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My Boss is Jerry Gruber

Original post made by Michael G. Stogner, another community, on Feb 6, 2010

Atherton Police Chief Mike Guerra

From a article in todays The Daily News: Resident urges police oversight committee

"Since 2005, the Atherton Police Department has received nine citizen complaints, most involving allegations of rudeness or a lack of congeniality, Guerra said Thursday. The department completed investigations of those complaints within 30 days, he said.

Guerra added that he doesn’t know much about Carpenter’s proposal but probably couldn’t comment on it anyway because the decision about whether to establish a committee lies with the council. “It’s policy, and the council makes policy,”
Guerra said." “My boss is Jerry Gruber.”

"rudeness or a lack of congeniality" Those were the only complaints?

I think its fair to say that Chief Guerra is not counting John Johns or Jon Buckheit (APD Officer committing a Felony) in the 9 citizen complaints mentioned above.

Web Link#

Comments (7)

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Posted by Candle lighter
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 6, 2010 at 9:32 am

Mike Guerra is being deceptive since he's just counting actual written, formal complaints that are submitted on the department's complaint form, not letters that raise issues or concerns, requests for investigations, etc.

A real issue for this community is that the Atherton police department is illegally trying to chill citizen complaints. The citizen's complaint form which is duplicated online at:

Web Link

has an illegal warning that has been struck down in repeated litigation over this issue in state and federal courts: "It is against the law to make a complaint that you know to be false. If you make a complaint against an officer knowing that it is false, you can be criminally prosecuted."

This litigation has gone through various cycles of appeal, and the current status of this law that police unions have fought for is that it is null and void because of the chilling effect it has on citizens' willingness to make complaints. The last court to rule on this made the specific ruling that the California legislature would need to remedy the law by making penalties apply to ANYONE in the complaint process who knowingly makes a false statement (e.g., the officer who is the subject of the complaint, or his/her colleagues enacting the "blue wall of silence"). Not surprisingly, the police unions have more or let the issue die since then, but Atherton is not obeying the law by having this warning in its citizen complaint forms.

The last court to rule on this:

Web Link

Therefore, Guerra's statements really have no probative value.

Almanac/Peter Carpenter, I urge you to contact Mike Guerra to ask him why this warning is still employed in Atherton police complaints after courts determined it is illegal in California. It needs to come off.

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Posted by Candle lighter
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 6, 2010 at 9:36 am

Direct quote from the 9th Circuit on this issue when they struck down the law that had enabled police departments to use this warning on citizen complaint forms:

"Only knowingly false speech critical of peace officer conduct is subject to prosecution under section 148.6. Knowingly false speech supportive of peace officer conduct is not similarly subject or prosecution. California has no such authority to license one side of a debate to fight freestyle, while requiring the other follow Marquis of Queensburry rules."

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Posted by Proud to be blue
a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Nine complaints in five years about rudeness made by
rich people who think police officers need to behave like their servants, and we need a police commission?? Don't these rich people [portion deleted - avoid personal attacks] have any better uses for their time than to try to go after the people who protect us?? Now "candle lighter" wants it to be okay to make false complaints against police officers. When will this end? I hope the council at Atherton can get some courage and support your police officers. There's 97% satisfaction!!!

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Posted by lamp post
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 6, 2010 at 1:40 pm

There is a precedent for a police commission.

In 2000 there was a crisis of confidence in the Town's ability to manage its finances. This was the genisis of the Audit Committee.

There is now a crisis of confidence in the Town's police force. What worked for the Town's finances can work for law enforcement.

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Posted by Black and blue
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 6, 2010 at 2:12 pm

The Audit committee lead by Sam Goodman and ex finance director John Johns were entirely decaffinated in 2007 and 2008- Precisely Because- they were finally focusing in the the police Dept. and the long list of issues that already were on the table even then.
I worry that even if we get a Police Commission, it will be as toothless as the Audit Committee turned out to be in examining anything.

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Posted by Candle lighter
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 6, 2010 at 3:42 pm

@Proud to be blue: No, I don't believe police officers should have false complaints made against them. I don't think the remedy is to make that a crime, intimidate someone with a legitimate complaint that they could be prosecuted if their complaint isn't sustained in the star chambers usually adjudicating them (in locales without a review commission), but offer no consequence to police officers who make false statements in defending the complaint (and thus subjecting the person making it to even greater chance of criminal prosecution). It has to cut both ways, and you know it (or maybe you don't, but the federal judge did).

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Posted by Can't stop laughing
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 7, 2010 at 1:25 am

Just nine complaints in five years? Let's face it: there has been more press about Atherton cops getting in trouble themselves over this period of time than articles about the criminals they are supposed to be catching in Atherton. Is this counted in the nine? Police chiefs being criminally prosecuted, officers illegally accessing databases and being criminally prosecuted/fired, dispatches in worker's comp fraud beng criminally prosecuted, officers stealing golf clubs and being criminally prosecuted, other officers taking furniture and being criminally investigated, the Pilar shakedown, the recent false arrest, police report goes on and on. Over the same period of time I've read about the wine theft mystery and Bothun, and that's it. I'm sure there are many other petty crimes that are investigated like minor thefts, noise violations, etc., and I'm sure properly, but the serious crime stuff seems to mostly be with the cops as the culprits.

Chief Guererra is in a state of denial. Either form the commission and make it work, or just close down the police department. This is ridiculous. Also, Guerrera should tell us how many of the nine complaints were actually upheld. In the San Jose Mercury News there have been articles over the past few months explaining that when zero percent (or close to it) of complaints are actually upheld, it's an indication that the police chief is not being honest about misdeeds of officers since there have to be more legitimate complaints than that. What is the statistic for Atherton? Almanac reporters, please check into this. Apparently they are obligated to report on the statistics of upheld complaints versus dismissed complaints as San Jose certainly did. That is a relevant piece of data for this discussion.

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

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