Riverside Cops Pretend To Be High Schoolers, Arrest 25 Students For Pot

Riverside County cops — the same guys responsible for tricking an autistic teenager into buying marijuana as part of a drug sting last year — are back on high school campuses. Riverside County Sheriff's Dept. MugshotRiverside County Sheriff's Dept. MugshotApparently undeterred by the media firestorm surrounding last year's arrests and a lawsuit charging the department with negligence, the Riverside County Sherriff's Department of Riverside County, Calif., has decided to continue its controversial undercover drug investigation program. Under this program, officers spend their days in local high schools pretending to be students. Over a semester, the officers try to build their underaged "classmates'" trust, then arrange drug deals with a few dozen students and ultimately arrest them. 

On Dec. 12, officers arrested 25 students from Perris and Paloma High Schools for allegedly selling illicit drugs, including cocaine, prescription pills, and marijuana. According to Lieutenant Paul Bennett, most of the drug buys were for small amounts of marijuana

Students say the officers walked into classrooms with photos of the teen suspects and handcuffed them in front of their peers. Twenty-three of the suspects are juveniles and two are 18 or older. 

According to several students who were interviewed by the Press Enterprise, the scene was "scary" and made them suspicious of their peers and teachers. “You think you can trust people – you just never know,” Bruce Hollen, 16, said. 

The investigation was carried out with enthusiastic support from Jonathan Greenberg, superintendent of the Perris Union High School District. 

From the Press Enterprise:

Greenberg said he had no reservations.

“It was a question of what we could do to assist [the officers],” he said.

“This is a very well-researched program,” he added. “The people in it are all professionals.”

Greenberg said there were only three district officials who knew about the investigation. No one on the two campuses was told. He said he informed school board members Wednesday night [the night before the arrests].

Unlike last year's arrests though, Lt. Bennett clarified that no autistic or learning-disabled teens were arrested; only "mainstream students" in general classes were. Bennett said the deputies selected to go undercover this year had received additional training about dealing with developmentally disabled students.

The Los Angeles Police Department pioneered undercover high school drug stings decades ago but discontinued the program in 2005 when school officials noticed eerily similar patterns to now: Special needs kids were increasingly getting busted and police typically found small amounts of pot. 

Despite objections from parents, police, and drug policy reform groups that the program is ineffective, "sick", and emotionally damaging to teens, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department stands by it. From the department's press release announcing the arrest of the teens:

One of the goals of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department’s Special Investigations Bureau (SIB) is to maintain a drug-free living environment for the community. Because our neighborhood children are the future, our objective is to keep children productive and drug-free and provide a safe learning environment.

The underage students were taken to a juvenile detention hall while the two adults, 18-year-old Serina Ramirez and 19-year-old Erick De La Cruz, were taken to a detention center.

Watch a Reason TV video on Riverside County cops tricking an autistic teen into buying pot:

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  • Sevo||

    ..."One of the goals of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department’s Special Investigations Bureau (SIB) is to maintain a drug-free living environment for the community."...

    Well, since that is patently impossible, why do you continue to pursue it?

  • pan fried wylie||

    Mental derangement.

  • gaoxiaen||

    More like entrapment. A cop would never be able to coerce a kid, would they?

  • LarryA||

    Note that the decades-old War On Drugs is so effective in maintaining a "drug-free" environment that cops can buy drugs from schoolchildren.

  • SugarFree||

    Sounds like a deadly place for a diabetic.

  • Bob J||

    Wasn't this already a tv show and a movie? http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1232829/

  • ||

    Yes, a terrible TV show!

  • Sudden||

    But a great movie, if only because Rob Riggle was in it.

  • ||

    Remakes are to be ignored, nothing else.

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Whole new concept: "157 Riverside Avenue Blue" and the theme song is already written.

  • Rod Flash||

    It was a rip-off of this truly fine educational television show - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt00.....lmg_act_23

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

    Greenberg said he had no reservations.

    “It was a question of what we could do to assist [the officers],” he said.

    “This is a very well-researched program,” he added. “The people in it are all professionals.”

    Bootlicking fascist. But he's a school superintendent, so that was self-evident.

    Unlike last year's arrests though, Lt. Bennett clarified that no autistic or learning-disabled teens were arrested; only "mainstream students" in general classes were.

    Gee, how very professional of them. But in the end, destroying these kid's confidence in the police and authority is probably a good thing.

  • np||

    He didn't make the cut for a cop, so he became superintendent instead.

  • CatoTheElder||

    Bootlicking fascist

    It's not fascism when we do it, silly.

    Viscount, your comments have been filed for consideration for future re-education.

  • ||

    This is getting old: "We have to destroy the children in order to protect them."

  • ||

    Time to pull your children out of Riverside schools, parents. The administration and the police are not on your, or anyone else's, childrens' sides.

  • BigT||

    School board elections could correct this.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Not really.

    School board members have very little control in CA.

  • ||

    He said he informed school board members Wednesday night [the night before the arrests].

    It sounds like the school board was completely out of the loop. Their only real option now is to fire the guy, if they can.

  • Muzzle of Bees||

    How about sheriff elections? I grew up in Temecula, where the autistic kid was from, and I don't think many people would be happy with this kind of behavior, but then again I have no idea what kind of media attention this is being given back home.

  • BuSab Agent||

    They need to do it to prevent any of these 25 teens from becoming president!

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    If only the Hawaii police were this vigilant in the 1970s!

  • ||

    What a bunch of dumbasses.

    The authorities that is.

    What a futile exercise in stupidity. Potentially ruin lives. And for what?

  • Whahappan?||

    You've answered your own question.

  • Almanian!||

    Twenty fucking one Jump hellz YEAH! Go Riverside PD!

  • Rhywun||

    "Because our neighborhood children are the future, our objective is to

    ensure that they never trust another human being again."

  • GILMORE||

    "Rhywun|12.16.13 @ 8:23PM|#

    "Because our neighborhood children are the future, our objective is to...

    DESTROY THEM SO WE MAY PRESERVE THE PAST

    No, really, because nothing says, "children are the future" like "juvenile detention center"

    And nothing speaks to how much a police-state cares about "the community" than aggressive entrapment and prosecution of minors for victimless crimes

  • James_R||

    These high schoolers are obviously trafficking vast quantities of narcotics otherwise the Riverside drug warriors wouldn't be spending millions in taxpayer dollars, expending thousands of man hours and months undercover for a few joints or a couple grams. I mean after all of this effort there has to be pictures of these jumpstreet cops standing inside warehouses chocked full of china white or high grade yayo. Right??

  • GILMORE||

    DID THEY CATCH THE DREADED "CHOOM GANG"??

  • Dweebston||

    Do you suspect your child's on the DOPE? Let our team of highly trained professional child psychologists jackbooted thugs arrest them in front of their peers, potentially inspiring God knows what incendiary emotional reactions in the weeks or years following their public humiliation.

  • ||

    We should actually thank the cops for unintentionally creating some new social libertarians. But fuck those guys anyway.

  • Dweebston||

    Believe me, I would love the opportunity to demonstrate my gratitude.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Another chick who cut her hair like that Skrillex homo.

  • Slammer||

    Welch's jacket is fucking with my teevee

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    So what happened to that autisyic kid, anyway?

  • ||

    Hopefully put down like a broken animal.

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

  • Mellow Kitty||

    "Look, it's really important that we protect these children from possibly using drugs. So we're going to infiltrate the local high school by masquerading as minors, with the intention of grooming underage co-eds for participation in illicit activities. Sounds like a solid plan, right?"

  • RightNut||

    I think being arrested and having a record at this point is far more damaging to these teens than any illicit drugs they might have.

  • np||

    The underage students were taken to a juvenile detention hall while the two adults, 18-year-old Serina Ramirez and 19-year-old Erick De La Cruz, were taken to a detention center.


    While the other students will still have a tough time in the future due to their records, those two 18+ are fucked.

  • Warrren||

    How many innocent lives are destroyed each year by cops?

    1000s? 10,000s? More?

  • Pelosi's Rabbit||

    Because 18 year old H.S. students are so much more mature than the 17.5 year old H.S. students they've been sitting next to for the past decade or so.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Sadly, probably literally also.

  • RightNut||

    It's like the cigarette companies, got to get em when they are young. Got to ruin their lives and dim their futures before they get any ideas.

  • RishJoMo||

    Stupid, useless PUNK cops. Go find some REAL criminals to harass you losers!

    www.AnonGoes.tk

  • Warrren||

    RishJoMo doesn't like that at all!

  • Irish||

    There is no liberal bias.

    In an interview with FOX News, Burke makes explosives charges about the PBS executives he dealt with, Jeff Bieber and Leo Eaton.

    “In the first meeting, they said to me, ‘Fire your partners.’” Burke said. “And I said ‘Why?’ They said, ‘Because they are conservatives.’”

    Burke said the PBS executives most forcefully objected to Gaffney’s involvement, asking, “‘Don’t you check into the politics of the people you work with?’ I said ‘No. I never have and I never will.’

    Note: The guy saying that this happened is himself a leftist who just happens to be one of the few remaining honest ones.

  • Ted S.||

    Fake Fox News scandal!

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Rep. Peter King forms a PAC - he may run for President

    http://politi.co/1hXeJX1

    He said: "I welcome the support of all Americans who hate terrorism - whether they be freedom-loving sons of the Emerald Isle, or Saxon scum who deserve to get blown sky-high with a gelignite bomb."

  • ||

    Well the Republican debates do need to meet their quota of thuggish buffoons.

  • BillEverman||

    I consider it my duty whenever Peter King is mentioned to remind everyone that he is the cowardly genius who, after the Giffords shooting, proposed a roving, 1000' diameter gun-free zone around every member of Congress, other "important" people, and most importantly, himself.

  • Rich||

    Bennett clarified that no autistic or learning-disabled teens were arrested; only "mainstream students" in general classes were.

    So much for "mainstreaming".

    Seriously, fuck the RCSD.

  • BillEverman||

    Just to show how awesome I am, the only people I sucker-punched yesterday weren't cripples.

  • Irish||

    Who let David Brooks off his leash?

    In fact, the calling usually starts young. As a college student, the future Thought Leader is bathed in attention. His college application essay, “I Went to Panama to Teach the Natives About Math but They Ended Up Teaching Me About Life,” is widely praised by guidance counselors. On campus he finds himself enmeshed in a new social contract: Young people provide their middle-aged professors with optimism and flattery, and the professors provide them with grade inflation. He is widely recognized for his concern for humanity. (He spends spring break unicycling across Thailand while reading to lepers.)

    This entire Op-Ed is an awesome ass kicking of the modern left-wing elite. I don't know why Brooks spends so much of his time courting these people when he'll periodically write an article like this where he obviously holds them in disdain.

  • Irish||

    Fortunately, this snarky phase doesn’t last. By his late 20s, he has taken a job he detests in a consulting firm, offering his colleagues strategy memos and sexual tension. By his early 30s, his soul has been so thoroughly crushed he’s incapable of thinking outside of consultantese. It’s not clear our Thought Leader started out believing he would write a book on the productivity gains made possible by improved electronic medical records, but having written such a book he can now travel from medical conference to medical conference making presentations and enjoying the rewards of being T.S.A. Pre.

    The second sentence of this paragraph is a work of art. How did the writer of this article write an article about the need for a super powerful president only four days ago?

    He doesn't even seem like the same person.

  • ||

    Yeah Irish, as soon as I saw the name David Brooks that is all I could think of. He thinks we should have an emperor. What a fucking Idiot.

  • ||

    The comments ruin him though.

  • Irish||

    The comments ruin him though.

    The comments don't ruin him. Based on what I read, Brooks just struck a nerve with the exact sort of people he's mocking.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    I do not know I would limit it the modern left-wing elite. Sounds like they could be Harvard MBA's as much as anything else.

  • ||

    I was stuck at a parade earlier and tried to post from an iPad. Apparently skwerls dont like iPads.

    I remember seeing an interview some years ago with a woman who had lived through Ceausescu's Romania.
    She said that the Securitate ( secret police ) had infested every aspect of life there. You never knew if your barber, your grocer, your neighbor, or even your family members were working for them. You never knew if your phone was tapped. You never knew who might overhear you on a crowded street. She said that no one trusted anyone. Their society was destroyed and they became just a huge number of paranoid people living together.

    That is what a police state leads to, an asylum full of paranoids.

  • Warrren||

    Takes notes

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

    That's like East Germany.
    Something like 2.5% of the population were informants of some kind.

  • gaoxiaen||

    In the USA, it's 100% of internet and phone users.

  • Irish||

    YOUTH MOVEMENT NEEDED FOR UPHOLDING OF GLORIOUS REVOLUTIONARY ORDER!

    THE PRESIDENT HAS AN ASSIGNMENT FOR YOU

    ARE YOU IN?

    Submissions for the White House film festival will be accepted from November 25 through January 29, 2014. Videos must be uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo to be submitted. You and a parent/guardian must complete the form below and submit a link to your video.
  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

  • ||

    Wasn't this also the plot of a TV/show or movie where some non-cop is pretending to be a high school student and then runs into the cop somewhere else and they each promise not to blow each other's cover?

    I cannot think of the title and it is driving me crazy.

  • Warrren||

    The Passion of the Christ.

  • Cdr Lytton||

    The Netflix season of Arrested Development had that plot.

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

    61 yds.

  • Swiss Servator, Alps avast!||

    And Bears fans laugh and dance and sing...

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

    Which Game of Thrones character are you?

    I got Jon Snow. Which means I know two things: nothing and cunnilingus.

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

    WTF is an emoji???

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

  • ||

    Japanese shit

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

    I don't know what they mean. How do I pick one?

  • Warrren||

    Which one others you the least?

  • ||

    The skull. We're all equal when we're dead, comrade.

  • Warrren||

    That's what I picked!

  • BuSab Agent||

    I picked the pissed off purple imp.

  • ||

    The skull was the only one that didn't offend me. Though I guess the purple one's not too bad. All others will be purged, though.

  • Warrren||

    Jon Snow here, but since I've not read the show or watched the books I have no idea what that means.

  • 2ndClassProle||

    Ahh.... so you live up to your name.

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

    Being Jon Snow isn't that bad. Yes you live in a frozen wasteland, but you get some red-headed Wildling tail.

  • 2ndClassProle||

    Exactly!

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

    until she

  • ||

    I still think he's gonna hook up with Daenerys and become king.

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

    no. I stand by Theon Greyjoy winning.

  • ||

    That would fit in nicely with Targaryen incest as the speculation is that he is her nephew.

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

    Yeah, that would be a suitably ironic ending. They cycle of incest and madness starts all over again with a new inbred royal couple that might produce another Mad King.

  • ||

    I got Snow as well. Hmm. Maybe I need to get out more, I didnt know half of that shit.

  • 2ndClassProle||

    WTF... I got Hodor, well I do have giant head.

  • ||

    Daenerys Targaryen.

    "Look at you. JUST LOOK AT YOU. Everyone loves you as much as you love your dragons. And you REALLY love those dragons."

  • Calidissident||

    You're quite the cunning lynguist, aren't you?

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

  • Warrren||

    Who was that asshole this morning that was shitting on people for saying the Cowboys should have fun more in the second half saying they didn't know what they were talking about?

    Well, I guess the coach of the team doesn't know what the fuck he is talking about either.

    “We should have run the ball more in the second half,” coach Jason Garrett said Monday morning on 105.3 The Fan. “There’s no question about that.”

    http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas.....-ball-more

    I really wanted to get involved in that discussion but didn't have the time. Anyway, shove it up your ass, asshole.

  • Homple||

    MJ is illegal. Yes, it is stupid that it's illegal. Yes those who enforce the laws against kids are soulless bastards. Yes reasonoids like to rant about all the above.

    But you know, kids, irrespective of what the reasonoids say, that shit is still illegal and getting caught messing with it will fuck up the rest of your life. So leave it the fuck alone until it is unambiguously legal. I don't see any of the reason crowd showing up to help you out of the jam you'd be in after being caught.

  • Agammamon||

    Yeah, same thing with pre-marital sex and co-habitation and miscegenation. Best to not mess with those things until their unambiguously legal.

    Nobody should have tried registering those voters either.

  • Homple||

    Hey kids. Agamamnon seems to want you to think that smoking weed is brave and noble like the stuff the Freedom Riders (about whom you've heard plenty in school) used to do. Nevertheless, if you get busted for it, you're deep in crap for a long time.

    A cop setting up another sting might want you to think that. So don't.

  • ||

    As a Packers fan, I'll tell you: you are 100% correct! Seven running plays in the second half? Idiotic.

  • ||

    In fairness, it is also true that Jason Garrett does not know what the fuck he is talking about.

  • Plopper||

    High School -- Aka Prison Day Camp for adolescents.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Reason #347 to home school.

  • ||

    Tellingly, this was Riverside County Sheriff's Department in some of the poorest sections of Riverside County, let alone the city proper. The joke you get to hear first in Riverside is that: "Everywhere, money talks. In Riverside, it screams." So I'm not surprised as to who was nabbed and taken away in handcuffs. It was like that during my high schools years (in parallel with work at RCC and UCR) and when I returned from the Navy for another four years of college.

    So, the headline enforcement is with the 'disadvantaged kids' while the partying set, which I knew all to well, before or after, didn't even get notified about the noise complaint let alone the drugs or underaged drinking going on. [Pardon me, but my inner-power-conflict-model self is coming out.]

  • Swiss Servator, Alps avast!||

    "Rivertucky"

  • AlmightyJB||

    Even if you bought into this fascist wod bullshit why would you create this sting to go over high school kids instead of going after whatever adults that are selling to the high school kids? Seems like that would make more sense not that anything they do makes sense. Let me guess. Officer safety.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Of course - it was officers who were their suppliers, probably.

  • Invisible Finger||

    As long as people rightfully hate the police more.

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