Why some crimes in Portola Valley and Woodside have not been reported to the public


As some residents of Portola Valley have discovered, there's been a mismatch between crimes entered in the records of the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office as having happened in Portola Valley, Woodside, Ladera and unincorporated West Menlo Park and crimes reported by The Almanac.

Sheriff's Office media spokesman Lt. Ray Lunny oversees the once-a-week crime report e-mailed to The Almanac. Asked to explain the missing incidents, Lt. Lunny said that his office had been reporting only the crimes for which the deputies had completed the paperwork an oversight since corrected, he said.

Portola Valley residents had expressed concern to The Almanac about incidents not reported. In December 2010, for example, The Almanac reported eight property crimes in Portola Valley, but a summation received from the Sheriff's Office shows 12 property crimes four additional thefts and an auto burglary.

The unreported incidents tended to stay unreported because by the time deputies had finished their paperwork, enough time had passed so that the incidents were no longer considered news, Lt. Lunny said.

Under the policy now in effect, he said, the report will include the basic facts of every incident, including what happened, when it happened, the name and block number of the street on which it happened, and an itemized list with estimates of financial losses, if available.

Menlo Park and Atherton police have online logs updated daily. Can the Sheriff's Office do that? Can't be done, Lt. Lunny said he's been told. Asked to elaborate, he said that staff is not available and that the numbers of crimes "are too great."

In Menlo Park, dispatchers prepare logs during the early morning hours by extracting the necessary facts from officers' barebones reports, said department spokeswoman Nicole Acker.

Couldn't Sheriff's Office dispatchers do the same?

The department is financially strapped and anticipating cuts of up to $10 million in the next budget year while trying to maintain service levels and modernize, Sheriff Greg Munks told The Almanac. In addition, the dispatchers work for the county communications office.

"We could certainly ask (the county) if they could do that," he said, but he noted that internal costs might rise.

The Sheriff's Office has taken over patrol of San Carlos, and the deal came with the former police department's crime-log software, Mr. Munks said. While it may be suitable, it would likely include a more costly contract, he said.

"We're using the scarce resources that we have for frontline boots on the ground and managing an overcrowded jail," he added.

What is community worth to you?
Support local journalism.


Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 3, 2011 at 6:37 am

Did the citizens of San Carlos know that their new crime fighters also have a major budget problem? How about West Menlo, Portola Valley and Woodside - how do you all feel about being protected by crime fighters facing a major budget cut?
The idea floated in the comments a month or so ago about merging the school districts could be changed to merging the crime fighters - this very well may have been mentioned previously - perhaps Menlo Park, West Menlo, Portola Valley, and Atherton. Along with a merger could come a revamping of pensions and benefits.
Atherton's PD, from the news, sounds like it could use a revamping or replacement. Unfortunately a merger would put a cramp on concierge services in Atherton.

Like this comment
Posted by Maria
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 3, 2011 at 5:35 pm

I never voted for Munks and never will. Think he has a big ego. Why has he never been punished for his indiscretion(s)??

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

All your news. All in one place. Every day.

After 39 years of cakes and pastries, Palo Alto institution Prolific Oven to close
By Elena Kadvany | 55 comments | 17,014 views

Local Transit to the Rescue?
By Sherry Listgarten | 11 comments | 1,649 views

The Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) Process Explained
By Steve Levy | 6 comments | 1,330 views

"You Gotta Have Balls [to do counseling] . . .
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,071 views

How to end the summer
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 644 views


Register now!

On Friday, October 11, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

More info