem properties, to drug labs. More simply, many council members saw the relationship as an opportunity to learn more about what their police were doing so that they could respond to the inevitable questions from ward residents—questions about everything from yesterday’s neighborhood shooting to the progress of a long-term anti-prostitution effort. Finally, council members’ own authority to pass laws and fund projects made it possible for them to make their own contributions to some of the RPD’s larger problem-solving efforts. For example, Beaty has recently helped POP officers think about how to deal with a concentration of downtown halfway houses that neighbors feel have begun to destroy their community. The problem, as Beaty sees it, is zoning law: “If you own a piece of property, a small home, you’re allowed to keep six unrelated people in there without any permission, and without any conditions of use.” In response, he has begun working with the area’s state assemblyman to try to pass legislation that would give cities some power over these sensitive land uses.

Area Lieutenants welcomed some aspects of these emerging relationships, but overall they were much less enthusiastic about them than the council members were. Most simply, RPD employees at all levels argue that council members “would want to divert resources in ways that we probably wouldn’t use them,” as one puts it. For example, many police report that they have felt pressure to make ill-advised personnel assignments—to the point that one Lieutenant maintains that “the council people have developed a sufficient amount of political say in what goes on, so that they are actually naming names and assigning people to positions. And we are not free to move people as we believe would better the department.” Others point to many tasks outside of the traditional police role that they believe council has raised for them, and which they feel should not properly be a part of police work (like trimming trees or boarding up abandoned homes). For example, council members have repeatedly asked police to pay more attention to the homeless issue, but many Riverside police feel that it has crowded out more essential police work. One department manager explains:

Many officers argue the point even more strongly, maintaining that homelessness is a social problem that police should not be involved in at all.

The basic issue as many police see it is that elected officials do not properly appreciate the role that law enforcement should play. One officer argues the point bluntly: “Elected officials don’t really have any conception of what the police department does. They should let the police department, the chain of command make these decisions.” Even people like Assistant City Manager Larry Paulsen, who supports the growing dialogue between police and elected officials, recognize the potential for problems. “It’s something you try to keep control of,” Paulsen explains.

Nevertheless, Paulsen maintains that “that hasn’t occurred,” and that although the potential is there, he believes that “the benefits outweigh the potential downside.”

More serious than these concerns about “misdirected resources” are suggestions that political influence in policing could potentially lead to unethical practices. Department members insist that this problem has not yet arisen in Riverside, but they argue that opportunities are being created that need to be closed off. For example, one Lieutenant maintains that in past years, council members have been known to try (unsuccessfully) to influence police recommendations about the conditional use permits for individual bars.

Others suggest that the relationship with city council members embroils police too directly in electoral politics, as council’s need to solve problems for their voters and financial backers leads to more and more insistent requests for police assistance. Moreover, many RPD managers argue that decentralization of authority exacerbated these problems, as it led to less and less oversight over what sergeants and even officers are doing. “[Politicians] have so much access now that they can have officers or detectives doing something, and the Sergeants and Lieutenants never know,” one Lieutenant maintains. “And you can have a policeman out here being their own personal army for influential people in the community because they have so much access. In the future that might be a problem.”

City council members insist that there is nothing unethical about their growing relationship with the area commands, and that it is not only appropriate but essential for them to have a constant dialogue with police. For better or for worse, when many citizens reach out to city government, they begin with their city council member, and council must at the very least be well-informed. One council member argues the point as follows:

Another council member makes essentially the same point. “If we wake up in the morning and the phone starts ringing, and we haven’t read the paper yet and there’s something kind of important in there that happened, we want to be forewarned.”

As to the argument that council suggestions tend to “misdirect police resources,” some elected officials maintain that the issue is hardly so clear-cut. Mayor Loveridge, for example, argues that what some call misdirected priorities might look to others like innovations:

Indeed, the RPD manager who discussed homelessness above concedes that police resistance on that issue may have stemmed from an overly inflexible view of what constitutes important police work, explaining:

Several elected officials make similar arguments, suggesting that the controversies over political influence were simply the normal tensions that all police face as they are asked to think more broadly about what constitutes a safety concern and how to deal with it effectively. In some cases, these debates spilled over into academic controversies about whether or not specific interventions Council suggested—like neighborhood watch or mounted patrols—did or did not increase safety at an acceptable cost, with each side pointing to studies that backed its position.

In any case, there have clearly been some differences of opinion about the proper limits of the police-council relationship, and each side has developed its own strategies for managing the potential conflicts. One council member, recognizing that police might often see suggestions as meddling, explains that “Ninety-nine percent of the time, I try not to frame that in such a way as to put the police over here and put myself over here.” Others simply accepted the fact that area Lieutenants might have to “back off” from their relationship with council members because of orders from their superiors.

For the area Lieutenants, the key goal was to retain a sense of professional integrity that would help them decide when to say “no” to council requests. As one puts it, it is important to ensure “that the ethics of the organization are being watched, and that truly what is being transacted as police business is in the best interest of the citizens, the government, and of course the employees.” Many Lieutenants, however, worried about a number of influences that might undermine this ability to strike an independent, ethical posture. One was growing influence by not just the council but also the community at large over police personnel decisions, such as assignments, promotions, and evaluations. One Lieutenant explains:

This is not, the Lieutenant continues, simply a hypothetical issue raised by speculative proposals about citizen evaluations: He argues that elected officials already have too much influence over assignments. “The problem that I talk about as far as council people being able to dictate individual assignments, duration of assignments, and even rotation could have a very negative effect on the professional level of policing.” Another RPD manager sums up the concerns as follows: “I know the intentions are there to maintain a very professional and ethical police department. But the intentions are one thing. The reality is if political and influential people in the community have an increased amount of say in how the department is run, you are skating on the thin edge of unethical practices. It’s just not good.”

Despite these worrisome trends, most department members maintain that these problems are still potential ones. “We’re having a futurists conversation here,” one Lieutenant explains. But department managers are concerned that the group of people right behind them—many of whom were promoted quickly under Fortier—do not have the same sense of professional integrity that their group does. “We went through a developmental process,” one Lieutenant explains, referring to he and others of his rank. “The present rank in this department went through a developmental process to where we understand what our limitations are legally, morally, ethically, and professionally. We’re educated. The people coming behind us aren’t. They haven’t gone through that process.” Indeed, this Lieutenant argues that the state of flux that policing finds itself in makes it very difficult to stand firm on a clear set of values: “The values are kind of changing, and no one has really defined what they are anymore,” he explains.

Others argue that less experienced managers simply do not have enough job security to withstand political pressure. “A newly promoted Lieutenant who’s an area commander is not going to recommend something against the wishes of his or her council person,” one veteran Lieutenant explains. “I have done that: I’ve been called upon to interfere in the criminal justice process in favor of an individual, and I am secure enough in my position to say ‘No, I won’t do that.’ But a person on probation may not be that secure.” Moreover, perceptions that Fortier expected area Lieutenants to be responsive to city council members made matters worse, as some Lieutenants got a sense that it was not acceptable to resist council demands. (One Lieutenant goes so far as to say, “With community-oriented policing, the Lieutenants answer mostly to council people. Those are our bosses.”) Fortier himself insists that he set clear limits to political influence: “The message that I sent to the area commanders was, ‘You call the shots on police service’,” he remembers. “‘Don’t get yourself in a confrontation with a Council member, but if it really gets to loggerheads, let somebody know and we’ll deal with it administratively.’” Indeed, some city officials got the sense that Fortier was less comfortable with growing access by city council members than the area commanders themselves were. Nevertheless, some department members did not get the same message, and a few feel that the result was too little independence.

The Politics of Ken Fortier

Whatever its objective merits, the growing relationship between the area commands and city council members had important effects on the entire course of reform in the RPD, as well as political support in the city for its Chief. On the one hand, the area commands were immensely popular among council members, and many city officials maintain that their success eventually convinced many skeptics that Fortier was on the right track. Blakely, for example, argues that the area command system was one of the department’s “significant marks in time” that “caused immediate support from the council members [who appreciated] that willingness to work in those communities.” City council members’ own positive views of the area command system seem to confirm this assessment, although support for the reform did not necessarily translate into support for Fortier (partly because some of them believed that Fortier himself wanted to limit their role in the area commands).

On the other hand, by decentralizing access to the police department, the area command system sometimes undermined the Chief’s own connection to the political arena. “Council members felt they now had a mini-police chief in that Lieutenant, so they didn’t really have to talk to the Chief,” Fortier explains, echoing the sentiments that council members themselves express. “As a result, I cut myself off from Council members, [and] my calls from Council members dropped to nothing.” At the time, Fortier felt that this arrangement was fine, but he admits that in hindsight he might have approached it differently.

As Fortier sees it, his growing isolation became a problem because it undermined his ability to justify reforms: “It became increasingly the case that they were learning of issues in the police department not through the City Manager and the Chief but from police officers and from lower level people,” Fortier explains. “So they were in a position to hear all of the gripes, all of the reaction to changes, all the rumor, all the gossip. [They would] get it first hand, and, being human, they would react to that. And that’s how they would form their opinions of the Police Chief and what he was doing, as opposed to dealing directly with me.”

Fortier’s efforts to downsize the patrol car fleet were one example of this dynamic, as Blakely explains that the growing relationship between officers and council members provided a willing ear for police concerns.

Officers brought many other complaints to city council’s attention in this way, and as time wore on, the Association as well as individual officers began trying to influence council opinion about the Chief directly. For example, the RPOA sent repeated letters to council and the City Manager outlining its grievances with Fortier, and some Association board members threatened to withhold their support for a 1997 ballot measure unless some action was taken against him. Moreover, the RPOA’s Freedom of Information Act requests were apparently designed to embarrass the Chief and erode his support, and some city officials believe that the Association pushed the inquiries by the Human Relations Commission into RPD personnel policies and the no-confidence vote against Fortier (though HRC members insist that they acted independently).38 In any case, the RPOA made no secret of its opposition to Fortier, and it actively tried to convince city officials to take action to remove him. Eventually, the Association got directly involved in electoral politics by backing the opponent of one of Fortier’s staunchest council defenders; although the election took place after Fortier had left Riverside, the RPOA president maintained that the Fortier issue was “the deciding factor” in the decision, which was an attempt to convince council members that officer opinion mattered.39

Fortier’s difficulties with the troops did take a considerable toll on his political support, and a number of city officials maintain that officer dissatisfaction led at least two city council members to withdraw their support for his leadership. Other council members, however, refused to be swayed by the RPD’s growing internal strife. For example, when officer morale first became a serious public issue in Riverside, Eastside councilman Ameal Moore told a reporter, “I don’t know that policemen are getting paid to love the chief. They are getting paid to police the city.”40 Many council members recognized that change would be unsettling, and they fully expected the turmoil that arose. Moreoever, since several other area police Chiefs were going through equally difficult times, many council members apparently came to believe that Fortier’s situation was not unique. “The problem is that police chiefs don’t seem to last very long, no matter who they are or how good they are,” one city official explains. “Ken lasted longer than the average for big city chiefs.”

But despite their willingness to tolerate dissent within the ranks, some of these council members found other reasons to turn against Fortier. Moore, for example, eventually called Fortier’s leadership into question after the Eastside community became upset over the RPD’s alleged treatment of minority officers, as described above. And councilman Alex Clifford, a staunch conservative, immediately got off on the wrong foot with Fortier because of the Chief’s support for gun control, and he also sparred with Fortier over how to handle two troublespots in his ward (Clifford argued that the areas “need to be hit hard” with law enforcement and that community policing would not work in them, but Fortier maintained that such sweeps might alienate many innocent people who got caught up in them).41 Though declining officer morale became an important issue for Clifford, it seems likely that he would have opposed the Chief in any event on philosophical grounds.

Still other council members apparently took offense at Fortier’s blunt manner, his references to San Diego, and even his unwillingness to give invocations at public events (Fortier felt strongly that mixing religion with political events was inappropriate, mainly because it was unfair to religious minorities). Nevertheless, with the exception of Moore and Clifford, none of these council members landed firmly in the anti-Fortier camp. For example, one elected official who had personal disagreements with the Chief nevertheless concludes, “I believe he was a good Chief, because he implemented a lot of the things that the city council and the City Manager had wanted to accomplish”—though she goes on to insist that part of the credit goes to RPD staff. “The reason [the reforms] went forward is because they have a pretty good force, and they embraced those ideas, and they wanted to make it work.”
Responding to Council’s Concerns

Even so, with two council members opposed to Fortier because of turmoil in the ranks, and with two more against him for reasons of policy, the RPD Chief had lost support among the majority of the council, making his position somewhat precarious. “My relations with several members of the council became very strained the last couple of years I was there,” Fortier concedes. “On a business level, in front of the council, dealing with issues, I think they all were all saying, ‘My god, this guy’s responsive, he’s obviously very sharp, he obviously knows what he’s doing. Gee, I just wish he could make those cops happy.’ I think that was the bottom line.”

At the time, the Chief felt that he was doing everything he needed to do to maintain support for his reforms in city government. “Every time that we’d face an issue, I kept the City Managers totally informed,” Fortier maintains.

Fortier concedes that other council members were not convinced by these explanations: “Others, clearly they were just so close to the cops that they weren’t listening to anything but the negatives.” He and Holmes tried “to put on the best face with the council, and to explain things. But it really got to the point where council members’ best source was not the City Manager or the police chief: It was the cop on the street”—particularly, Fortier argues, the minority of officers who were most disaffected.

Some council members, however, felt that Fortier’s presentations were not enough. For example, Laura Pearson, who ultimately feels that many of Fortier’s reforms were worthwhile, nevertheless argues that the Chief should have been more participatory:

Pearson concedes that state law limits the direct influence and even dialogue that council members can have with administrators, but she maintains that it would have been possible to communicate through memos on these issues. That, however, “was just not his style. . . . Ken was far more removed and it was known that he had a job to do and it was none of your business”—indeed, Pearson maintains that Fortier made it clear to her that he answered not to the council but to the City Manager. But while she recognized the formal hierarchy of a council-manager government, Pearson insisted that council needed to be involved: “When there aren’t adequate responses to the community, the City Manager doesn’t get phone calls, and the Police Chief doesn’t get phone calls: We’re the ones listed. So yes, Police Chiefs work for City Mangers, but yes, Police Chiefs better have good relations with the council. Because if we don’t have that relationship where we feel like we can chat with each other and try to figure things out, the City Manager is going to get hammered by some council members if we get hammered by the public. And that’s not going to be pleasant for him. So, I think it’s a real partnership that you have to create all over.”

Fortier maintains that he never took such a hard line on these issues, but he concedes that he may have inadvertently given some council members the impression that he wanted to act independently. “I could see where they would get that attitude, and where I probably portrayed that attitude,” he admits. For example, he believes that he offended one council member by routing his memos through the City Manager. “I answered the memo by writing in the way I had been trained in San Diego,” he explains, “which is, ‘Responding back to Councilman Joe Blow via John Holmes, City Manager’.”

The specific incident may have been “a very minor thing,” but it perhaps suggested a more significant difference in views about what the relationship between council and administrative agencies should be: Fortier, who had been attracted to Riverside precisely because it seemed to take the City Manager form of government so seriously, was coming up against an increasingly active council that wanted played a more central role in the city’s business. Indeed, many interviewees report a sense that council work gradually shifted from a part-time diversion to a full-time job precisely during the period that Fortier worked in Riverside (and council members highlighted the shift in December of 1994 when they voted themselves a 49% raise).

In retrospect, Fortier believes that he should have been more proactive in his relationships with the council and “forced more contact with council members.” He insists that the lack of support did not personally disturb him at the time: “It didn’t threaten me,” he explains. “I wasn’t bothered by it: I mean, I’m a pretty secure guy and that didn’t really bother me that much.” But he concedes that politically, it would have been wiser for him to reach out more directly to the council: “I see now that I probably should have maintained the contact with council members or really made an effort to make that happen,” he explains. “I think that they could see that I was not the ogre that was being described by some of the people they’d run into on the street.” Indeed, Fortier eventually sought to dispel some of the rumors that were circulating about him and suggest that he was open to dialogue by sending out a memo that addressed the rumors directly. “Finally I sat down and wrote a memo to the council and said, ‘You know, over the last several weeks I’ve heard these rumors. Here’s the answer to each of these,’” Fortier remembers. “And it was a very polite memo. And I said, ‘I’d welcome any of you, when you hear one of these things, if you’d like to give me a call and find out my side of the story or whether the rumor has any validity to it, please, call me. You all have my home phone number and pager, and you’re welcome to call me.”

The City Manager

City council’s displeasure with Fortier did not, however, directly affect the Chief, for any decision to release him would have had to come from the City Manager’s office. For his part, Holmes was firmly behind Fortier. “Even though he had implemented change perhaps too dramatically,” Holmes explains, “he implemented excellent policies and programs that are still in effect. Why would you terminate someone who met his objectives and essentially put the department on a course of professional community-based policing?” Equally important, it seemed to Holmes that Fortier had strong support among most facets of the community:

Finally, many of Fortier’s reforms were saving the city increasingly-scarce money through programs like the court overtime effort, the downsizing of the patrol car fleet, and greatly improved risk management practices—a broad umbrella that included everything from internal affairs reforms to tightened search warrant procedures.42 The risk management efforts led to such a marked reduction in liability claims that the city actually began returning money to the general fund from its liability reserves. “Obviously he’s not the only part of it,” Assistant City Manager Larry Paulsen maintains, crediting the new City Attorney for part of the downward trend in claims. “But the combination of the two [Fortier and Yamamoto] was the right combination. . . . We turned around one year and returned over a million bucks out of the liability fund to the general fund.”

The turmoil within the ranks did concern those in the City Manager’s office, but to them much of it seemed to be the expected fallout from change rather than any legitimate objection to the content of the reforms. For example, when the complaint policy reforms created an uproar in the department, Paulsen insists that he tried to sit down with the RPOA to discuss its concerns, and that he was open to make whatever changes were justified. But he maintains that union representatives were never able to raise any serious objections to the new policy:

Paulsen himself accepted Fortier’s argument that the new complaint policy simply brought the department into compliance with state law, despite claims by union officials that many other area police agencies had less stringent policies.43

More broadly, many people in city hall apparently came to the conclusion that officer complaints were based on self-interest rather than any legitimate objection to Fortier’s reforms. “In the final analysis,” one city official maintains, “they all sat back and said, ‘Many, many of the objective things that I see happening are positive, and all the subjective things, in many instances, are by people with a high degree of self interest.’ Because nobody really laid anything concrete on the table.” Indeed, some in the RPOA got the sense that their case was not coming through clearly. Detective Ron Wright, who took over the Association presidency in January of 1997, explains that many in the community “did not understand” the officers’ gripes. “Fortier could go around to the business groups and [say], ‘Look what I have done: Crime is down, I have got these store fronts up, and we are doing a great job.’ And here we are, and we look like whiners and snivelers.” Indeed, Wright maintains that the main reason he ran for Association president was because he felt he had some credibility with city officials and businessmen, and that he could convey the officers’ message more effectively.

But by the time Wright took office, council dissatisfaction with Fortier had reached a sufficiently high level that Holmes himself was starting to feel pressure. “I actually went for a while where I had the majority of the council who did not support the Chief, which is not good for any city manager,” he explains. But Holmes insists that council never asked him to terminate the Chief. “They do not operate that way,” he maintains. (Indeed, one council member explains that “I think we accepted the judgment that John was making the call, not four members of the city council;” and another maintains that “people were committed to the integrity of the council-manager form of government.”) But Holmes goes on to admit that many council members “were at the point where they would be happy if the Chief left,” and that he was well aware that he himself could be terminated. “Of course, I am at will too, so they could release me at any city council meeting. Chief Fortier decided to retire, so it worked out, but there was a year of considerable stress for the council and for me.”44

Indeed, by 1997 and perhaps earlier, the political base that had underlain Ken Fortier’s reforms had broken apart. The Chief was protected for a while by the strong City Manager form of government that had drawn him to Riverside in the first place, but even that buffer was starting to show some signs of strain. Had Fortier not announced his retirement on July 17 of 1997 for reasons of health, it seems likely that his tenure would have ended one way or another before long.

4. The COPS Grants in Riverside

Throughout Fortier’s tumultuous reforms, the COPS hiring grants played a relatively minor role: After an initial infusion of Phase I money for 7 officers in 1993, the department only went after one more hiring grant for a single officer under COPS AHEAD. As already discussed, the department certainly could have used more officers, as police repeatedly claimed that they were understaffed and that community policing was making the problem worse. But the city’s worsening financial status made it seem inadvisable to buy into a grant program that only funded a portion of any new hires, and whose funding phased out entirely by the end of three years. “We were looking at a downward spiral,” one city official explains, “and to commit ourselves to hiring more and more police officers—it’s just something we couldn’t see ourselves doing at that point in time. I think if it would have happened in the mid-80s we would have said, ‘Yes, go for it. We want to do it.’” But in the mid-1990s, the city’s annual budget was actually shrinking from year-to-year—mainly because of the effort to wean the general fund from increasingly uncertain public utility money, but also because of California’s reductions in intergovernmental transfers to local governments. With the city’s financial future uncertain, it did not make sense to commit to COPS hiring grants and their retention requirements. “You’ve got to make a commitment that after those three years that you would do everything that you could to keep those positions on board,” one department manager explains, referring to the hiring grant requirements. “[But] we were already in the mode of rollover budgets and looking at cutbacks.” Even setting aside the explicit retention requirements, unsustainable hiring seemed an unwise political choice to many. “Once you’ve increased the number of police officers, it’s very difficult to decrease them,” one city official explains. “City councils just don’t like to say, ‘We’re cutting our police force.’ Citizens don’t like that.”

The department did not make the decision to forgo funding lightly, since several surrounding jurisdictions were making high-profile bids to hire massive numbers of officers. The Riverside County Sheriff’s Office, for example, accepted grants that would increase its force by well over 10%, for a total of nearly 200 officers. But as RPD managers examined the grants’ phase-outs and its matching requirements closely, they decided that the program simply did not make financial sense for them: By their calculations, it cost around $100,000 to hire a single officer for a single year, and even excluding start-up costs like training and equipment, one officer at the entry-level salary cost them around $50,000 per year including benefits. In the face of these numbers, the $75,000 total payment from COPS over three years simply was not an attractive incentive.45

Other Title I COPS grants—which lacked phase-outs and had smaller matches—looked more promising, and the RPD did receive two separate MORE grants.46 The first grant came in 1995, when the department received some $412,000 to launch what would come to be called its “automation project.” The project’s basic aim was to create a computerized system for writing and distributing reports and thereby save time throughout the department—particularly in the patrol force. Specifically, the new system would allow officers to enter many reports directly into computers, and it would automatically send duplicates to other divisions and agencies. To deal with those reports that would still be on paper, the department planned to buy an optical imaging system that could read them, store them in computers, and send them out to other agencies using the automatic routing program. These ideas had been floating around the department for some time, and it finally began implementing them when federal funding became available.

The project turned out to be more complex than anyone anticipated. One simple problem was that optical imaging systems were more expensive than the department predicted, leading many in the RPD to wish they had applied for more money. But the more serious problem was that Riverside’s existing information infrastructure simply could not handle the project as envisioned: The department had very few computers to begin with, and those it did have were not networked in a way that would enable the automatic routing program to work.

The RPD began to fill these holes with various sources of grant funding, including Local Law Enforcement Block Grant money, state grant funding, and MORE ’96 money (which was slated to fund 10 computers for the storefronts and other locations, and to update the department’s crime analysis capabilities—which had essentially been nonexistent apart from the administrative reports that were generated for city council and the state). All of these smaller projects fed in to a city-wide effort to upgrade information systems, which began in April of 1996 under Assistant City Manager Larry Paulsen. “There’s been a big, big change in how we deal with information technology and how we approach it,” Paulsen explains. “We try to put some business value on the whole thing, not just technology for technology’s sake . . . Make our plans at the front end rather than just buying the neatest whiz-bang piece of computer equipment or software.” As part of this effort, the city’s Information Systems department took over much of the leadership of the police automation project, providing civilian expertise that, Paulsen argues, will ensure the work gets done as effectively as possible. In any case, RPD managers report that the required information infrastructure is gradually getting into place, and they plan to re-embark on the optical imaging and report writing systems shortly.

There are still some concerns about the project’s complexity: For example, Blakely explains that despite widespread efforts among California police departments, no agency has been able to accomplish the degree of interconnectivity that the RPD has planned for its various computer systems.

In Blakely’s mind, federal funding would be ideally suited to develop the necessary application. “The federal government threw out a bunch of money to all these jurisdictions to do automation projects,” he explains. “And everyone is operating independently when in fact a standard could have been established on a state-by-state basis” (varying state penal codes determine where reports must be routed). But in any event, Blakely and others in the department intend to do the best they can with what they have, and they are optimistic that the department’s information systems will see great improvement over the coming years.


After Ken Fortier retired from the RPD Chief’s job, City Manager John Holmes was faced for the second time in his tenure with the choice of a new Chief of Police. Sitting down with representatives from the RPOA and the community, it became clear to Holmes that there was widespread support for a departmental insider. “I talked to people, including the union, and they felt strongly this time we should go in house,” he explains. “[They said], ‘We have had the change agent come in. Now it is time to absorb the change.’” Holmes’s philosophy had been to always do a national search for new department heads, but in this case he was willing to compromise: “Now the situation was different,” Holmes remembers. “I now had a group of trained Captains and Lieutenants who would admit that with all his faults, they did learn a terrific amount about administration and management from the Chief. So I felt I had a tremendous in-house pool, and I felt comfortable going through the process just with the in-house candidates.” Holmes made it clear that going in-house did not mean retreating from the reforms of the past few years: A central priority listed in the recruitment brochure was to maintain and implement the department’s recently-established policies “in a fair and consistent manner,” and another was to continue the implementation of community policing. But the brochure also paid considerable attention to the goal of improving officer morale and otherwise maintaining support within the RPD.

The candidate who ultimately got the job, then-Captain Jerry Carroll, initially was not interested in being Police Chief. “The newspaper contacted me and asked me if I wanted to be Chief ,” Carroll remembers, “and I said, ‘No, I don’t. I’ve only been in upper administration for four years.’” But friends and colleagues both within the RPD and in other areas of city government encouraged him to reconsider, and after some soul-searching and discussions with his wife, he threw his hat in to the competition.

Carroll received unconditional support from every panel that interviewed him. “Chief Carroll finished first with all three panels and his interview with me was excellent. He clearly was the right person at the right time to assume leadership of the department,” Holmes remembers. Other city officials agreed, with one explaining: “I think that there was unanimity that we’d gone through this change agent, we now needed somebody who could be kind of a healer, who could bring people together. Jerry, among other qualities, fit that [profile of] kind of healing, bringing people together.” Particularly important was the fact that Carroll had considerable credibility with the troops: A 24-year veteran of the RPD, he had been a Sergeant until 1993, making him as close to the street as Fortier had been far from it. But much more generally, Carroll was known as a consensus-builder who was able to get along with practically everyone, and as if to underline this characteristic, he had just finished work for a Master’s degree in negotiation and conflict management, writing his thesis on how managers can reduce the negative effects of change. Finally, Carroll was committed to the substantive agenda that Holmes had laid out, including moving community policing forward, maintaining the department’s administrative gains, and making more progress in areas like training.

Carroll got to work on these tasks immediately, particularly by trying to address the morale issue. Officers were relieved simply to have a home-grown Chief again, but Carroll did not intend to rest on his insider laurels. He began in the first week of his tenure by inviting every RPD member to his home for an open house, aiming “to develop an atmosphere of openness,” as he puts it; and he followed this symbolic gesture up by giving his new management team a mandate to cultivate a good rapport with the rest of the department. Carroll insists that “Morale is not me making people happy. I’m absolutely not a heroic manager if that means me fixing things [when] you come in with a problem.” Instead, he argues, morale consists of strong leadership aimed at “supporting and facilitating what our employees do.” To that end, the Chief immediately sought to address some basic concerns the patrol force had, using Local Law Enforcement Block Grant money to upgrade things like the patrol car fleet and officer equipment. Carroll also sought to reach a compromise on the contentious patrol car issue, trading Fortier’s “pool car” system for an arrangement where specific officers share a single car. “Jerry developed a creative compromise,” Holmes explains. “It still keeps the number of cars down, but at least the officers know who uses that car. Jerry is good at finding solutions to problems like that one.”

Carroll’s other reforms are still young, and it is too soon to tell where the new Chief will take the RPD. It is, consequently, somewhat difficult to describe where the Riverside Police Department stands today, five years after Ken Fortier came to the city. The following sections will revisit the four aspects of the organization described at the outset—its relationship to the environment, its operational and administrative systems, and its management— describing both how the department operates today and what changes Carroll plans for the near future.

1. Relationship to the Environment

Fine Tuning the Relationship with City Hall

From the outset, Carroll defined his work in terms of the constituencies he needed to address: “Three major areas that I really needed to connect with were the department, city government [and] the political structure there, and the community,” he explains. In city hall, the Chief felt that he faced two somewhat opposite problems: On the one hand, a perception that elected officials were “micromanaging” the department in the ways described above, and on the other hand a perception that the RPD—particularly the Chief’s office—had been too aloof in recent years. Carroll has been particularly proactive dealing with the latter problem, from inviting council members to come to his inaugural open house, to sending them regular police activity logs, to meeting with each one personally. For example, Carroll heard that one council person had not spoken with the Chief in two years, and he made a special point to make contact: “In the first six weeks, I went to eight meetings in his ward,” he maintains. “So I’m available.” Finally, Carroll has also made an attempt to reach out to other department heads, contacting some of them directly to propose meetings about how police can collaborate with their staff. Agency heads seem to welcome the effort, for while officers from the POP teams and other community policing units have developed close ties with other city workers, the relationship with the rest of the RPD seems less strong (for example, the Parks collaboration described above has fallen off).

The Police and the Community

By the end of Fortier’s tenure, the RPD had established ties to various community groups through the POP teams, the area commanders, and the PSR’s, who run its Neighborhood Watch program. Other officers do not seem to have much direct interaction with organized community groups, and some department managers consider this is a problem, arguing that officers need to hear community concerns first hand or they will see the assignments that come out of them as unimportant. Officers’ own opinions about the matter vary widely: Some still resist participating in community meetings strongly, and others who do not oppose them per se nevertheless feel that citizens raise inappropriate concerns in those forums. On the other hand, some Riverside police, including many current and former POP officers, are enthusiastic about their growing relationships with community groups.

Carroll himself sees community involvement as central to his organizational vision, explaining that “government just can’t come in and fix everything.”

The Chief himself is respected in many areas of the Riverside community, having worked as area commander in a number of different neighborhoods, and having taught cultural diversity at the police academy (a job that he says brought him in contact with many of the city’s minority leaders). Casa Blanca leaders, for example, were sorry to see Fortier leave, but they expressed cautious optimism about the appointment of Carroll, who many still remember fondly from his days as an area commander there. To be sure, some Riverside activists have been critical of Carroll’s first months in office, arguing particularly that he has not paid enough attention to promoting minorities within the force and that police are still ignoring crime problems in some minority areas. But so far, public attention has been mostly favorable to the RPD under Chief Carroll.

2. Operations

The RPD’s patrol force—the operational unit that has undergone the most dramatic change over the past five years—is in a state of transition. Organizationally, patrol has been transformed dramatically into the geography-based system of area commands described extensively above, and it is now supplemented by the POP team and a number of other community policing units (including the bicycle patrols and the University of California at Riverside team). Operationally, there is an expectation that in addition to the traditional duties of emergency response and randomized patrol, officers will seek to identify and solve the recurrent problems on their beats.

The organizational transformation of the patrol force has created a new sense of responsibility for area problems. This sense is particularly strong among the department’s Lieutenants, who have developed close relationships with representatives of their respective communities (especially city council members and the city-chartered CAGs) and thereby developed a window into community concerns. On the other hand, it has sometimes been difficult for Lieutenants to get their subordinates to follow up effectively on the concerns identified through these channels. Perhaps the biggest challenge still facing the RPD is continued resistance by Sergeants to community policing in general, and their new watch commander roles in particular. Without buy-in at this level, area plans may not be fully implemented, particularly during shifts when the Lieutenants are not physically present in the department. (As Fortier put it, “community policing tended to stop at five o’clock, when the Lieutenants went home.”)

The new duties of problem-solving have by most accounts been a great success in the POP teams, which have developed a valuable set of tools for managing neighborhood problems. But as described above, with some exceptions, the rest of the patrol force has not gotten deeply involved in identifying and solving community problems (one RPD manager describes getting the beat officers’ buy-in as “the next leap” for the department).47 Some officers still insist that they have always done “problem-solving,” and that they simply oppose the new terminology rather than the activity itself. But some admit that they do not agree with new expectations made of them, arguing that the police’s distinctive responsibility is to arrest those people who create recurrent problems—not to make environmental or even social interventions aimed at bringing problems under control. Moreover, some officers believe that the new administration no longer expects them to participate in POP projects the way the previous one did: Problem-solving, they believe, are now left to the POP teams themselves and whoever else wants to participate.

In any case, morale among RPD officers has improved markedly since Carroll’s appointment, and department managers are optimistic about the future. To be sure, the concerns that swelled over a five year period have not entirely dissipated: “Fortier has only been gone four or five months,” one RPD manager explains. “These people can’t be unhappy and all of a sudden from one day to the next turn happy. And these habits that have developed during the last two years of turmoil can’t be undone overnight.” Moreover, the RPOA was still negotiating for a new contract as of this writing, and the failure to finalize an agreement has contributed to some restlessness among officers. But despite these lingering challenges, arrests have come up over the past few months in Riverside, and many officers seem to be genuinely enthusiastic about the change in administration.

3. Administrative Systems

Even Fortier’s critics concede that the former RPD Chief was a administrative virtuoso, and departmental administrative systems have reached a much higher level of modernization compared with a few years ago. Hiring procedures, for example, were once fairly informal, and those standardized tests and formal reviews that did exist were handed off to the city’s Human Resources department, with which the RPD reportedly had a weak relationship. Today, the RPD takes considerable interest in screening candidates through both standardized tests and in-depth interviews that department management has helped develop. The result, RPD managers argue, is a more systematic and thorough process for selecting the next generation of Riverside police officers.

The RPD’s major administrative challenges today include pushing the envelope further in some areas and fully exploiting the gains made in others. With respect to the former challenge, the RPD has particularly identified training as an area where it still needs to make improvements. To be sure, department managers insist that they are more thorough than they were a few years back at getting basic training updates for officers and at getting new Sergeants and Lieutenants out to their state training courses in a timely fashion. But they concede that over the past few years, the department has had no budget to develop its training offerings as much as some would like, and it has even sought to cut expenditures in this area. In any case, Holmes made improving departmental training programs a major priority for the new Chief.

Finally, although the RPD has advanced many of its administrative systems, some areas of the department do not fully use their new capabilities. For example, information systems for patrol advanced markedly under Fortier, particularly through the installation of MDTs and the development of a rudimentary crime analysis capability. Nevertheless, some patrol officers admit that they do not fully exploit these capabilities—for example, none of the officers I spoke with outside of the POP teams had used crime analysis reports, and some still called in to the radio room to make vehicle checks, even though MDTs allow them to do this. Moreover, some suggest that the department’s internal affairs unit is not as vigilant as it was even at the end of Fortier’s tenure, and staffing for the unit has been cut somewhat.

4. Management

Finally, as suggested in the section on operations, the RPD’s management philosophy is still evolving. On the one hand, the old model of “high trust, low control” has been replaced by an increasing emphasis on accountability and on tying patrol officers into the area commands and the community priorities identified through them. On the other hand, it has proven difficult to implement this new model because of lingering difficulties getting managers and supervisors to buy in to the area command system. Moreover, there seems to be some ambivalence about how to balance community policing’s call for decentralization and empowerment with the equally important principle of accountability for solving problems and advancing departmental priorities. RPD managers agree that officers must have the flexibility to work independently to devise creative solutions—for example, they must be able to contact other city agencies and even city council members freely. But as suggested in earlier sections, some managers are concerned that too much decentralization has created problems, as Lieutenants do not know enough about what their officers are doing, and department policies may occasionally not be followed.

RPD members at all levels insist that some department managers and some special units have found an effective style of management, and that it is one in which the goal of empowerment is central. For example, in the UCR team, officers and managers alike insist that the team is effectively empowered to identify and devise solutions for the problems in their areas. One RPD manager explains: “This is their area: They have ownership, they’re allowed to do almost anything they want and because of that, they’re more motivated to work to do more problem solving. . . . [It’s] left up to their own design as to how they do it.” Officers argue that this way of working is entirely appropriate: “Management can sit in their office all day long . . . and tell you how things should be done. But the guys who really know are the guys who drive the black and white units around town . . . We’re the ones who know what needs to be done down here.” Nevertheless, department members concede that the UCR unit is fairly unique in the degree of autonomy its officers and even its supervisors and managers have: While UCR officers can, as one manager puts it, “decide what they’re going to do today, how they’re going to do it, [and] how they’re going to dress,” the patrol force tends to be more structured. For example, in the patrol force, even Lieutenants cannot independently put together problem-solving plans that would keep officers over on overtime, for budgetary authority to do so lies with the Captain in charge of field operations (with the exception of “necessities” like court appearances and filling in for officers who have not shown up to work, which Sergeants can authorize).

1 In one early example, known as the “cornfield incident,” police tried to flush two Latino suspects out of a Riverside cornfield, and two RPD sergeants on the scene were shot and injured. Newspaper headlines about the incident are still on display in the department.

2 Ralph Andersen and Associates. Management Audit of the Riverside Police Department: Final Report. Sacramento, CA: Author, 1992, p. 104. The citizen survey data and clearance rates reported earlier also come from this report.

3 Despite some perceptions to the contrary, Holmes maintains that the audit was not intended to single out the police department for attention: It was initially envisioned as one in a series that would periodically review the operations of all city departments, and the planning department and public works came under similar scrutiny. The plan to make the audits periodic was abandoned only because recession made it economically unfeasible.

4 In fact, Smith reports that the group considered the possibility that the department might create two more Lieutenant positions in order to create a perfect match, but they ultimately rejected it. The final scheme, still in operation today, creates a rough fit between areas and wards but divides some of them into pieces: For example, one Lieutenant’s area covers territory that lies in three separate council wards.

5 In fact, the Riverside Police Officers Association filed a lawsuit against the city trying to block the new policy, though it dropped the suit after Fortier agreed to promote four officers already in line for promotions.

6 David Danelski. “City Attorney: One Side Isn’t Seen,” Riverside Press-Enterprise, February 4, 1996, p. B-1.

7 This fact itself became a sore point in Riverside, which had a relatively veteran force at the time: Many officers remember the San Diego training team as a group of sergeants with only five years experience each, and some RPD veterans resented being taught by officers with less experience than they themselves had.

8 These figures are estimates based on a sampling of the RPD’s periodic POP activity summaries (which were produced biweekly in 1994 and monthly thereafter). The major uncertainty in them is that it is not always clear from the reports who had primary responsibility for a given project. Nevertheless, a few areas have consistently made a clear separation between their “POP Team” projects and patrol force projects, and it is clear that the POP teams—which typically consist of two officers—have been much more active in problem solving than all other officers in those areas.

9 Moreover, some POP team members report lackluster support for problem-solving in other RPD units. In the narcotics unit, for example, administrators describe an effort to focus more attention on the low-level street dealers who most concern neighborhoods (as opposed to the high-level “kingpins” the unit has traditionally pursued). But some POP officers feel that narcotics is less than enthusiastic when they raise low-level drug problems for the narcotics unit to work on.

10 Phil Pitchford. “City Voters: Not One More Cent for Crimefighting,” in Riverside Press-Enterprise, November 10,1994, p. B-3.

11 The Ralph Andersen and Associates report had previously raised serious financial concerns about the 4-10 plan as a whole, arguing it demanded 24% more officers than a 5-8 schedule to manage the same workload (defined in terms of calls for service, preventative patrol, and administrative duties). But by the time Fortier had arrived in Riverside, the city had written the plan permanently into the RPOA contract, so Fortier did not try to tamper with 4-10 in the patrol force.

12 The growing emphasis on administrative competence is reflected in the department’s budget: As a share of total expenditures, the department’s administrative outlays (including expenses for the Chief’s office and the Administrative Services Division) rose by 11% from 1992 to 1996. This growth occurred in spite of the fact that many administrative reforms actually reduced some costs to these divisions. For example, equipment maintenance, which comes under the Administrative Services budget, dropped by nearly half over this period; but the increased funding for functions like personnel, training, and internal affairs was more than enough to offset such reductions.

13 From 1986 through 1992, departmental reports to the state’s Bureau of Criminal Statistics list from 19 to 44 total complaints per year, most of them non-criminal. Criminal complaints ranged from a low of 1 in 1988 to a high of 12 the year before.

14 Statistical information is obviously inconclusive here, but it is worth noting that RPD records show only three sustained criminal complaints from 1986 through 1992 (two were misdemeanors and one a felony), and 41 sustained noncriminal complaints.

15 The most dramatic internal investigation involved a well-respected homicide detective credited with playing a key role in the recent arrest of a serial murderer. The detective was indicted on charges of receiving stolen property and fired, but she was ultimately acquitted by a jury, which felt that her stellar record in the RPD spoke for itself (“There was no way in our minds,” the jury foreman explained, “that [the detective], with her years of experience, could have consciously committed these crimes”). The case alienated many RPD members, who felt that the prosecution was too aggressive even if the detective had been guilty; “normal procedure,” one RPD member told the local newspaper, would have been to warn the detective away from the antique store where she had allegedly been buying the stolen goods. In any case, Fortier refused to re-hire the detective after her acquittal, further angering many RPD officers. Marlowe Churchill, “Jury Acquits Ex-Detective in Sting Case,” Riverside Press-Enterprise, November 15, 1995, p. B-1.

16 Initial reports suggested an even larger growth—to some 700 complaints in 1994. But inaccurate record-keeping had reportedly inflated that figure (for example, one citizen’s complaint that a group of four officers behaved rudely was recorded as four complaints, rather than one, as required by RPD guidelines).

17 He did so publicly in one early newspaper article, which reported: “Fortier agrees his skills in interpersonal relations need improvement, but says he has not been able to devote much time to this area yet because of the vast number of changes he has made since he came aboard last January. ‘I’m a more management-oriented person and not a warm and fuzzy chief,’ he said. ‘The changes I’ve needed to make have been made, so hopefully, it’s something I can work on. I think they’re going to start seeing another side of me, but they’re never going to see a warm and fuzzy Ken Fortier. That’s just not me.” David Ogul. “Officers Not Pleased with Fortier,” The Riverside Press-Enterprise, January 23, 1994, p. B-1. Indeed, even before he came to Riverside, he warned the city about his interpersonal style: Just over a week before taking over the RPD Chief’s job, Fortier conceded to a local reporter “that he has a reputation that could rub some people the wrong way,” stating, “I’m blunt. I believe I’m diplomatic, but I am direct.” David Ogul, “City Hires New Chief to Replace Richardson,” Riverside Press-Enterprise, December 22, 1992, p. B-1.

18 Officers became particularly concerned about the fact that the RPD took complaints from “people with little or no credibility,” as one officer puts it, and at one point the RPOA used its newsletter to publish the names of four Riverside families who had allegedly made “frivolous and unfounded complaints” (David Danelski. “Police Union Draws Casa Blanca Blast,” The Riverside Press-Enterprise, October 4, 1995, p. B-1. The quotation is from then-RPOA president Jack Palm). The union intended to investigate whether or not the complaints violated state laws against knowingly filing false complaints against police, but it apparently backed off on those plans amidst a firestorm of public criticism for “Gestapo tactics” designed to intimidate residents from filing complaints at all, and even for racism: The newsletter only printed the four families’ surnames, and all four were relatively common Hispanic names—thus Casa Blanca leaders claimed that the tactic stigmatized a large portion of their community.

19 The number of sustained complaints did rise substantially: Sustained non-criminal complaints rose to 77 in 1994 (the previous high had been 14 in 1988), and five to six criminal complaints were sustained each year from 1993 to 1995 (no more than one had been sustained in each of the seven previous years, nor in the two that followed). But these figures represented a much smaller “conviction” rate than in years past, and many of the less serious non-criminal complaints apparently did not lead to much in the way of discipline.

20 From 1992 to 1996, arrests fell by more than one-third in the department. When the local newspaper reported the decline in 1996, Fortier downplayed it, arguing that the decline in reported crime was more significant and maintaining that there was no established link between arrests and crime rates. “I don’t think the public wants a police department that evaluates itself on how many people we throw in jail,” Fortier maintained, going on to point out that other policy changes (like his aversion to “sweeps”) might be responsible for the drop in arrests. Nevertheless, the Chief conceded that disillusionment with policy—specifically, the new complaint process—might have motivated a minority of officers to work less aggressively. See David Ogul, “Arrests, Crime down in Riverside,” Riverside Press-Enterprise, July 28, 1996, p. B-1.

21 For example, even when he was under fire, Fortier told a newspaper reporter that “Despite the complaints, he’s proud of the officers who work for him. ‘I’ve said this to a number of people and I’ll say it to you. I would put this group of police officers on par with or above any other officers I’ve seen in 32 years of police work. They care about the community. They have an excellent reputation in the state and in the country. They’re as good as they come.” (David Ogul, “Officers Not Pleased with Fortier,” Riverside Press-Enterprise, January 23, 1994, p. B-1). On the other hand, the Chief also made critical statements about some members of the department, such as saying that the RPOA’s publication of the names of four Hispanic complainants smacked of racism (David Ogul. “Police union here, Casa Blanca there,” The Riverside Press-Enterprise, October 15, 1995, p. B-1).

22 Many of these points are made by Fortier’s supporters in David Ogul’s “Top Cop Aims for Good, But Critics Keep Sniping,” The Riverside Press-Enterprise, April 8, 1995, p. B-1.

23 David Ogul. “Compassionate Officer is Tough as Union Leader,” Riverside Press-Enterprise, November 30, 1995, p. B-1.

24 David Ogul. “Police Union Sends Query to Members,” Riverside Press-Enterprise, May 18, 1996, p. B-1.

25 On the other hand, Fortier reports that his use of Spanish “got me in some trouble as well.” “Although the Hispanic population in Riverside is about 40% of the population, and the only local radio and television media are Spanish language, no local public officials before me had ever attempted to communicate through this media before,” he explains. “Some—including some of the hard-headed, more difficult cops and politicians—thought it weird that I did. In fact, some of the cops viewed my solid relations with the Hispanic community as ‘selling out.’”

26 It also seems important that Carroll tried to connect with residents on a personal level, not just a professional one. “You do some very basic things,” he explains. “You eat together, sit down and break bread and then you talk about problems. They are going to check you out, see if you’re for real. . . . We got connected with the community and got to know each other on a first name basis. I’ve actually built some lifelong friends out of those relationships. They actually come to my house for dinner.” Indeed, when city council awarded a plaque to Carroll and his team for their work in the community (the award was requested by Casa Blanca residents), Carroll hung the memento in his home rather than in his office.

27 Many of these activities, and the good will they engendered, are chronicled in David Ogul. “Community, Cops Get Together,” Riverside Press-Enterprise, November 28, 1993, p. B-1.

28 David Ogul, “Police Restraint Noted in May 24 Melee,” Riverside Press-Enterprise, July 23, 1993, p. B-1.

29 David Ogul. “Community, Cops Get Together,” Riverside Press-Enterprise, November 28, 1993, p. B-1.

30 The dramatic incident wounded the helicopter’s pilot in the foot, forcing his trainee co-pilot to make an emergency landing in a city intersection. Nevertheless, it did not seem to reflect negatively on community relations in the neighborhood, as local community groups immediately condemned the incident and tried to help police identify the shooter—despite their fears of retaliation. Police believe that the sniper fired during a New Year’s Eve party at a house that the helicopter had just checked with its searchlight (there had been complaints that revelers at the house had been firing guns randomly into the air, and one neighbor was hit by a spent casing but not seriously injured). See, e.g., Jacquie Paul and Mariel Garza, “Pilot Trainee Praised for Quick Thinking,” Riverside Press-Enterprise, January 2, 1995, p. B-1.

31 The department also undertook more general efforts to engage the public and improve its image, such as expanding its reserve and volunteer programs and rewriting policies on press relations and ride-alongs to encourage “openness.” These efforts and the more specific attempts to forge partnerships with various communities apparently paid off, as Fortier and his reforms were much more popular with the public than inside the RPD (see, e.g., David Ogul. “Unlike Officers, Civic Leaders Support Fortier,” Riverside Press-Enterprise, October 20, 1995, p. B-1). The department did have something of an adversarial relationship with the local media, and at one point Fortier stopped talking with reporters to protest what he felt was one-sided coverage of his difficulties with RPD officers. But the local paper expressed editorial support for the department’s reforms after the no-confidence vote against Fortier, concluding that officers had not made a strong case that the Chief should go (“A Matter of Confidence,” Riverside Press-Enterprise, October 30, 1995, p. A-10).

32 Phil Pitchford. “Fortier’s Leadership Questioned,” Riverside Press-Enterprise, February 28, 1996, p. B-1.

33 Riverside’s Parks and Recreation department remembers the effort as a positive one, though there were minor glitches such a trouble identifying just how bad safety problems were and whether or not they were getting better in individual parks (police reports did not always clearly identify where crimes occurred, as opposed to where a suspect was apprehended), and the effort had withered away by 1995 due to personnel changes in the RPD.

34 Police report that the project “has been good for everyone involved,” but as of early 1998 it was still in the data collection phase (Riverside received funding for the project in the Spring of 1995, and the multi-agency task force charged with carrying it out was formally launched late that fall). Perhaps for this reason, a few participating city agencies have expressed some impatience with the pace of the project, which is currently supposed to be collecting and analyzing information to develop a strategic plan for an eventual intervention. “I guess we’re too proactive,” one city official explains. “Let’s quit talking about it; let’s just do it. . . . Let’s just get involved and do a pilot program in the community and make a difference and measure it.” Or as one RPD member puts it: “They are interested in numbers and statistics, and we want a product that the officer is going to be able to use to promote officer safety, reduce crime, and help him do his job better in all respects. . . . It has been at times difficult for us to make those two things match.” The research-based planning process (which was mandated by the funding agency) has also alienated some community members, who felt that they did not have enough input in the process. (Phil Pitchford. “UCR-Based Anti-Gang Group Gets Chilly Community Review,” Riverside Press-Enterprise, April 22, 1997, p. B-6.) Nevertheless, participants report that from their discussions with other cities that have participated in the federal program, Riverside seems to be doing quite well comparatively.

35 R.W. Greene. “Officers at Schools to Get Revised Orders,” Riverside Press-Enterprise, April 22, 1994, p. B-1. The Chief went on to suggest that local districts might eventually have to form their own police department to deal with security concerns. In any case, Fortier’s concerns about police involvement in the school discipline system had reportedly been raised by a local community activist, who argued that schools “were abusing our children and using the SROs as a pawn to do that.”

36 The same sorts of concerns about duplication of services arose with other Riverside agencies, as they have in many cities. For example, one Recreation department official asks rhetorically, “Why are they running intervention programs? . . . I have a ten dollar an hour person running that program, who’s a professional, has a degree in it, he’s experienced in it and probably has his master’s degree in it. They’re bringing a cop in to run it at fifty dollars an hour, who’s not trained in it—they’re trained to shoot, kill, arrest, and those type of issues . . . And then they still have to call upon us because they don’t have any interpreters.” Instead of trying to run their own program, this official would rather see police work as collaborator: “I think they play a valuable role. When we have intervention programs, we’ll have an overnight camp and talk about racial diversity, and we bring a police officer in and talk plain facts with [the youth]—scare tactics, if you will. And they bring a very important, intricate role to that. But for them to be the lead agency to run the program? I don’t know.” But at least one concrete effort at a collaborative approach fell through when Recreation and the RPD applied for the same federal Crime Bill grant for recreation services. “We asked that they co-sponsor us and put a name on it,” the Recreation official explains, “and they refused to, because they saw it as competition against the grant. That’s a barrier we need to break down still.”

37 The reference is to James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling. “Police and Neighborhood Safety: Broken Windows,” The Atlantic Monthly, March, 1982, pp. 29-38, which argues that when left unchecked, low-level “disorder” problems like aggressive panhandling can escalate to create more serious crime problems.

38 Phil Pitchford, “ ‘Spin’ on Report Upsets Commission,” Riverside Press-Enterprise, April 24, 1997, p. B-2.

39 David Danelski. “Ex-chief still a factor in council races.” Riverside Press-Enterprise, October 5, 1997, p. B-1. In an interview with this author, Wright explained that the endorsement was an attempt “to send a political message [to] listen to us. Because . . . I think they deferred to the City Manager too long: He was telling them, ‘Well, I need to get some more mileage out of this guy, I need to get some more mileage out of this guy, and he did not pull the plug early enough.’”

40 Phil Pitchford, “Two on Council Question Chief’s Leadership,” Riverside Press-Enterprise, October 30, 1994, p. B-8. Moore reaffirmed his comments the following Spring, stating: “No matter where you work, you’re going to have some people who are not pleased with the man at the top.” David Ogul, “Top Cop Aims for Good, But Critics Keep Sniping,” Riverside Press-Enterprise, April 8, 1995, p. B-1.

41 Phil Pitchford. “Two on Council Question Chief’s Leadership,” Riverside Press-Enterprise, October 30, 1994, p. B-8.

42 Moreover, the City Manager was simply happy to finally speak candidly about the problems the police department had. “Probably the most distinctive difference between Fortier and the other [Chiefs] that I’ve experienced was that he was very open with the City Manager’s office,” Paulsen explains, speaking from almost thirty years of experience in the city. “He was very forthright: He talked about problems. . . . I mean, the good people [in the RPD] outnumber the bad a gazillion to one, but some of the characters that you find in the department, they do wrong things. And many times the department has trouble articulating those things to outside people, or they just don’t. It’s a culture that ‘we don’t do it.’ Fortier broke through that and was able to maintain a very good relationship outside the department where other Chiefs prior to him were hesitant in doing that.”

43 Local newspaper reports at the time, however, found that spokespeople from other area police departments “didn’t understand what the fuss is all about,” insisting that their own policies were at least as strict as the new Riverside policy. David Ogul. “Police Criticize New Policy on Civilian Complaints,” Riverside Press-Enterprise, December 15, 1993, p. B-1.

44 Fortier recognized that his own unpopularity was starting to have an impact on Holmes. “The City manager, I think, was getting a lot of flak from some Council members about what they were hearing in the police department,” he remembers. “He’s very good at getting along with the Council, being responsive to them, [but] it was clear that the discontent with me from some members of the police department . . . was starting to have some impact on John’s relationship with the council. And he told me, ‘I just don’t know what to tell them. . . I look at all the facts because I know the facts’—because we kept in pretty close touch—‘I just don’t know how to counter this stuff.’” As time wore on, Fortier became vexed about Holmes’s failure to offer stronger support against the criticisms, noting that many of the controversial decisions he made were made jointly with the City Manager’s office. “He conveniently forgot his participation when those decisions were questioned,” Fortier maintains, going on to explain that this lack of support became “demoralizing.”

45 Some Riverside managers have recently felt somewhat vindicated in their decision, as neighboring agencies that invested heavily in the grants have faced severe financial difficulties—in some cases even before federal money was completely phased out. For example, the county Sheriff’s office narrowly avoided massive layoffs in 1997, and the year before it had to dip in to reserves to deal with budgetary stress (the reserves had been set aside to “continue the agency’s build-up as federal money dried out”). Skip Morgan, “County to Add 126 Deputies,” Riverside Press-Enterprise, September 13, 1995, p. A-1; Phil Hampton, “County Sheriff Faces Cuts,” Riverside Press-Enterprise, July 30, 1996, p. A-1; Eric Smith, “New Numbers Seem to Shelve Sheriff Layoffs,” Riverside Press-Enterprise, June 17, 1997, p. A-1.

46 The department also applied for a Domestic Violence grant that it did not receive, and it recently received a Problem-Solving Partnerships grant that has not yet been implemented. The grant was initially slotted to target sexual assaults, in part by hiring a civilian position, but the city’s financial trouble has forced the department to abandon those plans. Currently the RPD is negotiating with the Department of Justice to reprogram the funds, possibly for crime analysis capabilities.

47 Department members also report that other units (such as narcotics or traffic) do not get very involved in problem solving activity, although the gang unit has worked with area Lieutenants to respond to community concerns.