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

Housing commissioner shares her complaint about incident last fall

Menlo Park Police Chief Dave Bertini. Courtesy MPPD.

During a telephone town hall meeting Thursday evening to discuss policing in Menlo Park, Housing Commissioner Karen Grove said publicly that she'd heard Menlo Park police Chief Dave Bertini use a racial slur during an ethics training she had attended.

She described the full incident to The Almanac, the sister publication of Palo Alto Online.

During an ethics training Bertini led for Menlo Park commissioners last fall, she said Bertini referred to Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, a felon with ties to a San Francisco Chinatown street gang and organized crime syndicate, as "having a name that sounds like something on a Chinese menu."

Grove said she brought up concerns about the remark during the training, and Bertini had told to her that his comments were not racially based but related to the man's nickname "Shrimp Boy."

She later discussed it with City Manager Starla Jerome Robinson, and then requested a meeting with Bertini to discuss it. During the meeting with Bertini, she said Bertini insisted that the remark was not a racial slur.

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In a Sept. 3, 2019, email to Bertini after their meeting that Grove shared with The Almanac, she said she disagreed and said she still believed the remark to be racially disparaging.

She said that she was not the only commissioner to have felt uncomfortable with Bertini's language and asked Bertini to remove that piece from his training. In addition, she sent an email to Jerome Robinson and then-Mayor Ray Mueller reporting the outcome of the meeting, saying, "We were unable to reach a place of common understanding."

She also urged Bertini, Mueller and Jerome Robinson to consider attending a conference by the "Government Alliance on Racial Equity" later that month.

Later that day, she thanked Jerome Robinson and Mueller for following up on the matter.

Bertini could not be immediately reached for comment.

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

Housing commissioner shares her complaint about incident last fall

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Mon, Jun 22, 2020, 12:22 pm

During a telephone town hall meeting Thursday evening to discuss policing in Menlo Park, Housing Commissioner Karen Grove said publicly that she'd heard Menlo Park police Chief Dave Bertini use a racial slur during an ethics training she had attended.

She described the full incident to The Almanac, the sister publication of Palo Alto Online.

During an ethics training Bertini led for Menlo Park commissioners last fall, she said Bertini referred to Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, a felon with ties to a San Francisco Chinatown street gang and organized crime syndicate, as "having a name that sounds like something on a Chinese menu."

Grove said she brought up concerns about the remark during the training, and Bertini had told to her that his comments were not racially based but related to the man's nickname "Shrimp Boy."

She later discussed it with City Manager Starla Jerome Robinson, and then requested a meeting with Bertini to discuss it. During the meeting with Bertini, she said Bertini insisted that the remark was not a racial slur.

In a Sept. 3, 2019, email to Bertini after their meeting that Grove shared with The Almanac, she said she disagreed and said she still believed the remark to be racially disparaging.

She said that she was not the only commissioner to have felt uncomfortable with Bertini's language and asked Bertini to remove that piece from his training. In addition, she sent an email to Jerome Robinson and then-Mayor Ray Mueller reporting the outcome of the meeting, saying, "We were unable to reach a place of common understanding."

She also urged Bertini, Mueller and Jerome Robinson to consider attending a conference by the "Government Alliance on Racial Equity" later that month.

Later that day, she thanked Jerome Robinson and Mueller for following up on the matter.

Bertini could not be immediately reached for comment.

Comments

DTN Paul
Downtown North
on Jun 22, 2020 at 12:40 pm
DTN Paul, Downtown North
on Jun 22, 2020 at 12:40 pm
35 people like this

As a person of Chinese descent, I'm not sure I would consider this a "racial slur." Just my two cents...


Burke
Midtown
on Jun 22, 2020 at 3:29 pm
Burke, Midtown
on Jun 22, 2020 at 3:29 pm
10 people like this

[Post removed.]


Priorities
Crescent Park
on Jun 22, 2020 at 5:10 pm
Priorities , Crescent Park
on Jun 22, 2020 at 5:10 pm
23 people like this

Instead of digging up old dirt and he said she said . Why doesn’t Palo Alto weekly do some real investigation of current stories such as the big increase in illegal and loud fireworks being launched every night and all night In Menlo Park, East Palo Alto and Palo Alto. What are our officials doing to address this serious Degradation of quality of life?


Socially Unaware
Menlo Park
on Jun 22, 2020 at 5:24 pm
Socially Unaware, Menlo Park
on Jun 22, 2020 at 5:24 pm
24 people like this

Shrimp and Chow, get it? That's a food joke, that's not racially insensitive. Chow is slang for food, it's also derived from the Chinese word meaning to cook or to mix. I should know, that's my heritage. I've had people make puns on my surname my entire life-- I've never felt it was racist or maliciously intended. Kinda juvenile, sure, but not racist. Becoming of the Chief of Police? Eh. But not racist.

To be racist, it has to be meant to offend. This is why the nickname for Richard can be used in polite circles without offending anyone. So who was offended here? Karen? Now she may be Asian, but she cannot take offense if she's not. She can consider it in poor taste (get it, more food jokes) but she has no standing to be offended.

Now the funny thing about the nickname "Shrimp Boy" is that Chow is not a man of great stature. You would think he might have squashed that nickname awhile ago because it is pejorative. Instead, he embraced it.


MP Oldtimer
Menlo Park
on Jun 22, 2020 at 7:02 pm
MP Oldtimer, Menlo Park
on Jun 22, 2020 at 7:02 pm
31 people like this

I believe this is the first time I've publicly sided with Bertini, but Karen Grove's attack is simply ridiculous. Bertini made a joke, that's all. OK, maybe not the best joke, but it is so plainly an attempt at humor in a topic that is normally bereft of humor, Belaboring it as Grove has says far more about her than it does about Bertini.

I hope that neither Mueller nor Robinson wasted any of the City's time dealing with this. Likewise, I certainly hope that such a spurious attack played no part in Bertini's sudden retirement decision.


J Chu
Menlo Park
on Jun 22, 2020 at 8:36 pm
J Chu, Menlo Park
on Jun 22, 2020 at 8:36 pm
39 people like this

I'm asian and i don't find this offensive at all. I'm more offended by the fact that people with privilege think they can get offended on our behalf without even asking what we think.


Not racist
Menlo Park
on Jun 22, 2020 at 9:38 pm
Not racist, Menlo Park
on Jun 22, 2020 at 9:38 pm
24 people like this

I'm Chinese, and I can say it's not offensive because that's the criminal's nickname. You can look it up. That's the criminal's nickname "Shrimp Boy." It's like if I said of Marshal Matthers, his name is something you would find in a US candy shop, is that making fun of white people?


Areyoukidding
Crescent Park
on Jun 22, 2020 at 10:29 pm
Areyoukidding, Crescent Park
on Jun 22, 2020 at 10:29 pm
23 people like this

What an absurd thing to report about. Snowflakes trying to outdo themselves on the virtue signaling front.


Bay Area Resident
another community
on Jun 22, 2020 at 10:59 pm
Bay Area Resident, another community
on Jun 22, 2020 at 10:59 pm
15 people like this

Lol, see Karen Grove - you've offended people by not only blowing the racist whistle - you cant convince people who are chinese and of chinese descent that this is racist... man..seems like you were the only one thinking this was racist. [Portion removed.]

Scenario:

Person A- "his name sounds like it came from a chinese menu"

Person B - " thats so racist."

Waiter at a chinese restaurant - " our special today is shrimp. "

Scenarios around the nation:
Web Link
Web Link
Web Link

These are acts of racism. Karen Grove, you've done nothing to eliminate the issues that our judicial system faces.


Jimmy
Barron Park
on Jun 22, 2020 at 11:11 pm
Jimmy, Barron Park
on Jun 22, 2020 at 11:11 pm
13 people like this

[Portion removed.]

All you've done here today, is weaken a city.


Jumbo Shrimp
Menlo Park
on Jun 23, 2020 at 7:00 am
Jumbo Shrimp, Menlo Park
on Jun 23, 2020 at 7:00 am
6 people like this

[Post removed.]


AsianHere
Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 23, 2020 at 7:15 am
AsianHere, Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 23, 2020 at 7:15 am
21 people like this

Similar to the comments here from other fellow Asians, I did not find the joke from the police chief offensive or racist at all. For the Karen to go to such extremes to
try and bring someone down is malicious. We have bigger problems that need attention and focus in our towns.


Karen should resign
Downtown North
on Jun 23, 2020 at 7:47 am
Karen should resign, Downtown North
on Jun 23, 2020 at 7:47 am
16 people like this

Part of leadership is being constructive and supportive of the people that make the organization run successfully. It requires enough depth and judgment to know how to give feedback, and to know *when* to give feedback.

Chief Bertini was using the criminal's self selected and known nickname. Karen, your judgment was poor in perceiving this as an issue, and your judgment was poor in how you delivered your feedback.

Bad leaders can drive good leaders and strong contributors out of organizations, and this is a case in point. Karen, you have no business as Housing Commissioner, and you should resign.


David Kwan
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 23, 2020 at 8:34 am
David Kwan, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 23, 2020 at 8:34 am
16 people like this

As a second generation American and son of Asian immigrants, I am offended that she was offended and even more so that my local paper would even bother running this trash in an effort to smear a good man who happens to be a member of a race these woke people hate. Who’s the editor over there? Are the good cops not already being trashed enough over something they had nothing to do with? I’ve had nothing but good experiences with them and they have to deal with some really bad people around here. [Portion removed.]


Huang Ngo
Community Center
on Jun 23, 2020 at 8:43 am
Huang Ngo, Community Center
on Jun 23, 2020 at 8:43 am
3 people like this

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


James Thurber
Mountain View
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:31 am
James Thurber, Mountain View
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:31 am
Like this comment

I found the use of the Shrimp ____ extremely offensive and felt the papers were VERY wrong to include that when describing Mister Raymond Chow.

As a 4th grade teacher I would use this as an example of what NOT TO DO with my class. Bay Area families come from all over the globe and every one of my students agreed - it was an inappropriate comment / way to describe somebody.

Can you speak racist words when teaching a class on racism? Sure. But otherwise they should simply NOT be part of your speech.

If you cannot call someone by their proper name don't say anything at all.


Ray
Professorville
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:57 am
Ray, Professorville
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:57 am
Like this comment

Calling him shrimp boy IS offensive! Making joke of China food only make it worse.

Where is your self-claimed holding high standard of ethics standard as high rank official of public service?

Thank Karen for stopping it.


Mr.Recycle
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 23, 2020 at 11:28 am
Mr.Recycle, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 23, 2020 at 11:28 am
7 people like this

What he said might have been offensive, but it was NOT a racial slur, and to characterize as such diminishes the problem of real racial slurs.

It is also the guys actual street name, so it is not like he was making it up.

Web Link

Is Wikipedia perpetrating a racial slur because the article is titled 'Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow'? Come on..


Green Gables
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 23, 2020 at 12:07 pm
Green Gables, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 23, 2020 at 12:07 pm
11 people like this

From the San Francisco Chronicle June 7, 2016
"Prominent defense attorney J. Tony Serra and two colleagues asked a federal judge Monday to withdraw as lawyers for Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, convicted of racketeering and murder as leader of a community organization in San Francisco’s Chinatown."

Get a grip you people.


A nice guy
Midtown
on Jun 23, 2020 at 12:08 pm
A nice guy, Midtown
on Jun 23, 2020 at 12:08 pm
10 people like this

Has political correctness gone too far?


The Observer
Esther Clark Park
on Jun 23, 2020 at 12:29 pm
The Observer, Esther Clark Park
on Jun 23, 2020 at 12:29 pm
4 people like this

Huang Ngo: "Kate Bradshaw = Failed attempt at race bating. This reporter has got to go after this embarrassing article."

I disagree. The reporter performed a public service. Don't you want to know about public officials with poor judgment and misplaced priorities? Any "race-baiting" was by Ms. Grove.


David Lee Fraser
Menlo Park
on Jun 23, 2020 at 1:42 pm
David Lee Fraser , Menlo Park
on Jun 23, 2020 at 1:42 pm
6 people like this

People grow up there are people around us are dying. It looks like some people are trying to start another Civil War?
You have ruined a good man over a thing that was said? Now you need a new Chief because he is retiring in July! Nice going, it says crime is down since 2007? Now you'll get a kiss ass puppet who can't think on their own, the city council will run the show!
I was a Menlo Park Police Officer early 60's-thru early 70's. There are more important things to focus on with people around us dying and some ignorant people trying to start another Civil War? We have to come together as one, God asks us to love one another! Please before it is to late. I went to my Dr. because I thought I broke something?
Nothing broken, but they told me I was in stage 4 cancer. All my thoughts and priorities have changed and I'm in the fight of my life! Don't look for trouble take care of yourself, and let's all come together. Chief, I would ask for compensation, you sound like a great Person, & a Great CHIEF!
Be well, and God bless.
David Lee Fraser


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on Jun 23, 2020 at 3:40 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on Jun 23, 2020 at 3:40 pm
Like this comment

Bad cop no dumpling.
(I know nothing about him but in these times I’d prefer to not have to guess when a public servant or public safety officer is kidding. For the time bring we should be on top of this like white on rice).
I actually met an artist and activist and civil servant who knows shrimp boy personally and does not distance herself from him despite the fact he is a thug and a convicted criminal everybody has a good side I guess.
There was also a state elected from South city area they remember being in a different part of a nightclub the night of one of his campaign parties and noticing he seem to have the support of a lot of gangster rap looking fellows if 30 years in the music biz permits me to make a broad statement and sure enough this guy was indicted for taking bribes from the FBI
Plus I’ve known Karen Grove for 45 years and she has good judgment so please step back


Name hidden
Downtown North

on Jun 23, 2020 at 8:30 pm
Name hidden, Downtown North

on Jun 23, 2020 at 8:30 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


Rebecca Eisenberg
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:11 pm
Rebecca Eisenberg, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:11 pm
Like this comment

If it seems like "there must be more to this story!" there usually is more to the story.

In this case, amongst other unpopular actions, this was the police chief who created the wildly unpopular "Facebook Police Unit"

Web Link

"One of the key architects of the “Facebook Unit,” a controversial team within the Menlo Park Police Department in California, abruptly stepped down on Friday, citing a loss of community trust. Menlo Park police Chief Dave Bertini announced his sudden, early retirement during a town hall forum about issues with local law enforcement.

"Earlier this month, local residents protested the police unit, which is financially supported by millions of dollars from Facebook, the city’s largest employer. They demanded Facebook cease funding the Menlo Park Police Department."

So there is that, too.


Bay Area Resident
another community
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:13 pm
Bay Area Resident, another community
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:13 pm
1 person likes this

@ Mark Weiss - haha good play on words, brother, I see what you did :) . I disagree with your comment on Karen but I see you speak from a personal standpoint; stand strong in her defense.

@ The Observer - you make a great point. Our local community journalist want nothing more than to see our community stay informed. They don't try to sneak in bias opinions or use suggestive terms to manipulate their readers. Not as aggressive and insidious as other news *cough* CNN *cough*


Rebecca Eisenberg
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:15 pm
Rebecca Eisenberg, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:15 pm
4 people like this

BTW I have to call out that Menlo Park collects "millions of dollars" from its biggest employer.

Want to guess how much Palo Alto collects from our biggest employer, and all the rest of our employers? ZERO. We collect zero. Because our City Council, unlike the city council of Menlo Park and virtually every other city in the country (if not world), inexplicably refuses to tax our biggest businesses even one tiny cent.

Lucky Menlo Park, now maybe they can redirect the millions of dollars from Facebook into something more beneficial to residents, like housing, and parks, and children's theater programs, and assistance for small businesses, and support of nonprofits, and - maybe - college radio stations like KZSU. But here in Palo Alto, we get office space and luxury hotels.


Peter Carpenter
Menlo Park
on Jun 24, 2020 at 9:57 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park
on Jun 24, 2020 at 9:57 am
Like this comment

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.


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on Jun 25, 2020 at 7:39 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on Jun 25, 2020 at 7:39 pm
Like this comment

As RE points out, Chief Bertini also accepted a controversial $11m privatization deal from a local corporation, so losing a staring contest with a neophyte pol was merely the last straw.

Next time the Almanac should put Grove on the cover.
Maybe Palo Alto and Menlo can merge public safety departments.


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