News

Palo Alto launches educational series on police operations, use-of-force policies

Police Chief Robert Jonsen set to kick off four-week series of briefings at 2 p.m. Wednesday

On July 1, the Palo Alto Police Department will launch a series of community briefings for the public to learn about police operations. Photo by Veronica Weber.

As Palo Alto prepares to consider police reform, the Police Department is kicking off a series of online briefings to discuss issues such as use-of-force policies, Taser deployments and measures to ensure police accountability.

The sessions will be streamed on Zoom and the Palo Alto Police Department's YouTube channel. They will be loosely based on the curriculum provided in the department's Basic Citizens Police Academy, a series of courses for residents interested in learning about police operations, according to an announcement from the department.

Police Chief Robert Jonsen will kick off the series at 2 p.m. Wednesday by giving an overview of the department's operations and discussing its divisions and responsibilities. He also will provide information on crime statistics, response times and the city's Independent Police Auditor, who reviews each use-of-force incident and citizen complaint and who, until recently, also investigated internal conflicts within the department (the City Council voted in December to reduce the scope of the auditor and now treats internal conflicts as Human Resources issues that are shielded from public disclosure).

Jonsen also will provide information about the department's use of in-car video systems and body-worn cameras.

The department plans to hold three more sessions over the next three Wednesdays. The July 8 session will focus on use-of-force policies. On July 15, the department will focus on laws on arrest and search-and-seizure. The July 22 session will be devoted to accountability within the Palo Alto Police Department, according to the city's announcement.

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The new series is part of the city's broad action plan to promote equity and social justice. The council has recently launched a series of ad hoc committees to review police policies and operations. One committee, composed of Councilwoman Liz Kniss and Councilman Greg Tanaka, will explore alternative service models. One option that they will look at is the prospect of combining police, fire and medical services into a single Department of Public Safety, a model that Sunnyvale currently uses.

The Council also has directed its Human Relations Commission to review the department's compliance with the 8 Can't Wait platform and commissioned artists to paint "Black Lives Matter" on Hamilton Avenue, next to City Hall, a project that was unfolding Tuesday afternoon. The commission will hold a special meeting on Wednesday afternoon to discuss this assignment, as well as the council's direction that the commission put together a report on the history of the Black community in Palo Alto.

The moves were prompted by an outpouring of demonstrations, both in Palo Alto and across the nation, to protest the killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police on May 25 and demand social justice.

The public can access the briefings via Zoom through this link. Anyone who wishes to view the conversations via YouTube can visit the Police Department's YouTube channel.

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Palo Alto launches educational series on police operations, use-of-force policies

Police Chief Robert Jonsen set to kick off four-week series of briefings at 2 p.m. Wednesday

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Jun 30, 2020, 9:29 pm

As Palo Alto prepares to consider police reform, the Police Department is kicking off a series of online briefings to discuss issues such as use-of-force policies, Taser deployments and measures to ensure police accountability.

The sessions will be streamed on Zoom and the Palo Alto Police Department's YouTube channel. They will be loosely based on the curriculum provided in the department's Basic Citizens Police Academy, a series of courses for residents interested in learning about police operations, according to an announcement from the department.

Police Chief Robert Jonsen will kick off the series at 2 p.m. Wednesday by giving an overview of the department's operations and discussing its divisions and responsibilities. He also will provide information on crime statistics, response times and the city's Independent Police Auditor, who reviews each use-of-force incident and citizen complaint and who, until recently, also investigated internal conflicts within the department (the City Council voted in December to reduce the scope of the auditor and now treats internal conflicts as Human Resources issues that are shielded from public disclosure).

Jonsen also will provide information about the department's use of in-car video systems and body-worn cameras.

The department plans to hold three more sessions over the next three Wednesdays. The July 8 session will focus on use-of-force policies. On July 15, the department will focus on laws on arrest and search-and-seizure. The July 22 session will be devoted to accountability within the Palo Alto Police Department, according to the city's announcement.

The new series is part of the city's broad action plan to promote equity and social justice. The council has recently launched a series of ad hoc committees to review police policies and operations. One committee, composed of Councilwoman Liz Kniss and Councilman Greg Tanaka, will explore alternative service models. One option that they will look at is the prospect of combining police, fire and medical services into a single Department of Public Safety, a model that Sunnyvale currently uses.

The Council also has directed its Human Relations Commission to review the department's compliance with the 8 Can't Wait platform and commissioned artists to paint "Black Lives Matter" on Hamilton Avenue, next to City Hall, a project that was unfolding Tuesday afternoon. The commission will hold a special meeting on Wednesday afternoon to discuss this assignment, as well as the council's direction that the commission put together a report on the history of the Black community in Palo Alto.

The moves were prompted by an outpouring of demonstrations, both in Palo Alto and across the nation, to protest the killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police on May 25 and demand social justice.

The public can access the briefings via Zoom through this link. Anyone who wishes to view the conversations via YouTube can visit the Police Department's YouTube channel.

Comments

Actions Over Words
Midtown
on Jul 1, 2020 at 10:58 am
Actions Over Words, Midtown
on Jul 1, 2020 at 10:58 am
1 person likes this

Personally I will never trust the police but at the bare minimum, PAPD needs to fire Officer DeStefano before the July 22nd seminar on police accountability or their words will be entirely useless.


White Senior fears Palo Alto Police
Professorville
on Jul 1, 2020 at 11:18 am
White Senior fears Palo Alto Police, Professorville
on Jul 1, 2020 at 11:18 am
Like this comment

Some years ago, I wrote a letter to the paper about a police car tailing me on my way to the dump - apparently waiting for some papers to fly out of the car. I used a negative but not foul-mouthed term to describe the police. The next day I received a phone call from the Police asking me why I used that term. This was, in my view, police intimidation. I would repeat the term I used except that I fear the police will be looking for me to intimidate again or worse. My comments:

Stated policy from the head of the Police Dept is just bullshit. We need rules that are enforced where police can be fired for misbehavior - and certainly for repeated misbehavior. A 500 thousand dollar settlement with a police officer is roughly a fine of $10 for each of our 50,000 or so residents man, woman or child. And yet the officer can retire with no economic penalty. Yes, we do need to fire DeStephano now for starters. AND BY THE WAY, A BLACK LIVES MATTER MURAL AT CITY HALL IS NICE, BUT IS MORE MEANINGLESS RHETORIC. INSTEAD LETS HAVE BOTH BETTER POLICE TRAINING AND REALLY IMPLEMENT CULLING THE POLICE FORCE OF BAD ACTORS.

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Albert K Henning
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 1, 2020 at 11:26 am
Albert K Henning, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 1, 2020 at 11:26 am
2 people like this

If the City leadership -- Council, Manager, and Police Chief -- believes an educational series for the public will allow a return to the status quo, they are deeply mistaken.

There can be no excuse for the long-term and serious disconnect between the theory and practice of policing in this City. We cannot go back to where we were, and no amount of 'education' can rationalize such a return. And I have zero confidence that this Council, this Manager, and this Chief, can lead and implement the reforms which the community demands and expects.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 1, 2020 at 11:36 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 1, 2020 at 11:36 am
Like this comment

>> July 22 session will be devoted to accountability within the Palo Alto Police Department

I'm literally sorry to say, but, count me as one of those folks who once had, but, has lost confidence in PAPD-- in my case, for two reasons. Because of some uncalled-for behavior that I have personally witnessed and/or experienced, and, because PAPD as a whole is unwilling to be *managed* and to be *accountable* like all of us have been in every job we ever had. Part of it is the often-maligned "police union" which acts to protect all officers regardless of misconduct, part of it is general police culture them vs us, and part of it is the training and/or early on-the-job experience, where, somehow they learn to fear anyone within 20 feet, and that all citizens must instantly obey them or suffer the consequences, including being shot.

If any police officers read this: If you are a law-abiding, citizen-respecting officer yourself, you have everything to gain by bringing PAPD under strong management and oversight. Accountability will help you in your job and make you and the public safer.


Jennifer
another community
on Jul 1, 2020 at 2:35 pm
Jennifer, another community
on Jul 1, 2020 at 2:35 pm
6 people like this

I will always trust the police, and thankfully I've never had to call them. I do believe in holding police officers accountable, but if you have an attitude with the police, you're only hurting yourself. Unless you're the criminal element, I will never understand disrespect towards the police... or any authority.


StatusQuo
Crescent Park
on Jul 1, 2020 at 3:13 pm
StatusQuo, Crescent Park
on Jul 1, 2020 at 3:13 pm
Like this comment

Please do return to the status quo and stop this ridiculous BS attacking the police.


Co-option of Race Equity
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 1, 2020 at 3:32 pm
Co-option of Race Equity, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 1, 2020 at 3:32 pm
5 people like this

One of 4 scripted presentations by the PAPD Chief just ended, with no questions taken. This was the opening event for what the city terms, "Racial Equity" on its site. Again this week the Police Chief will have the megaphone for a 2-person panel with the City Manager who hasn't expressed enthusiasm for reform.

This is counter to our committment to actual Racial Equity, including police reform by the city council that is looking beyond 8 can't wait. We live in an area rich with knowledgeable articulate people, including academics and activists, who can bring deeply thoughtful and personal insight to the subject of Racial Equity - were Henrietta Burroughs, LaDoris Cordell, or Clayborne Carson contacted? No.

The city cannot start an examination of Racial Equity this way and expect the public to trust its sincerity.


Tyler
East Palo Alto
on Jul 1, 2020 at 11:31 pm
Tyler, East Palo Alto
on Jul 1, 2020 at 11:31 pm
2 people like this

@ Jennifer,
Brooke Duthie said he has completely rethought his view of police.
"Being a white man who doesn't live in the inner city," he said, "you hear stories of injustice done to minorities and about people picked on by police, but I never understood it until after that night."
Web Link

Your view of the police is because you live in an insulated environment and therefore your perspective is borne out of ignorance, self inflicted at that. Imagine being pulled over 10 times for a tail out being out when it is not out. You're likely to become a little upset on the tenth time which will be falsely construed as being disrespectful but it was the police who were disrespectful the previous 9 times.

Why Cops Lie:
Web Link
Web Link


Sally
Downtown North
on Jul 2, 2020 at 10:53 am
Sally, Downtown North
on Jul 2, 2020 at 10:53 am
10 people like this

Nothing like spending taxpayer money on Public Relations campaigns aimed at taxpayers.


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