News - July 14, 2010

Atherton appoints new police lieutenant

by Renee Batti

Joe Wade has begun a new phase of his 11-year career with the Atherton Police Department: On July 11, the four-year sergeant assumed the position of lieutenant — one of only two at-will management positions in the department.

Lt. Wade, who has served in department roles ranging from school resource officer to field training officer, will take the position vacated by now-Chief Mike Guerra, who was appointed to the top job in the department in November 2009. As at-will employees, both Lt. Wade and Chief Guerra can be fired without cause, and are not represented by a union.

Lt. Wade was appointed sergeant in 2006, according to Chief Guerra, and in that position was assigned to both patrol supervision and investigations.

His duties extended to regional work: He was a member of the multi-agency Redwood City Police Department SWAT team, and a supervisor with the regional Gang Task Force, according to an announcement issued by the Atherton Police Department.

Lt. Wade was among numerous applicants for the job, 16 of whom were deemed "qualified." He topped the list of the three finalists, who participated in interviews with Chief Guerra, according to the announcement.

Chief Guerra said that although the department's management team has dwindled in number over the last few years due to budget concerns — there were up to four management positions at one time — the need to have a manager in the lieutenant's position was critical. One reason is the handling of internal investigations: When an officer is under review for suspected misconduct, it is the lieutenant who oversees the investigation, Chief Guerra said.

"For most investigations, the chief is the one who determines disciplinary action (if called for)," he said, likening the role to that of a judge. He added that it would be inappropriate for the chief to also act as investigator and prosecutor.

Lt. Wade, who is the current president of the Atherton Police Activities League, has a bachelor's degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo; and a master's degree in management from St. Mary's College.


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