by Don Kazak
Gertrude Wilks heard a knock on the door of her East Palo Alto home Feb. 10.
Before the 80 year old could get to the front door, however, a group of police, probation and parole officers burst through and rushed past her.
"They were heading for the bedrooms," said Wilks, who added that at her age she doesn't move quickly. She got out of the way to avoid being knocked over, she said.
The officers were looking for Wilks' 27-year-old grandson, who lives with her and is on probation.
The officers, as many as 10, Wilks said, were doing a sweep of homes where people on probation and parolees live. It's part of an anti-crime crackdown started Jan. 20 by East Palo police and other agencies.
Wilks was upset enough by the experience to speak before the East Palo Alto City Council last week. She is angry no one took the time to explain to her what the police and probation officers were doing in the Saratoga Street house where she has lived since 1952.
"They didn't show any consideration," Wilks said of the officers.
Police Chief Ron Davis said one East Palo Alto officer was among those who went to Wilks' house on Feb. 10. The rest were parole and probation officers, along with one Palo Alto officer.
"I wouldn't have said anything (to the council) if someone had explained it to me," Wilks said.
Davis, who didn't know the details of what happened, said the incident may be helpful for others in the city to know about.
"We have a lot of guys coming back (from prison) to their grandparents," Davis said. "But do they realize the rights they are waiving?"
Police, probation and parole officers can enter the home of any parolee or person on probation at any time.
Wilks said she now understands what happened and why. But she is still miffed at how she was treated in her own home, with no one offering an explanation.
Wilks served 11 years on the Municipal Advisory Council that existed before East Palo Alto incorporated in 1983. She headed the advisory council for three years, akin to being the city's mayor in those days.
"As a senior, I felt very abused," Wilks said. "Let me know what you're trying to do."