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Atherton police union letter raises some residents' ire

Original post made on Apr 23, 2013

Some residents are calling it a scare tactic and a "shameful" attempt to misrepresent reality. But the head of the police union insisted that the letter his group mailed to Atherton residents earlier this month was "intended to help foster communication between the less engaged residents and their elected representatives."

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 9:16 AM

Comments (18)

Posted by ndnorth, a resident of another community
on Apr 23, 2013 at 11:13 am

The lettter, the letter, the letter, but what does the letter say?

Posted by Credibility, a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 23, 2013 at 11:20 am

When a decorated former police captain like John Ruggeiro, whose son is a San Francisco police officer, is criticizing police behavior, Mattes and the APOA can't chalk it up to just someone who doesn't like cops. Ruggeiro was also on the board of various police officer associations. He knows how professional police officers behave. He knows Atherton police officers are not behaving professionally.

To the APOA: you do not have a good representative in John Mattes. He has alienated many residents with his abrasive and aggressive style. You may think having a pit bull is going to help you in these negotiations. It won't. It's not the right approach when your compensation package is already so rich.

Posted by SteveC, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 23, 2013 at 12:31 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

Editor: How about posting the letter that was send by APOA??

Posted by Janet, a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Apr 23, 2013 at 12:44 pm

When you see a couple of Atherton cop cars parked at the Starbucks on Alameda in MENLO PARK for ages you have to wonder whether they have enough to do. Then when you read the laughable items in the police blotter for Atherton, you have to wonder whether hiring a couple of teenagers and sacking the lot of them would not be a good option.

Posted by Renee Batti, news editor of The Almanac
on Apr 23, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Renee Batti is a registered user.

I've added a link to the letter at the end of the story. You can also read it here:

Web Link

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 23, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Her is the current Atherton police labor agreement:

Web Link

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 23, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is the APOA letter - please excuse the formatting problems:

2421 Broadway Street
Redwood City, CA 94063
www. athe rto n pol i ce. com
i nfo@atherton pol ice. com
650-561-6077 - Voice
April 4,2013
Dear Atherton Resident,
I am writing to you as the President of the Atherton Police Officers Association (APOA) to call your affention to
some important decisions before your Town Council. These decisions may change the way the Town provides your
_ _sa&ry qq$lggu{l1y*s.grvices. Ultimgte_ly, tbelgUlcil's choic_es may lea_{_tqthq outsogrcing of the ALtrengn Jgllcg-*
Department to another local agency.
The Police Department is experiencing a staffing crisis. Only 3 of the allotted 5 Sergeant positions are filled. The
Town has repeatedly failed to attract qualified candidates to filI open Police Officer positions. Several of our
Officers are unable to adequately perform patrol duties due to illness or injury.
Many shifts are being run without a Sergeant and often there are only 2 Offrcers in the field. This does not allow us
to safely provide the services you desire.
This situation will deterio rute if the Town is unable to attract and retain candidates with the proper background,
skills, and abilities. The Town must be willing to compensate fairly if it hopes to maintain its Police force.
Porcel Tax
The Town has no retail businesses providing sales tax income. It relies on property taxes for the majority of its
income. Followingthe implementation of Proposition 13,'the Town supplementedthis revenue with a Parcel Tax,
which expires every 4 years and requires a2l3 majority for passage.
The Council must soon make a decision about the Parcel Ta>r. The current Parcel Tax measure expires in July 2014.
If it is:rot rpnewed, the Town will simply net be able to afford its Police I\ef'artnnent. -
- -- --_ - .
The Parcel Tax has been $750 per typical parcel and the rate has not been increased in decades. In September 1999,
the Atherton Police Department had 31 members. Today the Atherton Police Department has 2l authonzed
positions, some of which are not filled. Shrinking the organization, not increasing revenue, has accommodated the
growth in expenses
Without an increase in the Parcel Tax the Town has seen a shrinking dollar to provide the services the Parcel Tax is
supposed to accommodate. Could this be why we have a shrinking Police Department?
Sworn Police Ofricer snd Disnatcher Contract Nesotiations
The APOA has a contract with the Town, called a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The current MOU will
expire September 30d', 2013. The Town Council has tipped its hand on several occasions in public forums that they
will mandate a series of reductions in salaries, pension, and medical benefits.
If the reductions imposed upon the Police Chief and Lieutenant earlier this year is any indication, these cuts will be
severe. In fact, if the cuts are similar in scope, many Officers, Sergeants and Dispatchers will find they are unable to
provide for their families. As much as they enjoy working in this town, they may have no choice but to seek other
employment opportunities.
In the face of budget cutbacks, other neighboring communities went for years without hiring new Officers. The y are
now hiring again. They are competing for officers that would consider leaving their agencies saving them a
considerable training investment. If Atherton does not compensate at market levels, they will not only be unable to
attract offrcers, they will lose their Officers, Sergeants and Dispatchers to these other agencies.
This has happened before. From 1998 through2004, there were a series of police layoffs and resignations. They
came in the midst of two failed Parcel Tax measures, staff reorganizations and layoffs. The Town reduced
compensation to a level where Atherton became non-competitive. Many officers and dispatchers went to work for
neighboring jurisdictions. It took several years to rebuild the Police Department.
The San Jose Police Department provides insight into what could await Atherton. SJPD has lost fully a third of their
trained and experienced officers. They left SJPD because of severe reductions in compensation and benefits. San
Jose Police Department cannot train and replace officers quickly enough, resulting in a department which is
seriously understaffed. Crime has skyrocketed to unprecedented levels.
The Council will need to decide if it will continue to compensate at existing competitive levels or reduce salary and
How You Can Heln
The Atherton Police Department has been in existence since the founding of the town in 1923. The APOA wants the
APD to be one of the best Police Departments on the Peninsula. We are proud to work here and want to continue the
tradition of high-quality service. We believe Athertonians share our vision.
These upcoming decisions are now before the Council. It is very important you express your views to the Council.
For your convenience, we have enclosed an addressed response card. Please use this card to send your opinion to
Mayor Lewis and the rest of your Town Council. Please let them know you support us.
Thank you.
John Mattes
President, Atherton Police Officers' Association
Encl: Response card with names and email addresses of town council.

Posted by SteveC, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 23, 2013 at 4:07 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

Editor and Peter C; thanks for the letter and MOU

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 23, 2013 at 7:20 pm

If I recall, this letter showed up here when it was sent out. [portion deleted.] As I've said before there are two types of police officers in Atherton, those that are marking time looking for a better gig with a PROFESSIONAL police department and those that like working in Atherton because it's ridiculously easy duty for a ridiculous amount of pay and benefits. Or, there's a third, those that couldn't get a job as dog catcher in any town that actually employs a professional police force. In any event the "terrible things" that APOA says will happen when you don't give them what they want won't happen.

Posted by Do it, a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2013 at 7:17 am

The Sheriff's Office could absorb this city in a day and all these constant problems and conspiracy stuff with the PD would disappear. The folks in Woodside, Portola Valley, San Carlos, (Athertonesque cities) etc. are quite happy with the service and for a fraction of the price and headache. Does a city this small with so little crime need a PD or could it be done better?

Posted by Liz, a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 24, 2013 at 9:36 am

I have had many very unbelievable less than poor experiences with our police department and strongly resent the letter sent out. I do not believe the Atherton police are well trained and worth what they are paid. I think we would get far better protection and service by getting our police services elsewhere. My friends in the San Mateo County police area get far better service and protection than we do. I strongly support getting our police services through another qualified source and eliminate our Atherton police department.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 24, 2013 at 9:46 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is the data on police services cost per capita by community as of 2012:

Agencies which have their own Police Department:

As of the census of 2010, there were
6,914 people
4.9 square miles (12.8 kmē)
Police budget $5.6 M in 2012/13
$810 per capita

Redwood City
As of the census[1] of 2008, there were
75,508 people
34.6 sq miles
Police budget $31.7 M
$419 per capita

Palo Alto
As of the census of 2000, there were 58,598
23.7 sq miles
Police budget $29M
$494 per capita

Foster City
As of the census of 2000, there are 28,803
The city has a total area of 19.9 square
miles (51.6 kmē), of which 3.8 square miles
(9.7 kmē) is land and 16.2 square miles
(41.9 kmē) is water.
Police budget $9.6 M
$333 per capita

As of the census of 2000, there were 28,158
The city has a total area of 15.6 kmē (6.0 miē).
11.2 kmē (4.3 miē) of it is land and 4.4 kmē
(1.7 miē) of it (28.19%) is water.
Police budget $9.5M
$337 per capita

As of the census[5] of 2000, there were
10,825 people
The town has a total area of 6.2 square miles
(16.1 kmē), all of it land.
Police budget $8M
$739 per capita

Los Altos
The population was 27,693 according to the
2000 census.
6.3 square miles (16.4 kmē).
Police dept budget $13.46 M
$485 per capita

Menlo Park
As of the census of 2000, there were 30,785
17.4 square miles (45 km2), of which
10.1 square miles (26 km2) is land
and 7.3 square miles (19 km2) is water. Police services budget $14.69 M
$477.148 per capita

East Palo Alto
As of the census of 2009, there were 35,791 people,
2.6 square miles (6.7 kmē), of which 2.5 square miles (6.6 kmē) are land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 kmē) of it (0.78%) are water.
Police budget $10,262,651
$287 per capita

Agencies which contract out their police services:

The population was 30,318 at the 2007 census.
The city has a total area of 21.1 square miles
(31.4 kmē)
Police costs via County Sheriff $4.34 M
$143 per capita

11.8 square miles (30.5 kmē)
As of the census of 2000, there were
5,352 people
Police services via County Sheriff $1.3 M
$242 per capita
new contract 2012/13
The Woodside Town Council approved a budget that included ■ Sheriff's contract: A council majority approved a three-year $1.45 million law enforcement contract with the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office. Unlike the annual jumps of 10 percent in previous contracts, this one rises by 4 percent for the first year and 3 percent after that.
The population of Woodside is 5287 as of the 2010 census or a cost of $274 per capita.

Portola Valley
The population was 4,462 at the 2000 census
9.2 square miles (23.7 kmē)
Police services via Sheriff $498,601
$111 per capita

San Carlos
The population was 27.238 in 2008
5.93 square miles
Police services via proposed Sheriff's contract
$6.8 M
$248.62 per capita

Contra Costa County

Excerpt of FY 2011-12 Law Enforcement Comparison Survey – Cost Per Resident
Municipality Cost Per Resident
Moraga $137.44
Lafayette $171.57
Danville $188.33
Oakley $214.50
Orinda $227.25

Posted by oh not again Peter!, a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 24, 2013 at 11:25 am

[Post removed. You can post a link to an article on another website, but don't paste the text here. That is a violation of copyright.]

Posted by oh not again Peter!, a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 24, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Oops...sorry. Here is the web link

Web Link

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 24, 2013 at 5:39 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The Town has a new Town Manager, a new Police Chief and new council members so the cited article is past history.

What is best for the Town will be decide by the current officials and by the outcome of the next parcel tax vote.

Posted by oh not again Peter!, a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 24, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Peter states, "The Town has a new Town Manager, a new Police Chief and new council members so the cited article is past history"

Peter, you may need to read the article more carefully. All of the people quoted are the new Town Manager, new police chief and a current council member. The article was updated after new council sworn in.

If anything you usual cost figures per area and population are quite dated and not current. As the quoted article states it is about the service Atherton residents demand.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 24, 2013 at 5:53 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" City Manager John Danielson told..." - no longer here.

"Mayor Jim Dobbie said" - no longer Mayor

and there is now one new council member and there will soon be another.

Posted by Credibility, a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 24, 2013 at 7:14 pm

Although Peter is correct about the personnel changes, the much more compelling reason to re-examine this issue is the stark increase in police costs. It's in the news. CALPERS is adjusting city contribution rates based on their overly optimistic assumptions from the past few years. Atherton's cost of maintaining its police department will rise by a factor of 50%.

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