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Time for a 'fresh start': Menlo Park's police chief says he'll retire July 30, but may reconsider

Original post made on Jun 18, 2020

In the middle of a Menlo Park City Council discussion about police reform policies, Menlo Park's police Chief Dave Bertini abruptly announced that he would retire at the end of July, saying he'd lost the council's trust.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, June 18, 2020, 8:56 PM

Comments (63)

23 people like this
Posted by Menlo is a joke
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jun 18, 2020 at 9:50 pm

This city council and city manager are a joke.

This is not leadership. Nor do the city council understand exactly what it takes and what is needed to make a well functioning police department.

Look deeper and these issues that are brought up. It’s an agenda that does not serve the people well. But alas we all voted for this group. They have no idea what they are doing


26 people like this
Posted by Lidia
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 18, 2020 at 9:56 pm

I don’t blame him! He has no support from the City Council, or the city members who called in support to defund the Police Department. The budget cuts aka defunding will directly affect the city! I wouldn’t be happy either. Good luck with less officers on patrol, and multiple police programs gone. You will be missed Chief Bertini


25 people like this
Posted by Blue Wife
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 18, 2020 at 10:00 pm

Bravo! I don’t blame him one bit. He’s a wonderful human being, dedicated public servant, and brilliant man. LEOs have had enough - ENOUGH. Do their job for one day and I guarantee 99% of you wouldn’t go back for Day Two. Their jobs are the most difficult on the planet. So, good for Bertini. He has the support of our family!


14 people like this
Posted by Andrew
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jun 18, 2020 at 10:07 pm

Bizarre that the City Council empathizing with a few people unhappy with his department drove him into retirement. If people don't trust the department, and from the calls many clearly don't, why is it so bad to ask how to get people to trust the department?


6 people like this
Posted by Limina
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 18, 2020 at 10:08 pm

The Purge is coming


35 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 18, 2020 at 10:19 pm

Being a police officer in Menlo Park is not "the most difficult job on the planet." That's insane. This is one of the safest communities in North California.

It's been 60 years since Officer Lyle was killed in the line of duty (RIP). I'm not saying being a police officer is easy. It surely isn't. But the baby-ish behavior of this chief goes to show that the police also seem to be quite coddled here, and I don't think we're using our budget appropriate having police officers respond to every single issue that comes up in this community.


25 people like this
Posted by Good Riddance
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 18, 2020 at 10:30 pm

"If I can't get what I want, I QUIT!"

Blue Wife: "He’s a dedicated public servant."

Two very contradictory sentiments. Being a dedicated public servant means accepting and serving under the will of the people and their elected representatives, not throwing a tantrum when one's own idea of what is right and wrong for the public is not being totally accepted.

Seems to me the council listened to what Bertini had to say, and didn't necessarily accept all of it. Good for them. They're not elected to just rubber stamp what a police chief or city manager says.

This guy is an entitled, spoiled brat. His statements as reported make him unfit for the position of chief. Let him go. While you're at it, outsource the PD to the Sheriff. Good pivot point to do it. Solve your budget problems with one fell swoop.


8 people like this
Posted by Menlo Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 18, 2020 at 10:53 pm

Bertini resigned after Council member Mueller asked him a question. Mueller should go back an watch his interrogation of McIntire.


14 people like this
Posted by Layla R.
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jun 18, 2020 at 11:25 pm

@Steve - I’d venture to guess you would spend a week on the street and then go crying back to your keyboard. MP isn’t New York but they deal with all the stuff you would cross the street to avoid. Every. Day. Every. Week. Every. Year. Year after year.


11 people like this
Posted by allison
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 19, 2020 at 5:39 am

I have had several unfortunate interactions with the MPPD dating back 25 years when my kids were young. One officer find a group of kids hanging out in the old abandoned building that was at Lyle park and took their bike helmets as "hostage" so when tht kids came home they had to bring their parents to the police Dept too get their helmets back. The kids were in elementary school and were just hanging out after school, no drugs or alcohol involved. By taking their helmets all the boys had to ride home without helmets, thank God they all made it home safely. Another time an off duty officer saw oak knoll kids throwing water balloons, stopped his car, chased them, scaring the crap out of them and handcuffed one of the young boys. Fairly recently I had an interaction with several MPPD officers and came away thinking that they really needed sensitivity training. I am white, never received any tickets, except 1 for parking too far from the curb in downtown, although still within the painted spot, and have never been in trouble with tht law. I fear the MPPD officers, I can't even imagine how the African American citizens feel if a white law abiding middle aged women is afraid of them.


9 people like this
Posted by Menlo Rez
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 19, 2020 at 6:26 am

It's time to turn over police services to the County, as did San Carlos. Too many "unfortunate" incidents with Menlo PD.

Goodbye Chief, July 15 is a better date. Enjoy your pension.


3 people like this
Posted by Life goes on
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jun 19, 2020 at 7:19 am

Seems like a big deal now. Won’t be in a few weeks. Bertini was at retirement. He was ready to move on. City should thank him for his service and transition.


20 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 19, 2020 at 8:05 am

Over the last few decades police departments across the country have armored up and hardened up to be prepared to face the worst case threat. Our police officers now carry guns, tasers, pepper spray, batons, handcuffs etc and are properly trained to use each of those items. The unfortunate result is that they often respond to calls with literally tens of pounds of "defensive" equipment" and their appearance and training can unintendedly escalate minor situations into potentially deadly conflicts.

We as a community need to deescalate this situation - it serves neither the interests of the community or of the fine police officers who serve us.

Please let's redesign Menlo Park's public safety function so that a much smaller group of well trained and properly equipped police officers can serve us to protect us from criminals. And then let's create a well trained, unarmed public safety force that deals with the issue of the homeless, neighbor disputes and civil infractions.

The Chief's decision is an excellent opportunity to create a new vision for public safety services in Menlo Park:

1 - Separate criminal offenses from other public safety service functions,

2 - Establish a new Menlo Park Public Safety entity to deal with non-criminal public safety issues including disaster preparedness,

3 - Contract with the Sheriff for criminal policing services and include clear language regarding the permissible uses of force and deescalation protocols when serving Menlo Park.


2 people like this
Posted by Craig
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 19, 2020 at 8:16 am

I am curious why non-Menlo Park residents are allowed to comment, or are Atherton folks just “entitled”??


26 people like this
Posted by Johnny P.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 19, 2020 at 8:43 am

Most of the comments are coming from people living outside the city and they shouldn’t dictate what happens to our city’s police department. The Silicon Valley socialists have scripts and information on twitter about when the council meetings are and how to call in and complain about police using statistics that are untruthful. Living in the city, I have been quite happy with the service they have provided. To lay off police or any city employee with 30+ million in reserves is absolutely inappropriate. Additionally, counsel person Taylor has always had an issue with police and she is pushing her personal agenda, not her constituents.


16 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 19, 2020 at 9:09 am

"Most of the comments are coming from people living outside the city"

Wrong - only two of the above 15 comments are from non-MP residents.

And if you had listened to yesterday's telephone town hall on police services you would have heard a great deal of concern with both MP's police services and with the current Chief.

It is time to make fundamental changes in the way in which Menlo Park provides public safety SERVICES to it residents.

A Badge and a Gun is not the answer to all, or even most, of our public safety needs.


13 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 19, 2020 at 9:18 am

Allison,

It sounds like the officer handled that situation very responsibly. The kids were tresspassing and possibly doing something else illegal and the officer knew that they would not tell their parents or come to the station, after all they certainly were not carrying any form of identification. Taking something that forced them to bring their parents in for a meeting was better that arresting them and taking them to the station. Unfortunately we only have one side of the story, yours. It would be interesting to hear the other side.

I support the MP Police. Aside from a complaint about 4 years ago, that was investigated, there do not seem to have been issues with the way the police are handling their calls. I don't think Menlo Park is that tough of a city to police, most crimes are non-violent and the police handle them well. I recall a time many years ago when there was a lot of violent crime that spilled over into Menlo Park, I certainly do not want to go back to that time and I don't want to see our police force handicapped in keeping the residents of Menlo Park safe.


9 people like this
Posted by Charles
a resident of another community
on Jun 19, 2020 at 10:07 am

It is hard work to reconcile what you always believed to appreciate the perspective of others who would ask you to reconsider long held attitudes and practices - but reconsider you must. You are pledged to protect and serve, and it is in that service that you must be held accountable. It is hard work to seek to respond and improve your department. If you are unwilling and/or incapable of doing so, by all means step aside. There will be those made of sterner stuff to offer the necessary leadership. Thank you for your service and best wishes in the lesser-stressed life you appears better suited to.


7 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 19, 2020 at 10:36 am

Sounds to me like he has lost is faith in own ability to do his job. Menlo Park is a diverse community and the police have to serve everyone fairly and respectfully, not just rich neighborhoods.


15 people like this
Posted by Proud American
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 19, 2020 at 11:33 am

I sincerely hope each and every person on here who supports defunding or disbanding the police is ready for the consequences.

Also funny how people in the area support releasing criminals, abolishing jail, and getting rid of the second amendment for law abiding citizens.

Enjoy communism.


18 people like this
Posted by Alan
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jun 19, 2020 at 11:36 am

If we go back just a few years ago, Menlo Park got statewide recognition for the good work they in Belle Haven: Web Link I am deeply appreciatively of what they have done; it is significantly safer than 11 years ago.

I did have one mildly uncomfortable experience with the police about six years ago; I peaked into the window of the old Belle Haven station at 9 p.m., as it was a rare occasion that it was occupied at that time. A police car came over and questioned me for a couple minutes. I didn't like it, but I later realized it was probably for the best, as things do happen in this neighborhood. I didn't like it, but I didn't consider it abusive. I am as white as they come, so I figured it was appropriate that they didn't treat me differently than anyone else.

On another occasion, I attended a meeting of a neighborhood watch group. One of the attendees, an older white man, was constantly making prejudiced comments about "the real problem". The police officer, a Hispanic woman, did her best steer the conversation away from this sort of thinking.

*sigh* Thank you for your service, Chief Bertini.


21 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 19, 2020 at 11:39 am

"I sincerely hope each and every person on here who supports defunding or disbanding the police is ready for the consequences."

Not a single poster on this thread has advocated either defunding or disbanding.

What many of us are proposing is a thoughtful restructuring of Menlo Park's public safety services.

Done properly we could even have MORE people doing public safety work than we now have in the MP PD.

A heavily armed policeman is expensive to train and expensive to equip and expensive to hire.

Unarmed public safety specialists could do a better, less confrontational, job with non-criminal events at a lower cost and with less risk of escalation.


10 people like this
Posted by Maria Rutenburg
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 19, 2020 at 12:22 pm

our Mayor is destroying the city and so does clueless city council. Shane on them for the witch hunt they champion.


10 people like this
Posted by Jay Morena
a resident of another community
on Jun 19, 2020 at 12:44 pm

Standing on principals over pandering politics


11 people like this
Posted by Afraid
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jun 19, 2020 at 12:59 pm

At first I was afraid; now I’m petrified. Our mayor has no clue of what to do. She lost the police confidence and left us all that much less secure. I was a lifelong Democrat, but will now absolutely vote Republican.


9 people like this
Posted by Taking notes
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 19, 2020 at 1:14 pm

A petty thief was shot in the back by Menlo Park police in 2015 -- around noon on a national holiday, lots of kids around -- a gun apparently planted on him (his DNA wasn't on it) and all three officers somehow without functioning bodycams. That case was not pursued; the police chief called it a "good kill" though there was no indication that the criminal was a threat to anyone.

More recently, I've observed the treatment of POC by our local police. I'm not seeing the comments addressing that, but it is a real issue even for those of us who live west of 101.

Sounds as though some of the police believe they should not be subject to scrutiny. I appreciate the council and mayor for their diligence in managing this tricky topic.


9 people like this
Posted by Be Careful
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 19, 2020 at 1:36 pm

For those of you advocating to use the County Sheriff's Department in place of the MPPD, careful what you wish for. They do not care about your community. They will not enforce traffic violations. You crime rates will skyrocket! I know this as I live in San Carlos (own a small business in MP). Thefts happen in braod daylight here and you're lucky if they respond within 24 hours. Our streets our racetracks and they don't care. Don't do it!


13 people like this
Posted by Be Careful 2
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 19, 2020 at 3:04 pm

RE the Sheriff idea, I'm with "Be Careful". There is an appealing idea of efficiency that makes sense to scale up a bit. However, as BC mentions, that also means not having as direct of a connection and leverage for responsiveness and prioritization. We have enough problems in Eastern MP already getting MPPD attention (fireworks, sideshows, gunshots, parking violations, meh, no time), I can only imagine how bad it is in Belle Haven. Spread out even more...?

Also worth considering is that SM Sheriff's department has not resolved the corruption scandals sufficiently for my taste.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 19, 2020 at 3:12 pm

"means not having as direct of a connection and leverage for responsiveness and prioritization"

In my discussions with elected officials in communities served by the Sheriff they are very happy - as is also documented in the SMC Grand Jury report:



From the Grand Jury Report:

"When asked by the Grand Jury for the reasoning behind choosing to contract with the
Sheriff’s Office, a knowledgeable San Carlos official stated in response to a Grand Jury
survey:
As a result of more than a decade of unsustainable public safety cost increases
combined with lower public safety levels for the community, San Carlos chose to
implement a regional consolidation approach for providing police services to the
community. By contracting with the SO, San Carlos was able to maintain
minimum staffing levels for patrols, provide the same quick response times, and
has been able to restore many of the key community programs that the San Carlos
Police Department had provided in better economic times."

"The contracts utilized by all three cities are basically the same. They have a common theme of
saving each city thousands of dollars by having the SO perform virtually all policing duties.
These savings are gained by having the SO assume responsibility for office expenses, including
accounting and personnel, along with pension and medical obligations. The contracts provide for
police services at staffing levels determined by the individual city councils, which are
commensurate with the cities previous staffing levels. Additional services not set forth in the
base contract can be added by the cities to fit their needs by amending the contract. "

"FINDINGS
F1. The SO is providing the police services for which the cities of Half Moon Bay, Millbrae,
and San Carlos contracted within the cost perimeters of the contracts.
F2. Public response to the transition from individual police departments to the SO is positive.
F3. No increase in the number of police involved incidences has been reported by the cities
due to the transition of policing services to the SO and one city, Millbrae, reports a
decrease of 17 per cent in crime.
F4. The transition from individual police departments to the SO was incident free with
former city personnel generally pleased with the change.
F5. The police service contracts between the SO and each of the cities of Half Moon Bay,
Millbrae, and San Carlos serve as good models to other cities in the County which
operate their own police departments and which are facing budgetary restraints.
F6. The trust funds for each city comprised of unallocated funds should be disclosed in
financial reports and described in the policing service contracts.

In response to the Grand Jury Report San Carlos made this statement:
"The SO has consistently met or exceeded the contracted service levels. Of particular note have been the efforts in Community Policing and community engagement practices which have far exceeded what the city expected"

****

And when the Sheriff's Office takes responsibility for a new community they offer positions to the best of the current department's police force. This is what the San Carlos Mayor said at the time of the transfer:"We do have a lot of local cops, and those local cops will continue to work," Royce said Tuesday. "If you look at any organization, it's good to have some change. We'll have the best of both worlds. Having the mix of existing local cops and new officers, they'll be able to provide as good, if not better, level of service."


2 people like this
Posted by James Madison
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 19, 2020 at 3:58 pm

Many years ago the Menlo Park PD was a nationwide model under the practical, innovative Chief Victor Cizankas. Law enforcement was effective, but complaints about office conduct have never again been as low, nor have injuries or damage to city equipment. Calm and common sense instead of raised voices could lead us to a similar model force today.


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 19, 2020 at 4:02 pm

" Calm and common sense instead of raised voices could lead us to a similar model force today."

All the voices that I have heard have been calm and expressed their concerns in common sense terms.

Nobody is shouting and nobody is proposing anything unreasonable.


1 person likes this
Posted by Carol F
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 19, 2020 at 4:05 pm

Former MP resident:

Oh for the days of City Manager Mike Bedwell!

One of his favorite mottoes: "Remember the Children!"


19 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jun 19, 2020 at 4:08 pm

We have a 20-year-old foster son from Ethiopia. He gets pulled over in MP 1 of every 25 (or so) times he drives there. Cops typically ask “are you lost”? Our 17-year-old white daughter? Never been stopped.

It’s long past time to recognize that these biases are real and exist in all our communities. And that highly weaponized police officers might not be the best approach for all situations. This doesn’t mean our cops are “bad”, or that we need to disband or defund. But if police officers aren’t willing to at least acknowledge that biases and bad practices exist, then they probably shouldn’t be policing our streets. And I’m glad to see the inflexible ones go.

That’s not communism, and it’s not Trumpism. It’s just common sense.


11 people like this
Posted by Alan
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jun 19, 2020 at 4:42 pm

Why are people specifically upset with Bertini? Meaning, specifically how has he run the department poorly? The "racial slur" thing is a clear misunderstanding. He referred to Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow; "Shrimp Boy" seem like a racial slur, but that is the nickname this man went by; here's a SF Chronicle headline referring to it: Web Link Beyond that, what is the problem? That the department receives money from Facebook for the truancy officer (that is not there to arrest people) and the community police station? There's mention of people saying they had bad run-ins with the police that don't want to come forward, but without them coming forward, well, you risk creating a case of Kafkaesque guilt. We're all for an environment that serves the community as well as possible, but it needs to built on the specifics of the local situation.


11 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 19, 2020 at 5:04 pm

"Why are people specifically upset with Bertini? "

The Police Chief he determines the values and priorities of the department.

In my opinion a badge and gun response to every situation set the tone for his officers and created an unnecessarily confrontational relationship with anyone who encountered an MP police officer armed with a gun, taser, pepper spray, baton and handcuffs. I can appreciate why some people of color have expressed their concerns about being confronted by such heavily armed police officers.


4 people like this
Posted by Whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 19, 2020 at 6:28 pm

James, were those the days of the green blazers?
Peter, I don't think James was talking about the commentors here. I got the impression he was talking about the general populous, specifically those not presenting themselves as commonly.
Peter, the current chief responds with what the city has made available - police officers with guns etc. Btw what happens when an unarmed "community" worker shows up to quiet down a domestic disturbance and no one knows there's a gun in the house? Or showing up at a noise disturbance of loud music with party goers on drugs or uninvited guests? Or contractor and employees working a site illegally on Sunday, and becoming very upset they won't be getting paid for not working?
It's not always copacetic. Dispatch only has the phone info which can be true or false.


Like this comment
Posted by Whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 19, 2020 at 6:31 pm

Correction
"not presenting themselves as calmly as possible"


11 people like this
Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 19, 2020 at 6:37 pm

There seems to be a simple solution here - outsource policing to the San Mateo Count Sheriff. You get an economy of scale, and we can immediately save on the budget but not duplicating police management overhead (such as a dedicated police chief for a sleepy city of 35,000 people.


13 people like this
Posted by Belle Haven Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jun 19, 2020 at 7:04 pm

I depend on the MPPD and I think they could do better. It's not either/or.


13 people like this
Posted by Pantson Head
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 19, 2020 at 7:27 pm

And the mob mentality wins again.

For the people advocating for more "social workers," understand that even the simplest calls often turn quickly. Which is why police are armed in the first place. Domestic disputes are often the most volatile, and yet that's included in the idiotic social worker fantasy.

Also, for those calling for "defunding!" because it's the latest buzzword that everyone is parroting out (which is a new national hobby since everyone has cabin fever,) understand that truly defunding the police will only lead to the worst officers staying as the best go to private security, and then you get the added bonus of corruption. It's what happens in any failing town or country, but of course it will work this time because everyone's intentions are pure.

What a joke.


11 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 19, 2020 at 8:35 pm

"And the mob mentality wins again."

Wrong. The Police Chief became acutely aware of the dissatisfaction of the community that his police department serves and he wisely decided now was the time to leave.

He was not fired, no one pushed him out - he simply made a professional judgement that "I think that it's time for that fresh start, and with that, I'm ... sorry to say I'll be announcing my retirement."

It is all in the public record - no intrigue, no back room plan just a personal moment of truth.


12 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jun 20, 2020 at 12:27 am

We get the leaders we deserve, and we lose those we don’t. Congrats Menlo Park, you’ve traded a competent and effective police chief for a social justice warrior masquerading as a Mayor.

A witch hunt isn’t over until someone burns, and these days the someone seems to be whole cities. Please don’t turn our community into the next “woke” disaster. Stop with the identity politics and collectivism and think for yourselves.


6 people like this
Posted by Bill Rayburn
a resident of another community
on Jun 20, 2020 at 12:36 am

You ask me, the Chief took a very classy route to raising his middle finger to the council and those who consistently rail against the police.

Be VERY careful about offering early retirement to cops....you just might have a tsunami.....

smh…...


6 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jun 20, 2020 at 12:36 am

Also: I can’t believe this is an actual quote from this article: “…new recruits to the Menlo Park Police Department, who are diverse…”

So now you can be “diverse” or “not diverse.” Gone are the days when diverse was something a group of people could be if they had different perspectives and experiences. Now, it just means whether a person is “of color,” and that’s apparently all we need to know about their experiences and perspective. There’s the real racism folks…

Almanac, you might consider hiring some writers who aren’t far leftists. This is getting difficult to stomach.


2 people like this
Posted by Allison
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 20, 2020 at 7:14 am

Brian, if you think taking helmets away from kids so they have to ride home without a helmet which is required, is "acting responsibly," then I am really glad you are not a police officer. The kids were in elementary school, the building wasn't locked up, and they were pretending the room was their clubhouse. It was very innocent play by young kids. It was a teachable moment, and the officer could have handled it much more appropriately, taking away their helmets was much more serious and dangerous. Can you imagine if one of those kids fell on the way home and fractured their skull or worse died from head trauma? Would you still think the officer "acted responsibly?" Again, incredibly happy you are not a police officer.


2 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Jun 20, 2020 at 7:42 am

Allison, I think the officer should have taken their bikes and made them walk home. Much safer. You are partially correct. Compromise is a great idea.


6 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 20, 2020 at 8:48 am

Allison:

25 years ago? Seriously? That officer probably isn't even on the force any longer. You sure can hold a grudge can't you? smh


19 people like this
Posted by smallbusinessownerCZ
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 20, 2020 at 9:06 am

Compelled to write as a member of the MP community.

After over a decade in the City of Menlo Park and with established relationships with a number of young people of color, here is what these young people will tell you: the MPPD has the worst reputation in San Mateo County for “driving while brown or black, walking while brown or black, bicycling while brown or black.” These young people have either worked for me or are their family members or friends of friends. I was left speechless when I would hear thier stories.

We were just given an opportunity by Mayor Cecilia Taylor to listen to the stories, take it all in and perhaps work together to create a new relationship. Our Mayor never demanded anything, she asked this City to just listen. JUST LISTEN. And take it all in.

It was an opportunity to hear the stories and hopefully work with the MPPD to build a bridge between the truths of those wrongfully profiled and the young people of our world asking for a much needed change in the way our communities are policed.

Is it wrong to ask for more transparency in police operations?

is it wrong to want to learn more about concerns and complaints and, as a community, request additional information?

Is it wrong to question the police unions that so fiercely and sometimes wrongfully protect this force when any misconduct is brought forward? Are we all awarded those same types of protections in our own lines of work?

Why was it so hard for the MPPD to address the concerns of the young people that have gathered? Not once did they respond with, “what has happened to George Floyd, Amaud Aubrey, Breonna Taylor and the others was wrong, and we know this profession can do better. Instead we heard, “ride along with us, see what our jobs are like.”

I end with this: Mayor Taylor did the absolute right thing by bringing this issue front and center. She has lived this, she represents a community that has been overlooked by the City, and this issue is now finally being addressed by this community and this nation. She did the right thing by asking for us to listen, learn and change.


6 people like this
Posted by Pantson Head
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 20, 2020 at 10:13 am

I love people equating taking a kid's helmet 25 years ago with what happened in MN, as if both require rapid and drastic change within the force. As far as I'm aware, the MPPD hasn't been known for it's widespread brutality.

But sure, let's listen to the protestors who just last night tore down a statue of Ulysses S. Grant in SF. You know, the guy who lead the charge against Lee and smashed the KKK. The people who tore down his statue are surely experts in all policing matters, and especially when it comes to Menlo.

I think everyone is fine with looking at things and seeing how they can be done better. That's the job of a community and it's why we vote and have town halls. But right now, the loudest people are also the most inadequate, and they're dictating policy changes across the board in communities that don't have problems. And everyone seems to be nodding along in agreement because it's happening so fast that you don't have time to stop and truly think about it all.

Why should the Menlo Police spend any more time talking about MN when that situation has not and likely will not happen here? "What happened there was horrible, and we train our officers to ensure it never happens here." Done. Move on.

But that's not what the mob is asking for, they're asking for a complete defunding of the police and an entire structural change. And if people weren't so bored and antsy at home, maybe they'd think twice before supporting it all.

BLM isn't just a slogan, it's a political organization with outlined policy goals. When you donate to them or shout their slogans at town halls, or on the streets, you're calling for a defunding of police and a wholesale restructuring of society. Check their site and see what they want. Hint: they seriously use "comrade" when describing their goals...

Maybe the middle of a pandemic and economic downturn isn't the time for populism, especially when a majority of donors and marchers are only joining along because they're bored at home and too antsy to actually read beyond their knee-jerk feelings.

You go too far left and you meet the far right, and it's probably not a good idea to have either of them on your side. But here we are.


15 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 20, 2020 at 10:27 am

"Mayor Taylor did the absolute right thing by bringing this issue front and center. She has lived this, she represents a community that has been overlooked by the City, and this issue is now finally being addressed by this community and this nation. She did the right thing by asking for us to listen, learn and change."

Well said. And it is very telling that when faced with that input from the community, which was solicited in an open forum, Council Member Mueller simply asked the Chief how the Police Department could do better and , instead of rising to the opportunity and helping lead to a better response, he simply threw up his hand and quit. That is NOT the kind of person we need leading our police department at this time!

I found the 4-5 PM Thursday telephone Town Hall to be a revelation and a much needed insight for me a s a very safe, very old, very white male that all is not well in my community and now I have to take ownership of that fact.


6 people like this
Posted by Concerned Citizen/Taxpayer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 20, 2020 at 3:03 pm

With our police chief opting to step down and a looming city budget deficit into the millions (not even counting our less-than-fully funded future pension liabilities) isn't it time for a "fresh start"? Why should we deny the taxpayers of Menlo Park the opportunity for our city to save thousands if not millions of dollars by outsourcing Menlo Park policing services to the Sheriff's Office? I was impressed reading the positive comments earlier in this thread about the experience of San Carlos where they noted: "The SO has consistently met or exceeded the contracted service levels. Of particular note have been the efforts in Community Policing and community engagement practices which have far exceeded what the city expected." If not now, why?


4 people like this
Posted by Pantson Head
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 20, 2020 at 3:36 pm

^ You're also ignoring the many comments saying how the Sheriff's office is much slower to respond to calls than the MPPD.

You ask, "if not now, why?" but I would also ask, "why now?" Is now really the time to wholesale change how things are, especially if they aren't broken? Until MN, was there a rallying cry to change the MPPD? No, because there's not a systemic problem here at all.

Of course, there is a budget crunch, but given the economy of the area it likely won't last long.

We would be giving up very fast response times in favor of a cheaper alternative that others are warning against, and for what? To say, "yeah! we changed!" That's about the only benefit I see, aside from a temporary economic one, but things are opening back up in the county, and the budget will be back to normal before you know it.

Once you start messing with a system that isn't broken, you'll be tinkering with it for decades to get it back to how it once was.

I say keep the MPPD, and make small changes as needed and forget about the "defund! disband!" narrative for good.


8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 20, 2020 at 3:42 pm

'No, because there's not a systemic problem here at all."

I encourage you to listen to the telephone Town Hall that was held last Thursday and to then reconsider your judgement.


I found the 4-5 PM Thursday telephone Town Hall to be a revelation and a much needed insight for me a s a very safe, very old, very white male that all is not well in my community and now I have to take ownership of that fact.


6 people like this
Posted by Reality Check
a resident of another community
on Jun 21, 2020 at 6:21 am

Chief Bertini will be the first of many police officers who make this decision. Those who can leave the profession will. Those who can't will take fewer risks with enforcement actions. You already seek Atlanta officers calling off and not being proactive, if not outright derelict. They will go park their patrol cars in a safe, quiet place and not take any enforcement actions.

What happens with qualified immunity will be a turning point. The job already carries substantial risks. Add in the potential to lose your house on every call for violating undecided legal issues and you have the recipe for a profession which doesn't pencil out. Better to be a firefighter, an occupation with similar compensation and qualifications.

Defunding the police was already in the cards as municipalities sort out how they rebalance their budgets. Menlo Park is already cutting officers. Cities may soon find themselves in the unenviable position of being unable to field patrol shifts. They will be recruiting candidates from an ever shrinking pool of qualified people willing to put it on the line for their communities.


8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 21, 2020 at 8:20 am

The alternative New Reality is that Menlo Park creates a new model of Public Safety Services that attracts the very best individuals who want to serve with pride in an organization which protects and respects the community that it serves, where the culture is defined by professionalism and service rather than by the weight of gear that a Public Safety Service professional wears.


4 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 21, 2020 at 9:10 am

Departments are already having trouble attracting qualified candidates. You eliminate qualified immunity and the problem will become acute. One would be a fool to take on such risk whether they want to protect and respect the community they serve or not. Some in that community will not respect them no matter what. Meaning the risk of having ones life destroyed because someone doesn't like the police grows exponentially.


15 people like this
Posted by Qualified Immunity
a resident of another community
on Jun 21, 2020 at 9:57 am

I think the people complaining about qualified immunity don't understand how it works.

Qualified immunity means that a government actor sued for a civil rights violation is immune from the suit unless there's a prior case on point with the facts "clearly establishing" the conduct was wrongful. In other words, opposite of the famous police line "ignorance of the law is no excuse" that applies to us mere citizens.

Without qualified immunity, a cop in California wouldn't pay the damages returned by a jury under Government Code 820.2, his employing municipality would…unless it was an extreme act, such as Minnesota, in which a crime was committed. But in these cases, qualified immunity wouldn't apply anyway, since the crimes are "clearly established."

The net result if qualified immunity were reformed is that cities would be more careful about tolerating police misconduct because they would be on the hook for the damages it creates. That would, correspondingly, filter down into them being more willing to address problem officers, let them go, discipline them, etc.

It's clear the police unions don't want that, but citizens should. However, the scare tactic of a good cop who had to make a split second judgment losing his life savings and home just would never happen, because of laws like Government Code 820.2. The taxpayers would still be paying the jury award for those situations.

There is a scale to balance. On one end is the rights of citizens, on the other end is the rights and protections of police officers. Right now that scale is tilted almost entirely in the direction of the police officers. Is that needed to keep us safe (as the unions say)? That's for each of us to decide, but I can tell you that command/control governments, such as China, justify sweeping government powers and lack of accountability using the same arguments.

Me, I'm not in favor of disbanding or defunding the police. I do want a police department that can be effective in fighting crime. I do believe that when officers go to far, there should be a consequence for them. Right now, due to unions and qualified immunity, there are no real consequences, and that's not good for society. By not balancing the scale sensibly, it could well result in it being pushed too far in the other direction.


2 people like this
Posted by Crazy
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 22, 2020 at 5:35 pm

I disagree with Menlo Voter on a lot of issues but I do agree that complaining about something 25 years ago is insane. Are there any officers left at the department that was working that ling ago? Then again I’d be interested in hearing from that officer to hear their perspective of the situation.

Peter again you have an agenda. We all get it. And no the fire department won’t get motorcycles


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 22, 2020 at 5:56 pm

"Peter again you have an agenda. We all get it."

Great! So let's move forward with that agenda:

A new vision for public safety services in Menlo Park:

1 - Separate criminal offenses from other public safety service functions,

2 - Establish a new Menlo Park Public Safety entity to deal with non-criminal public safety issues including disaster preparedness,

3 - Contract with the Sheriff for criminal policing services and include clear language regarding the permissible uses of force and deescalation protocols when serving Menlo Park.


Like this comment
Posted by Dagwood
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 23, 2020 at 11:52 am

Someone on City Council needs to explain this fiasco to residents.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 25, 2020 at 7:26 am

Notable from the Financial Times:
"
Please use the sharing tools found via the share button at the top or side of articles. Copying articles to share with others is a breach of FT.com T&Cs and Copyright Policy. Email [email protected] to buy additional rights. Subscribers may share up to 10 or 20 articles per month using the gift article service. More information can be found at Web Link.
Web Link


Joshua Chaffin in New York JUNE 23 2020
17
Print this page
When a court in Tucson, Arizona, orders someone to be evaluated for mental health issues, the often prickly task of rounding up that person does not fall to ordinary cops. Rather, it is handled by the Mental Health Support Team, whose 16 highly trained officers dress casually and have relationships with doctors and clinicians across the city.

In an accomplishment that may only be properly appreciated by fellow police, the MHST has dealt with more than 5,000 such orders in recent years, often involving agitated and troubled citizens, without once resorting to force.

It is an example of why many experts regard the Tucson police as one of America’s best-trained and most progressive forces — particularly when it comes to mental health issues."

*****
Menlo Park needs to restructure its public safety functions in a similar way - a badge and gun is not the best or the most cost effective way to deal with non-criminal issues.


Like this comment
Posted by Sean Menendez
a resident of another community
on Jul 17, 2020 at 2:25 pm

Maria Rutenberg (previous poster in this comment section" refers to "our Mayor" as if Menlo were "her" community. Ms. Rutenberg is a resident of Redwood City.


3 people like this
Posted by Jake
a resident of another community
on Jul 17, 2020 at 10:47 pm

The chief and his employees are rather well paid. You will be astonished. See Transparent California (cities).


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