Chief's new advisory group targets neighborhood concerns | March 29, 2019 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - March 29, 2019

Chief's new advisory group targets neighborhood concerns

Traffic, parking and police use of video footage tops initial discussions

by Sue Dremann

Barron Park resident Ann Pianetta, like many other Palo Altans, has issues in her neighborhood with parking. When she joined the new police Chief's Advisory Group, she found it gave her unprecedented access to get results she hadn't thought possible.

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Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be emailed at


10 people like this
Posted by So Much More Can Be Done To Prevent PA Crime
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 29, 2019 at 10:09 am

The various neighborhoods should also be organizing crime prevention watch patrols. Have a residential volunteer program...give then T-shirts specifying as such & armed with their smartphone, they can report crimes & suspicious-looking individuals in their respective neighborhoods.

The PAPD is restricted by profiling but residents are free to do so. If someone does not appear to belong in one's neck of the woods, a simple call to the PAPD can warrant a 'stop & check' procedure & if a warrant happens to be outstanding, the suspicious person can be arrested.

The same goes for having a direct access-line to ICE as law enforcement agencies can then detain any illegal alien with a past criminal record.

In other areas (i.e. downtown PA, parks etc.), this program could also reduce sexual assaults & robberies as visual recognition of anyone wearing a neighborhood watch T-shirt would be cause for seconds thoughts of possibly being arrested via reportage. An ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure so they say.

Either that or start utilizing the PAPD reserve officers units as all they seem to do is direct traffic at Stanford football games. This might prove to be an even better deterent as PA reserve officers have badges & carry real guns.

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Posted by Michael H
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 29, 2019 at 11:33 am

Michael H is a registered user.

Why isn't the Professorvillle neighborhood represented on the advisory group?

3 people like this
Posted by He must go
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 29, 2019 at 12:42 pm

Michael, they must of forgotten to ask you.

3 people like this
Posted by Walking The Mean Streets Of Professorville
a resident of University South
on Mar 29, 2019 at 12:53 pm

> Why isn't the Professorvillle neighborhood represented on the advisory group?

Because it is a crime-free neighborhood?

1 person likes this
Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 30, 2019 at 9:52 am

This article about the Police Chief’s advisory group seems to highlight problems with the Police Department that need systemic/organizational correction, not “back doors” like we see here—

“When parked cars near street intersections began blocking drivers' views, Pianetta wrote an email to Jonsen about the issue and they met. Within a week, she saw an officer looking over the situation.”

Why is it that when people see problems that there is not a defined communication channel to the police which results in action, without having to involve the Chief of Police? There is now an on-line reporting form for reporting situations of a non-emergency nature that people can use to report problems for which police attention is appropriate. Why wouldn’t the person emailing the Chief not take the time to submit a more formal report which can be logged, and acted upon by the department? If the Chief has to be involved in small problems like this, there is a clear management problem in the department.

Whether this Chief recognizes this situation as a possible failure in the department dealing with the public or sees this as an opportunity to “smooze” with the public is an open question.

This problem about blocked views at corners happens all over the city. Unless the parking ordinances are changed so that vehicles can not legally park so close to a corner than on-coming traffic is obscured, what can the police do? Should it turn out that some sort of report were to be generated by the police pointing out that not allowing parking close to corners would increase safe driving conditions--which resulted in Transportation Department action--then maybe this would be a good thing. Not clear that that sort of change is envisioned by the Police Chief or this committee.

4 people like this
Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 30, 2019 at 11:08 am

This topic of crime in Palo Alto undoubtedly would come up in any discussion of problems here in Palo Alto. But just how big a problem is it? The Police offer some insight via publishing data known as Uniform Crime Reporting data, which can be found at the link below:

Web Link

Crimes tend to be violent, or non-violent/property-based, so to make sense of this data one needs to focus on the two groups separately. Most agencies add all of the crime numbers together, which provides an index to the level of crime in a town, or jurisdiction. The data for Palo Alto clearly shows that there are very few violent crimes in this town, but a moderate number of property-based crimes.

There are other crime statistics, some of which are provided by the Police to the State and some to the FBI. Unfortunately, the PAPD has never been very transparent with some of these details, like the clearance rates for each category of crime, and other data, like the cities where criminals call home. Some of these details can be found on the Police log, but not in a convenient format for downloading and subsequent processing.

Given how open Palo Alto is, solving property crimes may be close to impossible .. particularly if the cost of the stolen items is not high.

The following is data about thefts in Palo Alto for 2017:

Over $400:..893
Under $50:.222

Anyone reading the local papers would be aware that there are a goodly number of property-based crimes involving motor vehicles. Additionally, about 250 bicycles a year are reported stolen.

The crime numbers seem to bounce around in a tight range, which opens the question—how does the current Police organization and activity relate to crime in town? And just what can be down to lower these numbers.

If people are not willing to lock their cars and not leave valuables in their cars in plain sight, there isn’t much the Police can do. On the other hand, increasing the use of surveillance technology might provide clues to vehicles entering and leaving the city about the times that crimes occur.

So, one of the things the Police can do is become more transparent where crime data is concerned—particularly clearance numbers.

8 people like this
Posted by Protect The PA Community
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 30, 2019 at 3:09 pm

An armed Civil Patrol consisting of Palo Alto residents & trained by the PAPD would serve as a major crime deterrent.

Since the PAPD reserve officers are volunteer & primarily utilized for traffic control and/or emergencies only, a residential civil patrol could fill the manpower gap.

And when I say 'armed' it doesn't necessarily have to involve live ammo...maybe high-velocity rubber bullets used for riot control or tranquilizer darts that Animal Control uses to sedate wild beasts.

A uniform or photo ID laminate would identify members of this protective community service and the by-words should always first (as in 911 on their cell phones) & only shoot projectiles as a last resort (i.e. if/when in personal danger).

Not recommending a vigilante committee but rather a vigilance group of concerned PA citizens.

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