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Palo Alto looks to revise police use-of-force policies, but chief warns some changes go too far

Original post made on Aug 20, 2020

After quickly banning officers from using the carotid hold, Palo Alto police is pushing back against some reforms that the city is considering to address concerns about police brutality.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, August 20, 2020, 9:18 AM

Comments (20)

79 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 20, 2020 at 10:45 am

Nayeli is a registered user.

I'm glad that the PAPD is looking into ways to avoid violence when it is unnecessary in apprehensions. A person who isn't violent or has no history of violence is less likely to be a threat.

However, the largest issue of commonality that leads to "police violence" is that suspects either RESIST ARREST or ASSAULT (either or an officer or a bystander). When protests broke out across the country in 2014 (following the shooting of Michael Brown after he assaulted a clerk and then an officer) and 2015, activists ignored this central issue.

During and after the violent riots and incidents of looting in Fergeson, Missouri (following the Brown shooting) and in places like Baltimore in 2015, activists ignored these two crucial common issues associated with police violence.

Consequently, the question is whether or not any of these policies will actually protect or save lives OR if they will lead to even more lived hurt or killed. The goal of the police is not to protect criminals during their crimes. Rather, it is to protect the innocent.

Of course, even criminals are legally "innocent until proven guilty." However, police are given the authority to stop an imminent threat. The problem is that the idea of a "threat" is subjective.

In the case of George Floyd, he was resisting arrest. Consequently, force could (and should) be used to subdue him. However, the extent by which that force was used was lethal. I'm not certain if the officers fully believed that it would be. However, the one officer with his knee on Floyd's neck (apparently) killed him. Still, of course, that officer is also "innocent until proven guilty."

We do want our local officers to avoid deaths or injuries when apprehending suspects. Lethal force should ALWAYS be the last option. Yet, there are instances when protecting others (or themselves), they have to make a split-second decision to use force (including deadly force).

Personally, I want the PAPD to have the power to save lives -- even if this means retaining the power to use such force. The way to do this is to implement policies that educate officers about ways to avoid it.

At the same time, none of these policies fix the scenarios that lead to most uses of force. How do we train individuals to respect authority? How do we teach people to stop resisting arrest?

As a Hispanic woman, I'll point out that my racial-ethnic group commits a disproportionate number of crimes in this country. Consequently, the rate of Hispanic arrest is higher.

It is my view that this is something that needs to be taught in schools.

Unfortunately, law enforcement isn't respected in certain communities. Whether by experience, conspiracy theory, the one-sided presentation by activists or by media presentations of law enforcement, many people in certain racial-ethnic communities view law enforcement with fear or suspicion.

Schools should endeavor to teach children from a young age how to respond if they are approached by officers. Screaming, yelling, running or resisting arrest is directly tied to a forceful police response.

Yet, even a decidedly proper use of force often ends up with the apprehended suspect being viewed as a victim or martyr. The perception of law enforcement is so low among our particular racial-ethnic communities that some members of our communities have more respect for the suspect than the officer apprehending the suspect.

How do we make clear what is already statistically clear -- that the vast majority of officers are good people doing difficult jobs in circumstances that are often difficult? It doesn't help when the choir that sings the ridiculous narrative of "systemic racism in the PAPD" drowns out these truths.

66 people like this
Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Aug 20, 2020 at 11:17 am

Jennifer is a registered user.

Quit committing crimes -- quit resisting arrest -- cooperate with the police -- respect the police -- case closed. People don't get it because they don't want to get it.

11 people like this
Posted by Carl Jones
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 20, 2020 at 2:13 pm

Carl Jones is a registered user.

I don't think that you "get it".
"Quit committing crimes" is not and evidently has not been sufficient for quite some time for certain segments of our population to avoid being inappropriately and unjustly hassled (and arrested). I cannot, but others can certainly provide input from personal experience. Evidence shows that the problem heretofore has been primarily with the police. And anyone who is paying attention now can see and hear that those segments are tired and fed up with it. So is there much wonder that they have lost respect for the police and are pissed off when it happens to them (again)?
So, who starts first in the corrective and healing process? My position has moved. I now believe that it must be the police who take the first steps. And the steps need to be significant. The actions performed by police almost every day across the country (including murder, not just homicide) rise to the level of atrocities. And almost none is punished. As much as I respect the police, this has to change.

5 people like this
Posted by Carl Jones
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 20, 2020 at 2:33 pm

Carl Jones is a registered user.

I had many feelings about your post. And of course, 'feelings' can get us into trouble because they can cause a misinterpretation and misunderstanding of what was intended. So let me just focus on your last two paragraphs, from which I have copied below.

"decidedly proper use of force"
Ah, there's the rub. Who decides? And how do we make it clear to the police where the line is, beyond which they cannot go? I do not have a good answer to that question. But I *do* believe that reasonable people across the cultural and political spectrum can agree when certain actions are *clearly* in violation not only of written guidelines, but also of basic morality and our common humanity, for which punishment should be swift and severe. Examples: kneeling on the throat of an individual and shooting a fleeing suspect in the back.

"statistically clear -- that the vast majority of officers are good people doing difficult jobs in circumstances that are often difficult"
I totally agree with this. HOWEVER, what is also clear (to me) is that there is a prevailing 'keep your mouth shut' among the ranks of police in general across the country. There is no systematic rooting out of the bad apples by the good apples. So where is the good apples' pride in their own profession? What I am sad to say that I have only learned from recent events is that the lack of speaking out and rooting out is an implicit condoning the actions of the bad apples. And *THAT* itself is systemic racism.

11 people like this
Posted by PAPD - Brutality
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 20, 2020 at 2:56 pm

PAPD - Brutality is a registered user.

@Jennifer, [portion removed]

Assault is a crime. Assault by police is a crime. Unjustified use of force by police is criminal. Police who commit assault are criminals. Police who witness other police committing criminal assault without intervening are criminals.

We need our police to behave as we expect the rest of our citizens to behave; as law abiding citizens, just like everyone else.

25 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 22, 2020 at 10:05 am

Resident is a registered user.

What about the fact that George Floyd overdosed on Fentanyl and his actual cause of death is dubious? Or the video evidence that shows he said "I can't breathe" and acting unhinged long before the " knee incident"?
The way I see it, the entire BLM explosion over this event, with the riots and damage and burned buildings and ruined businesses that resulted, is a result of the mainstream media recklessly misrepresenting the story. This was all so unnecessary!

25 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 22, 2020 at 10:21 am

Resident is a registered user.

... and now totally random police departments all over the country are getting defunded over a single, dubious event in Minnesota? Police departments that had NOTHING to do with it. SUDDENLY there's a problem with "Palo Alto Police". Wtf? All because of media talking heads hyperventilating about it, corrupt lawyers abusing our judicial system over it (ever heard of Kim Gardner??) and cynical Democrat politicians/Hollywood "celebrities" harping over mythical "systemic racism" so they can virtue signal and distract people away from their own abundance and corruption...
...all based on one single event in Minneapolis, a false cause of death, tiny, fake story, millions of things like this, death, murder, injustice happening all the time in our country to people of all skin colors but we have to focus on THIS and make a titanic volcano out of a molehill.

It's political correctness ran completely amok. It's propaganda and groupthink in action. More than anything, it's the sinister power of the media to easily lie and brainwash the masses. People copy one another to fit in, and right now the hot trend is "black lives matter" as if someone said they didn't.
It's really that shallow.

8 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 22, 2020 at 10:52 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

I have real concerns about each city on the peninsula getting consumed by this topic. We live in a county - can the police people in the county get together to arrive at basic standards they all will work to? On any day we will have to share resources so have a standard set of guidelines would be to everyone's benefit.

When we have people who are running for office heading up an activity it gives the appearance of self promotion at the expense of the police force. We have a city manager and a city lawyer - who is that these days? We have a police force that reports to the city and a person who is paid to run that activity. A city is suppose to run within the paid public officials appointed to specific jobs in the city based on their "expertise". We are starting to see the tail wagging the dog here - not the dog wagging the tail.

13 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 24, 2020 at 12:45 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

I am noting that as soon as the PACC went on vacation the news cycle was filled with various city Commissions venting their rage. The HRC has involved itself in Foothill Park, Police planning, racial profiling, city art in the streets. And the news cycle is supporting all of this and pounding away on these topics.

So congratulations you all have a mission to go on and are trying to mangle the public opinion on these topics. You all are in the business of public opinion. But this is a university city and "opinion" gets evaluated from a lot of criteria. One being how old are the reporters that are writing this all up? They are not doing the due diligence of looking at what the city requirements are on these topics - just rolling public opinion on what ever the current wave is. And by not noting what the rules of road are you leave everyone in the position of trying to figure out what the rules of road are.

Bottom line - get out of the police business. No one paid you to take over for the city. We have a county legal office that is paid to do that. We have city employees paid to do that. And we have people we voted for who are paid to do that.

5 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 24, 2020 at 3:17 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

All attempts to reform the police anywhere in the US have failed. I'm not including PA police in that category, but many police departments have become racist, criminal militarized militias. The solution is not meaningless "reform". The solution is defunding and abolishing police and replacing it with a hybrid of community policing and highly trained, highly vetted professionals. Those professionals will take orders from the community representatives riding and walking with them. No cop would be allowed to use any kind of weapon or deploy force unless authorized to do so by the community representative.

Many police departments have the word "police" attached to them, but they are nothing more than criminal organization and it is high time we protect the public from them. Under President* Trump the US became a police state, and it is time to put an end to this abomination.

Posted by MVresident2003
a resident of Mountain View

on Aug 24, 2020 at 9:57 pm

MVresident2003 is a registered user.

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Posted by MVresident2003
a resident of Mountain View

on Aug 24, 2020 at 10:21 pm

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14 people like this
Posted by AlexDeLarge
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 25, 2020 at 1:03 am

AlexDeLarge is a registered user.

As a PA native, that's lived in other metro areas nationally and worldwide, I think the PAPD are a community asset and reform is is a knee jerk reaction by the serious ill informed. Just my 2 cents.

3 people like this
Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 27, 2020 at 8:28 am

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

> The department also proposes allowing officers to use deadly force when they "reasonably believe" that its use is necessary.

^ There should be a stipulation...only when a suspect is actually armed & shooting at them.

Plus, no shooting suspects in the back even if they are fleeing (and unarmed)...a dishonorable practice that was disdained even in the 'wild west'.

Maybe hire/recruit more police dogs for unarmed pursuits...less expensive from the standpoint of care/feeding & potential lawsuits for unwarranted police shootings of UNARMED suspects.

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Posted by Mid Town Dad
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 27, 2020 at 10:36 pm

Mid Town Dad is a registered user.

Respect the police? Bull. They should respect the public. PAPD killed a special needs adult waving a dinner knife. They shot him in the street!!! Our cops are taught to win at any cost. They are military in blue. Life is precious. Take the time to preserve it.

2 people like this
Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 28, 2020 at 8:32 am

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

It's somewhat peculiar how so many of these police-related shootings seem to require the firing of 7-12 (or more) rounds in order to take down a fleeing & oftentimes unarmed suspect.

Perhaps there is some form of excitement (i.e. 'getting off') in the process.

Given the mandatory time cops spend at departmental shooting ranges, the need to unload an entire clip in pursuit of a fleeing or uncooperative suspect seems excessive.

3 people like this
Posted by To Lee Forrest
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2020 at 2:46 pm

To Lee Forrest is a registered user.

Having never shot a fleeing person myself, I cannot comment on your, ummm, (informed?) comment.

I think it is worth taking a fresh look at the guidelines for PAPD in light of changing public values around this. That said, let's not put all police in one bucket. They are each individuals and they should dealt with as individuals. Otherwise, we are exercising a kind of prejudice toward them.--Aren't we?

I think we can be more effective working on this together if we acknowledge problems with policing practice and policy and seek solutions in an open minded way--without blaming all police.

2 people like this
Posted by ct resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 28, 2020 at 11:01 pm

ct resident is a registered user.

Getting rid of qualified immunity is one action that I believe will have a huge impact in both reducing violence by the police and also making policing unattractive to racist applicants who would then be liable for their actions.

2 people like this
Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 29, 2020 at 7:28 am

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

@ct resident
You brought up an excellent point as your suggestion is the 1st step towards progressive police reform.

Chances are this measure would be vehemently opposed by the police associations/unions.

3 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 2, 2020 at 1:47 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

In San Jose at their big blowup some went over to the mayors house and spray painted it. Now we have two cities in the state that have experienced destruction - both at the mayor's houses. And a huge crowd stood around there and yelled.

There seems to be some code out there in Blue States that you let them do what ever they want to do - despite that you are on their side theoretically. Because they have called up and threatened they will do worse?

Where is Governor Newsom in this mess. He needs to shut down this type of activity. And the police need to be called in to stop this mess. You all keep trying to blame the R's but the D's are doing nothing. This is everyone's city - protect it.

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