Riverside adopts outside oversight in response to former police chief's DUI
RIVERSIDE — Outside agencies will now investigate cases involving high-ranking officials, or even police employees, following the admitted mishandling of last February’s intoxicated driving incident involving former police Chief Russ Leach.
Leach heavily damaged his Chrysler 300 and appeared disoriented, but was driven home without a sobriety test on Feb. 8, 2009. He later pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence.
According to city officials, including Mayor Ron Loveridge, there were two major breaches in police protocol: No sobriety test was administered and city management wasn’t notified about the incident. Leach was found to have taken up to five prescription drugs and 11 alcoholic drinks before he was stopped during the early morning hours.
Leach, who eventually retired following the incident, was lauded for a law enforcement career that stretched over 30 years. City officials would not allow a single error in judgment to nullify his record.
City officials blamed department management, not the unnamed patrol officers who stopped Leach, for failures in policy. No disciplinary actions have been taken. Any possible actions will not be announced due mainly to the Peace Officers Bill of Rights and personnel policies.
John De La Rosa has taken over as the department’s acting chief while the city sifts through applicants.
The city will also clarify who should be notified during incidents like Leach’s. Later this month, the city is expected to reveal information on policy changes.