Around Town | March 18, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - March 18, 2011

Around Town

WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM OUR FRIENDS ... Palo Alto police raised a few eyebrows last October when they launched a manhunt to track down a phone thief in the south part of the city. The suspect had allegedly asked a resident if he could borrow a cell phone, and then ran off with the Android. It wasn't the theft that made heads turn but the police response. The manhunt for the phone snatcher involved officers from Palo Alto, Los Altos and Mountain View as well as a helicopter from the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office (the suspect, nevertheless, got away). Police told reporters at the time that the sheriff's office heard about the manhunt over the radio and offered to send in the helicopter. Now, it appears that the helicopter was actually requested by a Palo Alto police dispatcher, unbeknownst to any of the field supervisors. That's according to police auditor Michael Gennaco, who reviewed the incident after a resident complained that the show of force was excessive and possibly influenced by the fact that the suspect was black. Gennaco concluded that race didn't seem to play a factor in the response. He also noted in his report that the manhunt prompted the police department to revise its policy on requesting helicopters. From now on, officers and dispatchers are required to notify the watch commander and/or field supervisor before asking for air support.

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