Atherton officer named in lawsuit retires

An Atherton police officer named in a federal lawsuit for his role in a domestic violence incident and the subsequent alteration of a police report has announced his retirement.

Officer Dean DeVlugt, who turned 50 just days ago, announced his retirement on Jan. 26, effective Feb. 29.

He could not be reached for comment.

Officer DeVlugt is one of four officers named in a still-unresolved lawsuit filed by Jon Buckheit over his arrest during a 2008 domestic violence incident at his Atherton home.

Mr. DeVlugt's role in the incident was placed squarely under the spotlight when it was revealed that he had altered the police report filed by another officer to falsely state that a young boy who was present during the domestic dispute had been physically assaulted by Mr. Buckheit.

Officer DeVlugt was later cleared of wrong-doing by an internal affairs investigation conducted by an outside party hired by former police chief Mike Guerra.

Interim Police Chief Ed Flint could not be reached for comment on the retirement of Officer DeVlugt, who has worked for the town for 11 years.

During the public comment period of the Jan. 18 City Council meeting, Mr. Buckheit cited a more recent incident involving Officer DeVlugt, a "K-9" officer who handles police dogs as part of his work. The dog in Mr. DeVlugt's care, Lotty, died in November after ingesting part of a sago palm in the officer's backyard. The palm is highly toxic to people and animals, and Officer DeVlugt has been criticized for having such a plant in his yard.

Noting that Officer DeVlugt had earned an additional $408 per month to care for the dog, and that the town had invested tens of thousands of dollars in Lotty over a two-year period, Mr. Buckheit said citizens were looking for "some accountability" over the incident.

Contacted after Officer DeVlugt's retirement announcement, Mr. Buckheit said he had "nothing to say" about it. But, he added, "I do believe that Atherton finally, after many years, has a competent and effective individual as police chief, and I look forward to him making changes for the better in the police department."


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