I have just returned from a two-week vacation. In the last few days, I have come to fully appreciate the concern felt by firefighters about how the City of Palo Alto recognizes firefighters in other jurisdictions who have died in the line of duty. Specifically, I would like to address two issues:
1) My comments as reported in the local press;
2) City protocols for flag lowering and firefighter participation in memorial services honoring fallen firefighters.
It was reported in the local press that I made an uncaring comment while discussing Palo Alto’s flag lowering protocols. I do not recall making such a statement. Assuming I did make it, I can certainly understand how it was insensitive and hurtful. Therefore, I would like to apologize for my comment and the harm that it caused.
When the issue of protocols was raised at the City Council meeting on July 30, I immediately asked Assistant City Manager Emily Harrison to review our existing policy. Emily has had three meetings to discuss a new policy and I am currently working with her, Fire Chief Nick Marinaro and Police Chief Lynne Johnson to finalize recommended policy changes by the end of this month.
My goal is to allow more flexibility for participation of public safety personnel in memorial events and authorize the lowering of flags even when the President and Governor have not ordered flags to be lowered.
I believe that formalizing these policies and procedures will allow us to properly and respectfully honor our fallen public employees.
The City appreciates the inherent risks in public safety work. I also understand the value of the collective grieving process involved in honoring those who have died in the line of duty. Hopefully, our new policies will allow the flexibility needed to honor the fallen.
Palo Alto City Manager