Town Square

Post a New Topic

Guest Opinion: A sensible prescription for police reform starts with asking questions

Original post made on Jul 17, 2020

Face it. We the people have fostered the conditions under which police departments, including our own in Palo Alto, have emerged into violence-tolerant institutions.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, July 17, 2020, 6:57 AM

Comments (15)

6 people like this
Posted by Robert Cronin
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 17, 2020 at 10:35 am

Two kinds of people want to be law enforcement officers: Ones who want to serve and protect, and ones who just want to beat up on people. We need to fire the latter and not hire them in the first place.

26 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Jul 17, 2020 at 12:56 pm

If more members of one ethnic group than others, are being arrested, take a look at who's hanging out on the streets. Hint: If you don't want to be arrested, quit hanging out on the streets at all hours of the day and night; get a job, go to school, join the military.

Cops, like attorneys, doctors, probation officers, social workers, etc., have to hang together due to the specialized nature of their work with members of the consuming public.

TO ROBERT CRONIN: I invite you to become a police officer, and see what the job of a police officer entails. Granted, there are bad apples in every bunch, but you need to become a cop yourself before you criticize. Get back to us here after you've worked the streets for awhile, Mr. Cronin.

Like this comment
Posted by Joel
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 17, 2020 at 1:37 pm

Great suggestions by Mickie. Some shameful behaviors by a few police officers who are getting a slap on the hand for their abuses. To see Officer DeStephano get off scot free after attacking Julio Arevalo is shameful. There are some great Palo Alto police officers who serve the community with integrity; working tirelessly with community members in Emergency Preparedness to keep us all safe. Changes are definitely needed in recruitment and training of Palo Alto police officers.

3 people like this
Posted by Robert Cronin
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 17, 2020 at 5:27 pm

Pearl. These "bad apples" kill. And there aren't just a few of them. Read the news.

4 people like this
Posted by Brown man in the hills
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jul 18, 2020 at 5:16 pm

To Robert C: I agree With Pearl. Why would anyone put themselves in a compromising position. Furthermore, when someone is pulled over or is questioned by an officer, why would one become combative or resistant? If you feel threaten in any way or if you feel you are incriminating yourself, it’s your constitutional right to ask for an attorney. Floyd was in unfortunate incident, but how about the person who fought with the officer and took his taser from him, or the kid who reached for the officer’s gun, etc (the list is endless). Nobody seems to address those issues. Yes there are a bad apples and those should be tossed, but tell me, what profession do you know of that doesn’t have bad apples?

1 person likes this
Posted by Robert Cronin
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 18, 2020 at 6:13 pm

Brown Man. Bad apples that kill? No other country has out-of-control police like this one. Police killings in Britain are in single digits. In this country they are about 1000/yr.

10 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Jul 18, 2020 at 6:30 pm

ROBERT CRONIN: Police in Britain haven't carried guns since 1936; the only weapon they carry is a baton.

2 people like this
Posted by Robert Cronin
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 18, 2020 at 9:34 pm

Pearl. Exactly. Our policemen are armed to the teeth, and they use those weapons, not always wisely.

14 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Jul 18, 2020 at 10:01 pm

ROBERT CRONIN: But if the cops in Britain were "armed to the teeth", they also might not "use their weapons wisely", right?. I, again, invite you to sign up to be a cop and work the streets for a few years to see what cops have to deal with day in and day out.

2 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 19, 2020 at 4:48 am

To discuss this subject one really has to at least mention and touch on the idea of "qualified immunity". It is covered very well in a podcast called 5-4 which is all about the Supreme Court and its opinions.

''Qualified immunity is a judicially created doctrine that shields government officials from being held personally liable for constitutional violations—like the right to be free from excessive police force—for money damages under federal law so long as the officials did not violate “clearly established” law.''

There are a few stories in that podcast that will turn your stomach. Obviously murder by cops and the podcast is about how they keep the criterion for police actions open so that the police rarely are on the hook for their bad actions.

Here is a link to the podcast: Web Link

10 people like this
Posted by PA native
a resident of Ventura
on Jul 19, 2020 at 12:33 pm

“Perhaps we cannot prohibit the police unions — which are among the richest campaign contributors in the state“...
How convenient. Police and Fire unions (Amongst every other) heavily favor Democratic candidates. If this were the other way around, the unions would be dismantled and fully attacked. If people don’t see that this, as well as the coronavirus, have been fully politicized since the very beginning then you’re living in a bubble. Oh wait, everyone in Palo Alto with the loudest opinion DOES live in a bubble.
Wayne Benitez was a great cop and exactly what the PA citizens should want to have. The countless acts of heroism and good police work by him as well as 99% of cops go humbly unseen or spoken of because the local and National media don’t see the benefit in showing the public that good exists. Everyone lost their sense of reality while they live in this perfect bubble world - reaping the benefits of an extremely secure and safe Environment which provides you to think and speak out so “openly”, yet never accepts the fact that there are countless people working their butts off to keep that illusion. The people from Palo Alto and other surrounding areas expect every blue collar worker, cop, firefighter or whoever that serves them to be perfect because that’s how their algorithms work...
You want different statistics? You want to talk about systemic racism?.. How about you walk To the community of East Palo Alto And tell them all to cross the bridge and go hang out and loiter around Zuckerbergs neighborhood...Certainly all the loving, liberal Palo Altans won’t be nervous and call the cops or be so quick to hop on next Then the cops show up and are scrutinized by the same person who called for how a most likely combative customer will need force used against them.
Try working a job that Is pretty much impossible but every day you go to work, get spit on, verbally harassed, punched, witness death, molestation, rape, etc. To ensure that the wealthy liberal elites don’t have to bear one second of reality - all just to be attacked by the same ones you’re protecting.
I say all cops, as well as firefighters(Given that fire needs scene security by PD) , should strike for one week and see how folks In Palo Alto feel.

3 people like this
Posted by Driver
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 19, 2020 at 11:34 pm

When someone says British police does not carry a gun, the next logical question is, is it because people are more law abiding? Without such clarifications, any conclusion based on such a statement does not make sense.

4 people like this
Posted by Robert Cronin
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 20, 2020 at 3:32 pm

Driver. According to The Economist magazine, policing in the U.S. is more difficult than in other advanced countries because we are, in fact, more violent, and the populace is heavily armed. American police are primed to believe that suspects are armed, and they react accordingly, in effect making minor offenses into capital crimes.
Pearl. I fear that I am not qualified to be a policeman. I'm too old (77), I am not by nature authoritarian, and I am afraid of guns. But I have to ask: If you were a policeman or policewoman, would you shoot a fleeing suspect multiple times in the back? Would you kneel on a suspect's neck until he dies? And if you didn't do these things, would you support and defend fellow officers who committed these crimes?

7 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Jul 20, 2020 at 10:16 pm

ROBERT CRONIN: I can't speculate how I might react in a situation. None of us can. We don't know how we're going to react until we're actually faced with a set of circumstances.

1 person likes this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 21, 2020 at 9:25 pm

pearl: I can't speculate how I might react in a situation. None of us can. We don't know how we're going to react until we're actually faced with a set of circumstances.

Then maybe a good place to start would be with the standards and protocols of the police. They don't seem to be followed very strictly and violations and excesses are accepted and not punished.

The police protections from the unions and from the doctrine of qualified immunity makes any attempt to police the police next to impossible.

Quite a few examples of this are detailed in the "5-4" podcast here: Web Link

An example was the Luna 2015 case where a high-speed chase was going on where a roadblock and spike strip were set out to catch a escaping criminal who was armed and said he would go out shooting. @ the 22 minute mark.

A police officer's superior had ordered the officer from atop an overpass, not to shoot at the car. The officer lined up and shot the driver anyway killing him. He later claimed he was trying to shoot the engine block and disable the car.

The Supreme Court voted 8-1 that the officer acted under qualified immunity. Sotomayor wrote the dissenting opinion saying that police cannot use deadly force unless their life is threatened, so that the 4th Amendment was not longer valid.

Later the officer claimed he was trying to shoot the engine block, ( of a car about to run into a spike strip ) except that as a marksman 4 of his 6 shots hit the driver's upper body. This particular officer had recently gotten a review saying that he should be more proactive. After the shooting he crowed saying "how's that for proactive".

Other cases like this where civilians were shot as well were discussed, and the failure of any of these officers to be held accountable for their actions was notable.

It is only when a big protest or public outcry is mounted that anything is even done, and still most cases relieve the officers of any responsibility. The court just moves the line as to what is acceptable.

There is a real problem here.

I do think there is a significant difference as mentioned between the US and other countries where the US has so many guns and angry out of control people that there is a difference and policing is more dangerous in the US than most developed countries. We do not bother to enforce our own laws.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.

Get the most important local news stories sent straight to your inbox daily.

Is there a polite way to say "Too much plastic"?
By Sherry Listgarten | 25 comments | 3,908 views

Community catering: How one SF Malaysian restaurant is delivering food to Peninsula neighborhoods
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 3,139 views

What I will remember about Ruth Bader Ginsburg
By Diana Diamond | 5 comments | 1,899 views

A Rainbow After the Storm
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 904 views

Premarital and Couples: See "Buck" for Couple's Tips
By Chandrama Anderson | 2 comments | 645 views


Who is your local hero?

Whether they're grocery shopping for a neighbor or volunteering for a nonprofit, you can spread the joy and support our journalism efforts by giving them a shout-out.

Learn More