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Another Atherton Resident Wrongfully Arrested

Original post made by Jon Buckheit, Atherton: West Atherton, on Apr 1, 2010

On March 28, a resident of Atherton was arrested for child abuse. The San Mateo District Attorney's office rejected filing charges just 24 hours later. The Atherton Police Department had the gall to print the name of this resident in their daily blog, but I am not repeating here in the interests of protecting this person's privacy. I have called upon Chief Guerra to remove that name immediately.

Some attorneys may argue the technicalities of a prosecutor's charging standard being different than the legal standard of making an arrest. From a practical purpose, however, there is no difference. The San Mateo District Attorney is one of the most aggressive prosecutors in California. For example, they recently prosecuted a volunteer coach for yelling at some kids who were bouncing a ball off of his trailer home wall. They will try cases that would never be brought in less conservative counties such as San Francisco.

When a D.A. refuses to charge just 24 hours after an arrest, without even attempting to gather more evidence to see if a prosecution can be proven, it shows me that there was definitely no evidence of any crime committed in the first place.

After what happened to me, I am amazed the APD would not have called in any gray area situation to the D.A. before making an arrest to see if the D.A. felt enough evidence existed to move forward.

Councilman Jerry Carlson stated at the last council meeting that he saw no reasons for a police review board. I suppose one false arrest wasn't a good enough reason. How about two, Jerry? If not two, how many would it take for you to think there is a problem?

Councilman Charles Marsala stated at the same meeting that he had a problem with the name of a police officer who stole golf clubs from a resident being published in the newspaper. Do you have a problem with the name a resident who is wrongfully arrested being published over the Internet by the town itself, Charles? Don't be shy, speak out on these forums. You said in the newspaper this morning that there are so many more important issues to deal with than the loan controversy. Is this one of them? You haven't been shy about coming here to speak about John Johns over the years. Was that a more important issue than this?

Will Wynne Furth write a legal opinion exonerating this taxpaying resident of wrongdoing as quickly as she did for Charles Marsala? Or simply another press release extolling the qualifications and virtues of the arresting officers. leaving the resident to ponder whether or not to pay a fortune in legal fees to achieve a factual innocence as I had to do?

I am working on getting the resident a victim's advocate. This is a totally unacceptable situation. There is only one council member, Kathy McKeithen, doing her job to help residents with this issue. One is on the fence, and the other three are turning a blind eye to some very real problems that won't go away by ignoring them.

Comments (8)

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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Apr 1, 2010 at 10:00 am

The Atherton Police Department might want to stop arresting residents for child abuse charges until they identify and charge the Police Officer who committed a felony against Jon Buckheit.

Until this happens the entire Police Department is suspect and harmed.


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Posted by Thelma
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 1, 2010 at 3:33 pm

This is becoming exhausting--CLEARLY--our Police Department needs help, either from WITHIN the town community through the suggested Citizen/Police Review idea--or guidance from some where OUTSIDE and ABOVE San Mateo County's "internal affairs" capacity.
But they need help from some where and fast.
Anymore self inflicted bullet wounds to the foot and they may bleed out before your eyes.
The entire Department went completely off track during the Bob Brennen era when at Mr.Marsala's behest, so many officers became the complicit tools of the construction lobby, in a carefully planned effort to discredit the finance director"s audit of the Bld. Dept- by attempting to discredit Mr, Johns personally through a completely illegal FRAME UP. The precedent set during that episode has confused and poisoned the Police Department ever since, as evidenced by the long series of expensive fiascos.
The culture within the Department has by now become far too demoralized to repair itself simply by removing Charles from office.
They will need all the help they can get from those of us who are interested in being proud of them once again.


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Posted by Thank You
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 1, 2010 at 5:32 pm

A big thank you to Mr. Buckheit for the work he's done. I've lived here for awhile (since before Cader) and he is the only person who has successfully gotten the police department to try to behave, even if for just a little while. Clearly the down vote on the review board got them thinking they can operate with impunity once again.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 1, 2010 at 6:59 pm

What's wrong with the good people of Atherton that they accept this outrageous behavior from their law enforcement officials?

Don't these people work for YOU?


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Posted by Woodside Attorney
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Hills
on Apr 2, 2010 at 11:57 am

Well when you have a 20 person police department and 1 per year is arrested (and that is not detained, stopped or whatever terms they use) you need to stop and say who is working there. True Chief Guerra walked into this problem, not created it, but who works there. I just found out that an officer who stopped me and thought "I may have been drinking" was "arrested for DUI" and he simply retired after his arrest. Not a stop, but an arrest. I understand this was not his first incident. In fairness, this was before Chief Guerra.

I hope Chief Guerra can clean house here


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 2, 2010 at 2:50 pm

One of the early signals is when your District Attorney begins refusing to prosecute your police force's arrests.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement for your police department, Atherton.


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Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Apr 3, 2010 at 4:10 pm

In late 2007 after I was suspended, the former chief of police, along with four of his officers detained me at Town hall. At the same time, two officers in response to a 911 call by the former chief raided my office. An evidence tag documenting evidence collected at my former office was altered. At the direction of the former chief, an atherton police officer conducted a forensic examination of my computer without a search warrant as required by law.

These incidents occurred because the police department with a "97 percent approval rating" believed it could act with impunity.

Jerry Carlson asked the former interim City Manager if the chief had probable cause when he detained me. Jerry Carlson did not get a response to his inquiry. Jerry Carlson did not ask again.

Jerry Carlson appears to show no more interest in holding the police department accountable today, than he did two and one half years ago. Mr. Carlson's apparent lack of interest in accountability over the police department is most unfortunate.

I have filed a citizen's complaint over the conduct of the police.

Now that I have waived the right to sue the City for what I perceive to have been a violation of my civil rights, I hope this matter will be investigated.

If it is not, I fear that the police department will continue to misbehave, a victim will sue the Town. When this happens, I along with others who have been mistreated will become Exhibit A,B, C and so on.


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Posted by just a thought
a resident of another community
on Apr 4, 2010 at 12:32 am

Often, when I speak to people about the decrepit nature of our governmental functioning, they say to me "What can I do about it?", in an expression of despairing helplessness.

One of the easy things you can do is to support those courageous enough to be vocal, who are taking an active stand publicly on an issue you support and feel strongly about. This is not so hard or self-sacrificial a thing to do.

You see one such person in front of you now, Mr. Buckheit, who appears to have inherited the point position from Mr. Johns through no intent of his own, but rather as a result of being at the effect of the condition of your governance.

This is a time of flux when the power of suppressive forces has waned and I know for a fact that it will not be resurgent in our lifetimes...a real opportunity.

Someone told me once that love is not an emotion, it is an action...a doing.

No one knows what is within us except to the extent that we actualize those thoughts, those feelings. This is not a trivial statement.

If you are a good and decent person in this town, how can you expect your governance to reflect your decency if you do not actualize your perspectives through expression with your neighbors, to your representatives and with your power of the vote?

The highest honor you can give Mr. Johns is to see to it that his suffering is not just another unnoticed, ineffectual footnote in your history, by requiring of your government the discipline of the values of right, lawfulness and decency which it has for so long failed to evince.

Who amongst you has the courage to match his? or at least to follow a little bit in his example?

JAT


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