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Riverside Will Study Change in Police Panel

Plan to bar law enforcement officers from oversight board will go to a committee.

June 23, 2004|Seema Mehta | Times Staff Writer

A proposal to bar law enforcement officers from serving on Riverside's Community Police Review Commission needs further study, the City Council decided Tuesday night.

Two councilmen have said they proposed the ban to ensure the independence of the commission, which was formed after a controversial shooting to investigate complaints against city police.

However, one commissioner said it was an attempt to remove her by the city's police union.

The Riverside Police Officers' Assn. had urged city officials to remove Commissioner Sheri Corral from her post in May after she accused officers of treating her unfairly once they learned she was on the review commission.

Corral, an officer for Riverside Community College and the only full-time officer on the commission, said she was labeled a turncoat, had difficulty obtaining warrants and saw increased police patrols near her house.

But Councilman Frank Schiavone, who wrote the measure, insisted that the efforts were not aimed at any commissioner, but rather making sure that the commission was independent and free of bias.

He proposed sending the proposal to a council committee that he chairs after saying that the Corral issue clouded the matter.

The council unanimously agreed.

"It overshadows the substance of the issue," he said.

"The issue is whether or not law enforcement should be on a civilian oversight panel."

However, several community residents and a police review commissioner who spoke at the meeting said they are convinced that the proposal was an attempt by the police union to weaken the commission.

The union, which has opposed the commission since its inception, endorsed and donated thousands of dollars to Schiavone and supporting Councilman Steve Adams in their respective elections.

"We were all aware of the financial influence the [union] has had on individual council members, so it is no surprise the [union] is calling in their markers," said Commissioner Gloria Huerta.

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