Police Chief Purvis helped Convicted Felon receive lesser Sentence

Police Chief Purvis helped Convicted Felon receive lesser Sentence


7/27/13 – Public perception of the Police is that they make sure that criminals are convicted and punished. Not so in the City of Banning, where – in one particular case – the Police Chief came to a convicted felon’s rescue : Documents obtained by the Banning Informer show that in late 2010, Chief Purvis used his office to personally aid a convicted felon in receiving a lesser jail sentence.



InsuranceFraudThe crime : former Banning Police officer Travis Jones  arranged for his personal vehicle to be driven to Mexico and subsequently reported it stolen in order to collect on insurance. Jones was caught and was convicted of insurance fraud (Superior Court of San Bernardino Case No. FWV-1000938).

When it was time to sentence Jones, Chief Purvis appeared in Court with the intent to address the judge. Purvis identified himself as the Banning Police Chief and testified on behalf of defendant Jones. Purvis stated that Jones had cooperated and was helpful during the insurance fraud investigation, as it related to him and another officer (view Court transcript).


Police Chief' Leonard Purvis

Police Chief’ Leonard Purvis

Purvis’ testimony swayed Superior Court Judge Michael A. Sachs to modify a previously plea-bargained sentence of 120 days : the judge cut Jones’ sentence in half and sentenced him to a mere 60 days along with a 3 years probation.

Once the probation period has passed, the minimal 60 day sentence could make it easier for Jones to have his felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor. What if, thanks to Chief Purvis, Jones will be able to re-start his law enforcement career and be back on the streets as a (corrupt) cop?



Banning Police Department Policy 348 (view) makes it clear that Police testimony and subpoenas go hand in hand : usually one does not happen without the other.

subpoena-1Purvis provided testimony on behalf of a convicted felon. Neither Court records nor the transcript (view) indicate that neither the defense nor the prosecution called Purvis to testify, a circumstance that is rather unusual. It appears Chief Purvis just decided to appear “out of the blue” to help out convicted felon Jones – without a subpoena and without following proper protocol.

Section 348.7 of the Banning Police Department manual covers “Testifying Against the Interest of the People of the State”. The manual does not cover a situation where a Police officer appears in Court on his own initiative. Given that the Police manual also applies to the Chief of Police, Purvis’ actions appear not only bizarre, but also improper from an administrative point of view.



One must wonder why Chief Purvis has not come forward to explain his actions. Apparently he must think that the public has no right to know why he tried to help out convicted felon Travis Jones. In an email dated July 17 we asked Chief Purvis  to explain why he testified for the apparent purpose of having a felon’s sentence reduced. He did not respond.

get-out-of-jail-free-cardThis leaves us to speculate: did Jones know too much about the inner workings of the Department that could have proven harmful to Purvis ? There is some indication in the transcript that suggests that Purvis may have “owed” Jones, because Jones helped investigate another officer in Purvis’ Department. Was a deal struck behind closed doors ? We may never know.

One thing seems certain, however : Jones was provided with a “Get-out-of-Jail-Free-Card”, courtesy of Banning Police Chief Leonard Purvis.



If you google “Police  helps convicted felon”, not a single story comes up that would indicate that any Police officer in the entire country , let alone a Police Chief, has ever helped a convicted felon – with anything ! This seems reasonable : the ethics of any law enforcement officer prohibit such conduct.

It appears that only in the City of Banning does law enforcement engage in actively aiding and abetting the vital interests of criminals. Is this the kind of “leadership” Chief Purvis has been priding himself of ?

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Whether you like Chief Purvis or not, something is definitely wrong when he appears in Court – without subpoena – to help  a convicted criminal avoid punishment. How does this serve  the citizens of Banning?  Does this episode indicate that Leonard Purvis is a competent Police Chief who’s leadership the public can trust? You decide.



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