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Woman mugged, robbed in downtown Palo Alto

Original post made on Feb 14, 2013

A woman was thrown to the ground and robbed of her purse in downtown Palo Alto Wednesday evening, Feb. 13, and the robber is still at large, police have announced.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, February 13, 2013, 10:48 PM

Comments (49)

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Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 14, 2013 at 7:06 am

The police department has dropped from about 175 staff in 2003 down to about 150 staff in 2013. At the same time Palo Alto has grown by about 10% in population.

The city council & city manager have been funding their pet projects at the expense of public safety - things like studies for bike lanes, compost factories, bike bridges (these studies are a minimum of $250,000 a piece), funding "assistant to the city manager" positions for sustainability, zero waste manager, ...

As voters, we've been mostly electing people from the same crowd, who are using the city budget to push their special interest causes, rather than using the city budget to take care of the city.

Real journalism would have an article about what happens when a police department loses 25 staff.


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Posted by Bummer Town
a resident of another community
on Feb 14, 2013 at 7:15 am

This and other reasons are why I refuse to bring my family anywhere near DT Palo Alto. It has nothing unique to offer except junkies in the parks and muggings. We considered buying a place in PA, but after some pretty easy comparisons of the pros/cons, it was easy to reach the decision to buy in a neighboring city.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 14, 2013 at 8:59 am

As a long time resident, I say that "Common Sense" above is right on. This council and the many previous ones and city maanger and staff have allowed this city to be led down the road to financial disaster. They can't say NO to any idea. Palo Alto is a fight waiting to happen and many on-going and to come. BUT does the council listen? NO. This energy and 'green' czar is and pensions. The percentage of seniors is rising - and for those working, I've got a message for you. Once your ordinary paycheck disappears and you have to rely on 'fixed income and Social Security', your life will change, you'll start paying attention to what is going on in City Hall. When is the media going to wake up? OUr Federal government is bankrupt and still it keeps on spending with feel-good ideas and government waste.


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Posted by lights lights lights
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 14, 2013 at 9:17 am

The extremely dim street lights around town make it much easier for robbers to hide in the shadows, even in the early evening like this case. Please turn up the street lights!


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 14, 2013 at 9:24 am

> Real journalism would have an article about what
> happens when a police department loses 25 staff.

Let's start with the fact that the PA Police Department has historically had about 75% of its staffing in civilians—which includes the dog catchers. While it is true that the number of "sworn officers" has been decreased over the past few years, the question about how many civilian support staff is actually needed has never been given much of a pubic airing. From comparing the "sworn officers" vs the civilian staffing in other local Cities, the Palo Alto Police Department has tended to hire more civilians than other Cities. So, what were these people doing, and how much "overstaffing" has been the reason for the high civilian head count?

Violent crime has always been low in Palo Alto (as well as the most of Santa Clara County). Property crime, on the other hand, has been somewhat higher. However, because Palo Alto is both a very small city, considering its area, and it's open on all sides, people committing crimes can be out of the PA.PD's jurisdiction within a couple of minutes—making the police's job much, much, harder than in larger towns.

The police have show a reluctance to embrace surveillance technologies, at least in public spaces—such as down town. Yet, they routinely use this technology when it is employed by private property owners. In today's Daily Post there is a story about a parolee who was caught buying merchandise at a Stanford Shopping Center store with a "questionable" credit card. Due to fast response by the PA.PD, who used the surveillance videos of one of the stores, the man was identified by police trying to leave the shopping center within a few minutes. Without the surveillance videos, the police would have been left with a clerk's verbal description to begin their search for this fellow. One has to wonder, why aren't we using surveillance cameras to at least help victims possibly identify their attackers from video surveillance that might have captured their image while they were walking around looking for a target to attack?

The suggestion that a larger department (particularly of civilian staff) would stop random attacks on the street does not play out, logically. On the other hand, hiring a few private sector security people to drive around, or walk around, downtown during the early evening hours does make sense.

We're spending about $30M a year for police services in this town. With salaries and benefits now at $200K-$300K per officer, one has to ask—isn't it time to rethink the service delivery model?


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Posted by some guy
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 14, 2013 at 9:53 am

Someone must have seen something, 7:40pm is prime time downtown, these criminal cowards are getting bolder by the minute.


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Posted by Phil
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 14, 2013 at 10:02 am

Good points all Common Sense, although the numbers you cite reflect the total police department personnel which would include civilian employees such as secretaries, support staff, etc. The loss of those positions could certainly impact the overall efficiency of the department. However, it does not provide an entirely accurate picture of what impact the budget cuts have made on the actual number of officers the department has to deploy, or the specialty positions that have been eliminated as a result.

In the last 20-25 years, the PAPD has gone from having over 100 working officers to a number that floats just over 80 today. Overall an approximate 15-20% reduction, a number even higher than you listed in your original post. Despite the reduction in the actual number of officers, the department has been able to maintain the same minimum staffing in their patrol division. Approximately 45-50 officers, including supervisors, are assigned to work uniform patrol. Minimum staffing requires that no less than one supervisor and five officers can be assigned to a shift. From what I learned in the Citizen's Academy, another fatality of budget cuts, often time the patrol division works at that minimum number between 1:00 AM and 7:00 AM. The overlap of patrol squads are designed to provide the most personnel during the peak times of calls for service. Due to budget cuts and the fewer officers that are currently staffed, the department is frequently running at minimum staffing on patrol.

With minimum staffing in patrol remaining the same, the budget cuts had to be made in other specialized areas. There are fewer detectives to conduct follow up work on cases, not to mention the elimination of other positions like the downtown bicycle patrol, crime analyst position, traffic/motorcycle team, street crime response team, drug/narcotics officers, and two of the police canine positions. Those officers have been assigned back to patrol, in large part filling the vacancy of those that have left the department entirely for other agencies, as well as injured officers and retirements.

The elimination of these positions have left the department with much less personnel than they operated with even a few years ago. Rather than the focus being on doing proactive work, the department has become more reactive in nature. The challenge has become to maintain sufficient personnel in order to meet minimum staffing requirements. Many of these positions that were eliminated were able to target serious crime trends like home burglaries and muggings in both a preventative and proactive manner. Those officers had the time and equipment to concentrate either high visibility or covert/surveillance operations to combat these criminals. The department also had more detectives to network with other agencies and share information that could lead to solving cases apprehensions.


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Posted by lights lights lights
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 14, 2013 at 10:08 am

@some guy - I think you're wrong about "Someone must have seen something". The street lights are so dim that at most you will see a vague shadow even from a few feet away.

Suspect vehicle is reported as a "black car", but with dim street lights, all cars look "black" from half a block away.

Turn up the lights! Those new LED lights don't use much electricity. Street lights do greatly improve street safety, reducing both robberies and car vs. pedestrian collisions.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2013 at 10:18 am

Crime is now a much bigger issue than it used to be in Palo Alto.

Some good points have been made in posts above. Dim lighting, less police officers, more feelings of having privacy invaded and a feeling that we do not know our own neighbors, all lead to making any opportune crime an easier deed here than somewhere where there is less of a daytime invasion of workers and where everyone knows everyone. We want the daytime workers, we want people to work in our high tech offices and cleaners, gardeners, delivery services, etc. The vast majority of these people are honest people doing what they are supposed to be doing, yet we can't tell them apart from those who have come here with criminal intent.

Yes, get security cameras, increased vigilence, brighter street lights, etc. But getting all the Police Departments in the county aligned so that there are less administrators and top dogs to save money, and more officers on the street would greatly help to deter the criminally minded and make us all a lot safer going about our daily lives, yes even into the darkness hours.


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 14, 2013 at 10:21 am

> With minimum staffing in patrol remaining the same,
> the budget cuts had to be made in other specialized areas

What budget cuts? The dollar amount applied to the police department has continued to grow, year after year. The fact is the money has been applied to salary/benefit increases (approximately 5% a year for the past ten years) that have not provided any increased productivity on the part of individual officers, or the department as a whole.

And the idea that the PA.PD needs as many civilians to support the "sworn officers" is difficult to swallow with a good review of the organizational structures, span-of-control for management, and the use of technology to reduce manual work.

The whole are of "information technology" implementation would be best vetted via a technology plan—which the PA.PD has failed to produce, even though such a plan is the basis for every organization's long term management strategy.

Looking backward is not going to get us anywhere—just like making excuses for a highly unionized workforce is not going to increase productivity to justify higher labor costs, either.

> turn up the lights

I agree. This would be a simple thing to do, and as you point out, LEDs don't cost much to operate. The choice of illumination is generally not made with police input, but maybe it's time to consider the impact on higher illumination as a deterrence to street crime.


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 14, 2013 at 10:42 am

> Crime is now a much bigger issue
> than it used to be in Palo Alto.

If you download the UCR data from the DoJ/FBI WEB-site, you'll see that there has been a more-or-less 30% reduction in most crimes over the past twenty years, here in Palo Alto (and most of Santa Clara County, too).

The PA.PD keeps only a five-year recap on its WEB-site of the so-called Part.I crimes. So, when there is a spike in street crime/burgarlies, most people don't have a simple place to go to see that crime has been going down, not up, in Palo Alto, over the years.

There are many reasons for this downturn, as it is reflected at a national level also.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2013 at 10:46 am

Wayne

I have no idea if crime has increased or not, but the point I made is that it is a bigger issue because we all talk about it, know about it, or are concerned about it more than we used to. It may be because of the instant news on the internet, but it is the concern that has increased rather than the amount of crime itself that I see.


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 14, 2013 at 11:00 am

> I have no idea if crime has increased or not,

And my response is that there is no reason in this day-and-age (Internet/WEB) that you should not be able to see the crime data for Palo Alto on the Police WEB-site.

> People are talking ..

To the extent that the WEB (such as the Weekly's WEB-site) allows people to talk about "crime", that point is valid. But why would you, or anyone, not want to talk about "crime" based on the real data that the PA.PD has been collecting for years?

Sadly, the PA.PD does not seem to have much interest in transparency. So, far too many people are talking about things that fundamentally are not true—or not based on readily verifiable facts. One of the "disruptive" aspects of the Internet/WEB is that information can now be easily collected, and disseminated, to the general population on any topic. The PA.PD just doesn't seem to "get it", though—and neither does the City Council.


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Posted by ChrisC
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 14, 2013 at 11:12 am

To Wayne, regarding "Real journalism would have an article about what

> happens when a police department loses 25 staff."

That would be an editorial piece. Although it might be news to report statistics, perhaps graphing decline and rise in police staffing to crime, making a judgement as to the cause and effect would be opinion.


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 14, 2013 at 11:21 am

> That would be an editorial piece. Although it might be news
> to report statistics, perhaps graphing decline and rise in
> police staffing to crime, making a judgement as to the
> cause and effect would be opinion.

Well, I'd hope that the police department would have been using its crime data as a basis for making staffing decisions. In the past, there have been some contractual agreements with the Police Union (if memory serves) to keep the number of "sworn officers" at some arbitrary ratio of officers to residents. While this might have been convenient to the Union, it didn't really provide much in the way of a "scientific management" approach to staffing the Department.

While coming up with some reasonably meaningful stats from our collected history would not be all that difficult, such a review would be more meaningful if it were performed on all of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. This implies a fairly large effort. Although the individual departments could provide the data, getting everyone on the same page still would be a big project.

Getting this sort of information out of the police an into the public view would be one of the benefits of "regionalizing" some of the various functions of local government.

If the Weekly were to produce this information, maybe it would be an "editorial", but if the police were to produce it, then it would be closer to fact.


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Posted by Raymond
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 14, 2013 at 11:41 am

25 or 50 extra Police Officers wouldn't change the fact that a woman, walking alone @ night, is vulnerable. The police will tell you that themselves.

Keep in mind that they rarely stop a crime 'in progress'. They simply must arrest a suspect after the commission of a crime.

Small compensation if you're the person that was attacked.


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Posted by lights lights lights
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 14, 2013 at 11:50 am

The police tell you to be aware of your surrounding when walking around town, but the street lights are so dim that you cannot see more than 10 yards in front of you. Turn up the lights! Our neighborhoods would be much safer if we could see at least half way down the block.

Brighter lights will also make pedestrians more visible in the crosswalks. Many more pedestrians are injured by cars than by muggers.


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Posted by Phil
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 14, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Good points Raymond. Although a visible presence in high crime areas, along with good, proactive police work can certainly prevent or diminish the number of crimes that do occur. Hard to qualify what crimes are actually prevented by this steady application, but we all know essentially what areas are generally safer, and which are generally not. Much of that has to do with a combination of factors including a well staffed and trained police department. Improving lighting, citizen awareness, and advances in technology should definitely play into that as well, but in a field where human interaction and people issues are the bottom line, nothing replaces having solid and qualified officers in the field.


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Posted by resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 14, 2013 at 12:26 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by X
a resident of another community
on Feb 14, 2013 at 12:35 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by a Senior
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Feb 14, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Why do you need to carry a purse? There are so few things you need to carry with you and you can make-do without one. Be creative. Have pockets sewn in, for one thing. It's cheaper than being robbed.


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Posted by Sean
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 14, 2013 at 1:08 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] Downtown PA needs to be cleaned up. There are so many bums and junkies there. Start with parking restrictions, so that the car campers are eliminated. Then enforce a curfue on the parks and plazas. Then shut down the bars and restaurants by 11 PM. DT has become a magnet for the thugs, because it is too loose.

Women, particulary, are tagets of the thugs in our DT area. However, men are not exempt (remember Herbert Kay (sp?)...that was a hate crime that was not prosecuted as such, because PA wanted to be seen as PC).

Palo Alto political forces have punted on this crime/thug/bum issue for years. Nohting will improve, until these political forces agree to grow some balls, and take it on.


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Posted by TimH
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 14, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Palo Alto's bubble no longer keeps bad people out of town...does anyone remembers what downtown was reportedly like back in the late 1960's into the 1970's before its super-gentrification efforts of the mid 1980's? This sentence from an earlier post to this article includes "...DT Palo Alto. It has nothing unique to offer except junkies in the parks and muggings..." This may seem like a pretty low opinion, but is just about what people were saying about University Avenue in 1970.

Palo Alto City Council should look back at what was done by government, business, law enforcement and community back in the 1970's that turned this around for 30 years - it may be time to rewind, seriously.


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Posted by Sefl-D
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 14, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Police can not be at everywhere every time. If she were a NRA member and walking alone in the dark, how would the incident play out?


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 14, 2013 at 2:11 pm

People carry umbrellas when it rains. How about carrying flashlights when it's dark? Does anyone with a lit flashlight ever get attacked? It just makes you look more prepared for trouble.


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Posted by David Pepperdine
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2013 at 2:19 pm

The City Council is not concerned with infrastructure and safety. Just with silly idealism and pie in the sky sister city stupidity.

At least one member of the City Council is a no op: Pat Burt. He's on the take from Jim Baer and spouts his own brand of tax and spend liberalism.

Meanwhile, the potholes sink deeper, pensions and retiree benefits continue to bloat, and the city's finances go further into the hole.


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Posted by NRA member
a resident of Ventura
on Feb 14, 2013 at 3:08 pm

50 yo woman & NRA member here -- being an "NRA member" doesn't mean you carry a weapon. I don't carry and I shouldn't have to, and I should be free to walk around in my city in the evening.

I agree that solution is to clean up downtown and brighten up the lighting. Stupid PC and "green" policies are preventing us from being safe.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 14, 2013 at 3:22 pm

My car was parked downtown when the windows were smashed and my garage door clicker stolen.

I don't know what is the practice in neighboring towns but PAPD declined to come to the scene.

Though I did not expect a formal investigation, I did expect them to take fingerprints and check for a match in the database. Maybe I've been watching too many police dramas.

Following this event, I have come to distrust the city's crime statistics.

How many incidents don't get counted the reports because the police decide not to follow up and document them? Is the city artificially boosting its clearance rate by omitting crimes they don't expect to solve?


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Posted by Deb
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 14, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Downtown Palo Alto has deteriorated into:
1) Filthy streets
2) Bums loitering
3) People begging
4) Ugly, oversized commercial buildings
4) Drug dealers
5) Too many restaurants. And many of the new restaurants are getting tackier and tackier
6) Lack of a variety of shops
7) The streets are becoming dangerous
8) Lack of a police presence
9) Homeless people
10) And finally, inadequate parking!!


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Posted by Phil
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 14, 2013 at 3:33 pm

You're right on several points TimH, our city has certainly become less insulated over the past 20-30 years. And so it goes with progress I suppose. Just looking at our downtown area, I believe several factors have played into its evolution. For one, the boundaries have been smeared, not only on the Peninsula but throughout the Bay Area. The region has become smaller in one sense, where we now attract more employees, shoppers, visitors, and students not only from our area, but from all over.

Palo Alto has become a transit hub in our region with bus and rail systems that span everything from South Santa Clara County (Gilroy/Morgan Hill area) to San Francisco. It is easier for people to get around. Now that's a plus for workers, shoppers, and students, however it also enables criminals and those preying on others to get around as well.

Palo Alto has historically been very tolerant and accepting of programs that serve the homeless and those less fortunate. An admirable position, however it does come with its share of baggage and problems. I certainly am of the belief that not every person living on the street or who is down and out is a criminal, but at the same time I realize that a disproportionate number of them find themselves there for reasons that are not positive or just due to an unfortunate turn of fate. In addition to those suffering from mental disorders, there are also a high percentage that include drug users, career criminals, parolees, sex offenders, and people on criminal probation.

What draws this disproportionate number of people fitting this bill to our downtown area? In addition to accessible public transportation, there are also numerous services in the downtown area that cater to their needs, for the most part people who have no true community ties or roots in our city. The city plays host to the Opportunity Center, and decades before that the Urban Ministry which was located near the Downtown CalTrain Station. The city is also home to the Downtown Food Closet, Hotel DeZink Shelter, Downtown Streets Team and in the past the Another Way program. Again, with these programs comes a disproportionate number of criminals who take advantage of our tolerance and generosity to commit crimes.

The city has long been a magnet for panhandlers and people sleeping in their cars, again, because of the tolerance of our community. These may not be overtly criminal acts, but they do effect our overall quality of life and peace of mind. Any attempts to enact reasonable local legislation regarding panhandling or overnight sleepers in cars are met with ferocious opposition from a vocal minority. Logic and common sense is swept aside when our politicians fail to act as to not appear uncaring or callous.

Downtown Palo Alto has indeed developed a reputation, especially at night, of being a little seedy and unsafe. It's generally not well kept, elements of infrastructure are crumbling a bit, and the parking garages are often strewn with debris from homeless encampments and carry the stench of stale urine. There are drunk and obnoxious people panhandling throughout the downtown area, as well as the center dividers and driveways leading in and out of the Stanford Shopping Center. It has become a less enjoyable place to be for everyone, and we need to take a long hard look on how to improve these conditions.


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Posted by dave
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 14, 2013 at 4:32 pm

Listed is a web link to the Utilities Dept. and its replacement of the sodium vapor lamps with LEDs.

CPAU is now in the process of installing LED streetlights throughout Palo Alto. No neighborhood was "singled out" to get the new streetlights, but construction is in stages. It will take another year or two before streetlights will be replaced in all neighborhoods. To read more and see a map of which neighborhoods are scheduled when, visit www.cityofpaloalto.org/utilityprojects


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Posted by Anne
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 14, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Thanks Phil, DTN, for your reasoned assessment of the situation. It is really hard to live in and love this neighborhood, and watch it go downhill, feeling powerless to stop it. We have taken preventative measures on our own, which we should- we have to be responsible for ourselves- but our city government is in complete denial about the situation. Do we have to play the real estate card before anyone will listen and actively try to change things? That may be all the city council will respond to.

As for downtown being dirty and seedy- it is, and many of the people on street do not make it a good place to be- or safe. Palo Alto has tried find solutions to their problems, but, once again, the responsibity for making positive use of the many services, lies on the shoulders of the individual. We're so careful not to violate human rights of people , but what about the majority whose human right to walk safely down the street is being violated on a daily basis. Do we not count too, or because we pay mortgages, property taxes, or rent are we too 'priviliged'?


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Posted by visitor
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 14, 2013 at 6:08 pm

I wish we had heard more about the victim; does she live in the neighborhood or was she walking to a car parked; what did she lose in losing her purse, rather than a wallet. One should always have something to give a mugger--years ago a friend who left an apartment in SF to get an ice cream and carried only small change was held up and then shot by the mugger when he could not hand over a wallet. But if possible do not carry a handbag with many irreplaceable items.

Why is Palo Alto now so much more unsafe than bigger cities? could not a police car patrolling north and south of University from El Camino to Middlefield be tried as an experiment? It seems that we read weekly about an attack on a lone pedestrian in this area in the dark but not late hours. Carrying a flashlight also seems a good idea.

I hope this victim will not suffer long from such a terrifying experience.


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Posted by tooma
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 14, 2013 at 6:23 pm

too many cops around.


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Posted by stop criminal element now
a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 14, 2013 at 9:16 pm

The criminal element has been making an appearance in Palo Alto recently and for some time, the police need to take command of criminal behavior downtown otherwise it just grows out of hand as it is now in downtown PA and as we have witnessed this happen in other cities. Once the criminal behavior takes root and grows out of hand cities can't turn back to the safe streets once had. Stopping crime downtown now is critical.

It would be appreciated to see police on the streets in downtown PA right about now.


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Posted by this is suburbia
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2013 at 9:21 pm

Palo Alto is a suburb of San Francisco. It should be all right for a woman to walk down the street carrying a handbag. I am concerned with the increasing number of brazen criminals taking advantage of the lax- appearing environenment here. We need some serious enforcement. Please do not give money to pandhandlers. Support bonafide nonprofits and charities - there are many - of your choice if you choose to assist the homeless, addicts/recovering addicts, and others in need. Permitting aggressive pandhandling is something I won't tolerate - I just don't visit such places. Cities, suburbs, towns, suburbs, countrysides are different in this regard - it isn't the same and take your business and leisure to places that merit your dollar and presence.


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Posted by this is suburbia
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2013 at 9:24 pm

Sorry for some typos above -you get my point.
Also, some criminal acts have occurred very close to the PA police station, something I find worrisome and indicative that the criminals aren't too worried themselves about our police. More visibility and stronger presence is needed by them.
Also, I find the new street lighting (we have it) too dim - that may encourage criminals.
In no way do I find the current ongoing crime wave to be "routine" or acceptable - we need the city council to examine this and take steps to curb it pronto.


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Posted by Anne
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 14, 2013 at 10:31 pm

There aren't 'too many police'; there aren't enough! And indeed, Suburbia, we do need the city council to deal with this- and they won't. There is no acceptable levl of crime. Not letting the subject drop,as the citizens who are dealing with the impact of this crime wave, may be one of our only weapons.


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Posted by laura
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 15, 2013 at 5:40 am

We stopped going downtown many years ago. For a nice downtown ambiance try Menlo Park, San Carlos or Los Altos. Everything Deb said is accurate.


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Posted by Jake
a resident of another community
on Feb 15, 2013 at 9:09 am

"nor did he punch or strike her"
Forcibly threw her to the ground causing injuries and bloody nose, she could have been killed if her head struck ground differently. Physical assault is a violent crime period. Doesn't really change the severity because thug didn't punch or strike victim. Scumbag obviously has no concern for human life, private property or laws of society.
City Council will spend more time talking about trees and global issues than how the City can provide public safety to its people.


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 15, 2013 at 9:50 am

> I don't know what is the practice in neighboring
> towns but PAPD declined to come to the scene.

This is probably a result of fewer "sworn officers" on the pay roll. However, there is no reason that a civilian support staff member could not be assigned to assess the scene for possible evidence. The problem is that there typically isn't a lot of information to be gleaned, that has any real value.

For instance, how many people could describe the make/model/serial number of their radios, or any piece of inbuilt electronics. For that matter, how many people have actually recorded all of the details of their personal electronics? The police provide an on-line crime reporting WEB-site, so victims of these sorts of crimes can report that information to the police at their convenience—without the need of an officer making a trip to the somewhere in the city.

The same reduction in police response to traffic accidents has been going on in Palo Alto, and other cities, for some time now. Unless the cars involved are immobile, or there is an injury, the police seem to see no need to come.

In the not too distant future, cars will be equipped with "black boxes", which will have all of the details of any accident—so if information is needed, it's totally possible to expect to see the local police downloading that information from the "black box".


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 15, 2013 at 10:00 am


> Downtown Palo Alto has indeed developed a reputation

Everything that "Downtown Phil" has posted is more-or-less true, so there's no need to quibble with the details. However, this general deterioration in our collective quality of life is not a "police problem", it is a political problem that has been on-going in California for decades—development (or perhaps commercial overdevelopment) vs residentialism.

We just had a City Council election. Liz Kniss, when asked about the "crime problem" was quoted in another on-line news source as saying: "Palo Alto doesn't have a crime problem." It would be interesting to learn how many people talking about crime in this thread actually voted for Ms. Kniss, believing she knows more about Palo Alto, and "government", than anyone else in the city?

If one simply tracks the City Council agenda items, it's hard to find any that really deal with systemic issues, like "crime". So, it seems to me that the people of Palo Alto are getting what they voted for.


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Posted by Phil
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 15, 2013 at 10:29 am

Well stated Mr. Martin. I'd have to add that the issue of dealing with crime however is not solely a police problem, but yet will always be a part of the solution. I agree that politics, environmental elements, demographics, and the economy also play heavily into the root cause of crime and how it is addressed.


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 15, 2013 at 10:54 am

If the perpetrator were caught, what would be his penalty? What is the chance he'd even be convicted? How quickly would he be back on the street? Our street? After a second offense? Third offense? Fourth offense? Fifth offense? Sixth offense?


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Posted by maditalian_1492
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 15, 2013 at 11:00 am

Does anyone remember the murder of Herbert Kay in downtown on a very poorly-lit Gilman Street back in 1997? It took place less than a half-block from the police station and city hall.

There was a public outcry for better lighting and the City Council promised to do something about it?

It's a shame that not that much has changed in those poorly lit areas a couple of blocks in from University Avenue.

Here's a link to the tragic story of Mr. Kay: Web Link


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 15, 2013 at 11:28 am

Please be thoughtful with the lighting. Big difference between *more* and *better*. Problem is our eyes never get a chance to adjust to the night lighting level. Even in broad daylight, you can't see when the sun is in your eyes. At night, one bright light will contract our pupils. After a car with highbeams goes by, a pedestrian needs a minute before seeing again even under the best streetlight. I can stand at an ATM and you can't see me because of all the outwardly directed arc lamps. A uniform level of lighting without glare is difficult to achieve. Complaints of poor lighting need some photometric quantification.


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Posted by whateva
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 15, 2013 at 11:29 am

go downtown, lookn at lytton plaza. watch how many cops drive by. thats way too many cops.


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Posted by this is suburbia
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2013 at 2:23 pm

@ Jake mentions some of the things the Palo Alto City Council chooses to focus on, but he forgot to note their free junket trips to China. How fun and how nice to have the taxpayers pay! Then - go off of the Council.


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Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 15, 2013 at 6:19 pm

A couple of things:

1) It's hard to find a parking space in that neighborhood. So the getaway car had to have been there for a period of time (like an hour).

2) The egress from that neigborhood by car is either Alma (most likely because it is closest) or Middlefield. The getaway car could have double back along a north/south street like Waverley, but would run the risk of getting stuck at stop lights at Lytton, University, etc.

3) Would step up patroling have seen a person "hanging" out for a 20 - 60 minutes? (ie. more POLICE STAFFING)

4) Would cameras on Alma and Middlefield help narrow down suspects? (ie. more POLICE RESOURCES).

5) There was a protest going on that evening with Governor Christie having an event at Zuckerberg's house - did the reduction in patrol staffing to handle the protestors affect response time (again MORE POLICE resources).


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