Town Square

Post a New Topic

How a Menlo Park man, out on a walk, wound up handcuffed in Atherton

Original post made on Mar 22, 2017

Menlo Park's Dick Winant said he was out to get a better view of the night sky on the Sharon Hills golf course. Soon, though, he was lost, and then in handcuffs, being interrogated by four Atherton police officers.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, March 22, 2017, 11:21 AM

Comments (77)

Posted by Thoughts
a resident of another community
on Mar 22, 2017 at 12:02 pm

First off, body cameras, bought with public funds, are able to protect the public just as much as they are to protect the police. Their use cannot be up to the discretion of the police if they are to be used to protect the public.

Second, I'll lay whatever odds anyone is willing to take that no action is taken on the researcher's complaint.


Posted by Atherton
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 22, 2017 at 12:19 pm

This happens to black pedestrians all the time, even when they are walking public sidewalks in front of their homes. When it happens to a white man who admitted to trespassing on both the golf course and a private residence property, we get a lengthy article in the newspaper?

What was this "vulgar name" that the police called a 71-year-old white man? Was it as bad as what police regularly call black men?


Posted by Tanya
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 22, 2017 at 12:20 pm

This is disappointing. I can see why the police department had their suspicions but can't understand why, with four officers on the scene, they found it necessary to handcuff this guy. Based on the photos seen here, it doesn't appear that much of a physical challenge would have been mounted even if the researcher would have attempted. One reason for living in a quiet sleepy town is to know and respect our law enforcement officers. Seems to me they exerted more force than the situation called for.

And I agree about the body cameras; they should always be on. At a minimum, if the officer makes the decision to turn a spotlight on a suspect, s/he should also turn on that body camera.


Posted by Mike Prime
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 22, 2017 at 12:23 pm

Wow! So much for asking for help in 'peaceful suburban! Menlo Park!

Calling in the Police can produce some uncomfortable outcomes for everyone involved. Those neighbors need to be more considerate and aware when someone asks for help. If Mr. Winant was not able to communicate clearly (which is not uncommon with people with the officers, the situation could have become complicated.

This is quite unsettling. Neighbors, please only contact the Police if you are relatively certain that there is mischief in your area. And, be specific if the person does not seem to pose a physical threat so that officers do not come with guns a blazing!


Posted by Roberto
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 22, 2017 at 12:28 pm

Roberto is a registered user.

@ Tanya: Guy shows up at my house, in my backyard late at night (Almanac does not state how late, but after a long walk that started at 8pm) and is banging on both my door and window and is wearing binoculars, I do see this as usual. I want the police to find out who he is, and what the heck he is doing in my back yard late at night. Not simply talk to him. Establish if he has a criminal record, or?
Interesting, he must have been the one that called the press conference (clearly not from a cell phone) and had his picture taken.
Did the police error, yes as @Thoughts said, and it appears police openly admit to with regards to wording a body camera.


Posted by Rights
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Mar 22, 2017 at 12:38 pm

I guess it's our current political climate that has people on edge, but no matter, no one needs to supply ID to a police officer, getting lost does not constitute probable cause, and refusal to supply ID does not suggest criminal activity. (The fact that he trespassed is irrelevant since no one saw him on the golf course.) Sounds like he was walking down a public street which -- until we're in a police state -- residents have a right to do.

Sounds as though the police officers need a legal refresher. And to be directed to turn on their cameras when they interact with residents. Mr. Winant needs to take a phone with him too, like it or not -- GPS would have helped him out of this situation.

P.S. People ask me for directions all the time. Never occurred to me to call the police.


Posted by Woodside Resident
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Mar 22, 2017 at 12:46 pm

I had a guy banging on my door to use my phone not too long ago. My gate was open and he said he had car trouble. I had my teenage daughter at home and did not let him in. It is kind of scary to have someone banging on your door or window at night, especially in light of the rampant crime in this country. Yes, we live in safe neighborhoods, but that doesn't mean everyone in them are necessarily from these neighborhoods. Sadly, this is a reflection of out society rather than the cops. They are as frightened as everyone. While some of them are bad, most of them are pretty damn good t what they do and our line of defense against crime. Sadly, I can see the cop's side of this story, although good manners are always appreciated. I remember the days when the police lived in the communities they worked in and knew the residents. Those days are gone and we're all a little more paranoid as a result.
Definitely need to turn on those body cameras. Should be the law.


Posted by Beth
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 22, 2017 at 12:48 pm

Is this the best way to handle a situation by 4 officers? I agree with Thoughts and Atherton. Did Atherton officers also attend the Oregon Mindfulness retreat as did those of MP? If so, when can they have a refresher course, or perhaps they can reimburse the cost.

Are the backgrounds and work-related incidents as well as positive reports of local officers available to those of us who pay for them? If not, why?

We had experiences with them that were handled well except for one time, but that was in the 90s.


Posted by Roberto
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 22, 2017 at 12:51 pm

Roberto is a registered user.

@ Rights: Did you read the article in full? He did break the law. He may not have been seen trespassing on the golf course, but he was most certainly seen in the back yard of a house, at night, with binoculars. People do not usually need directions when they are in your back yard. Calling the police was both logical and smart.


Posted by Thoughts/answers
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Mar 22, 2017 at 12:51 pm

I can't fault the homeowners for calling the police given the circumstances. Obviously, the police overreacted. Absolutely no excuse for threatening involuntary committals and using profanity.

Here's a suggestion to the PD: have the sergeant drive to this man's home and apologize. Case closed at that point. As JFK said, "An error doesn't become a mistake until you refuse to correct it."

Beth, to answer your question, no, you can't get those reports. The police unions have had laws passed in California that make all of that out of the public view. I disagree with this law, but that's how things are.


Posted by JBCHAM
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Mar 22, 2017 at 1:01 pm

Thoughts/answers, I agree with most of your post except saying, "obviously the police overreacted." On that we can agree to disagree. We have had a couple of interactions with the Atherton police over the years and in every case the police officers were polite, professional and extremely competent case.


Posted by Thoughts/answers
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Mar 22, 2017 at 1:40 pm

JBCHAM, the assumption in your statement seems to be "since I've had good interactions with some subset of the APD officers over the years, none of the APD officers can commit misconduct with anyone, in any situation."

I don't think that's logically true. The officers admitted using profanity with this citizen. That has to be an objective overreaction. They admitted threatening to involuntarily commit him. That is less objective, but unless he was acting in such a manner that would have required the committal, I also say it's an overreaction.


Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 22, 2017 at 1:43 pm

Note to self: Always carry a cell phone to record conversation & document any nasty names an officer might call me, since chances are none of 4 cops would use their cameras.


Posted by JBCHAM
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Mar 22, 2017 at 1:50 pm

Thoughts/answers, your assumption is wrong. That is not what I said. I merely reported by experiences with the Atherton Police over the years. I made no other statement nor did my comments assume anything. For you to imply anything further in my comments is not correct.


Posted by gordyvon
a resident of another community
on Mar 22, 2017 at 2:08 pm

This is a tedious story about nothing. I feel much has been left journalistically undiscovered as to this non-news encounter. It comes across as yet another example of half-baked, politically nuanced contrived news of alleged police misconduct. A little more common sense on both sides of the argument was all that was required. Perhaps Atherton could employ a "beer summit" strategy to defuse this complaint and placate all of its offended citizens.


Posted by Tony
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 22, 2017 at 2:23 pm

I think it was reasonable for the researcher to ask the homeowners for help. I think it was reasonable for the homeowners to call the police. It was also reasonable for the homeowners to assume that the police would treat the researcher with respect. The only thing I see as unreasonable here is the multiple mistakes made by the police: profanity, threatening with lockup, demanding an apology under duress, failing to turn on their cameras.

The test of a police department is not how they act when they are interacting with a known, safe situation; it's how they behave when they *don't* immediately know what's going on. And with the researcher, they didn't know what kind of threat he posed, and instead of acting professionally to find out, they acted poorly.


Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 22, 2017 at 2:23 pm

JBCHAM
You are an Atherton resident, thus you are treated much differently by the Atherton PD than nonresidents.

The person who called the police to their property were right to do so. Four officers for a potential trespasser on large property not totally unusual, surprised there wasn't also a canine unit.

However unfortunately for Mr. Winant he was not an Atherton resident and thus received the usual APD welcome reserved for nonresidents. He's just lucky he was not a person of color.


Posted by Tom
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 22, 2017 at 2:34 pm

Resentment of cops today is very real in some people who experienced rash cop behaviour in the 60's. But since those days of misbehaiour the training has been radically revised and the ghost memories are less informed. For some people. For some others the profiling persists.


Posted by Dick Winant
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 22, 2017 at 2:40 pm

I am the subject of the article and first, I am very grateful for Barbara Wood's excellent reporting. Also I am grateful for the comments that I have seen posted to date, which are fair, intelligent and sympathetic.

A clarification: I realized I was lost when on the golf course, and thought that if I could find an exit point I would soon be on a road that would re-orient me. There was a small disused gate through the fence on the course's periphery, with a dark area just beyond it, and beyond that through the trees I could see a light area that I thought was a road. There were no signs on the fence or gate indicating 'Private Property' or 'No Trespassing'. The bottom of the metal gate was choked with weeds so that I could just barely manage to push through it.

I walked to the lighted area but found that I was in the large backyard of a home. I would have gone back the way I came but I am not strong enough to open that gate towards me; I would have been injured in the process, I believe. To have 'made a run for it' would have been folly and anyway there was no obvious exit. So I did the only reasonable thing, as I thought. I approached the back door and through the window I saw two people inside and so I knocked. The people were helpful and understanding but also alarmed (reasonably so). Oh, and there was no "second" gate -- a minor error.

I suspect that, technically, unintentionally entering an unmarked backyard is not trespassing. I was lost and looking for a public road.

A note on Sergeant Alfredo Guarducci (identified by the two officers who I first encountered as their Supervisor). I hold him largely responsible for the abusive behavior because he is in charge and he serves as a model for the younger officers. His manner is threatening overall; at the conclusion of my detention he threatened me with, for example, a three-day detention for psychiatric observation whereas I had not said nor done anything to warrant this. He then offered to release me if I agreed to apologize to his officers (because of alleged non-cooperation).

The police allegations that I was "uncooperative", and that the officers "tried to reason with him but he wouldn't calm down" are completely false and intended to justify the unnecessary handcuffing and other abuse.

The police implied (incorrectly and unreasonably) the possible need for a "psychiatric evaluation". The treatment I received would have been unconscionably cruel directed at anyone, but particularly so with a person who might be suffering from age-related dementia.

As to the statement that I made reference to "Nazi Germany" or that I called the officers "Nazis" (as Sergeant Hall stated in a personal communication) -- this is a malicious lie intended to slur me as paranoid or deranged ... and which could lead some readers to support the abuse delivered by the police, due to the (alleged) insult. I was not raised to act like that; I would never use that kind of language in reference to any public servant, let alone the police, who put themselves in harm's way in order to protect us.


Posted by BetterTraining?
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 22, 2017 at 3:10 pm

For what it's worth, I witnessed the Atherton Police and responders quick to threaten involuntary psychiatric hospitalization in the past. They came into a home and made themselves part of a non-issue (woke everyone up). I later learned that they lied & forced someone to the hospital, insisting they didn't have a choice.

In my opinion, the responders were bored... and wanted to see some action & feel useful in a relatively quiet town. Maybe this a sign of pattern that training can be improved.


Posted by Stan
a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on Mar 22, 2017 at 3:17 pm

NOTE TO SELF:Don't, under any circumstance, get lost or walk on the streets of Atherton OR Menlo Park. Even in the day time. Better yet, don't even bother to visit these cities for the purposes of doing business. This is the second article in just a few weeks where police in those cites have, seemingly, grossly over reacted and escalated rather than tried to, in a passive manner, understand and resolve a situation. I recently commented on the situation of a Hispanic individual who I believe was jailed for no apparent reasons by MP police for what seemed like the mistake of being Hispanic and how this had happened to some Hispanic acquaintances of mine. Given recent incidents both locally and nationally I'd opine that Mr. Winant was quite possibly at risk of being shot if he had done something really stupid like aiming his binoculars at the police or worse walked away from them.
Really now - were handcuffs necessary? Wouldn't it have been much easier to offer him a ride home? Without ever making things into a contest and test of wills they would have been able to tell he was a local resident, they would have had his address, etc.
I would say that these officers were certainly not acting as a friend in addressing the situation that apparently had been described by the homeowners as not an aggressive event. They definitely need some window guidance in how to deescalate situations. As for the body cams. I'd say that if an officer has a body cam and fails to turn it on then they probably had something to hide. Disturbing the quantum state of a few billion electrons is not a crime in this country - yet!


Posted by Lifelong Resident
a resident of another community
on Mar 22, 2017 at 3:48 pm

Lifelong Resident is a registered user.

Some interesting speculation shared here by readers. One thing to remember is that we were not there, so reader comments are purely "speculation".


Posted by James Madison
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 22, 2017 at 4:35 pm

There is no better way to practice bullying than for 4 officers to confront one 71-year-old man, white, black or otherwise.


Posted by Clunge
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 22, 2017 at 5:53 pm

He said she said. Those must be some nice binoculars to view the moon - I have some pretty good field glasses that I don't get a much better view than with the naked eye-- when it comes to the moon. But, I bet I could see a full moon if I'm peeping in windows at night.
It never hurts to comply with police- especially when you're at fault. Standard procedure to cuff someone when you're investigating.
You're trespassing- you're out late with binoculars- you appear guilty. Of course they are going to interrogate you- just answer yes sir and no sir and be thankful they didn't arrest you- which they had the right to do.


Posted by hmmm
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Mar 22, 2017 at 6:15 pm

So this guys decides to go bird watching at 8:00? Gets lost on a golf course (can you count to 18)? Then crawls through the back yard of a mansion, pounds on a window for help. Then gets his nose pushed out of shape when, after refusing to show ID to a police officer, he gets treated like a (potential) bad guy. And now is whining about being called a bad word? Was the bad word "snowflake"?

Moral of the story. Supply info to a cop when asked, or get ready to get treated like a bad guy. Not too much to ask. Really, an apology was too much to ask for being a putz? What is wrong with this world (or is it just this state)?


Posted by Dick Winant, the subject of article
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 22, 2017 at 7:42 pm

This is a good discussion forum and I'm happy to read all these remarks, pro and con. From Clunge, I read "You're trespassing- you're out late with binoculars- you appear guilty. Of course they are going to interrogate you- just answer yes sir and no sir and be thankful they didn't arrest you- which they had the right to do."

Actually arrest was not a serious possibility; they were investigating suspicious circumstances as they had the right and DUTY to do. In my mind, the events described in the article hinged on the crucial assertion of my right of privacy. (Actually, I never refused to show ID, just told the officer what I understand of the law. And 2 or 3 minutes later he had my wallet because I did agree to hand it over once the cuffs were on.) But my understanding is that I do have a right to refuse.

The way I see it, if we are "thankful" to get off easy as Clunge correctly says I could have done, then at some future time, we may find we have lost the rights we once had through failure to exercise those rights.

In a world in which we often see events on-line and on TV that show police committing murder (mostly of African-Americans), I think we should all be willing to show a little moral courage, when appropriate, and speak truth to power. Why not in Atherton?

As to remarks posted by hmmm, please note that I relented once the cuffs were on, as any good "Snowflake" would do. I like that name, makes me sound like a happy cat; I'm gonna start using it.


Posted by Playbook
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 22, 2017 at 7:59 pm

Dick, glad you're taking it in stride. My feeling is those two posters might actually be members of the APD. Standard playbook response when faced with a complaint is "the complainant is a bad, even peverted, guy". Too bad if true, as my hunch is you would most likely be satisfied with the simple apology you deserve.

The APD has had conduct problems over the years. When we got an outside chief, the complaints stopped. Unfortunately Chief Flint retired recently, and it seems the city manager is letting internal people like Sherman Hall run the department. History has repeatedly proven this doesn't work for the APD (and, to be completely fair, doesn't work for any small, tight-knit group). They can't be objective about even natural human shortcomings because they've worked together too long, including as friends. Hopefully this is yet another reminder that an outside chief is needed (otherwise, outsource).


Posted by Rights
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Mar 22, 2017 at 8:14 pm

"...if we are "thankful" to get off easy as Clunge correctly says I could have done, then at some future time, we may find we have lost the rights we once had through failure to exercise those rights."

Exactly.


Posted by hmmm
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Mar 22, 2017 at 8:21 pm

Oh, I get it Dick, this isnt a story of you getting lost during suspicious circumstances and trespassing. Its the story of your bravery and standing up for all of our rights by messing with our police force. Well im here to tell you I am not buying it. [Portion removed] Leave APD alone and move on, [Portion removed; if you read the story, you'll see that he was observing the night sky, not bird-watching.]


Posted by Old Timer
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Mar 22, 2017 at 10:22 pm

As an older woman and resident since 1956 I personally would ALWAYS show ID to any peace officer which I think would have diffused the situation.
I would secondly gratefully ask for a ride home being hopelessly lost and anxious.
I would then expect any police dept. to give me that ride.
If they refused I would then ask them to call my wife in his situation or my son in mine so someone could come and get me . I would never expect police officers to drive away and leave me alone on the street at night .
My opinion only. Wishing everyone well.


Posted by Familiar
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Mar 22, 2017 at 10:46 pm

There are a few elements here that don't meet the smell test. As the quote goes, "Methinks thou doth protest too much." I know that area well. I too have walked on the golf course at night. Even though it is dark, the lights from adjoining townhouses situated on the golf course on Sand Hill Circle and Sharon Park Drive outshine darkened rear fences of homes on Atherton's Walsh Road. Finding yourself entering a difficult to open gate into a darkened yard, instead of heading for the bright lights directly across the greens adjoining the center of the golf course should raise suspicions. Especially with someone who lived along the golf course for over 15 years.

Police officers learn fairly quickly that people who "push back" or "stand on principles" with refusals, rather than simply comply with a standard request are those people that have likely had many prior contacts with police. Officers need to know why. Providing an ID for the officers to make a record of their contact is a standard request. One often resisted by those who fear their past history will be considered. Officers often need to emphasize their requests are not optional, occasionally using strong language, especially when an arrest for prowling, peeping, voyeruism, trespassing or other charges could be made. Not to mention resisting / delaying officers.

Age does not necessarily change the dynamic. A 71 year old man could just as easily be a recently paroled sex offender or burglar up to his old ways, using binoculars to case potential targets. Officers need to discern this, and it begins with an ID. I imagine had the roles been reversed and it was you calling 911, you would not be as concerned with how officers spoke to a strange man knocking on your back door after dark. Let's all be thankful we have the officers available to respond at all. People sleep well in their beds at knowing rough men are ready to do violence (or use bad words) on their be behalf.


Posted by The real point
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 22, 2017 at 11:27 pm

There have been many valid points made in this thread, pro and con. Apparently the sergeant called Dick an asshole, which was wrong, but probably not worth a lot more than a rap on his knuckles. Dick stood on his rights, at least as he understood them. Some think that's great, some think that's inflammatory. My view: rights are rights. If you would have chosen to be completely cooperative, that's your choice, but don't criticize someone else for asserting rights.

The MUCH more serious issue that no one has picked up on, including apparently Dick, is that the sergeant wouldn't let the cuffs come off until he apologized to the officers. This is dead wrong, as well as illegal. By that point, they had determined no crime had been committed. Making the release conditional on an apology has absolutely no support in the law, and was clearly retaliatory for standing on his rights. That's the point at which this sergeant broke the law by taking it into his own hands, deciding he would be judge, jury and executioner to mete out a punishment for what he saw as disrespectful conduct. If you think about that concept with a fair mind, you have to conclude we DO NOT want police officers to have that kind of power. That's because there's no due process associated with it. Fortunately the law is in complete agreement.

I don't know why this is being glossed over and hasn't generated really all of the outrage over this situation. If this allegation is true (and to their credit, apparently all involved agreed on the asshole term without the tape rolling), this has gone from what I would call a tempest in a teapot to a fairly serious situation.

Sergeant Guarducci should be fired.


Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 23, 2017 at 7:21 am

Body Cameras: The cameras should be on anytime a police officer is on duty, full stop. They should not be allowed to turn the cameras off, unless they are going off shift. Interacting with the public without the cameras should be a firing offense.

Giving ID: If you are asked for ID, and refuse, then the police officer has to sort out who you are. Giving ID means they have a reasonable idea of who you are, where you live, and why you might be in the area. Showing ID is a great way to be sent home with, at worst, whatever ticket they were going to write you anyway.


Posted by You were in the wrong
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 23, 2017 at 7:32 am

@Dick - you were in the wrong,. Period. You were trespassing in my relatively secure backyard. You were peering into my back window with binoculars around your neck at my wife. At 8 o'clock at night. Dark. I am calling the cops. What if she had been home alone? What if she had been scantily clothed? What if it had been my 16-year-old daughter? Then you don't want to provide the police officers with your identification? Dude. You were in the wrong I don't care how old you are. You were certainly old enough to know better.

Then you have the audacity to hold some sort of press briefing about being called a name you didn't like and being threatened with some sort of temporary hold because you refuse to provide your identification and were an old man with binoculars roaming the streets at night? The cops had to do something to get your attention because you certainly weren't listening

Apologize.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 23, 2017 at 8:26 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" Interacting with the public without the cameras should be a firing offense. "

It is not that simple.

What if the member of the public is providing confidential information? What if the member of the public wants to have a private conversation with the police officer. What if the police officer is on a lunch break?

There are lots of body camera policies in different police departments and they all struggle with these kinds of issues.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 23, 2017 at 8:43 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is a superb report on the body camera policy issues with real data:

Web Link


Posted by skeptical
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Mar 23, 2017 at 9:57 am

I have read with interest all of these comments, and have to say that I can see all of the points. However, putting myself in the position of the homeowner, I've got this to say: Would I have called the police? Hell yes. Anyone at all showing up in my backyard when it's dark---regardless of age, appearance, skin color, or story---is going to be investigated. PARTICULARLY if my back yard backs up to a large area such as the golf course. And you can bet that I'd be passed if the police didn't do their job and question the person extensively. This goes for any neighborhood.

I, too, don't buy the binoculars for the night sky bit, nor the part about looking up while walking and becoming confused. If you are trying to view the night sky, you don't walk while doing so---you won't be able to find what you are looking for, regardless of whether you are using a telescope or whathaveyou. Think about it---when you look up to view the moon or stars, do you walk? Nope. If you want to find a better viewing spot, you look where you are going, stop, and look up again.

In my experience, people who call press conferences are sometimes trying to divert attention. I don't think the Atherton police acted perfectly, and certainly bullying about taking the cuffs off was wrong, but being called an asshole isn't exactly grounds for alerting the media.


Posted by star gazer
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 23, 2017 at 10:26 am

Skeptical about looking up while walking in the dark of night, and using binoculars to view the sparkling wonders of the night sky? You skeptics are lacking poetry in your lives, I fear.

If it's impossible for people to gaze at the night sky while walking, then I guess I've only been imagining that I'm putting one foot ahead of the other, outdoors, in my postprandial haze night after night. And if you can't imagine how you can get lost walking through a large expanse of land while gazing upward at miraculous stars, then I repeat: Your lives lack poetry. Sad.


Posted by Rights
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Mar 23, 2017 at 10:29 am

Dick acknowledges that he made a few mistakes. Clearly, popping up in someone's backyard is not a good idea for many reasons. Totally understandable that the homeowners called the police. Can we get past all that and start with the police appearing on the scene?

The question on the table is whether you want the police to treat the public with respect, bearing in mind that they are not judges, not a jury, but merely law enforcement who should be expected to stay within the lines of their authority. Though I think we can all appreciate the good work that our officers do, that does not give them a free pass to exceed their authority. It's interesting that in their own minds, their behavior may be similar to that of "just following orders!" police in Nazi-occupied countries. They, not Dick, made the comparison.

By the way, I usually don't have ID on me when I go for a walk, though I do carry a phone. Anyone have a problem with that? It's not required...yet.


Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Mar 23, 2017 at 10:48 am

I'll ignore the he-said-he-said aspect to this story, since we'll never really know. That said...

While I'm a pro-privacy person as well, and respect a citizen's preference to not show ID unless necessary (especially my own :) )...in this case I think the police absolutely did the right thing and had probable cause to detain Mr. Winant (save 1 important point, see below).

Even if everything in Mr. Winant's version of the story up to the police encounter is accurate, the only way the police can ascertain whether he is a known peeping-tom (or worse) or just an accidentally lost individual with no prior peeping-tom complaints is to determine his identity. The police *absolutely* had probable cause to detain Mr. Winant while they determine his identity since he was unwilling to do this of his own volition.

However...

The fact that *all 4 officers* just happen to have their cameras off at the same time accidentally, is completely and totally not believable. Not even a little. Come on now, let's inject a little common sense here.

While having 1 or 2 cameras accidentally off is plausibly accidental (lunch break or biological break are plausible reasons to temporarily turn off a camera and forget to turn it back on), all 4 forgetting to turn cameras on at a very convenient time to have them off if you think you'd rather create your own version of events instead of having an objective recording, is coincidence that's not plausible.

It's pretty clear that the police have little/no incentive to have the cameras on, since historically their word is given higher credibility in enough social circles, and especially in legal circles. Why risk being contradicted by a camera?

It's pretty clear we need to create incentives to have the cameras on while doing their jobs. Perhaps we should start with believing the suspect/detainee's version if *all* of the cameras are intentionally off?


Posted by common sense
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 23, 2017 at 12:57 pm

Mr. Winant,

I fear you have the same snowflake syndrome that plagues so many millennials. You may be 71 but you need to grow-up. You were clearly in the wrong to trespass and no matter how innocently you came to find yourself on the private golf course and then in a private backyard. Take personal responsibility for what you did for you are the one who should be apologizing. The police were totally in the right to question you and put handcuffs on you for resisting them. I am so glad I have a police department that doesn't sit back and wait for horrible crimes to be committed before acting.


Posted by maximusgolden
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 23, 2017 at 1:48 pm

Several years ago, our daughter was sitting and talking in a car at about 11 at night in front of our house in Lindenwood.

Police cruiser pulled up with dome and spot lights. Asked them to get out of the car. Asked for identification. Took the identification back to the cruiser to check it out on the computer. Scared the h*ll out of them. Held them for several minutes.

After my daughter wrote a reasoned letter to the police chief, both the chief and the officers offered to meet with her and explain.

While they told that cars parked on the street in Lindenwood late at night caused suspicion and sort of apologized for her inconvenience, the experience left her with a different attitude toward the police.

I agree with the comment above that the Atherton Police may be bored and looking for action. Little to do between checking traveling residents' property in a low-crime community. Perhaps merging with the Sheriff's Department, so that they have an opportunity to rotate through more active communities.


Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Mar 23, 2017 at 2:16 pm

It wasn't that long ago that it was discovered in Judge Mark Forcum's Court Atherton Police Officer Officer Dean DeVlugt falsified another APD officer's police report, against an Atherton resident who called 911.

Today for 4 police officers to respond to a call which could be the entire force at that time and not one of them having the body camera's turned on is a problem the residents might want to take care of.

For a Atherton Police Officer to call this Senior a vulgar name is just disgusting, and a sign nothing has changed in Atherton.


Posted by Clunge
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 23, 2017 at 3:07 pm

1. I am not a police officer - I do know police officers and I know that they work sometimes work 12 hr shifts, have lives outside of being an officer, they don't always get a full nights rest before their next shift and
2. We need to know when to fight and when to comply - Mr Winant I have been stopped by the police, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I complied with their demands, I made their night a little easier and they were able to be on their way much sooner to hopefully respond to a more important call in a town that had a lot more crime going on than a garbage can fire.
3. Yes, not all cops are good, not all people are bad - but have a little common sense - let them do their job.


Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 23, 2017 at 3:13 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

"Papers Please"

The requirement for police to ask for ID in the USA is illusive.

the US Supreme Court ruled in 2004 (LARRY D. HIIBEL, PETITIONER v. SIXTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT OF NEVADA, HUMBOLDT COUNTY) That you have a right to NOT produce papers when asked by a peace officer.

If the officer determines it to be a "Terry Stop" he may detain you. In doing so all you need to give is your name....NOTHING ELSE

The Hiible case (link below) shows that SCOTUS will defend our rights to the 4th and 5th amendments when required.

Web Link

Roy Thiele-Sardiña


Posted by Dick Winant the subject of article
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 23, 2017 at 3:18 pm

Clunge,

Your last post is very reasonable. Thank you for offering your insights.


Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 23, 2017 at 4:37 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

Psych hold???? In and out before the officers got back to Atherton. Amazing that none of the officers had their cameras on.


Posted by womanwithcolor
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 23, 2017 at 5:04 pm

It might surprise some of you, but many years ago, when I first moved to Menlo Park (from England) I was stopped on Atherton Avenue. I had just received my license but since I had not closed on my house as of yet, I listed my work address on my license. I still remember the police officer looking at my work address (South San Francisco) and then all of a sudden, I was treated as more of a suspect than a resident even though I had told him about my recent move to the area, etc. etc. I got a very expensive ticket for a relatively minor infraction That experience really put me off the Atherton cops and has always stayed with me, especially since later when stopped for something more serious and my license proferred, the officer was very nice and he noted that my house was "only a couple of houses out of atherton". I've always wondered whether my first experience being stopped by the Atherton police was a commentary on race or residence...............or just a result of a police officer having a very very bad day....


Posted by as to APD
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Mar 23, 2017 at 7:46 pm

@woman with color

you are correct I have had experiences w/ MP and APD, and since I showed an Atherton license I was treated more than kindly and respectfully. which is how I should be treated but I also understand what happened to you.

Sorry for your experience


Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 23, 2017 at 8:37 pm

pogo is a registered user.

Yes, legally we don't have to produce identification when asked. But you just may end up in handcuffs, sitting in the back of a police car with that reasonable assertion of your rights. So, if you have the time and money and restraints don't bother you, have at it. Yes, you will be released or exonerated in court.

Personally, I have no problem being excessively polite when stopped, showing my identification and being on my way in a minute or two. It's a practical position.


Posted by policy please
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 23, 2017 at 10:45 pm

I have many issues with this story but the 2 that stand out are

1, The Sergeant telling Mr. Winant to apologize to his officers, This is like a bully on the 5th grade school yard behavior. I would insist the Sergeant apologize publicly to Mr. Winant.

2, All four officers including the officer in charge having their body cameras off. The APD Chief should address the policy on this forum so we all know what to expect.


Posted by Sufi
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 24, 2017 at 2:17 am

It is hard to be a police officer these days. Here is a man whose conduct has initiated a phone call to the police at a late hour at night. Officers had no idea who this man was nor had any idea about his intentions when they found him. The man could be a crazy maniac hiding a knife and could have fatally stabbed the officers. It only takes one slash into the aorta to kill someone. This story could have read "Police Officer stabbed to death by a man hiding a knife". I would rather have police officers act based on the worst case scenario and stay alive to protect us instead of trying to act politically correct to appease the liberal crowd and die while doing so.


Posted by @Sufi
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 24, 2017 at 2:43 am

[Comment removed; posting under multiple names in the same thread violates terms of use.]


Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 24, 2017 at 1:12 pm

@ Sufi - I don't consider 8 pm "late at night." The bird? sky? watcher had been out for 3 hours, I think.

I agree that a trespasser (lost or not, on someone's propery without permission IS trespass) knocking on a back window is very alarming to a home occupant. Couldn't Winant have made it across the yard to a side gate, gone to the front door & rung a bell? Would have been the smarter move. He also should have shown ID when asked, if for no other reason than to verify his local address.

As I said before, very suspicious that no cops managed to turn on the cameras that Atherton provides for them. Acting supervisor Guarducci calling Winant a pejorative name is contemptible & reinforces a widely held belief that certainly not all, but many, cops chose that job so they can impose authority, carry weapons, & bully people.


Posted by Observer
a resident of Woodside High School
on Mar 24, 2017 at 4:29 pm

"resistable enforcer meet movable objector" just suggests itself as a followup headline


Posted by Cayo
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 25, 2017 at 12:21 pm

I'm concerned that if a person with Alzheimer's had wandered off from their home and become agitated,how would they be treated by police or a resident? Several years ago I had an elderly gentleman come onto my porch in the middle of the night, muttering to himself. I was startled, but spoke to him through a window, and he gave me a name he was looking for. I remained soft-spoken and calm, which allowed me to ask his name and address. It turned out he had wandered off from the next street. I called his caregiver, who came and got him immediately. We need to remember that not all situations require rude language or threats.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 25, 2017 at 12:52 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is some useful information:

How to React when Stopped by the Police

Three Methods:Reacting When Stopped on the StreetReacting During a Traffic StopReacting to an ArrestCommunity

Q&A

If a police officer has reason to suspect you have committed a crime or traffic violation, he has the right to stop and question you. However, the scope of his questioning and the extent to which he can search you will depend on the circumstances of the encounter. By knowing your rights and paying careful attention to what happens during the encounter, you will be better prepared to mitigate the consequences of a possible arrest and prosecution against you.

With a lot more detail here:
Web Link


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 25, 2017 at 2:08 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"I'm concerned that if a person with Alzheimer's had wandered off from their home and become agitated,how would they be treated by police or a resident?"

Why don't we suggest to APD that they establish an ID program for such individuals that identifies the individual, their disability and the contact info for their caregivers?

Why not give the police this tool to more easily do their job?

For example, the Atherton PD has a superb finger printing program for children:

"Fingerprinting Children
One of the Atherton Police Department’s prevention programs includes the
fingerprinting of children. While this service does not reduce the parent’s need
for close supervision of children, it can be helpful should a child become
missing or abducted.
Children may be fingerprinted through various programs in the community or
schools. Parents should retain the fingerprints in a safe location along with
close-up recent photographs of their children clearly detailing their faces.
These should be kept for ready access should they be needed."


Posted by Bottom line?
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Mar 25, 2017 at 5:18 pm

I just want to try to bottom line this.

Is this the police dept's response to not letting handcuffs
come off until Mr. Winant apologized to the officers (not the
homeowner he scared, but the officers): "this could have been
handled differently?"

Is that it?

Is Sherman Hall now the acting chief? Why is one sergeant
evaluating another sergeant's behavior?

This is not the first, second, third, or fourth "incident" I
have read about regarding misconduct with our police dept. Yet,
the council seems to want to focus its attention on evaluating
the fire dept. that no one has complained about. Why is this?

Has sergeant Garducci been disciplined or fired?


Posted by Peter F Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 25, 2017 at 9:31 pm

"Yet,
the council seems to want to focus its attention on evaluating
the fire dept. that no one has complained about. Why is this?"

1 Fire engine envy?
2 Resentment of a public agency that provides great service and has a balanced budget?
3 Desire for more power?
4 To distract from poor roads and flooding?


Posted by I'm not a criminal
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 27, 2017 at 1:43 am

I do think the police go overboard sometimes. I recently had my one and only encounter with the Menlo Park Police. I've never broken the law in my life, but apparently it's not necessary to do anything wrong for the police to justify placing a citizen in handcuffs and hauling then away. It happened to me when my Gastroenterologist in Mountain View, where I had had a doctor's appoint that morning, had called the MPK police to check on me in my apartment, worried that I might attempt suicide. I had broken down crying in my doctor's office, fed-up with all the pain I'd been experiencing, and was asked if I was suicidal. I said I thought about it but promised that I would not attempt it. I then drove home to my apartment in Menlo Park and was surprised when the Menlo Park police pounded on my door, entered my apartment and searched for who-knows-what. I was very calm and tried to assure them that I was not suicidal. They couldn't find anything in my apartment that would indicate a plan for suicide. I was calm, cooperative (they had guns) and answered all their questions. Still, they insisted that I be taken to the police station where I had to wait for the San Jose Police (My dr.'s office was in Santa Clara County so the San Jose Police had to be notified also). I made small talk with the Menlo Park police for about 45 minutes until the San Jose police showed up. The San Jose Police asked me the same questions the MPK police asked. Again, I complied, answering their questions and trying to convince them that I had never threatened suicide. Still they decided to put me in handcuffs and haul me off to the Santa Clara Valley Emergency Medical facility/quasi prison where they hold people who threaten suicide. I had to stay there overnight - the worst night of my life. I was being punished for nothing.

I feel so violated by that experience. I feel that I had no rights at all and had to do exactly as I was told, even though I had never threatened suicide. I have no criminal record and have never had any encounters with police, except for minor traffic violations. I was calm, cooperative, and in my own apartment, but still was taken to the police station and placed in handcuffs like a criminal.

Peter, if you're still reading this thread, did I have any rights in this situation? Could I have refused to go to the police station with the Menlo Park Police?


Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of another community
on Mar 27, 2017 at 2:09 am

--- Sgt. Sherman Hall said that although no police report was filed on the incident

I was told several times by several police that any interaction you ever have with police goes into a file that never gets deleted - period. No matter what, if they ask you for ID, you are stopped - even if it is a mistake, the maintain a permanent record of that under your ID. This might be one reason people would prefer not to identify themselves.

--- One thing Sgt. Hall said he regrets is that not one of the officers turned on their body cameras during the incident. "I would have loved to have some video of this," he said.

When something like this comes to light, officers without cameras on should be fined or put on leave. Why do we spend money on training and these cameras when these "public servants" do not use them?

I have had a few interactions with police, getting a ticket or asking a question, and I find in the last decade or so that Palo Alto Police Officers to be top-notch - the best, still not perfect. Menlo Park's police are rude and short-tempered.

--- He filed a formal complaint on March 17, alleging, among other things, that the officers lied, denied him his legal rights, used excessive force, and humiliated him by demanding an apology under duress.

Police officers are allowed to lie. But if you lie to a police officer - I think that is technically classed as a felony. This is dangerous territory, and that is reasonable to have some flexibility in policing, but for the bad apples it is an excuse for abuse and bullying. That is why we need to cameras on all the time - PERIOD.

When police use excessive force, especially in certain circumstances or with certain people, they get scared, and it can push them out of calm rationality into wanting to just get away or reacting, and then again - the bad apples can end up harming or shooting someone.

This guy doesn't seem to fit the model of a burglar or thug, one would think the police could be a bit more patient with him, but he was doing something kind of stupid and it was on him to be humble and apologetic for trespassing and intruding on someone else's property. I would not be happy if someone was tapping on my window ... that would have me calling the police real fast.

Finally demanding an apology under duress is nothing less than extortion by a control freak. It seems to me that the situation was out of hand and the police could either -

1. Take this guy in and verify who he was ... probably too much effort for the officers, and paperwork.
2. so they decided to take it out of his hide and humiliate him and try to force him to apologize.

That is not in the job description, but neither is it in the job description of a police officer to accept abuse, or be disrespected. In the heat of the moment, those calls are hard to make. A good professional cop knows how to not go there, and MENLO PARK - HAVING CAMERAS ON REMINDS OFFICERS TO THINK ABOUT WHAT THEY ARE DOING.

All that said, the whole bird-watching at night sounds a bit fishy and it is no mystery it was met with skepticism by the police.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of another community
on Mar 27, 2017 at 2:15 am

--- Is this the police dept's response to not letting handcuffs
--- come off until Mr. Winant apologized to the officers (not the
--- homeowner he scared, but the officers): "this could have been
--- handled differently?"

This is a tough one. I want to give police the marginally benefit
of the doubt, but this is basically a mild form of torture. This is a big
deal and if the officer who did this did not have the judgement at the
time not to do it, he needs to go. It is not enough to apologize or
say he was overzealous or whatever, of course anyone is going to
say that after the fact, this is a big deal that shows where he reflexively
goes to his macho bullying tactic.

If the guy was not cooperative, take him in ... peacefully. But they probably
did not want to walk into the station with a star-gazer, as it would show they
are wasting the departments time and resources, so they got macho.


Posted by Keep PV SAFE!
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 27, 2017 at 6:21 pm

People, this man was TRESPASSING and looking into a stranger's house. If this was YOUR house, would you want that? I don't think so. Especially now because there have been so many break ins and robberies (PV is installing ALPRs just because of this). And to drag the Atherton police into the mud for being called a "bad word". Grow up, you're an adult. Do you really get offended every time you hear a swear word? I hope not. SAD.


Posted by Yet More Of The Same
a resident of another community
on Mar 27, 2017 at 6:47 pm

@Keep PV SAFE!: Fine, let's see you get the same treatment.
Anyone willing to lay odds that the poster/troll above won't be screaming bloody murder?


Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Mar 27, 2017 at 6:51 pm

pearl is a registered user.

Mr. Winant's experience aside, if anyone was on my property that I did not know, regardless of the time of day or night, I would automatically call the police. As has been observed by others commenting here, in this day and age of home invasions, robberies and acts of violence around the clock, giving an intruder the benefit of the doubt might cost you your life. Better to be safe than sorry, and call the police. As to Mr. Winant, he's lucky the homeowner didn't get a gun and shoot him!!!


Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 27, 2017 at 7:40 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

keep pv safe:

to quote you, "none of this is any of your business." You don't live in Atherton.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 27, 2017 at 8:24 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

We should all realize that this encounter was a message that we the community and our police force do not have the shared trust that we need.

Forget trying to assign blame and step up and accept responsibility for making the relationship between we citizens and OUR police force better.


Posted by Keep PV SAFE!
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 27, 2017 at 8:32 pm

And let's not forget to thank all of those officers who work to keep us safe everyday. These days rampant crime presents a HUGE challenge, and I couldn't imagine what it would be like without these brave men and women who protect us. So lets not complain about the officers, they have a very tough job without all of the criticism and negativity. Instead give thanks!!


Posted by Keep PV SAFE!
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 27, 2017 at 8:45 pm

@Yet More Of The Same-I EXPECT the same treatment, meaning if I go trespassing in some stranger's yard, I HOPE they would be smart enough to call the cops. Very unfortunate but like others have said, you never know what the intentions of people are. Better to be safe than sorry.


Posted by Keep PV SAFE!
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 27, 2017 at 8:47 pm

pearl-I completely 100% agree. Well said!


Posted by Keep PV SAFE!
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 27, 2017 at 8:48 pm

Menlo Voter

I will comment wherever I want


Posted by The real point
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 27, 2017 at 9:03 pm

Lots of noise here.

@Keep PV Safe!, no one is arguing the homeowner's had the right to call the police. No one is arguing Mr. Winant could have given the ID when asked to de-escalate the situation.

How does any of that tie into the officer calling him an asshole or not letting cuffs come off until he apologized?

It doesn't. Your arguments fall into a rather unsophisticated notion that unless the complainant was perfect, s/he doesn't have any basis to complain. No one ever behaves perfectly. The issue is was the treatment commensurate with whatever infractions he committed. It clearly wasn't.

@Peter Carpenter: I think your comment is more or less pablum. What happened here is not a "trust" issue. It's a misconduct issue. I can agree with on one thing: because the police department most likely won't address this situation in a forthright way, it erodes trust and causes people to assume the worst in future situations. To be sure, not all of that is unique to Atherton. As we know, police in California have bargained for the right to adjudicate complaints against them by themselves, which is ridiculous. What we should have is a civilian police oversight board. I know you worked towards that a few years ago, but the police were basically successful in a "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" argument to avoid accountability.

Despite the noise, this is a bad situation and a bad reflection on the police department and how just a few months of not being managed by a strong external chief has taken its toll.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 27, 2017 at 9:06 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"@Peter Carpenter: I think your comment is more or less pablum."

I will bother to listen to you when you have the guts to use your really name.


Posted by Keep PV SAFE!
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 27, 2017 at 9:11 pm

@the real point "the police department most likely won't address this situation in a forthright way" suggests that you believe they should apologize. Apologize for WHAT? They had every right to do what they did, even if it was a bit rough. Unfortunately these days you can't trust everyone so its just standard police procedure to detain a suspicious person until his/her story can be cleared up. As for the officer calling him an asshole, who cares? Maybe he needed a little reminder to calm down. Ripping on the police won't achieve anything. Working and cooperating with them, will, however.


Posted by The real point
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 27, 2017 at 9:35 pm

@Keep PV SAFE! you keep glossing over the fact that the sergeant (Guarducci) told Mr. Winant the cuffs would not come off until he apologized. That's coercing an apology under duress. It's also false imprisonment. It's dead wrong.


Posted by caroline V
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 28, 2017 at 11:12 am

Thank you Barbara and The Almanac not only for the excellent report but also for allowing us to share our experiences.



It is time that law enforcement respects its Code of Ethics and demonstrate professional conduct -

lets submit our complaints to US Attorney General Sessions.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

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

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Almanac Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

James Beard Award winning chef Traci Des Jardins' restaurant el Alto abruptly closes its doors in Los Altos months after highly anticipated opening
By The Peninsula Foodist | 3 comments | 7,720 views

Palo Alto's bold proposal to jumpstart home electrification
By Sherry Listgarten | 14 comments | 4,038 views

San Bruno Wins Food Trend Craze with First Plant-Based Gas Mart
By Laura Stec | 2 comments | 2,316 views

The Benefits of Adding Market-Rate Housing in Palo Alto
By Steve Levy | 13 comments | 1,794 views

How Much Time do You Spend Outdoors?
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,643 views