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Beverly Hills News – Chief Rivetti To Give Update On Management Review Tuesday

Posted: Friday, November 27, 2015 – 2:23 PM

By Victoria Talbot

Police Chief Dominick Rivetti will deliver an update at Tuesday’s City Council Study Session on the implementation of recommendations that were provided by consultants Management Partners designed to improve operations, hiring and disciplinary procedures in the Beverly Hills Police Department. 

The report painted a picture of a department lacking in strategic vision, suffering from low morale and flawed hiring practices; with poor disciplinary procedures and a lack of transparency in promotional practices and poor succession planning and team building.

Management Partners, a firm that specializes in consulting for public agencies, reviewed the department and offered 24 recommendations.

The report urged the BHPD to initiate a review of the promotional practices and involve employees to create clear, measurable standards to be achieved to be considered for promotion with written competencies and associated factors. Employees indicated that they did not feel they had sufficient opportunities to develop their skills to compete for promotions to special assignments.

Dominick Rivetti replaced Chief David Snowden, who retired June 13 after 11 years of service in Beverly Hills. Snowden announced his retirement shortly after it became public knowledge that he was serving as a paid consultant to a private security firm employed by the Beverly Hills Unified School District.

Last November, The Courier reported on the outcome of a disciplinary appeal by Sgt. Richard Ceja in which at least three officers were, in the Hearing Officer’s opinion, “untruthful,” “guilty of lies of omission,” and “lacking in credibility.”

Ceja was wrongfully fired on the strength of their testimony. Subsequently, upon winning his appeal, he was reinstated.

The City was directed to reinstate Ceja with reimbursement for lost income and benefits, and to “purge records pertaining to the unproven allegations . . . and dishonesty in responding to those allegations.”

During that time Ceja and his family suffered enormous financial and emotional strain. He was never fully reintegrated into the force, and instead was forced to retire. Ceja was insufficiently compensated for his wrongful firing and it is doubtful he will return to a career in law enforcement. 

Prior to the incident, Ceja was a well-respected instructor at the department.

Under former Chief Dave Snowden all three officers named in the arbitration have been given promotions or special assignments with raises and bonuses since the arbitration.

But the Brady Rule establishes that officers have a duty to disclose exculpatory evidence to a defendant through the prosecutor, who is required to notify defendants and their attorneys if a law enforcement official involved in their case has a sustained record for lying in an official capacity.

Cases where arresting officers have been known to lie are routinely called up and dismissed by defense attorneys, as happened in the LAPD after the Ramparts scandal.

Nonetheless, all of those officers have received permanent promotions, pay raises and other benefits. Benefits include K9 Officer and promotions to Detective and Traffic Investigator. Two of the officers have take-home vehicles. Despite the report, the Brady Rule has never been investigated with regards to these officers. 

Staff reports that as of November 24, only 14 of the 24 recommendations have been implemented. Eight of the remaining recommendations are “anticipated to be implemented by February 2016,” says the report. 

The BHPD Chief is requesting additional resources and staffing to implement and maintain the directives.

Among the changes, the Department has eased some of the policies to broaden the pool of candidates for consideration on the force. 

The report states that there are still ten sworn officer vacancies, but that ten candidates are in the process. 

Among the issues that have not been addressed is that of the development of a clear succession plan, which is to be handed to a permanent Chief of Police expected to come on board in 2016.

Another issue which has plagued the department is the rotation of special assignments. Denial of these assignments insures that some officers never reach their full potential and discourages moral. Special assignments, such as K9 Unit, carry hefty pay raises and cache.

Also deferred until January 31 of next year is a clear disciplinary matrix that would protect officers from disciplinary action that might result in wrongful firings, such as what occurred with Richard Ceja.

 

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