Residents demand more transparency, accountability in next police chief | March 18, 2022 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - March 18, 2022

Residents demand more transparency, accountability in next police chief

Palo Alto kicks off search for Robert Jonsen's replacement with public hearing

by Gennady Sheyner

Palo Alto's new police chief should be committed to transparency, focused on accountability and have a record of honesty and integrity.

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Email Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner at [email protected]


Posted by Anneke
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 11, 2022 at 9:56 am

Anneke is a registered user.

Transparency laws improve accountability and trust in law enforcement.

Rather than allowing officers to hide behind anonymity, transparency laws force law enforcement agencies to admit to the public that there may be “bad apples” in their bunch. An additional benefit of this accountability is that it also serves as a mechanism to reward and publicize good behavior.

Posted by Barron Parker Too
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 11, 2022 at 11:23 am

Barron Parker Too is a registered user.

Sheyner has given us yet another slanted hit piece on policing in Palo Alto. There are a very small number of people in the city that hate the police, that wish to defund, demotivate and generally reduce the ability of the police to keep Palo Alto safe. Sheyner repeatedly goes to those people for their warped views. An example is Aron James, a lawyer who for decades has maligned the Palo Alto police, as a way to find clients to sue the city.

We have seen in the past two years what happens when movements (e.g., BLM), politicians and prosecutors work to destroy policing. The consequences are devastating. Murders in many of our large cities have increased to rates not seen since the bad 1990s. Palo Alto is still relatively safe, because the police have been effective in preventing and solving crimes. Most people in Palo Alto appreciate and have confidence in our police. This needs to be remembered when reading articles like this.

Posted by Local Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 11, 2022 at 12:39 pm

Local Resident is a registered user.

Its possible to have a police department that keeps us safe while practicing fair and equitable policing. The recent departure of a number of old timers including members of the law suit about the mural and DeStefanos indicates to me that culture change is already taking place in a postive direction. I speculate that some of those old timers were unhappy with actual accountability, transparency and social justice improvements. In my view this is yet another step in the right direction.

Posted by Aletheia
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 11, 2022 at 4:44 pm

Aletheia is a registered user.

I have never had a positive encounter with any police officer. Bike stolen? File a report online and good luck! How's the investigation going guys? Car broken into? "Call your insurance company." I say fire 'em all and use the saved money to buy everyone guns.

Posted by S. Underwood
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 12, 2022 at 4:48 pm

S. Underwood is a registered user.

To protect your privacy, all further communications from the police department and the city on this matter will be encrypted. Feel safe and secure yet!?

Posted by scott
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 15, 2022 at 12:13 am

scott is a registered user.

Since someone is calling this a "slanted hit piece on policing," here's
Web Link a direct link to the public comment section of the meeting in question. You can listen to everyone who gave comment, and decide for yourself if the reporting is a fair description of the meeting.

Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 17, 2022 at 5:49 pm

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

I think it is important not to lump people together, including people who work in law enforcement. I disagree with a number of decisions made by the current police chief. Transparency is critically important for an organization we authorize to enforce our laws.

That said, front line officers are not driving departmental policy. The chief, to a large extent, determines the culture of the department through his decisions about how to implement policy, hiring, training practices and through how he manages and controls systems associated with the department's work. I hope we can find a chief who will return to more progressive policies and practices. Former Chief Burns did a fine job, and I would like to see another chief of similar character, leadership style, and values.

I have been very fortunate to work as a community volunteer with a number of police officers. Many PAPD officers are a credit to the uniform, the department and our community--professional, caring, thoughtful people. I honor and appreciate their service. They do struggle with bureaucratic and procedural challenges caused by staffing, budget cuts, systems and facilities that could work better. The new public safety building will address that last bit.

Rather than criticizing and looking back, let's look forward. What kind of leader do we want in this role?

Posted by Duveneck neighbor
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 17, 2022 at 9:19 pm

Duveneck neighbor is a registered user.

#Barron Parker Too,

You're out of step, in my opinion. With his substantive and accurate reporting, Mr Sheyner has hit the mark on EVERY point I would have wanted to make.

We, the members of this community, deserve transparency and accountability from our police force. On the other hand, we have not served our law enforcement officers well, insofar as we have turned a blind eye toward previous Council, City Manager, Chief of Police, City Attorney, District Attorney, Chief Medical Examiner, and Police Union actions, which (taken as a whole) have created obscurity and hidden from scrutiny. Our officers deserve to be as safe as possible in the execution of the duties which the *community* has specified. We have a disconnect between the tactics, training, and technologies available to our police officers, in the execution of their duties on our behalf. Instead, 'fraternal' behaviors (and by that I mean, some of the worst behaviors found in university and college fraternities) have taken hold. The Alvarez incident, for instance, was not an example of a 'bad apple' officer -- because *all* of the officers present acquiesced passively to the criminal behavior.

There is no way to change that narrative. The proofs are in the settlements paid (which come out of our pockets, not those of the officers at fault), and in the continued struggles police and community have with our relationship.

If it takes excusing *every* officer from the force, without prejudice and at full pension, and re-building the department from the ground up, with an instilled commitment to transparency and accountability, to achieve the goals of this community... then that's the price we must pay for having been inattentive for so long.

Barron Parker Too's perspective leads to fear and loathing and dissension and divisive. That's what we have today, and I say, enough. Our efforts are not at all about 'destroying policing', but rather about re-imagining policing.

Posted by Barron Parker Too
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 20, 2022 at 10:54 pm

Barron Parker Too is a registered user.

@ Duveneck neighbor

Most happy to be "out of step" with you. Here's your plan, in your own words:

>> If it takes excusing *every* officer from the force, without prejudice and at full pension,
>> and re-building the department from the ground up, with an instilled commitment to
>> transparency and accountability, to achieve the goals of this community...
>> then that's the price we must pay for having been inattentive for so long.

Let's see. You propose to fire (you call it "excusing" -- how sweetly polite) every officer on the police force. Give them full pension (how magnificently generous: full pension is 90% salary for life). And then after you've destroyed all policing in the city, and the criminals are having a field day, you will then try to hire a new set of police officers.

Thank you for explaining so clearly the methods and goals of your movement to destroy policing in Palo Alto.

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