Atherton appoints new police lieutenant


Sgt. Joe Wade begins a new phase of his 11-year career with the Atherton Police Department on July 11, when he assumes the position of lieutenant -- one of only two at-will management positions in the department.

Sgt. 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 last November.

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

Sgt. 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.

Sgt. 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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Posted by Ray Of Sunshine
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Jul 7, 2010 at 11:15 pm


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Posted by Ray Of Sunshine
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Jul 7, 2010 at 11:17 pm

I.E., Lt. Joe Wade!!!

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jul 8, 2010 at 12:40 am

Not to rain on the parade of Joe Wade's promotion, BUT, the rationales given by Mike Guerra raise some legitimate questions:

Isn't the Atherton police department really too small to require a management position for the primary purpose of handling misconduct investigations? Is there really that much misconduct?

And, since Chief Guerra acknowledges a conflict of interest between the "prosecutor" lieutenant, and the "judge" chief, how about outsourcing the disciplinary process to an (unpaid) citizen review board, abolishing the lieutenant position, and using the cost savings to either help balance Atherton's budget or putting 1.5 more cops out on the street where we need them?

Am I being unreasonable?

Like this comment
Posted by common sense
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Jul 8, 2010 at 7:03 am

With all of the litigation that has cost this town tens of thousands of dollars (if not more), why not do as the City of San Carlos did...outsource police services. It would certainly make more sense than promoting the same in house people to continue the same in house unethical litigious behaviour.

Like this comment
Posted by laughing
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 9, 2010 at 9:19 am

What a joke! A lieutenant to oversee internal affairs for a 10 person agency?? What...newspapers being picked up too slowly? Vacation checks not timely enough? Poaching in other jurisdictions to make drunk driving arrests? is time for the residents to realize what a scam this little do nothing agency is...and do like Woodside, Portola Valley, San Carlos, Los Altos Hills, Saratoga and many many other areas. Let the Sherif come in an take over services. Imagine how much money the town would save!

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 9, 2010 at 9:33 am

Laughing states:"Let the Sherif come in an take over services. Imagine how much money the town would save!"

Here are the facts:
Agencies which have their own Police Department:

As of the census of 2000, there were 7,194 people
4.9 square miles (12.8 km²)
Police budget $4.9 M
$681 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 12.1 square miles (31.4 km²)
Police costs via County Sheriff $4.34 M
$143 per capita

11.8 square miles (30.5 km²)
As of the census of 2000, there were 5,352 people
Police services via County Sheriff $1.3 M
$242 per capita

Portola Valley
The population was 4,462 at the 2000 census
9.2 square miles (23.7 km²)
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 $6,772,000
$248.62 per capita

Atherton could save $2-3 million by contracting with the Sheriff

Like this comment
Posted by WOW
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jul 9, 2010 at 10:56 am

Makes total sense to me! Outsourcing is the smartest most fiscally responsible action this counsel could take!

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Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Jul 9, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Right you are Mr. Carpenter.

When I worked for the Town I did a similar analysis I came up with a similar result.

Outsourcing was taboo at the time. Accordgingly, I tried to get the department to look at its staff deployment practices and its use of overtime. I also urged restraing in filling positions as they became vacant.

These efforts met with limited success.

Like this comment
Posted by investment banker
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jul 10, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Having our own police department is a bad investment. We should shop around for the best deal from neighboring cities.

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 10, 2010 at 5:51 pm

The Town Council will only consider outsourcing police services if they are pressed to do so by the taxpayers. The current 'belief' is that everyone loves having our own Police Department no matter what the cost. Concerned taxpayers need to speak up and to remember that no one from the Town reads this Forum.

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Posted by Jon Buckheit
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jul 10, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Peter says this well, though I would add "no matter what the alternatives" to "no matter what the cost". A proper survey of residents on this issue would detail the cost/service tradeoffs, and not merely be a satisfaction survey. Having a Ph.D. in statistics, I offered to help design such a survey for free, but this offer fell on mostly deaf ears.

Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Jul 10, 2010 at 7:19 pm


I wouldn't say no one from the Town reads this forum but I would say Very few residents of Atherton read it. Lets hope that number increases in the near future.

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 10, 2010 at 8:15 pm

I estimate that there are about 100 people who regularly read this Forum and about 20 who post comments more than once or twice. Of those 100 less than 20 live in Atherton. Therefore, this Forum is a wonderful place to feel important but a very poor place to have any impact.

If you want to have an impact you need to go to Council meetings and speak up, talk to individual Council members and the City/Town Managers and get involved - maybe even run for office.

This is a feel good Forum not a place to do good.

Like this comment
Posted by e.grimley
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jul 11, 2010 at 12:00 am

Move cautiously.....outsourcing to the Sheriff's Office puts you under the control of an elected Mr. Stogner is well aware, not an easy task to have an individual removed who is elected county wide. Not even the Board of Stupidvisors challenged his ability to lead after he and his second in command got rolled up in a sting operation in Las Vegas.
If you are looking to save AND still maintain some control over the leadership of your law enforcement agency, the cities and towns should look to regionalization. Break it down just like the Court system....a northern branch, a central branch and a southern branch with each city/town having a representative or two to oversee the 'appointed' Division Chiefs, or something similar....Total control by one man or woman over the entire County's law enforcement division? Sorry, the current and past politicians in this county have proven to be substandard over the past several years. Just my opinion.....

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 11, 2010 at 9:09 am

Atherton may want to look at the Los Gatos/Monte Sereno model. Monte Sereno used to contract with the Sheriff's Department. They later contracted with Los Gatos and they now have what amounts to a small regional police department. Atherton would probably do as well contracting with the Redwood City Police Department and they would have more input and control than if they contract with the Sheriff.

Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 11, 2010 at 10:10 am

Whenever a local city or town has looked to outsource police services they have ended up with the San Mateo County Sheriff's Department. The latest city to do this is San Carlos (other cities include Woodside and Portola Valley).

Once you investigate other police departments, it becomes evident that the quality of service from the Sheriff's Department is difficult to beat. They have superbly trained deputies, equipment, capability and control lots of assets such as jails, dispatch, emergency services, etc. Additionally, the Sheriff's Department does not identify with a "home city" (such as Redwood City) - they are a county-wide service and already cover the entire county from end to end. They are also very familiar with your town because they frequently come in as part of mutual aid.

From first-hand experience I can say that their service to Woodside has been top notch. We know and respect our local deputies and I wouldn't trade them for anything.

Like this comment
Posted by facts
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 12, 2010 at 6:59 am

Mr. Carpenters statistics were an eye opener. This would be the best thing for the town to outsource services. It already outsources fire and ambulance service with the Menlo Park Fire Department. Imagine all the money saved. Imagine all the fewer headaches. Imagine not constantly getting blind sided and LOSING lawsuits from filed by citizens and police department employees alike. Outsourcing law enforcment would be the smartest thing this town could do. If the very over the top wealthy in Portola Valley, Ladera, Woodside etc are satisfied with the service provided with the should be looked into immediately.

Like this comment
Posted by James
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jul 12, 2010 at 7:19 am

Outsourcing makes sense which is why the town won't do it. I would like to be proven wrong, however. As a start they could outsource their dispatch center.

Like this comment
Posted by right on
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 12, 2010 at 8:01 am

Good suggestion James. It is NOT a busy dispatch center by any means. Menlo Park took over San Carlos a couple of years before they outsourced all law enforcement to the Sheriff. Menlo Park will hang onto it until the contract is up then it will go to the County. The County has WAY more resources and man power. They have the experience and the infra structure to take over Atherton services without blinking an eye. It is time to do the right thing. The fiscally responsible thing. The town counsel has a chance to show they are listening and do the smart thing. Outsourcing is the answer.

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