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Original post made
on Oct 30, 2007
"NOT in my neighborhood.." We all like to think that. Halloween is upon us and I urge everyone that has sight to take notice in their neighborhoods and report any suspicious activity, even if it turns out to be "nothing".
It seems this town lately is being stalked with weirdos taking advantage of the innocents who are casually walking our streets, riding their bikes.
This is no longer just a police job, it now should include ALL of us, as a community, to rally against crime that one day could include our very selves if we don't..........
When there is so much traffic at 3:00pm - how is it that nobody saw this girl being hit and dragged into a car ??? Thank God she got away.
Is this community ready to address the need for SAFE transportation for our kids to get to and from school yet ?
Time for the School District to step up and accept it's responsibility of providing school buses for all High School students living further than 1 mile for school, even if the parents have to contribute funds for the service.
Don't over-react. This is a very rare occurrence. The PAPD did NOT tell people to drive their kids to school or to lobby for school buses. Walking in groups is enough to deter attackers. Bicyclists are much safer because they move faster and because the bike gets in the way of the abductor. Biking in small groups is still advised. We don't need to sacrifice our children's health, freedom and independence, not to mention our air quality,to beat this problem. We just need to make sure that reason and logic can prevail over emotion.
My first concern would be for the kids' safety, not air quality. Considering all that we've seen in the news lately, I think parents have good cause to be VERY concerned. I don't consider it to be
Realistic - It is NOT an over-reaction to know bicycling is NOT SAFE on Arastradero with such lousy bike lanes. It is NOT SAFE in heavy rain. And if your so worried about pollution count the cars on that road now, and watch how much it grows after the bus line stops in a few months. YOU should get real. We need shuttles/buses dedicated to our students - not our shoppers. We need POLICE on bicycles or dirt bikes on that cooridor. AND WE NEED PEOPLE TO GET THIER HEAD OUT OF THE SAND !!! Do you have daughters ?
Realistic, you are in denial, as are so many Palo Alto residents. If you read the weekly police report, you will see there are many crimes against innocent citizens going on all the time, especially downtown. Palo Alto is not the safe paradise everyone thinks it is. We must teach our children to take precautions as they would in a big city.
My deepest, heartfelt hope is that the innocent victim of this crime can find a way to heal, and turn this terrible, violent act into a pro-active, and newly acquired zest for LIFE!
I think at this time the PAUSD and Palo Alto community needs to completely support this victim and her family above all else. With positive words and constructive ideas, we will all prevail over the "fear fenzy" this violent, sick man has created.
She was a VICTIM and was doing exactly what a 17 year old girl at Gunn High School should be doing at 3pm - going home from school, walking in her neighborhood.
My full support goes with HER!
We shouldn't create a "fear" environment, but rather a pro-active and positive environment.
Crime happens everywhere, no matter what the zip code. In some of our own community's homes there is domestic crime that no one knows about. In every community everywhere there is, will be and always has been crime. We should focus on what we can do - I see our obligation as a community to support this victim and continually repeat that she is a victim, a victim - it is not the school's fault, the lack of buses fault, the police's presence before the crime fault, the _______(fill in the blank)_________ fault. We want to "blame" something or someone, but the truth is that crime happens in even the best neighborhoods and it will continue to happen even when we are dead and gone and our kids are raising their kids.
Empowerment is the best defense against crime; living our lives to the fullest is the best offense.
All we can DO is support this girl and talk to our kids in a rational way and NOT LET THIS ONE MEAN, VIOLENT GUY make us all stay inside, or become paranoid. That would be a victory for all the criminals! We need to live and get out and celebrate this wonderful neighborhood in a SAFE WAY - not point fingers and "blame" and stay shut in or make our kids afraid of every person they meet on the street!
Just my opinion ...
-signed, "just somebody's mom", a mother of 3 daughters and 1 son.
I echo your sentiments exactly.
Parent of Palo Verde, JLS and Paly students.
We all need to keep our eyes open -- someone must have seen something that time of day. It's up to us to work together to look out for each other, and if you see something suspicious or that just doesn't look right, speak up!
I have the non-911 phone number for the Palo Alto police programmed into my cell phone. I have called this number in the past, whenever I have seen something "out of the ordinary", and they receive these calls with gratitude.
Everyone should program this number into their cell phone, so no matter where you are in your day, you can quickly report something "unusual"...you could help avoid a tragedy!
Here is the number for you:
Palo Alto Police
as a gunn student this is very real and suggesting an overreaction is ridiculous. we need to protect my fellow students.
I have two school age daughters, and they'll continue to walk or bike to school. If others choose to drive, they can. The idea of bussing over a 1 mile - where does that come from? In NYC (and every other major urban area), thousands of kid ride the city busses and subway to and from school everyday.
It seems to me that reasonable precautions are fine for this kind of very unusual occurrence. It can happen to anyone at anytime. I would prefer my kids learn how to keep themselves safe vs. provide a protective bubble.
My best wishes to the girl and her family for a speedy recovery.
"Crime happens everywhere, no matter what the zip code."
Sure, but it doesn't happen at the same rate. It's pretty clear that Palo Alto's crime rate is far worse than most places with the same demographics.
My thoughts and prayers are with the victim and her family.
I think the Palo Alto School Board and the City Council should hold open meetings and then review the transportation and safely plans for our children. This crime happened in broad day light on a busy street. The girl was attacked from behind, there was nothing she could have done, but what can WE do to make sure our children are safer in the future.
Keeping our children in the house, or driving them to and from school every single day is not the answer. Shuttle transportation is becoming more limited. Traffic is a nightmare. We really have to take stock of the whole situation, revise our current plans and processes and stick to the course of action!
This seems pretty scary to me in that it happened in broad daylight when it was totally reasonable for the 17 year old girl to be walking down the street from school. I used to walk home from Gunn (many years ago) and the thought of being attacked this way never crossed my mind.
This means we need to teach our daughters to be quite vigilant. I am concerned about teens who walk/jog while listening to their iPods. Many students carry heavy backpacks. Please, as a community let's slow down while driving and keep an eye on our surroundings, all the students about, so we can let criminals know they are likely to be observed. I hope this may help protect all the students out there in public.
I think Ann's comments are right on. Without exception, the support of the community should be directed at the student and her family. As a child, she has just had her life challenged by this act of violence against her. Their choices were choices any of us would have made and our first thoughts should be for them.
As a parent of a daughter at Gunn who sometimes walks home from Gunn and will be impacted by the bus route changes, I will say that the community, the school district and the city need to put our heads together for a better solution. Its not always possible given weather, student schedules etc. to walk with a buddy.
In a growing urban area, pockets like Palo Alto are magnets for opportunists of all stripes. A strong public response that increases vigilance and makes a statement about the willingness of this community to confront these opportunists is a requirement not an option. Actions that serve to minimize risks while making safety measures a routine part of life are mandatory.
To the posters who argue there is no problem, I would simply ask them to look at the suspicious activity alerts and the attempted abduction notices over the last 3 years that led to this event. Every city has its own challenges and its difficult to compare them. Every household can make its own choices, I know that we err on the side of caution given the serious impact of such events on young lives.
Even though we live in Palo Alto, when driving kids home after events or in the evening, we have a simple practice of walking the child to their door and seeing them in instead of dropping them at the driveway. There is no sense of fear, simply an elementary precaution, an act of courtesy and community that has negligible cost and great benefits. We put our lives at risk in dozens of way everyday, if we can minimize a few risks without undue fear, I would support that everyday.
JFP wrote: It's pretty clear that Palo Alto's crime rate is far worse than most places with the same demographics.
This wasn't "pretty clear" to me. I figured we were about normal. I'm not arguing one way or the other, I don't know. I'd just like to see some statistics or documentation which supports JFP's statement. If it is true, then something should be done about it. If it isn't true, then stirring up unreasonable fear with misinformation does no service to the community.
It is a horrible shame that our daughters have to act like "prey" and be aware all the time, including not having earphones on and looking around all the time..even on a busy street in the middle of the afternoon.
Happened to me, being dragged in.. 30 years ago on California street, but I was lucky and could roll out...at 4 pm, traffic everywhere.
Went and got my tear gas training, and I have not been threatened since.
Some things never change...teach your children, especially your daughters, that there are predators and they need to no be afraid, just aware and ready. And have tear gas ready...
Any info on the car? Or a sketch?
Any info on a way to contribute to the reward fund? Or whether the family needs a help fund to assist the girl in recovery or medical. If so, where to contribute?
Rather than debate whether our children are safe, (or actually how unsafe they are), I'd really just rather know what can be done to get this scum bag, and help the girl.
This is not in the report, but if she was attacked from behind I wonder if she heard, sensed or noticed him before she was taken down?
I'm a daily walker. I use only 1 of the earbuds so I can hear what's going on with my surroundings. It's a safety measure.
I see people out and about listening to music on their i-pods unaware of their surroundings. I am just wondering what this student could have done to better defend to herself from her attacker. Could this have been avoided? Also, I wonder if the student had a cell phone with her. I would think if she did she could have possible found a way to use it & get help.
Just soem random thoughts....
Keep vigilant and safe.
I looked up 500 Arastradero and that is the block just off El Camino, right by Terman. It is unfathomable that no one noticed. My heart goes out to that poor girl. We can ask our kids to look out but we all need to look out for them too.
This is very scary, I have a son at Gunn and a college daughter who graduated from Gunn. When she is home she likes to jog, frequently at dusk, and this is what I warn her about, but never thought would really happen on Arastradero in the middle of the day!! I work on Arastradero, and don't hesitate to go for a walk, I pray for this poor victim and hope they catch and torture the guy....well ok, severely punish then. Regarding biking, my 15 yr. old son bikes most everyday, at least twice a day, to school or other, along Charleston/Arastradero, and it is not safe. He may not get raped and abducted, but he has almost been run over on very multiple occasions, usually at the intersection of Middlefield and Charleston, the right hand turners that don't look for bikers. He is a tall, visable, very bike savvy rider, so I would be very worried about smaller, rookie riders. Keep your eyes open, boys, girls, bikers, walkers, its not safe out there, so sad.
After the Castilleja incident, I called the Rec Dept, the YMCA and PAMF to find out about self-defense classes for teens. The only resource I found was Bay Area Impact, which is in the East Bay. Fortunately, they are holding a class at Cubberley Dec 1-2 for 12-16 year olds. The first class is almost full, but if enough kids sign up, they will open another class.
510.208.0474 / www.impactbayarea.org
The police are out in force today on Arastradero and said they would be handing out flyers to parents at Terman and Gunn dismissal times to see if anyone saw anything. Unfortunately Wed has a different dismissal time from Tues, as PAUSD parents know. But someone had to see something. They are confident they will catch this man - let's hope so and quickly. I too think this abduction in broad daylight on a busy thoroughfare just a half-block from the fire station was boldly brazen.
The police said they will have an extra presence out tonight for Halloween. A parent on the Terman parent network suggested handing out candy near the street rather than at one's doorway, especially in dark Barron Park, as a way to keep an eye on the trick-or-treating scene tonight, without scaring the kids. After all, until caught, we don't know where this person lives.
What a horrible story. This is every parent's niightmare, and I'm sure a nightmare for the teens at Gunn too. I would like to echo the iPod comment above. In no way am I speculating that this had anything at all to do with this incident, but at times like these we all need to remind ourselves to take care - when you are walking and listening to music, your situational awareness is no where near where it needs to be to have any chance of escaping someone who intends to do you harm.
It seems like perpetrators of crimes like these do repeat, so until he is caught, everyone should be on the lookout. My prayers go out to the student and her family that she can quickly heal physically and spiritually. I think this entire community probably feels the same.
If you want to compare crime stats with a specific town, you can go to Web Link. However, the latest data there is from 2004. I'm basing my statement on my experience. I lived in similar towns on the East Coast, and I can't remember there ever being a mugging or armed robbery. Never mind, the continual burglaries and car break-ins. The amount of crime that is accepted as "normal" in Palo Alto seems crazy to me.
I think that the police should be everywhere besides piling around the apartment where she lives.
I would think that the suspect wouldnt come by if he knew there was so much police in one area.
I dont think any suspect would be so stupid to go do crimes again around the same area where it's patrolled.
I think they should spread out more!
Realistic: Our Head of School came to talk to us today about what happened, and the number 1 thing that she said to think about was the traveling in a group does NOT make you safer. She also said to make sure to have a parent with you when you are trick-or-treating, and that we should all be very aware of who is around us.
Let's celebrate that this strong, brave young lady is ALIVE!!
SHE is the victim of the anger of this mean, damaged guy, but SHE IS ALIVE!!!!!!!!! She got out of that car - WOW!!!
Her strength makes my world a better place!
Honestly, I think that scum bag must be on drug or something.
Who would be so bold to commit such a horrible crime in broad daylight on a busy street if he was in his right state of mind? I wonder if the
drug problem has worsened recently in Palo Alto or neighboring cities.
'terrorists'' arent the enemy of the united states. it's the american PUBLIC which is the ''enemy'' to thoses thieves in power!
Everybody is an expert.
That poor, poor girl. The abductions are getting bolder. Like that man in San Jose who simply plowed his car into two little girls and snatched one.
I hope they catch the awful man who did this. I wish they had the death penalty for the dregs of society such as he.
Our family hope the young woman makes a full recovery and that her family does as well.
Watch out for one another and keep close.
What is that link?
It is a column I wrote with my friend (in light of the castelleja incident) While it was written out of humor, it does offer steps to prevent such a tragic situation from befalling anyone else.
May the victim live for a hundred years (and remain in our thoughts and prayers) and may the perpetrator of such evils be brought to justice!
KidPower also offers self-defense classes for kids. Also for teens, called TeenPower. My daughter took the one offered at El Carmelo in the summer. Their next class in Los Altos is full, but they also say they'll open a class for enough peeople.
Caught?? Does anyone know what trama this poor girl is going to have to go through in court now? Once she recovers from the physical scars, she will then have to go through the mental scaring of testifing in open court against the slob.
Unfortunately, rape victims are drug again into the abyss..reliving the horror ONE more time. What a horrible, horrible thing to have happen to anyone, let alone a young girl such as this one.
I also fear wispering the word "AIDS" in reference to this crime. Another reality, of which I pray for a clean physical bill of health for this young girl.
I don't know the punishment time that the courts are allowed to give to such a perpetrator, but I hope they seal the door shut.
[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
On the subject of self-defense training for teens (or anyone).
If you want to do it then seek out a Krav Maga (Hebrew for "Close Combat") instructor. KM training is especially appropriate because it prepares you for the actual encounter. KM instructors generally counsel strongly recommend that you resist to avoid kidnapping. That means going to the limit and using lethal force against your attacker. This young lady is very lucky as the outcome could have been far worse. On the other hand, let's be realistic. A small light person is no match for a larger heavier person-- even with good training. What you need is a weapon and that means a gun. It's too bad that California doesn't have "must issue" laws like 44 other states. A person with the appropriate weapons training and the will to use his weapon stands a much better chance of surviving an attack.
Z, [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] And really, to start the whole conversation about how every student should be packing a gun? As if she'd have had time to pull it out while being beatn submissive from behind. Possibly with a gun barrel. Can we please focus on how to improve the safety situation and finding the witnesses who must have seen something?
Humans are funny - they see everything as isolated to their individual selves or communities.
Advocating for guns and blaming a neighboring community of other human beings who are just trying to make a good life for themselves too is sooo historically and typically HUMAN. We really can be better than that, if we want to.
I dream of a time when we can all evolve to the next level - a peaceful animal, using our brains to solve problems, and turning problems into learning and growing opportunities. Using our hands to help each other, not hurt each other.
Violence begets violence -
I find it unbelievable that a young girl walks down one of the busiest traffic corridors in Palo Alto, in broad daylight and at a time when traffic must have been fairly heavy, and not one person seems to have notices. BTW, the most absurd suggestions in th aftermath to this tragedy is that student should pack guns. Columbine, Virginia Tech and many other horrific tragedies are usually the outcome of such crazy suggestions. We need less guns in our ultra-violent society, not more.
[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
I want to offer a suggestion to make our kids safer. The schools should think about teaching self-defence as a part of the PE curriculum.
Install cameras at all major intersections to record images of traffic.
My heartfelt sympathies go out to the young woman and her family. She did absolutely nothing to deserve this vicious attack.
I urge her family or friends of the family to set up a fund to help pay for immediate medical expenses and future therapy for the victim. Please ask the Weekly and Daily to publish the information so we can donate.
That the Palo Alto online staff should remove a post that merely points out a possible explanation for why a city with Palo Alto's demographics suffers from excessive crime demonstrates the problem: denial. You can remove the post, but you can't change reality and everyone knows it.
"And really, to start the whole conversation about how every student should be packing a gun? As if she'd have had time to pull it out while being beatn submissive from behind. Possibly with a gun barrel."
What makes you think the attacker was unarmed? Moreover I never said that having a weapon would have helped in this particular case I was speaking in general. Herein lies the problem; the predators have little fear of retribution. They face a community so politically correct they can't defend themselves.
"I dream of a time when we can all evolve to the next level - a peaceful animal, using our brains to solve problems, and turning problems into learning and growing opportunities. Using our hands to help each other, not hurt each other."
Humans continue to evolve genetically towards a less violent phenotype because of civilization pressures. Pre-state societies (tribe, bands and chiefdoms) were far more violent than contemporary nation states. While nation states sometimes have horrendous wars, they occur infrequently. In contrast pre state societies existed in an almost constant state of warfare both between and within groups. We have made progress.
"Violence begets violence"
It can, but it can also deter. Unfortunately we have to be prepared to defend ourselves. No amount of happy talk is going to change reality.
Violence that does not beget violence begets enslavement. Take your pick, fight or surrender. Tell us how the victim of this assault could have reasoned with her attacker.
What a brave girl! I can't imagine what else she can't manage in her life.
I think Palo Alto police should have a wake-up call when residents in this area start to talk about carrying gun for self-protection. I agree, crime happens everywhere, no matter what the zip code, but not as frequent as in PA. Hopefully, this will not JUST become another excuse for raising tax.
Why don't we see more police in the neighborhoods-walking, biking or driving a beat? I don't remember the last time I saw a cop. It is time that the police department changed its priorities from responding to complaints about leaf blowers and small annoyances to actual citizen safety.
Apathy/Lack of Awareness of onlookers is well known and well documented. We are all in our little bubble with our radios or cell phones( I know I am) and looking at the road...we may notice something "odd", then decide we are just imagining things and move on.
I am sure that is what was happening to me as I stood in the middle of California Street at 4 pm trying to keep my attackers from getting back to me, as they stood on the side of the street yelling at me and shaking a big bat in my direction...and nobody stopped and helped. I was lucky, I got away.
Report anything "odd"...
Take a self-defense that includes TEAR GAS..it is the only thing that works against a drug high.
"I think Palo Alto police should have a wake-up call when residents in this area start to talk about carrying gun for self-protection."
That's certainly true. But let's remember that the police cannot be everywhere all the time. The police have finite resources and a tough job. Moreover they are subject to extreme political pressure. If you can have a frank talk with a cop on the beat, listen to how his observations differ from what you hear from the Chief, and the Mayor. Another problemmany criminals don't fear the police. They also know that they can game the criminal justice system. What they do fear is armed resistance from their would-be victims. The UK has a completely unarmed population and suffers from a terrible home invasion problem. On the other hand, criminals in the US are much more reluctant to do a home invasion. They prefer an empty house because they know they risk getting shot if they break into an occupied home. Of course it's directly prove these assertions. How do you count events that don't happen because of deterrence? One way is to interview criminals and ask them what they fear. They say they fear immediate retribution.
*sigh* Good 'ole Palo Alto. You can't even let your kids out onto the street without pepper spray and a combat knife.
Sad world we live in.
I agree with Walter, put cameras at key intersections.
I am horrified by this act and my thoughts and prayers are with this girl that she can be able to recover from this awful brutality. It is this sicko who is roaming our streets that needs to be found and castrated as soon as possible. In terms of walking in groups and making sure you are with people, sometimes kids don't always have someone to buddy up with....or sometimes they have something to do and have to go their separate way....so the buddy system just doesn't work. We, not only, need to teach our children to protect themselves, (not that this girl could have defended a sneak attack), but also to be more aware of their surroundings at all times. Maybe there should be more security around the high schools or more restricted access to the school grounds. Maybe this would help protect our children better!
Again, I am so sorry for the girls loss of innocence and look forward to the day when this WHACK JOB is behind bars!!!
Amazing how the city can find $10k to name the downtown square after the Kings, but only afford $5k to find the suspect in a grotesquely brutal rape case.
Thanks to Behest, Kleinberg, Barton, Dreckenmeier, and Cordell for exposing their incredibly weak leadership, misguided sense of purpose, and thorough incompetence as civic leaders, with this astonishing non-response.
The old car dealership that is now empty on the corner of El Camino and Arastradero, near where this horrendous crime occurred, has concurrently sprouted some very prominent bold graffiti. That location has been empty for quite awhile and I haven't seen this kind of graffiti.
Didn't New York police find that when they cracked down hard on minor crimes like graffiti, that major ones declined, because the whole environment became less comfortable and familiar to criminals? There have been a number of serious assaults in that area in the last few years. (Including the assault on Suzanne, did they ever catch the guy?) The community and police need to stay on top of the seeming minor crimes, too.
I think they should punish the person as bad as they can.
I agree with JFP. After living in other Peninsula towns for years, with absolutely no crime problems of any sort, I have now, during one year in Palo Alto, experienced a theft from a vehicle, an attempted home break-in, numerous illegal (and scary) solicitors, and the fear caused by horrific incidents such as this.
Why can cities such as San Carlos and Belmont protect their residents, while Palo Alto remains so unsafe?
My heart goes out to this brave young lady and her loved ones. How courageous of her to have been able to escape despite the beating and trauma. The scum may well have intended to kill her.
I have never understood why criminals such as this are not put in jail forever. They clearly remain a danger to any community.
Having moved out of Palo Alto several years ago, I live now in a small New England community where people feel safe walking the streets, even after dark, as I use to in Palo Alto before I moved. Back then, it was just starting to become unsafe in Palo Alto. Yes, there had been such crimes and muggings, but they were unusual, not the norm. I never felt that when I was downtown after dark or walking in my neighborhood, that I was taking my life in my hands, as surely would b the case now.
Something really needs to be done.
Does anyone know if there is a fund to help her and her family pay for any medical bills?
In communities where gun ownership is mandatory crime decreases
The police cannot protect you, at best they can catch the culprit after
the fact. That may protect others but for you, the victim, that it is too late.
I agree with citizen above. The deserted dealership, along with deserted Alma Plaza, Edgewood Plaza, the midtown gas station, are all magnets for drug dealers and other wannabee criminals. We need to get these spots back to being flourishing retail areas to discourage those with criminal intent from hanging around.
The dealership in particular has plenty of nooks and crannies for illegal activities, it is no wonder that crime happens in that vicinity.
I recently drove by and saw the car dealership graffiti and I agree it looks scary - 'marking territory?' Can't the owner of the property be required to remove this ASAP?
Looks like an arrest has been made (thankfully!) and some facts will be released later today.
Are we supposed to be thankful and praiseworthy that the cops made an arrest? Or is this what we expect from police?
Joe from Barron Park,
I'm certain that police work, especially the kind that involves catching dangerous criminals, is not like being a software enginner or the like. We may have expectations, but also enough class to recognize and praise what I'm sure was some extraordinary work under extraordinary circumstances. T
Anyone doing their job well deserves a thank you. It costs nothing to give and is always well received.
And those working in the emergency services deserve very special thanks and recognition. Their task is one that most of us would be unwilling or incapable to accept. In additiion to having to deal with dangerous situations and people, they are also having to deal with the victims in these tragic cases. Indeed extraordinary in so many respects. I am proud of the men and women who serve our community on the police department.
As a female Gunn student I must say that this has made school life crazy. My deepest sympathies go out to the girl. I can't imagine going through such a horrible experience. Now, when I walk home from school I intend to be much more careful and aware of what is going on. However, I won't let this disgusting criminal make me scared to walk home everyday. I don't think everyone is overreacting, but overall I think we have a good community. And we shouldn't let this incident, as horrible and tragic as it may be, take away the student's freedom and independence. I understand precautions must be taken, but not to the extent where kids are scared to walk around town, or are suspicious of every stranger who passes. that's just my opinion.
Again, my sympathies go out to the victim and her family. I wish her the best in her recovery.
Fortunately, It was the Palo Alto Police, & NOT the San Jose Police that conducted the surveilance in San Jose, & arrested the suspect. The Palo Alto Police are well trained, highly skilled, top of the line professionals, while the San Jose Police are mostly a bunch of thugs, morons & idiots. (There are exceptions) The San Jose Police would probably have messed everything up. The best way the San Jose Police could assist the Palo Alto Police would be to not get involved, & simply stay out of the way.
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