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Editorial: Menlo Park cops need help

Original post made on Oct 11, 2007

Stung by internal dissension and damaged by an exodus of experienced officers — some seeking higher pay and more opportunities, some retiring, and others disgruntled over perceived problems in the department — the Menlo Park Police Department is facing some of the toughest times in its history.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, October 10, 2007, 12:00 AM

Comments (4)

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Posted by Watching
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Oct 11, 2007 at 11:23 am

I have seen and am constantly hearing of over aggressive officers on the force.

Believe me they are doing nothing for community relations especially in the Belle Haven neighborhood. If there are a few bad apples lets get rid of them before it gets really out of control. Or is the word on the streets true "there is not enough ticketing out there"! If this is what is causing the feeling of a hostile environment that seems to be simmering in the community against what use to be one of the counties finest police forces.

Chief this situation needs a look see.

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Posted by Wondering
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 11, 2007 at 1:21 pm

I have to wonder how much training these new guys are getting if the department is so desperate for more officers. Also, WHO is doing the training -- people with very little experience of their own? Scary.

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Posted by Roxie
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Oct 11, 2007 at 9:33 pm

The city should start by increasing officer's pay to match what Redwood City pays. This would give us a bigger pool of officers applying and help us keep the good ones we have. The city can afford to do this, the city has plenty of money as the Mayor made clear during the debate about the Park Theater. If we have $2.2 million for that, then we have equal funds available for the police.

The city could also put more money into police training if that is a problem.

Once the police department is not so critically understaffed, it will be easier to identify other problems and act on them.

I say spend what it takes to get this police force working the way it should--the safety of citizens is a primary function of city government.

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Posted by TiberiusOne
a resident of another community
on Oct 13, 2007 at 6:36 pm

I was once a Menlo Park Police Officer and seeing some of my colleagues who had posted in the article previous to this Editorial prompted me to think about my time there in Menlo Park.

When I was hired to work for Menlo Park, I was excited and happy to
learn that the department functioned more like a family. We had yearly department photos and people took care of each other. However, we worked with a "so-so" contract and every time we went to the City to ask for money, they cried poor. Even when the suggestion to tap into the Reserve Budget, the City stated that they will not touch one penny of the Reserve Budget. So...Menlo Park Officers elected to pay themselves with a slight raise increase by creative financing and altering our benefits. However, not long after that was done, all the City administration received a large raise...and you guessed it, from the Reserve Budget.

At that time, we started to understand the integrity of the City staff and many began to leave. I was holding onto hope, hoping that things would bounce back, despite the fact that I was watching my best friends leave for other departments with better pay and better morale. I remained there and suddenly, I am surrounded by brand new officers who believed they were God's gift to Earth. Many were out on the streets and were unable to learn about the City. It was more important to "kick butt" and ask questions later than it was to connect with the community. Mocking citizens and sometimes violating people's rights were a common practice.

In addition, the hiring of an outsider by the Chief to his
administrative staff spun the department into a turmoil, as she was the one spear-heading this department. The Chief appears to not care while he counts his days towards retirement. This new Commander disregards experienced officers as the saving grace for this department and would much rather want new officers who worships the ground she walks on. As a brand new officer, you have no other option but to do so and be happy that you are employed as a police officer. Meanwhile, experienced officers become disgruntled and upset, as younger officers are getting promoted and are receiving specialty positions when they are not even out of probation. Rules and regulations change constantly so that people who were not in the position to apply (ie: lack of experience, probationary time
within Menlo Park) were suddenly altered to fit their promotional needs. Recent promotions within the Menlo Park Police Department are a clear sign of that.

So, with the loss of experienced officers, they take valuable time and most importantly, the ability to connect with the Citizens of Menlo Park, away from the City. I loved the City and its people. It was one of the toughest decisions that I had made. Sure, many used money as an excuse, but what drove many of us out of the Department was the administrative staff...the Chief, Commanders, and newly promoted Sgts that should never had been promoted.

While many speak of hiring more people, new personnel only brings up
the staffing levels. What it does not bring is the heart-to-heart
connection with each community that experienced officers have. Those experienced officers who had left, including myself, had invested so much time with these communities that it saddens many of us that these new officers are ruining the reputation that we had with the community.

Asking for higher pay *might* help. But the real change should be
internal. I don't see the Police Department healing anytime soon, even after the retirement of the current Chief. While working for my current department, I still wonder about my old friends still "stuck" in my alumni department. I wonder why they have not left yet and wonder what the current best solution would be that would benefit the most important people in Menlo Park...the Citizens. My best overall opinionated solution: have San Mateo County Sheriff's Office come in and take over the entire operation. Simple solution for a failing department...truly a sinking ship.

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