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Atherton Police Department at a Crossroads

Original post made by Taxpaying Resident, Atherton: other, on Jul 9, 2011

With the sudden retirement of Chief Mike Guerra after less than 18 months on the job, which followed the sudden retirement of Chief Glenn Nielsen after less than a year on the job, coupled with the current "Mexican standoff" over concessions between the twelve Atherton non-police employees and the city manager, residents are wondering is this the time the department will at last be outsourced.

The empirical data evidencing the financial benefits of outsourcing is overwhelming.

On the other hand, the police department enjoys strong support from longtime residents, many of whom have lived in Atherton since the 1950s or 60s or 70s, with Chiefs Leroy Hubbard and Richard Moore, and have fond memories of a police department that gave truly white glove service to its residents. The officers have been uncommonly good at creating "fear, uncertainty and doubt" in the minds of these residents about an outsourced police force.

In my humble opinion, what these residents are failing to realize is that in Hubbard's time or Moore's time, the union was not nearly as powerful. If an officer wasn't behaving properly or didn't fit the requirements for working in Atherton, those chiefs had far more discretion and ability to remove the officer than any chief, even an external one, could possibly have today. This resulted in a custom police force for a custom town, and worked well for the town during those times, but cannot be duplicated today. Further, the cost structure, which has spiraled out of control with the ascendancy of Atherton contracting with the Teamster's union for police, is far different than in those halcyon days and is creating an unsustainable structural defect that cannot be fixed for even a "dollar a day".

Certainly there are some officers on the force today who would have met Hubbard's or Moore's exacting requirements. Hopefully they would be picked up by the sheriff's department during an outsourcing.

My thanks to Peter Carpenter for being the canary in the coal mine over this police outsourcing issue. He flagged it before anyone else.


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