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PA sergeant gets in confrontation over ticket

Original post made on Jul 9, 2008

A Palo Alto police sergeant has been disciplined following a confrontation last year after he was stopped for a traffic offense in another community.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, July 9, 2008, 10:41 AM

Comments (34)

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Posted by Good-Cop/Bad-Cop?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 9, 2008 at 2:35 pm

> When stopped, the sergeant "used profanity, made derogatory remarks
> about the officer's skills and stated that the officer would not
> receive any help or professional courtesy if he found himself in
> distress in Palo Alto in the future," Gennaco and Miller wrote.

If this had happened to a civilian, it's likely that charges of some sort would have been brought. The Weekly seems to have failed to understand this point in its reporting of the incident. Why is it that a Palo Alto cop can scream obscenities at a detaining police officer--and not be held accountable for it by the police of that municipality?

> Johnson said the incident was more complex than portrayed in
> the auditor's report.

Hmmm .. a civilian is stopped for, say, a broken tail light. The detaining officer points out the deficiency--writes up a "fixit ticket" and the motorist is on his way. How much more complex can this be?

> officer received formal discipline ..

Most of these "disciplines" disappear after five years. So .. this will likely be little more than a tap on the wrist.


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Posted by Above the law?
a resident of Stanford
on Jul 9, 2008 at 2:40 pm

We seem to have two threads coming from the same story. I poste dthis earlier on the other thread:


From the article:

"Johnson was outraged about how the story was portrayed in the Wednesday edition of the Daily Post, which had a headline of "Cop went nuts over ticket" with a subhead, "Supervisor wanted special treatment."

"It was a total exaggeration," Johnson said. "It's very infuriating."

Let's see :

"the sergeant "used profanity, made derogatory remarks about the officer's skills and stated that the officer would not receive any help or professional courtesy if he found himself in distress in Palo Alto in the future," Gennaco and Miller wrote."

Johnson feels that the officer did not go nuts and did not demand special treatment??


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Posted by wow
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 9, 2008 at 3:47 pm

Good cop/bad cop

You write " Why is it that a Palo Alto cop can scream obscenities at a detaining police officer--and not be held accountable for it by the police of that municipality?"

Did you not read the story? It clearly says officer was disciplined. So how can you ask why there is no accountability?

Matter of fact you even state that the officer was disciplined in your own post. Do you not consider being disciplined a matter of accountability?

With regards to your claiming it to be a "tap on the wrist" (less than a "slap" I presume), since there's no indication what the discipline was, there's no basis for your assertion.

And if it is a "tap", then that's what was deemed to be the appropriate discipline based on the review of the facts. Hardly amounts to lack of accountability despite your obvious rush to judgment.


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Posted by Good-Cop/Bad-Cop?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 9, 2008 at 4:04 pm

>tap on the wrist ..

You missed the point. If the "disciple" comes off the officer's record after five years .. then it is little more than a "tap on the wrist".

I personally know of an officer who was "disciplined", but promoted with a disciplinary action on his record .. Not clear what the impact of "discipline" is when the records are expunged at some point, and officers are promoted with disciplinary action on their records anyway.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by More-Info-Please
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 9, 2008 at 4:24 pm

The article doesn't indicate if the two officers were in uniform or not.

This would change things somewhat .. like whether this incident occurred during duty hours or not.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by wow
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 9, 2008 at 4:32 pm

More Info - aricle states both officers were off-duty

Bad Cop - This wasn't a criminal offense. It was an administrative disciplinary action. Why should it stay on their records forever?

If theyu do good work for 5 years and then get promoted, it's a pretty clear indication that they responded well to the discipline meted out to them (tap, slap or otherwise) and took note that bad judgment is not the way to move up the ranks.

Let's not confuse armed robbery with an inappropriate and non-professional profanity-laced outburst of frustration. The officer should be properly disciplined, not given a life (or death) sentence.




 +   Like this comment
Posted by Good-Cop/Bad-Cop?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 9, 2008 at 4:56 pm

> Why should it stay on their records forever?

Why not?

Cops have power that sometimes they abuse. We who hire them need every protection from these folks who have shown less that first-class judgment--in this case the retention of disciplinary actions on their records.

Oh .. by the way .. how is it you have come by this information about the officers being off-duty?


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Posted by Much more info please
a resident of another community
on Jul 9, 2008 at 5:02 pm

If the cops involved were the same ones involved with the Hopkins beating, wouldn't you want to know?

Or the ones involved with the inappropriate "tazing" case now going through the courts?

Unlike the last time a PA manager was disciplined, Benest and Baum can't lie and say there is only an oral report of this disciplinary action.

If disclosure of disciplinary documents is good enough for Assistant City Manager Emily Harrison, it's more than appropriate for any Police Supervisor.


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Posted by wow
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 9, 2008 at 5:44 pm

Bad Cop - Daily News or Post indicated both officers were off-duty.

Much More - I don't equate a profanity outburst with the Hopkins beating or inappropriate tazing. This is a cop who exercised poor judgment and has 5 years ahead of him where this incident will be reflected in conjunction with any other infractions he commits.

Police officers are human. They make mistakes just like anyone else. Since they carry guns, they should be held to a higher standard level pf professionalism and frustration-thresshold than the average joe. We're in violent agreement on this point.

What you're missing here is that if a cop responds to an administrative discipline and has no other performance issues for 5 years, that's a pretty good indication that the discipline got their attention and that they took the requisite steps to modify their behaviour.

If on the other hand they've learned nothing from the incident or continue to exhibit this behaviour, then their record will be filled with other circumstances of discipline. Again we're not talking armed robbery or rape here.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 9, 2008 at 7:02 pm

The very significant comment by Chief Johnson that everyone seems to have overlooked is: "Headlines and stories like this are what makes it really hard to recruit for police officers. Why do I want to go be a police officer when the media isn't objective in their reporting?" Johnson asked.

The Palo Alto Police Department like all Cities in the Bay Area is short staffed; this is significant because it is becoming harder and harder to recruit the kind of Police Officers the residents of Palo Alto expect.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Good-Cop/Bad-Cop?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 9, 2008 at 7:12 pm

> off-duty ..

Were the PA officers in uniform, or not?

> made a mistake ...

Pouring coffee on your pancakes--instead of syryp--is making a mistake. Screaming obscenities at a detaining officer over a faulty-
equipment vehicle stop, or even mentioning that you are a police office--rises to an abuse of power.

The residents need to be able to trust their police. Having someone with as loose a trigger as this one is worrisome.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by pete
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 9, 2008 at 7:54 pm

There was apparently more to the stop than reported in the press. A request for special treatment (by the PA officer) did not occur (per Johnson). It sounds like there may have been a personality conflict (there were two parties involved per Johnson) and "the two officers had know each other previously" per Sgt. Brown.

This is not to excuse what occurred. The PA supervisor was disciplined, apologized, and has this incident on his record.

I think Palo Alto is fortunate to have the high caliber police force it has. With over 60,000 incidents and interactions with the public during the year, it's reassuring to know there were so few complaints - about 20 as I recall.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by double standards
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 9, 2008 at 9:54 pm

I'm sorry, hundreds of people are unprofssinal to cops that pull them over every day. Just need to watch the dozens of tv shows tha capture video in officer's cars. So - joe citizen can be a jerk and it doesn't make news healines, but an off duty cop has it splashed over the headlines that he went "nuts." Come on folks, is this really news that anyone cares about Is this really the worst thing you can find to blog about. Now if same cop was to have this behavior on duty I would have an issue with it. He wasn't.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Avery
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 10, 2008 at 2:54 am

Is there a reason that the police are protective over their employee's names but show now care what-so-ever in releasing the names of Chilren's Theatre Suspects?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by lying cops
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 10, 2008 at 2:59 am

>>"Headlines and stories like this are what makes it really hard to recruit for police officers. >>Why do I want to go be a police officer when the media isn't objective in their reporting?" >>Johnson asked.

Why aren't you objective in evaluating Children's Theatre employees, Johnson???

>>Johnson said she could not reveal additional details about the incident to protect >>employees' privacy."

You never protected the privacy of the CT employees!!!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Barney
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 10, 2008 at 3:03 am

"Johnson said she could not reveal additional details about the incident to protect employees' privacy."

Nice to hear that Johnson is so concerned with her employee's privacy but had no such concern about releasing damming information on some other City PACT employees.




 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tim
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 10, 2008 at 4:50 am

As I recall, "lying cops" and "Barney", the PAPD released information only after intense pressure from PACT demanding some justification and explanation for the investigation. Ms. Johnson and the PAPD were being heavily criticized for not offering this information, despite their efforts to respect the privacy of those being investigated. You just reinforced Ms. Johnson's message about how difficult it must be to attract qualified people to join the police department. Who would want to accept a job that is dangerous, highly complex, and still face unreasonable criticism, no matter what course of action one takes. You cannot have it both ways.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Barney
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 10, 2008 at 6:35 am

Tim,

Think about it,

If the officer in question was removed from his post, put on administrative leave and immediately had his name released to the press with full press coverage then we might have a comparison, but no, the officer in question had his rights protected, (which they should be.)

This is not how the PACT employees were treated from the very beginning.

Barney


 +   Like this comment
Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 10, 2008 at 8:00 am

There is the "Police Officers' Bill of Rights", which protect all Police Officers in the State of California. Therefore, the Sgt involved can remain anonymous. There is also a Police Union who will support the Bill of Rights.

The Children's Theater employees do not have a Bill of Rights, and if they are Managers they don't have a Union.




 +   Like this comment
Posted by Becky Trout
Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
on Jul 10, 2008 at 1:37 pm

Becky Trout is a registered user.

The two Palo Alto police officers were not wearing uniforms.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by fireman
a resident of another community
on Jul 10, 2008 at 2:40 pm

Ms Johnson. The Law is the Law. Fix it ticket is the Law.

Could this no name PAPD officer, be Mr Yore?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by fireman
a resident of another community
on Jul 10, 2008 at 3:22 pm

Becky, How about WEAPONS? and BADGES? Most Cops do not leave home without them. So when a Police Officer pulls a suspect over. If the suspect is a cop, he has a duty to tell the other officer.
I am a police officer I have a weapon on me or in my car.

Other wise what do you think a police officer will think or how he will react. When he sees a weapon in the car?

Oh and most cops have ID telling someone they are a???? COP! You tell this to the other Cop so as to let the Police Officer doing his DUTY at the time. I understand what your job is about I am a cop also. I support and understand how it is out in the streets. Sorry.

I will get the light taken care of. Thanks. Be safe out there, my brother police officers.

I guess not in Palo Alto, A?

Sure seems that your services are way below the standard of the poorer and less educated cities that lay around Palo Alto.

Sure seems that they sure do get more of what they paid for.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Alec
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 10, 2008 at 3:37 pm

Please, be reasonable everyone. Sounds like there was some history here at a personal level between the two officers, and further sparks flew over a minor equipment violation. The PA officer was called on his behavior, apologized, and was disciplined for his actions. He probably was hit for a day or two loss of pay, or so people I know in the fire and police business have said. Officers should be held to a higher standard of behavior, both at work and off duty. In this case it sounds like the officer was held to a higher standard. Very few other professions would you face being disciplined over getting rude and angry with an officer stopping you for a minor traffic violation. Give the drama a rest and keep it real already.


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Posted by fireman
a resident of another community
on Jul 10, 2008 at 4:47 pm

Alec, what is real is many citizens get beat down for talking to cops the WRONG way. Look at this cities history with its police. Look at this Cities history period. What history. The One about hiding the information from the public, The one where the city Attourney does not want anything written down.

If there was "PERSONAL HISTORY" This Police officer, not being alone would have a witness to this" PERSONEL HISTORY" in action and would most likely be able to cover for THE PALO ALTO police officer.

And how do you know what happened to the officer, a day or two without pay?

I know what I saw working in the City for many years. I have seen this type of PERSON be promoted for his punishment? not punished or held accountable.

Oh and carry a gun, be held to a higher standard makes sense to me?

Again what people are asking for is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Not more lies and cover ups. With the ever changeing scale of punishment this city believe in.

I would say most of you have no idea what it is to be a cop or firefighter. try being a Paramedic?
But you sure seem to think you know what it is about and how it works?

Getto is Getto , no matter how many people you try to fool with your blindness to the truth and the real world.

Its a MATTER of Pride.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 10, 2008 at 11:21 pm

Eh, classic. Yes, citizen complaint would not have carried as much attention or CREDIBILITY as from a cop.

Also, where a citizen mouthing off, he might have been ticketed for every violation they could find on him or might have been physically searched, slammed, etc (good cops do this too, btw...it's culture).

As for officer getting punished worse than other professions...not really. Imagine if you were a business employee and caused a scene that ended up in the media while interacting with another business (whom your employer had good relations with).

Common sense says if you pull over someone you have a personal beef with (unless a dangerous violation) you just let them go so it they can't say you were influenced in professional judgement.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 10, 2008 at 11:26 pm

As far as the Daily Post saying he "nuts".

Yes, that's exaggeration. You'd expect that kind of wording in a tabloid or gossip blog and is NOT good journalism. From now on, I will be cautious with Daily Post's CREDIBILITY and doubt its MOTIVES and wording.

Nuts suggests an officer acting like in those TV or internet videos of motorists or off-duty cops yelling, screaming, jumping all around.

Normal people get heated and say the mentioned insults without actually going nuts. Just post neutrally please.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Norm
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 11, 2008 at 9:22 pm

Good for the PAPD cops..They are the only ones who could call the other officer on his behavior since they know how he should have acted. They helped all normal citizes out, except for the sarcastic ones on this site...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tim
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 12, 2008 at 4:08 am

"Alec, what is real is many citizens get beat down for talking to cops the WRONG way. Look at this cities history with its police. Look at this Cities history period. What history. The One about hiding the information from the public, The one where the city Attourney does not want anything written down."

1) Learn to spell.
2) Get a life.
3) If you don't like PA, feel free to stay away.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mr. BBQ
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 12, 2008 at 10:43 am

Mr. BBQ is a registered user.

The point here is the PA cop expected "professional courtesy"; which means over look my illegal actions. As a very general rule cops don't write up cops or fireman as a "professional courtesy", they feel they are above the law. (and most "always" they are) Have little respect for our men in blue!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by TiredOfPoliceMisbehaving
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 12, 2008 at 2:03 pm

I wonder if Johnson will ever accept rightful censure of one of her officers. The reputation of the Palo Alto City Police Department has been dropping in the past several years. Most of the officers are very good people, but there are a couple serious bad apples that are repeatedly not being disciplined enough.

...I'm sure Albert Hopkins (RIP) and Jose Gonzalez would agree.

Police Officers are supposed to uphold the law--if anything, they should be better at that then your average person. There is no excuse for a police officer losing his temper at another police officer for getting ticketed. I will also note that In the last month, I have seen at least 4 incidents of cops speeding in excess of 10 miles over the speed limit on Arastradero or Alma without their lights flashing. Why is it the police don't feel they need to adhere to the laws everyone else is required to follow?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by charles
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 12, 2008 at 3:41 pm

Mr. BBQ. Do you have specific knowledge of "cops don't write up cops or fireman as a professional courtesy?" Or are you just smearing all law enforcement personnel because you have a bias? It's easy to make unsubstantiated statements, and too many are made in these blogs.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mr. BBQ
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 12, 2008 at 5:28 pm

Mr. BBQ is a registered user.

Charles,

Yes, I have specific knowledge, hung around with a group of firemen and policemen (Poker and drinking associates) Plus my X has a cousin who was a police officer then fireman. He got removed from the police department 'cause he was too caustic to the general public. You must believe Bush is good for this country, get your head out of the sand my friend! That is the way it works, it's called "PROFESSIONAL COURTESY" It happens every minute of the day!

PS-The tooth fairy is coming to my house tonight?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by charles
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 15, 2008 at 3:44 pm

Mr. BBQ. You did not say where you "hung around" with a group of police and firemen. That sounds like a small town atmosphere. I don't believe that is the norm here. The police work an 11 hour shift and need the rest of the day to drive home, see their family, eat and sleep.

Until you can substantiate that "professional courtesy" is the norm in Palo Alto, I will believe you don't have any facts to back up your opinion of local public safety personnel.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by joe
a resident of The Greenhouse
on Jul 15, 2008 at 7:47 pm

Dear Police Haters,

I realize that this forum is the only place where any of you would have the guts to talk trash about a police officers. If you really have something to say to them you should. If you really think that they would pull you out of your car to beat you savagely (although they probably want to), they more than likely would not. These men and women keep your lily white, prestine bubble of a community one of the safest cities in the United States of America.

This officer is a seargent who obviously leads a team of other police officers who patrol your streets. Don't you guys think that if he was really "nuts" that you would have more incidents of people being routinely beaten and wronged. Officers have hundreds of contacts with people everyday in this city. Albeit probably negative, these officers conduct themselves professionaly during these contacts.

This once again is a typical palo alto resident knee jerk reaction to a mundain issue. Read the Palo Alto Daily (Rag). Can any of you actually say that Palo Alto is going down the tubes? Because if you do, then you have it made if the front page news is a cop "going nuts" because he had an argument with another cop.

They are held to a higher standard and that was why the officer was diciplined. If a silicon valley nerd (most of you posters are) were to mouth off to an officer and told your employer, you probably get a high five from your dungeons and dragons team mate and not lose a day's pay.

Imagine if these cops were allowed to strike. Would any of you strap on a badge and a gun and run into a building to find a maniac shooting people. Or how about picking up body parts on the tracks when someone commits suicide. Or how about fighting for you life when a 300 pound, muscle bound parolee refuses to go back to prison. It's easy to judge when your not in their place. To criticize these officers for being human is pathetic.

My friend was an Oakland Cop who was shot because he tried to help who he thought was a stranded citizen with a stalled car. This animal shot him in the face before he can even say anything. Put yourself in his shoes for a second and imagine losing your life for doing your job. So the next time you see an officer in palo alto, and all you can think about is how evil they are, ask yourself: Can I do what they do? Most if not all of you couldn't.


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