Menlo Park's police chief was publicly accused of using a racial slur in ethics training. Here's the story. | Town Square | Almanac Online |

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Menlo Park's police chief was publicly accused of using a racial slur in ethics training. Here's the story.

Original post made on Jun 19, 2020

During a town hall meeting Thursday evening to discuss policing in Menlo Park, Housing Commissioner Karen Grove said she'd heard Menlo Park police Chief Dave Bertini use a racial slur in an ethics training. Here's what happened.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, June 19, 2020, 2:13 PM

Comments (50)

3 people like this
Posted by Appalling
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 19, 2020 at 7:16 pm

This individual's behavior is completely appalling. While the remark, on a continuum, is not the worst I've ever heard, it shows a real lack of judgment in someone at a position and level we would expect much better from. He is incapable of understanding how an Asian person would not be offended by his remark, and that says a lot more than his intent.

The real question is why is he resigning in a childish fit rather than being let go. I also understand this individual has substantial anger issues.


5 people like this
Posted by slander
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 19, 2020 at 11:24 pm

Wonder if a slander lawsuit will be filed on the issue of whether the statement was a racial slur or not?


8 people like this
Posted by EPA Neighbor
a resident of another community
on Jun 19, 2020 at 11:39 pm

Thank you, Karen for speaking up, not backing down and following through. It’s not something many in your position would do.


29 people like this
Posted by My takeaway
a resident of another community
on Jun 19, 2020 at 11:50 pm

I don't feel Bertini made a clear cut racist remark. It was a bit insensitive, but I can certainly take him at his word that there was no racist intent.

What is troubling to me about the story is it illustrates what I think is at the heart of the problems Americans are having with police. I don't think the core issue is racism in many cases. I think it's hard line, inflexible attitudes, and it's not necessary to be that way to be a good police officer. I would say the opposite is true.

What Bertini showed from this incident is he sees things as black or white, with no nuance or shading. It would have been easy to be a gentlemen and say, "I had no racist intent when I made this remark, but I can see why it made you uncomfortable, and I regret that. Of course we can remove it from the training." (since it obviously has nothing to do with the purpose of the training). I'm sure that would have closed the issue.

Instead, he stood pat, viewed it as a battle of wills, and wouldn't give an inch. That's not being a gentleman. In my opinion, that's not showing the type of magnanimity that should be associated with a police chief or a police officer for that matter.

And now the above poster is hinting that Bertini's going to file a lawsuit against this lady (or is it the Almanac, or both?) for expressing her opinion about his statement? That's also anything but gracious.


13 people like this
Posted by Really?
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 20, 2020 at 6:18 am

All racists

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link


19 people like this
Posted by Really?
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 20, 2020 at 6:25 am

I guess the Almanac should consider itself racist too? Where was Karen's outrage when this was published?
Web Link


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

no hint of anything. no idea what will happen. article says disagreement between grove and bertini whether he used a racial slur. now grove said it to the press. just wonder if bertini will go to court with same position. almanac just published the facts so can't see how lawsuit would be against almanac.


76 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 20, 2020 at 8:52 am

For god's sake, Bertini was referring to Chow's nick name, "shrimp boy". You "woke" folks really need to get a grip.


12 people like this
Posted by My takeaway
a resident of another community
on Jun 20, 2020 at 10:25 am

To all the posters complaining about how Mr. Bertini is being treated unfairly because there are many other references to "Shrimp Boy" in the media…

It seems to me the complaint in this case was about referring to him as "someone whose name comes from a menu in a Chinese restaurant", not merely referring to him as "Shrimp Boy".


31 people like this
Posted by Jimmy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 20, 2020 at 12:21 pm

Nice work Karen. Now we need a new police chief. All you've done here today, is weaken a city.


15 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 20, 2020 at 12:36 pm

"Now we need a new police chief. All you've done here today, is weaken a city."

Wrong. Carefully determining the skills that we need in a new head of public safety services and then finding the best person to serve in that role will strengthen our city.

A gun and a badge is not the best response to a broad range of public safety challenges.


36 people like this
Posted by Anisha
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 20, 2020 at 1:02 pm

Yes, I "only" recalled this name from this old case from the MEDIA!!! That's ALL they talked about!!
Isn't it funny? MP lost a GREAT police chief- sad to see the politics and liberal liberal liberal agenda move in. It is a sad day.


16 people like this
Posted by M&M
a resident of another community
on Jun 20, 2020 at 1:10 pm

The sad Palo Altofication of Menlo continues in some of the comments of this dust up. Bertini blew it by including and commenting on Chow’s inclusion in the material. Karen was right in calling out his tone deaf attitude.

Menlo’s internal issues go quite a way back, when Ron Prickett was able to get away with a lot of racist stunts both internally and externally. He’s the one who put white supremacist images/screensavers on the cop computers. He’s the reason black officers left the department and sued. He’s one of the reasons why white officers who didn’t like how Prickett skewed things internally and on the streets were so dissatisfied with their jobs, which resulted in decreased morale.

Menlo officers have been known to be unnecessarily mean to low income and POC.
The decent officers who were part of the old Belle Haven substation were able to make inroads with the community. But that good will was often damaged by cops like Prickett and others using unnecessarily harsh tactics.

Some of these dynamics changed with retirements and influxes of new officers and changing chiefs. But were the overall dynamics ever actually confronted and effectively dealt with by the city council and city manager? No. Herein lies the real problem: A clueless populace electing clueless council members and hiring clueless city managers. Clueless because the majority don’t want to know what being policed is like for lower income and non-white residents of Menlo and neighboring cities. But ultimately there’s no excuse because Belle Haven has FINALLY demanded a seat at table. Had Menlo PD’s day of reckoning finally arrived? That remains to be seen.


25 people like this
Posted by Dahlia Smith
a resident of another community
on Jun 20, 2020 at 10:24 pm

This is insane! If she was so concerned it should have been handled back then and not brought up again now. He was a great cop, great chief and I for one am proud that he didn’t let the establishment push him around. So tired of hearing how black/brown communities have “coo” issues. When you are stopped 1. Do fight 2. Don’t run 3. Don’t be stupid... duh


7 people like this
Posted by CA-expat
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 21, 2020 at 2:00 am

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


38 people like this
Posted by It is getting old
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jun 21, 2020 at 12:44 pm

Outrage! Outrage!
Tear it all down!
Wake up offended so you can claim to be "Woke"
Burn books!
Re-name Stanford because Leland used Chinese labor!

At what point does this spasm jump the shark?


4 people like this
Posted by Lidia
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 21, 2020 at 9:05 pm

Too bad this is FAKE NEWS! Get your facts straight from the narcotics task force before reporting bad information to a creditable source. People like you is what the media looks for, you fuel the media and spread fake news.


10 people like this
Posted by Lidia
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 21, 2020 at 9:11 pm

Almanac you should be ashamed that a simple google search would show you the facts associated with this felon.


28 people like this
Posted by DC McGlynn
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 21, 2020 at 9:19 pm

Don't you all know that 'Shrimp Boy' was a nickname given this convicted felon by his very own grandmother when he was a small boy? (due to his limited stature .. should we complain about her too -- Jesus wept !) He has been known by this nickname his entire life.

I side with Chief Bertini on this one. Sorry to see him 'retire', like so many others (Atherton PD and Palo Alto PD) he will soon resurface in a cushy new role double-dipping on incomes. This is what the good citizens of California want I guess.

Overall Bertini is however an entitled spoiled brat and we saw his true colors how he threw his toys of his pram on June 19, 2020. Time for the Chief to go and for new fresh leadership in Menlo Park.

If you knew what this retired police leaders are paid (I did not say earn) per year you would be shocked -- not bad odds for 1 death in 60 years. RIP Officer Lyle.

PS. The Police Log for Atherton, Menlo Park and often Palo Alto is laughable. And these are the 'big incidents' in town .. Time to compress police resources for our 700,000 peninsula residents. Alas will never happen, look how the Union protected the Naked Cop ! Disgusting -- Lost a lot of respected there (and also the thankfully long gone racist Sgt. Ron Prickett -- good riddance, again took way too much time to remove him)


11 people like this
Posted by Come from the place of your heart.
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jun 22, 2020 at 12:26 pm

This is a time where we are all being invited to consider the language we use, as well as the ideas we carry (with our without knowing we do). To debate the racism in the chief's terminology is to miss the point here. He was asked to change his language going forward and told this was because his language was racially insensitive. He was advised that this phrase had no place in a training program. He was given several opportunities to hear this good advice, to even go out into the wider community and explore it to see if the advice was true. He refused every time.
That is the point.
We can't grow if we refuse to consider perspectives outside our own, perspectives that may hold more experience or wisdom than our own. If someone asks you to change your language because it's racist or offensive, why would you not? Why would you not?
Why do we instead tell people who ask us to be more polite to them (or more polite to other people) that they are sensitive?
Why do we put the blame on them? The words that come out of our mouths are our responsibility. We will make mistakes. That's unavoidable. The point is to own our mistakes and then to use that learning to grow.
To defend a public leader of the peace when he refused to learn and grow (in a way that would better serve all his constituents) is something that might give us pause. Imagine instead if he'd said, "You know, I hadn't thought of that, but I can certainly change that phrase. I didn't mean to hurt anyone and I'm sorry if I did." Imagine. How hard is that? How much bigger a person he would have been to model that kind of community-based listening.


3 people like this
Posted by Beth
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 22, 2020 at 12:45 pm

Sorry, but when I look down at a meal from a Chinese restaurant, I wouldn't think of "shrimp!" Maybe chow mien? Maybe fortune cookie? More likely, yummy.

I'd think of shrimp or other fish if remarking about Cooks Seafood, etc. or another seafood establishment.

I'm not saying the chief is racist, but he's not cautious/sensitive with a hot-button issue, such as this. For a chief, that's essential.


24 people like this
Posted by West Menlo
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jun 22, 2020 at 1:02 pm

What if I said that I was hurt and offended if someone accused me of "white privilege?" (one could argue that the phrase is racist). If I said to them that they should step back and think of how that phrase could be hurtful do you think they would come back with "You know, I hadn't thought of that, but I can certainly change that phrase. I didn't mean to hurt anyone and I'm sorry if I did."

Yeah---doubt it. So, I don't believe we are talking about hurtful phrases here, just PC ones, just "woke" ones, just liberal feel-good ones.


Like this comment
Posted by bradstreet22
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 22, 2020 at 1:23 pm

Giant shrimp?


30 people like this
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jun 22, 2020 at 1:29 pm

The complaint is absurd, and Karen Grove should be ashamed of herself.


9 people like this
Posted by isaidso
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 22, 2020 at 1:33 pm

racism!!! are there any statues left to tumble?


14 people like this
Posted by Food Names
a resident of another community
on Jun 22, 2020 at 1:43 pm

Shrimp is a food often found on Chinese menus. Bertini sounds like a brand of pasta. Someone called "Chip" sounds like a potato snack. Baker, Fisher, Farmer, are all common names and sound like jobs.

Perhaps it was not a good idea to mention the connection, but it is hardly a racial slur like any of the above names mentioned.

We are turning into a society where we have to be afraid to say anything out of line, where making a comment can lose someone their job, where common sense has gone out of the window.

What a dull place this is going to be when everyone is so PC there is a fear we might be taken to task on an offhand comment, where saying the wrong thing can end a promising career, and where people are offended so easily that they can't grow a thick skin. I see more grown up behavior in a kindergarten playground. Perhaps I should not be saying that, a kindergartener may take offense.


26 people like this
Posted by sassyone
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 22, 2020 at 1:51 pm

Please stop this insanity of uber political correctness. As a prior member of the SDS at UofM in the 60's, a staunch anti-VietNam protestor and as liberal as you can get, this destruction of a decent and caring cop/individual is beyond my ability to comprehend. There are so many important and critical issues to correct and tearing things and individuals down for insignificant offenses (Don't hit me with the BS that this was a significant indication of the type of person he is) does not resolve anything other than to polarize our ability to fix things. What in the world did you hope to accomplish by accusing this Chief? Is this going to make things better or worse for us in this community. Is your background so pure that you never made a questionable comment in your life? Give us all a break.....please!!!!


33 people like this
Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 22, 2020 at 1:56 pm

Mark this date because the moment that political correctness officially jumped the shark.

"Shrimp boy" is this man's NICKNAME. He used it. His friends used it. Everyone used it.

When this story was major news, "Shrimp boy" was used in EVERY news story. Print. Radio. Television. Everyone referred to him as "Shrimp boy."

It's HIS NAME.

You've all gone nuts....


9 people like this
Posted by Belle Haven Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jun 22, 2020 at 2:30 pm

It was a tactless thing to say but small compared to the serious problems that the MPPD has had as regards Menlo Park's residents and visitors of color. I would prefer to see all parties paying more attention to systematic racist practices, and what can be done to change them.


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 22, 2020 at 3:00 pm

" I would prefer to see all parties paying more attention to systematic racist practices, and what can be done to change them."

Well said. Amen.


7 people like this
Posted by Virginia
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jun 22, 2020 at 3:01 pm

Sounds like we need a new housing commissioner...and a consolidation of police departments. While we are at it, how about consolidations of town managements and small school districts. We are 20 years into a new century, but it looks just like the previous ones, except for the expressed, delicate feelings that try to control everything.


16 people like this
Posted by Bay Area Resident
a resident of another community
on Jun 22, 2020 at 3:22 pm

Great Job Karen for coming to the defense of Raymond Chow (cant call him Shrimp Boy even though thats what he prides himself as) no need for a lawyer when we got someone defending him from "racial slur" ! For the win in making a seasoned, veteran Police Officer second guess his better judgment ! Man to think we relied on only his multiple years of service or commitment to protecting Menlo Park. Whew ! You saved the people from him Karen !

Raymond Chow who methodically used his own people, all ages, to peddle drugs, illegal activites, at the risk and lives of other people - he still influences many gangs today and still finds a way to win a Council Member's sympathy ? This is about him. The only time this issue came up is now, great timing btw to go public, and only when he was referred to in a training. I maybe one of the few in this sea of overly sensitive crowd but let me tell you - i bet you cant even name any of Raymond's victims. A lot of them were chinese as well. And i highly doubt that the chinese dont need your help in preserving their culture and youth - putting people away like Raymond, already helps make their community safer - thanks to the police.

Btw, Karen - you're name a meme now. Type your name in and the word racist and lets see how many looks you get when you tell people your name.
Web Link

Its pretty ugly to be accused of racism when you arent actually racist.


5 people like this
Posted by Bay Area Resident
a resident of another community
on Jun 22, 2020 at 3:35 pm

I want to add - before we go wagging at our officers in a very safe homes (thanks to them) ask yourself this : can YOU do a better job? And im not talking about that you know someone, or youve seen a feel good movie about cops, or that you understand the lifestyle of being in the hood or even behind bars.

CAN YOU (YES,YOU!) DO THEIR JOB BETTER ? can you wake up every morning wondering if it is going to be your last ? Can you handle watching the stress it puts on your family - leading to divorces or tension because the job just puts everyone on edge ? Can you handle the training, the drilling, the re-training, the re-drilling ? The physical, mental, and spiritual toll it puts on your body ?

If you said Yes to any of these questions - then stop complaining and join the force and make a difference. Oh btw, this time, you will not be able to use your california issued legal firearm as protection. Good luck !


3 people like this
Posted by My takeaway
a resident of another community
on Jun 22, 2020 at 3:47 pm

"CAN YOU (YES,YOU!) DO THEIR JOB BETTER ? If you said Yes to any of these questions - then stop complaining and join the force and make a difference."

What if the answer is "no". Do I still have a right to question or complain? Or, if the answer is "yes", but I don't want to, do I still have that right?

"Its pretty ugly to be accused of racism when you arent actually racist."

I agree. But I don't think he was accused of racism. He was accused of making an insensitive statement. There's quite a difference. It didn't need to come to this.


4 people like this
Posted by M&M
a resident of another community
on Jun 22, 2020 at 3:59 pm

Here are some local articles from the past 15 years or so involving issues with Menlo police:

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link



2 people like this
Posted by Bay Area Resident
a resident of another community
on Jun 22, 2020 at 4:19 pm

What if the answer is "no". Do I still have a right to question or complain? Or, if the answer is "yes", but I don't want to, do I still have that right?

If your answer is no, then as your actual right - file a complaint and a legitamite lawsuit, when a solid crime is committed - they will meet severe consequences. If your answer is 'yes,' then it is your right to become involved in organizing a meet and greet with cops and the chief to express your concerns.

Though Karen Grove didnt outwardly call him racist. Youre right. If someone said what I just said now was stupid, my knee jerk reaction would be "this person called me stupid." If someone said my comment was rude, my reaction would "Im not being rude!" Lets take this up a notch and say "hey, what you said was racist." How do you think I would feel if someone said that to me.


2 people like this
Posted by Iris
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 23, 2020 at 9:34 am

This particular situation has gotten out of hand. The Chief could have either used a different example of a felon or pointed out in the training that "Shrimp Boy" was Chow's own chosen nickname, not a racial slur. And Grove could have positioned her complaint quite differently after doing nominal research that would have discovered the nickname wasn't a racial slur.
Chill, folks. Let's focus on more important aspects of how our current system unfairly perpetuates disadvantages.


1 person likes this
Posted by Thoughtful
a resident of another community
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:58 am

>> file a complaint and a legitamite lawsuit, when a solid crime is committed - they will meet severe consequences.

No, they won't. That's the problem.


2 people like this
Posted by Dagwood
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 23, 2020 at 5:49 pm

City manager and council need to explain this fiasco to residents. They’ve lost my trust that they can distinguish petty posturing from a significant civic concern. Expect a Shrimp Boy litmus test for the upcoming election.


2 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of another community
on Jun 23, 2020 at 7:39 pm

I’ve known Karen Grove for 45 years; She was voted most likely to succeed in the Gunn high school class of ‘82 in Palo Alto. My guess is that as her children are becoming more independent she has more time for community work and I’ve noticed her name pop up here and there in local politics.
Kudos to Karen for leaning in on local self governance.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 24, 2020 at 9:51 am

The Chief is going to retire.

He has served us well for over a decade.

Let this rest - it has no bearing on the future.


Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2020 at 10:03 am

@Peter—
I beg to differ. Although the story took place six months ago it is current and vital. It’s an interesting prologue locally to Black Lives Matter.
I suggest a follow up about Karen Grove and her timely emergence as a leader.


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 24, 2020 at 11:23 am

" it is current and vital."

What is vital about this - he is leaving.

What more do you want - public flogging?


1 person likes this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2020 at 11:54 am

@PC
I live 500 yards on the wrong side of the creek to be relevant here but what about defunding the police entirely and letting the good people of Menlo Park self govern self police and publish their own newspaper and maybe we will follow suit here south of the gap; We are named for a tree you can be led by a Grove.


8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 24, 2020 at 11:58 am

"what about defunding the police entirely and letting the good people of Menlo Park self govern self police and publish their own newspaper "

That, like most simplistic "solutions", would be a recipe for disaster.


4 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 24, 2020 at 2:23 pm

That's a great idea Mark! In unicorn land.


Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of another community
on Jun 25, 2020 at 7:41 am

@Menlo voter:

We say: We the People of the United States, in Order to form A MORE PERFECT UNION, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. (emphasis ADDED);

You say: "in Unicorn land"

or: "union" vs "unicorn"


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 25, 2020 at 7:57 am

And said Constitution established a tripartite body of the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary to implement that more perfect Union - not a country run by anarchy.


4 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 25, 2020 at 8:20 am

Mark:

you really think all the bad people are simply going to disappear when you form this "union"? Not going to happen. What then? Self police? How? What happens when one of those bad people sticks a gun in your face? You going to "more perfect union" him into custody? Like I said, unicorn land.


Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of another community
on Jun 25, 2020 at 11:08 am

Not to dominate the rap, Jack, But I will sign off with my first point: we loosely speaking are better off with Karen Grove leaning in and Bertini thank you for your service bowing out.


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