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on Jun 26, 2013
Viewpoint - Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Letter: Atherton officers perform important work, professionally
In response to the "Viewpoint" article (Atherton faces big decision on police costs) in the Almanac by the editor dated May 22, I do not agree with some of the opinions stated in the Viewpoint.
As a retired police officer (sergeant) with over 26 years service to the town of Atherton, I do not agree with the comments that were made that "officers often perform mundane tasks like checking the residents' homes while they are on vacation or stopping suspicious vehicles that might venture into the town." These tasks are anything but mundane, especially when you consider the low number of burglaries that take place in Atherton. Stopping suspicious persons and vacation checks are proven tools in crime prevention and this has proven itself over and over again in the past years. While there is no way to give a statistic on crimes prevented, the low number of crimes speaks for itself. Also added to this, vacation checks allow the officers to become familiar with the properties so that when they respond to a call for service they know how a property is laid out, allowing for a successful outcome of whatever the nature of the call for service. Over the years the courts have ruled in favor of the Atherton police officers' justified right to stop suspicious vehicles and persons.
I strongly believe that most Atherton residents would rather pay officers who are working to prevent crimes to their property than to have them respond to their property after a crime has been committed. The residents can leave their homes during the day and sleep well at night knowing that their police department is doing its job with a high degree of professionalism.
I do agree that Atherton "officers enjoy relatively easy duty." But compared to other cities with a higher crime rate there is no comparison for the type of policing that Atherton does. The police constantly work to prevent crime and it is a constant job that continues twenty-four seven. The entry level of standards for the Atherton police officers are as high if not higher than other cities. At the entry level it is up to the candidate to decide what kind of policing they want to be involved in. In my case I came from a department (prior to Atherton) that did not give the quality of service that the Atherton police department does. And I learned very quickly the value of the quality of service that the Atherton police department gives.
In the years 2011-2012 the department had over 12,000 calls for service. And for an understaffed police department like Atherton, that is a huge number. I enjoyed giving the service and never regretted my years serving the town with a very proud police department that has proven itself over and over again. The quality of the Atherton police officer has continued to show itself over the years by showing that when an Atherton officer did decide to leave that they went on to distinguish themselves by rising within the ranks to become sergeants, lieutenants, captains, sheriffs, chiefs and even a California Highway Patrol commissioner.
In closing I do agree that something has to be done about the high cost of salaries and retirement plans for all of law enforcement in California. I saw this coming years ago and the answer won't come easy. Both sides have to work together and be reasonable. All the citizens of this "great state" should continue to enjoy the highly professional quality of its law enforcement employees. It seems that the unions only add to the costs with their outrageous demands that are not not realistic.
Bottom line is that the Atherton police department is doing their job. I know from my experience that the Atherton residents greatly appreciate their police department" (as they have stated many times) and the quality of service given.
Sergeant retired A.P.D.
With all due respect, the low rate of crime in Atherton is hardly due to its police department. It has most to do with its wealthy residents and lack of a "bad part of town." In addition, there are really only two ways in and out of Atherton that are fast so, unlike Palo Alto, with EPA on its border with quick access, the criminals are not going to target Atherton. At least if they can avoid it.
When you go through the posted crime logs you will note that most crimes are opportunity crimes. There are very few burglaries and virtually no self initiated felony arrests. Never mind the fact APD has a virtual parade of dirt bags transiting El Camino day and night and should be able to make pinch after pinch. Yet who do they arrest? Unlicensed drivers or driver with suspended licenses or the occasional DUI.
Atherton could be easily served by a private security force at a much lower cost. The Atherton citizens continued insistence on having their own police force is based on a false sense of the importance of the presence of a dedicated police force to their security.
As the retired sergeant notes, many of the officers that have moved on from APD have gone on to bigger and better things. Here's the big secret; those guys weren't going to stay in Atherton in the first place. Any cop that's actually a "cop" isn't going to be satisfied being a glorified security guard which is what APD officers are.
Wake up Atherton and save yourselves some serious money. Contract with SMCSO for police services and with a private security service for the ridiculous stuff no professional police officer should be forced to do.
Also, residents of Atherton call in ANYTHING suspicious...like their own gardener...an ethnic-looking woman walking or cycling down the street...teens playing music in their car...someone pulled over to find an address, or circling the streets, lost...
I've met some decent APD officers through the years, but they still have a rep that either makes people mad or makes them laugh.
"In addition, there are really only two ways in and out of Atherton"
North on Middlefield, south on same.
Bay road. To Marsh or Willow.
Sneaking thru the side streets into RWC and onto Woodside road in a heartbeat, just to avoid the Alameda or ECR. Same for MP.
"a virtual parade of dirt bags transiting El Camino"
What the ???? The good citizens driving on ECR to get to work are now DIRTBAGS? (but they're okay as they continue on ECR thru your town?)
MENLO Voter - why are you, (and for that matter, San Carlos resident Mike S) always so hyped up about Atherton?
We're doing fine, thanks.
The letter from Mr. Carr is actually very reasonable and balanced.
First, he does acknowledge the obvious (though the APOA continues to dispute it): that Atherton officers have easier duty than just about anywhere else. There's never been an Atherton officer killed or even seriously injured in the line of duty. That's not true anywhere else. The APOA website says this is a myth, but it just defies common sense that the dangers of being an Atherton police officer even approach that of a "normal" community.
He notes the crime prevention and special services, and while it's hard to prove (or disprove) his point, it certainly could be true.
The other insight he makes that's clearly true is that salaries and benefits are a problem, and that "the unions only add to the costs with their outrageous demands that are not realistic."
The APOA could learn from Sgt. Carr and stop sending propaganda mailings, funding political candidates, etc.
I am n constant wonder at the citizens of Atherton insistence that they need a dedicated police force when it's quite obvious they don't. It seems a ridiculous waste of money. And APOA's insistence that they are integral to the safety of Atherton is such a joke I can't let it go. I'm ex law enforcement. I know what the job in a real police department entails and Atherton PD ain't it.
I never said everyone on El Camino were dirt bags. I said there is a regular parade of them and there is. Don't believe me? Go sit by the side of the road for an hour an pay attention to all of the vehicles passing by.
"I said there is a regular parade of them and there is. .... Go sit by the side of the road for an hour an pay attention to all of the vehicles passing by."
Awesome, mad skills!
Sitting by the side of the road and the all knowing ability to tell which passing citizens are DIRTBAGS and which are good Americans.
You are truly a great man/woman. Tell us, do you do it by the appearance of their cars, such as a beat up 80's compact, or of the person driving?
In other words, who are the DIRTBAGS? Poor folk, or persons of color? Or both?
Anything else you can teach the world?
Good thing I'm lilly white and drive a late model European behemoth!! Wouldn't want Menlo Voter to peg me as a DIRTBAG. Better keep using sunscreen while playing tennis lest Menlo Voter make a mistake form the curb (I know, no curbs, in this town.)
Atherton wants it's own police force. Menlo wants theirs, or did I miss your posts decrying your Menlo police being fired and merging with Redwood City, or the county? Maybe a National Police Service, for all of us!
care to make some more straw man arguments?
Atherton Officers are a continuous source of amusement. Just read the police calls/reports. A private patrol would be much cheaper.
If Atherton residents really want to foot the bill and pay a substantial amount of money for a "personalized" police service, then they should be aware of the total package costs -- including retirement, benefits, etc. Residents should look to see what a 5 year and 10 year projection will cost the city.
While public safety is an essential service, it currently comes with a big price tag.
Menlo Voter: You're the one unwise enough to pathetically rant on and on about another community's police force - [portion removed; don't attack other posters or invent stories about them.]
What's the opposite of straw man? No standing!
Your reasons for having a vendetta against a police force from a neighboring community is one thing, we can all guess why (I did, though eagerly await your denial.) But to label fellow community members as DIRTBAGS driving through town deserves notice, not just letting it pass. I'll leave your lack of geographic awareness alone at this point.
Where are your posts about dissolving MPPD? Or is that a little too close to home?
They know where you live, don't they?
[Post removed; debate the issues and don't attack other posters]
The APD supporters posting here also have an interesting case of myopia. They don't acknowledge, perhaps even to themselves, some of the horrendous APD behavior in recent years.
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