Commissioners, Investigator Declare CPCC ‘A Farce’

By: 
Stephen Downing
Former CPCC Chief Investigator Thomas Gonzales labels the “urgent” council agenda Item scheduled for June 9 meeting “Just another scam by the politicians that is nothing more than flipping the pancake and putting it back on the same grill.”

Long Beach Citizen Police Complaint Commission (CPCC) board member Porter Gilberg said it out loud, on a bullhorn, in public at Harvey Milk Park in front of hundreds of protesters on June 5 – “I am on the Citizen’s Police Complaint Commission … and the commission is a farce.”

Gilbert isn’t the only member of the commission who has made that assessment; he’s just the first one to announce it in public – and he delivered his list of reasons for calling the CPCC a farce:

  • There is no accountability.
  • I am on a body that looks at police complaints, that makes recommendations but has no decision-making power.
  • I look at cases of police violence and police brutality and I do not get to say one word about it.
  • Commissioners are never made aware of the outcomes of individual investigations.
  • There are no written investigative policies or procedures for investigators, meaning there are no formal rules for how commission staff is to conduct investigations.
  • Commissioners do not have access to all the evidence in an investigation.
  • Evidence is, in fact, withheld from us that would allow us to make a more informed decision.
  • Because we do not have access to all the evidence, we don’t even know what we’re not seeing.”
  • The evidence we do not have access to is often cited by the city manager as reasons for overturning our recommendations to uphold the allegations of misconduct.
  • This is all based on what the city attorney says and is not fact. Although the city takes this as fact.
  • The city attorney’s interpretation of law has made the subpoena power of the commission useless.

(NOTE: In its 30-year history – although empowered to subpoena witnesses and documents, swear witnesses and conduct hearings, the CPCC has never done so for any case – including the LBPD cover-up of Councilperson Peace’s criminal assault and DUI case.)

Two former CPCC commissioners known to the Beachcomber also saw though the City Hall PR machine and wanted to go public in years past but did not because City Attorney Charles Parkin advised: “If you reveal anything about CPCC business you can be prosecuted under the Brown Act.“

Those commissioners took the threat to heart, fearing bankruptcy from city retaliation – until Porter Gilberg went public.

When informed of Gilberg’s “CPCC farce” declaration in an interview with the Beachcomber, former CPCC Commissioner Richard Lindemann said, “I agree with Gilberg, it is a farce.”

In an interview the same day with David Clement, the former CPCC commission chair said, “I don’t think the CPCC has ever met its original intent to be an independent investigative body. City staff selectively picked over everything we were allowed to see and our investigators were never permitted to interview the accused officers. What kind of investigation is that?”

Former CPCC Chief Investigator Thomas Gonzales terminated in 2006 for complaining about the city’s corrupted investigative practices and his attempts to expose LBPD excessive use of force cover-ups (he sued and won a judgment of $775,000) said of Gilberg’s statement, “I agree 100 percent. It’s always been a farce. They’re doing the same thing today as they did back in 2006 when they went after me for knowing too much and trying to expose it.”

The Beachcomber has published multiple articles and opinion pieces detailing stories that support Gilbert’s public announcement – as well as those made by the two former CPCC commissioners and the chief investigator whose story the Beachcomber has tracked through two trials over the past eight years. (See https://beachcomber.news/content/jury-decision-validates-city-hall-corru...) And (https://beachcomber.news/content/city-attorney-squanders-another-200000).

The mayor, city manager, city attorney and every member of the City Council responded to each of the multiple Beachcomber articles either with dead silence or by resurrecting the status quo drumbeat of praise for the value of the CPCC’s oversight functions and its “independence.”

Both Lindemann and Gonzales were also aware of the calendar item hurriedly placed on the City Council agenda for Tuesday, June 9 by Councilmembers Al Austin, Suzie Price, Dee Andrews and Rex Richardson to have the city manager “Take a fresh look at the role of the CPCC and identify options for increasing accountability and transparency in the relationship between our Police Department and the community.”

Lindemann said he saw the agenda item as “another farce and delaying tactic that will allow the politicians to buy time until the controversy fades from memory and City Hall goes back to business as usual.”

Gonzales said, Tuesday’s agenda item is “just another cover-up; they’re going to turn the pancake over and put it back on the same grill. All they want to do is make the people happy and get them off their backs.”

Lindemann added, “A better idea would be to have the council appoint an independent blue-ribbon commission made up of people of color affected by police violence, educators, activists, civil rights attorneys and other affected parties, as well as former CPCC commissioners like me and Mr. Gilberg. We can tell it like it is.”

Another recommendation that addressed the subject of “independence” and the fired CPCC investigator came from Bill Pearl on June 13 when the LB Report publisher wrote about the six month-long vacancy on the CPCC commission.

Pearl wrote: “Mr. Gonzales’ credentials are unmatched and unmatchable. He was an investigator for CPCC. He did his work so well that he uncovered matters in the handling of the public’s complaints against police officers that some people inside City Hall didn’t want uncovered. The city fired Mr. Gonzales but he didn’t shrink. He sued...and ultimately the city (with council voted approval) paid him (more than) $700,000 to settle the case.”

In order to insure that his LB Report readers understood the implications and push-back that would come from the council and mayor appointing a CPCC commissioner with Gonzales’ impeccable credentials for integrity that Pearl defined as “unmatched and unmatchable,”  Pearl wrote, ”To our knowledge, LB’s police union hasn’t said anything publicly about the CPCC vacancy, but we presume Mr. Gonzales is the last person it wants on the CPCC. He has shown his willingness to go where the truth leads no matter whose toes it steps on.”

Lindemann took it a step further and voiced support for a change to the City Charter that would morph the CPCC into a board of police commissioners with hire and fire authority over the chief of police and policy authority over all LBPD operations, with its support staff to include an inspector general empowered to inspect all police operations from recruitment to academy training to internal affairs investigations.

When the June 9 council meeting arrived it became clear that Lindemann and Gonzales’ crystal ball was perfectly in sync with their “farce” and “flip-the-pancake” predictions made days before. There would be no “independent look” at CPCC protocols or the absence thereof.

In a 8 to 1 vote, with Councilman Daryl Supernaw dissenting, the council passed the recommendation to have the city manager, rather than an independent commission, take that “fresh look.’

There was no discussion for an independent review in spite of the fact that oversight and control over what the CPCC commissioners are allowed to see, review and recommend has been wholly controlled by the city manager – with “advice” support from the city attorney - for the past 30 years.

Councilman Al Austin, in posturing for support of the motion told those gathered for the telephonic council meeting that he once served as a CPCC commissioner in 2003 and was familiar with “some of the limits to its authority.”

Austin said, “for example, the commission cannot compel a police officer to provide a statement about any given incident. “

What the Councilman didn’t say is that no one, including Internal Affairs or the chief of police can “compel a statement” from an officer in either a criminal or administrative investigation.

If the investigation is criminal, the officer is afforded his or her right to refuse self-incrimination, like any suspect subject to a criminal investigation.

If the investigation is bifurcated for administrative purposes, the officer can still refuse to answer questions, however the protocol is for a supervisor to order the officer to cooperate – and if the officer continues to refuse he or she can be terminated for refusing to obey the order.

Councilman Austin summed up his support for the city manager-rather than an independent commission- to review CPCC operations stating, “The CPCC, I believe, is an important tool for accountability and transparency when it comes to our community’s conflicts with our police department and it holds officers accountable. I look forward to reviewing the reforms we can make to make the CPCC more effective.”

Thomas Gonzales, the CPCC investigator said, “Back then (2006) they not only stopped me from interviewing the officers, they even tried to stop me from interviewing the citizen complainants, but I did it anyway. Many times I found that the IAD investigators attributed statements to the complainants that they never said. And it was always in support whatever new cover-up the LBPD was cooking up.”

Stephen Downing is a resident of Long Beach and a retired LAPD deputy chief of police.
tephen.beachcomber@gmail.com

Editors Note: This article has been updated from the on-line version published June 7 (below)

 

 

Long Beach Citizen Police Complaint Commission (CPCC) board member Porter Gilberg said it out loud, in public at Harvey Milk Park in front of hundreds of protesters on June 5 – “I am on the Citizen’s Police Complaint Commission … and the commission is a farce.”

Gilbert isn’t the only member of the commission who has made that assessment; he’s just the first one to announce it in public – and he delivered his list of reasons for calling the CPCC a farce that included the following statements:

  • “There is no accountability.”
  • “I am on a body that looks at police complaints, that makes recommendations but has no decision-making power.”
  • “I look at cases of police violence and police brutality and I do not get to say one word about it.”
  • “Commissioners are never made aware of the outcomes of individual investigations.”
  • “There are no written investigative policies or procedures for investigators, meaning there are no formal rules for how commission staff is to conduct investigations.”
  • “Commissioners do not have access to all the evidence in an investigation.
  • “Evidence is, in fact, withheld from us that would allow us to make a more informed decision.”
  • “Because we do not have access to all the evidence, we don't even know what we're not seeing.”
  • “The evidence we do not have access to is often cited by the city manager as reasons for overturning our recommendations to uphold the allegations of misconduct.”
  • “This is all based on what the city attorney says and is not fact. Although the city takes this as fact.”
  • “The city attorney's interpretation of law has made the subpoena power of the commission useless.”

(NOTE: In its 30-year history – although empowered to subpoena witnesses and documents, swear witnesses and conduct hearings, the CPCC has never done so for any case – including the LBPD cover-up of Councilperson Peace’s criminal assault and DUI case.)

Two former CPCC commissioners known to the Beachcomber also saw though the City Hall PR machine and wanted to go public in years past but did not because City Attorney Charles Parkin advised: “If you reveal anything about CPCC business you can be prosecuted under the Brown Act.“

Those commissioners took the threat to heart, fearing bankruptcy from city retaliation – until today.

When informed of Gilberg’s “CPCC farce” declaration in an interview with the Beachcomber on June 6, former CPCC Commissioner Richard Lindemann said, “I agree with Gilberg, it is a farce.”

In an interview the same day with David Clement, the former CPCC commission chair, he said, “I don’t think the CPCC has ever met its original intent to be an independent investigative body. City staff selectively picked over everything we were allowed to see, and our investigators were never permitted to interview the accused officers. What kind of investigation is that?”

Former CPCC Chief Investigator Thomas Gonzales terminated in 2006 for complaining about the city’s corrupted investigative practices and his attempts to expose LBPD excessive use of force cover-ups (he sued and won a judgment of $775,000) said of Gilberg’s statement, “I agree 100 percent. It’s always been a farce. They’re doing the same thing today as they did back in 2006 when they went after me for knowing too much and trying to expose it.”

The Beachcomber has published multiple articles and opinion pieces detailing stories that support Gilbert’s public announcement – as well as those made on June 6 by the two former CPCC commissioners and the chief investigator whose story the Beachcomber has tracked through two trials over the past eight years. (See https://beachcomber.news/content/jury-decision-validates-city-hall-corru...) and (https://beachcomber.news/content/city-attorney-squanders-another-200000).

The mayor, city manager, city attorney and every member of the City Council responded to the each of the multiple Beachcomber articles either with dead silence or by resurrecting the status quo drumbeat of praise for the value of the CPCC’s oversight functions as well as its “independence.”

Both Lindeman and Gonzales were also aware of the new calendar item hurriedly placed on the City Council agenda for Tuesday, June 9 by Councilmembers Al Austin, Suzie Price, Dee Andrews and Rex Richardson to have the city manager “Take a fresh look at the role of the CPCC and identify options for increasing accountability and transparency in the relationship between our Police Department and the community.”

Lindemann said he saw the agenda item as “another farce and delaying tactic that will allow the politicians to buy time until the controversy fades from memory and City Hall goes back to business as usual.”

Gonzales said, Tuesday’s agenda item is “just another cover-up; they’re going to turn the pancake over and put it back on the same grill. All they want to do is make the people happy and get them off their backs.”

Lindemann added, “A better idea would be to have the council appoint a blue-ribbon commission made up of people of color affected by police violence, educators, activists and others affected parties, as well as former CPCC commissioners like me and Mr. Gilberg. We can tell it like it is.”

Lindemann also voiced support for a change to the City Charter that would morph the CPCC into a board of police commissioners with hire and fire authority over the chief of police and policy authority over all LBPD operations, with its support staff to include an inspector general empowered to inspect all police operations from recruitment to academy training to internal affairs investigations.

Interested parties can make eComment on the agenda item scheduled as agenda item #26 at: https://longbeach.granicusideas.com/meetings/3165-city-council/agenda_items

Other written comments may also be submitted by email to: cityclerk@longbeach.gov.

 

Stephen Downing is a resident of Long Beach and a retired LAPD deputy chief of police.

 

 

Category:

Comments

This is ridiculous for years people have been complaining about this wanabe fake police oversight committee and nothing has ever been done. This is another tool that is used by the corrupt police department to hide the misconduct we need to hold the City Council members, mayor coward corrupt police chief Luna Accountable.. We need an investigation of the whole police department we need to bring in the sheriffs to take over.

I just read an article where Mayor Robert Garcia said about 85 people were arrested for the unrest! what a LIAR this clown and the COP Luna want to keep laying to us. They left out the fact that those numbers are for every law violated all over the city and including citations, this even includes crimes not even related to the unrest.. We want to know how many people were arrested for "LOOTING" we don't want inflated number of arrested for peaceful protesting which includes curfew violations. We want numbers of the real criminals!! Not the numbers of people arrested for invoking their constitutional rights!!!. The laughable thing is that the Garcia said "85 people were arrested" all proudly and arrogant. 85 people is nothing!!!, compared to us seeing hundreds of people LOOTING on TV, while he had officer stand around and forming lines in front of peaceful protesters. Why can't these city people admit that the COP Luna failed at his job and fire him! Why do they keep trying to defend this incompetent COP? This mayor needs to go and we need to know the truth. We need people held accountable if not this type of unrest will happen again. The mayor said he was with us right after the protest but know his lying again,,,I guess that was all BS!

I have spoken out on this issue several times. I have personal experience with Long Beach’s corrupt CPCC. I personally filed three complaints and assisted Belmont Shore residents filing three additional complaints against LBPD officers while president of the Belmont Shore Residents Association. Not once was I contacted by CPCC about any of the complaints filed. Each time I called repeatedly to get an update. Twice I spoke with the LBPD commanders who told me they would get back with me. Not once did that happen. Not once did a CPCC investigator contact me. Simply Nothing.

I assisted an 82 year old neighbor file a CPCC complaint after she was struck and pushed to the ground by a LBPD officer after she questioned why he was on her property. After the complaint was filed, the offending officer’s sergeant showed up unannounced at her door one day. He apologized to the woman and asked her to drop the complaint. The sergeant justified the assault by saying the offending officer was “training” two other officers that day and was in a hurry. My neighbor remained upset and was frightened that LBPD showed up at her door to ask her to drop the complaint. Though she didn’t drop the complaint, neither of us was ever contacted by CPCC regarding the incident.

The mayor, city manager, city attorney and every member of the City Council should ALL be run out of town on a rail. Praising the CPCC or remaining silent on the issue is plain wrong. Recall them all or vote them all out. That is the only way to enact meaningful change.
It was Martin Luther King Jr. who said, "He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it."

I sent the following to the City Council upon reading this opinion piece regarding Agenda #26 for tonight's City Council meeting re the CPCC: The city manager, the ultimate authority over the CPCC, should not be tasked with review and reporting of the CPCC. An INDEPENDENT audit is desperately needed, to do what the City Council allegedly intends, which is to "improve accountability and transparency in the relationship between the Police Department and the community."

A good first step, would be to revert the governing city charter provisions re CPCC structure and process to that which was actually voted into law by the citizens of Long Beach in the 90s. The City Charter provisions 1150-1155 setting up the structure, mission and purpose of the CPCC, and the way that is carried out, have since been changed illegally (not by vote of the people) to circumvent the efficacy and purpose of the CPCC. The CPCC sees only what the director sets before it, which is what the Police Department selectively gives to the director, which CPCC investigators have generally rubber stamped regardless of the egregiousness of the conduct at issue.

The CPCC needs reform and ultimately teeth, which brings me to a good second step - make sure the appointed commissioners have absolutely no ties to the police force they are tasked with review of, or make the CPCC commissioner an elected position. Then provide them with subpoena power, the ability to interview officers, and real disciplinary authority separate and apart from the city manager.

The CPCC has long been a farce, as conceded by several commissioners and City Council people past and present. If the City Council is really interested in bringing about meaningful change, if would do any number or all of these things, instead of setting forth this illusory effort to make the CPCC better. Those that know how the CPCC was intended to function and how it actually functions today know that this agenda item as stated is merely intended to preserve the status quo yet appear responsive to the recent protests against police brutality. I implore you to make an effort for meaningful change, not pointless, circular endeavors that will do nothing. Thank you.

THIS mayor and city council has no interest in bringing about meaningful change. They only offer plattitudes, expecting everything will calm back down again once a new hot issue is identified.

Change involves heartache and pain. The mayor and council want neither. It has taken years for them to achieve the current systemically flawed system that allows them to float above the fray. Focusing enough energy to begin voting the mayor and council out of office is the ONLY way to get their attention and assistance. It is certainly achievable. Considering only about 15% of Long Beach voters go to the polls, all you need is another like minded 5,000 voters to make a difference.

Yesterday, LBReport.com owner and Editor Bill Pearl published a character assassination article about Porter Gilberg, the CPCC commissioner who declared the CPCC a farce. Mr. Pearl attempts to smear the reputation of Mr. Gilberg by claiming he had the audacity to contribute $150 to the re-election campaign of former 2nd Dist. Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce, who subsequently dropped out of the election. As many know, Ms. Pearce had more than her share of controversy during her single term as councilwoman. Mr. Pearl writes about councilwoman Pearce’s failure to strengthen the CPCC and infers Mr. Gilberg is also to blame because he contributed to her election. Next up for LBReport.com is an article claiming Porter Gilberg was witnessed burning ants with a magnifying glass.

It is farce, Dare Office/Detective [redacted] sexually and physically abused me from 1996 to 2003. He approached me when I was twenty years old, when I was a Temporary Classroom Aide at a local Elementary School, gave me an unwanted hug and offered too walk me too my car, telling me they would miss me because it was my last day of work, I declined he walked me anyway. He asked me multiple private questions like , Where do I live, Who do I live with etc... He gave me his business card at the end and wanted me to contact him on a City Pager, I declined and threw the card away as I drove off. This same Officer saw me at the Dr. Martin Luther King Parade as I was about to March with the Pre-School I used to teach at, he walked up to me and unbeknownst me put his hand in my shirt and asked me what was I wearing, he told me a friend told him it looked like I wanted him, I told him well they lied and took his hand out of my shirt and told him not to ever do that again. The third time he saw me at the Downtown Police Station as I was getting information on someone and he came running down the stairs as I pushed my baby in his stroller asking me does he know me from somewhere and why I didn't call him and how he wanted to get to know me. Begging to talk to me. Each time he approached me, he approached me in his Uniform. I told him I don't date Black Men, he said he was different and better than all the rest, I said I don't date Cops, he said he was different and better than all the rest. We later spoke on the phone and he was calling me at least three times a day, and we would talk for hours. He begged to come to my home, I declined multiple times and then finally I let him come because my brother would be home and he kept begging me to come over, I told him don't bring guns to my home. He came to my home and wanted to know who every female was on my wall, he interrogated me wanting to know if I had been raped or molested, as we were watching tv he tried to put his tongue in my mouth and I pushed him away and told him, No I didn't know him in that way and I don't do that, he finally left and called me from his car, telling it was cute how I pushed him up when he tried to kiss me because most women don't do that, I later found out that he's married, and I hung up in his face when I found this out because I was livid, he called back and asked to explain and told me that he was getting a divorce and how his wife didn't love him and called him fat and had no respect for him and how nobody wanted him. He also said the white people at his job let him know he's black on a daily basis. I told him I couldn't get involved and I don't date married men and never have and never will. He kept calling me and one day asked me if he could ask me a question, He asked me if he could make love to me on Valentines Day, I hung up in his face. He called me back and said to please think about it and I told him No multiple times and how it would be against my religion and he was well aware that I had been sexually abused and physically abused as a child, so I told him No, I want to wait until I'm married and I have never slept around in life and he kept begging me. He called me and said he has a buddy that was married for twenty years and has a girl with him for 10 years and it worked out, then he called and told me that Sometimes you have to put religion on the side on the shelf to do what you want to do as an adult. I told him, but I don't want to sleep with you though. I ended up falling into the pressure of his harassment and I made a mistake and was abused during the time I was with him, I wanted out I had enough so I filed a TRO on 5/29/2003 after he popped up at my house days before after I declined to go to Palm Springs.He wrote this sexual control contract years before that he forged my name on during City time at work. I was supposed to be at the hearing on 6/19/2003 he had me called by a Court Clerk [redacted] saying Judge [redacted] wants you in court immediately on June 4,2003. I get there and he's at the elevator mad, he walks away after seeing me with someone and then I'm taken into a chamber and abused by three big bullies. Judge [redacted], the Bailiff and [redacted]. Verbally and Physically abused. I wasn't even supposed to be in Court that day. I was pushed by the bailiff in the chest in a chair for no reason, [redacted] smirked, he later said Aha Aha, I told you what I would do to your ass if you brought your ass down here on me again. Judge [redacted] was saying shame on you young lady when I walked in, when he just took a bribe and committed Exparte communication. It was horrible. LBPD refuses to give me the name of the Bailiff and all these people collectively involved are corrupt. Their officer chased me and pursued and begged me and then tried to make me lose my job, when my job has nothing to do with this mess. Fire all involved. I don't bother people, so I have every right to stand up for myself after being violated.

While president of the Belmont Shore Residents Association, I heard similar stories from some of the female residents who thought I could help them. It was frustrating. There was no one of authority willing to help. Chief Batts and Deputy Chief Luna ignored my complaints. Commander Renaud passed them off to her staff who never called me back. I filed multiple complaints with the CPCC and didn't even get a response. When I called to verify they had received the complaint, I was told they were working on it and would be getting back to me and then........nothing. The corrupt system protects crooked cops. And they are crooked because they know they are protected.

I'm sorry for your pain. I wish I could have somehow done more to draw attention to LBPD's rampant misconduct.

The Kbps is probably the single most corrupt organization in the U.S. Complaints seem to only earn you more harassment and risk. It's a huge problem. With the exception of the gang units and the units that keep Intel on the trouble youth running the streets the force is chalk full of uneducated terrorists. Very rarely do I hear anyone mention that they have received any kind of "help" from an officer. It's always overbearing mistreatment and show off abusers. That is the reality of life in long beach. Justice here is a shit show. Thumbs up to the Beachcomber for providing reliable honest fearless truthes.

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Beachcomber

Copyright 2020 Beeler & Associates.

All rights reserved. Contents may not be reproduced or transmitted – by any means – without publisher's written permission.