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Palo Alto, police union reach tentative deal

Original post made on May 10, 2012

After nine months of tense negotiations, Palo Alto and its largest police union have reached a tentative deal -- an agreement that would trim salaries, reduce pension benefits for newly hired employees and require officers to contribute toward their pension and health care costs.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, May 10, 2012, 2:14 PM

Comments (27)

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Posted by Dany O
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 10, 2012 at 3:31 pm

WOW! I like the Police department Cheers,Thumbs up and my hat off to them.
They did the right thing. They know times are tuff they allowed the city to make a few cuts. At the same time they protected what is most important to them. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Phil
a resident of Downtown North
on May 10, 2012 at 8:20 pm

Indeed Dano O, and from following the proceedings the past few years the police union also deferred their previously negotiated and approved pay increase which they ultimately lost as part of this agreement. They have also eliminated several positions at levels from management on down. Most recently they have taken steps to eliminate their specialized traffic team, as well as other specialty positions. Currently the department is operating with approximately 15-20% less officers than they had a decade ago.

The police union seems to have taken a highly cooperative position through this negotiation process. They have never negotiated in bad faith or threatened the city with bond measures to prevent this much needed compromise. Ironically through all this, they continue to do an outstanding job overall without any sign of a much needed public safety building in the works. The current facility is sorely in need of replacement. I also wish to applaud the fine men and women that comprise our police department. Much thanks and respect.


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Posted by Out of Towner
a resident of another community
on May 10, 2012 at 10:55 pm

I applaud the PD as well for doing the right thing...now only if ghd public safety unions in other cities would follow suite...


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Posted by but....
a resident of Southgate
on May 11, 2012 at 4:32 pm

they still have falsely arrested people based on race. that is a crime that they get away with. crimes that should be brought to trial and witnesses believed .


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Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on May 11, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Well since they legally can't officially or formally or outright strike per se AND now no binding arbitration...

They are probably just laying low and waiting for the political landscape to change in a few years.

But no one should delude themselves that the police officers aren't pretty bitter about all this. I've talked to several. I asked how Officer Brown was doing and got a "she got out in time before all this is coming down".

Hey maybe some of your bright Silicone Valley Heads could suggest we replace the cops with robots (like janitors)? Oh year that was RoboCop


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Posted by lazlo
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 12, 2012 at 11:39 am

so long to one of the best police depts. in the bay area. Thanks again to the Keene and Klein circus for dismantling an efficient organization.


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Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2012 at 5:06 pm

> But no one should delude themselves that the police
> officers aren't pretty bitter about all this

And just what do the Palo Alto Police have to be "bitter" about? These people are incredibly well paid. They have pensions that will make them multi-millionaires when they retire--is they are not already multi-millionaires by the time they retire. There is no requirement for a college degree. This is a safe town. There are no gangs, "drive-by" shootings, and very few violent crimes. The number of murders is generally 0, with 3 being pretty much the high number-which rarely happens. The general crime rates have come down in Palo Alto over the past twenty years--without any specific actions on the part of the police. The closure rates for property crimes have been historically low--about 15%. The police have gone out of their way to be non-transparent, so it's pretty difficult to know what they do.

During the past decade, the police have received 5.5% raises many years. This is the highest pay increase of any bargaining unit of the City. Occasionally an officer is hurt, but the details of these injuries are generally not made public, unless the officer is at fault and ends up crashing a cruiser, or motor-cycle, and the event makes the front page of a local paper.

No officers have been killed in the line-of-duty for a very long time. The last officer shot himself at the weapons range.

So -- what do these "gentlemen" have to be "bitter" about?


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Posted by Anoun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on May 12, 2012 at 10:04 pm

What do they have to be bitter about you ask.

Quite simply that they are identified as the public servants of YOU and yours among their fellows.


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Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2012 at 11:18 pm

> Quite simply that they are identified as the public
> servants of YOU and yours among their fellows.

This makes no sense at all.


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Posted by Respect
a resident of Barron Park
on May 12, 2012 at 11:47 pm

Wondering, #1, the idea that someone is your servant is the problem.
We have low crime BECAUSE of our police department.

What kind of community do we have if there is the blatant hostility that your comments demonstrate? The community only knows as much as they are told by Klein and Keene.
The newspapers and individuals like you expound negative ideas about employees who dedicate themselves to doing great work in understaffed conditions.

Why would anyone want to work in a city that hails Jim Keene and Larry Klein as their leaders? Where as an employee you are treated without respect and worse than a servant.

Congratulations to Jim and Larry - you may succeed by promoting policies that further destroy community. And further instill hateful commentary on employees - what better way to reduce costs? - It's easier than having the League of Cities joining together and doing the work to address California's healthcare costs.


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Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on May 13, 2012 at 12:36 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by SPH
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 13, 2012 at 7:42 am

Noun Ea Mus: so offensive. I wonder how the family of the officers feel hearing someone state "We aren't getting our money's worth" in regards to officers being killed. So sad that you feel taxpayers deserve to have the blood of those who protect us spilled on the streets. Granted it maybe a joke but it is really inappropriate.

News flash Wondering and Noun, just because an officer has not been killed in the line of duty does not mean it will not or cannot happen. As we have seen in the news officers are killed at random in cities all over the country. PA officers are no different. They risk their lives every time they put on a uniform and step out into the public. A routine traffic stop can become deadly in a heartbeat.



As far as


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Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 13, 2012 at 7:47 am

> We have low crime BECAUSE of our police department.

This is just silly. The crime rates for all of the Bay Area are pretty low, and have been declining for at least two decades. In fact, San Jose has some lower crime rates than Palo Alto—primarily in the area of property crimes.

The police do not stop crime—at lease here in Palo Alto. This is a high-income community where people don't commit street crimes, at least. Maybe there are "Bankstetrs" operating here, but the Palo Alto police will not be involved in stopping these characters.

There is no doubt that some crimes are stopped by attentive police who pull over cars moving around "suspiciously". But how would anyone know how much "crime" has been avoided by this sort of police presence/activity? (And remember, the last Police Chief got sacked because she said the police were going to stop people who looked "suspicious" [or words to that effect]. This became a battle cry for "No Racial Profiling'—even though the people involved in property crimes are generally not from Palo Alto, and often are non-white.)

Sorry .. this is a low crime town, in large part, because Palo Alto residents don't commit very many crimes (at least in their home town).


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Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 13, 2012 at 7:54 am

> A routine traffic stop can become deadly in a heartbeat.

That's true, as was the case a couple of years ago up in Oakland when a fellow shot and killed two police officers who pulled him over for a traffic stop, and then killed two more police officers once he sequestered himself in a nearby apartment complex.

However, the number of police killed in the line-of-duty is very low (generally less than 150 a year, if memory serves). It's much more dangerous to be a logger, or a crewman on fishing trawlers (according to the BLS).

Police officers are not bound to this job for life. This is not "Hadrian's Rome". They are free to seek another occupation any time they choose. If this danger is too great, then staying on the job makes one wonder about their mental capacity for rational choice.


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Posted by SPH
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 13, 2012 at 9:01 am

Wondering you are wrong on your numbers. Last year the rate increased and was near 200 deaths.The Oakland incident you speka of was more recent then a couple years. As far as PA being a safe city with citizens who do not committ crime you are right. Except there is one problem, PA has people from all over come into the city. Did you forget that the largest drug bust in US history occurred because the two criminals committeed a crime in PA? People from EPA and other high crime cities come over to the city all the time. Being a police officer carries more risk then just being shot. You obvioulsy have issues with the police but try to take your bais out of it and see that there are more good officers than bad ones. We just do not hear about it because good guys do not make for good news stories. Finally to toss the risk factor aside is insulting. The fcat that it is there and these men and women are willing to take a job that you and I would not should be commended. If there were no police who would you call to protect you from criminals?


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Posted by Mouse
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 13, 2012 at 9:45 am

Police jobs and Firefighter jobs in Palo Alto are surely highly sought after. How many of us can retire at 50 or 55 with a guaranteed payout 3% per year of service? A cop from age 25 gets 90% of his salary at the ripe young age of 55?? With life expectancies, this is simply unsustainable.

It's a golden trough, ask any retired cop, young by today's standard living the high life and pulling down more money in their second career as "consultant" or real estate agent.

Public servants? Yes. But... nobody's forcing them to take the job, and plenty more would be willing to drive a cruiser for plenty le$$.




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Posted by Hey Mouse
a resident of Community Center
on May 13, 2012 at 10:36 am

If Police Jobs in Palo Alto are highly sought after how come they have 14 openings and can't fill them. You have no idea what you are talking about, obviously!


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Posted by Respect
a resident of Barron Park
on May 13, 2012 at 11:06 am

Seriously, to prop 13 home owners on fixed income retirees - why not ask the hard questions?

The facts are not shared with the community.
The actual costs and needed wage are not shared,

What % of retiree income does the city pay during retirement?
Why won't the League of Cities band together to address healthcare costs?
Why can't the police department fill positions?
What do we actually fully pay for city services like recreation, theatre, zoo, and parks?
That includes facilities, employee wage and benefits, upkeep, and outreach.
What is the manager to employee ratio?
Why do we continue to hire more top level management employees 130,000 - 180,000 without objection from the public?



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Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on May 13, 2012 at 11:22 am

My previous post was removed yet some people's responses left up.

It was basically a joke. If you feel in bad taste then realize it was based on my deep seated disgust with the previous poster saying "No officers have been killed in the line-of-duty for a very long time."

I then suggested we pimp out our police officers for gladiatorial combat to both raise money and "get our money's worth". It was meant as pure sarcasm, but close to that the fact that we have a bit of the same Roman Patrician spirit quite alive among some of our anti-union and city worker citizens.

I suspect that any police officer (or their family members) would also feel my same ire and appreciate the twist I provided.

For the record.


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Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 13, 2012 at 12:43 pm

> your numbers are wrong ..

Web Link

According to preliminary data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 173 federal, state and local law enforcement officers were killed in 2011, up from 153 in 2010.
----

This fatality number contains law enforcement fatalities at all levels of government, which includes ICE, Border Control, FBI and State Troopers. Given this diversity, it would be good to get the breakdown by governmental division.

At any rate, the numbers provided by this well-known pro-police web-site are in the 150-175 range for 2011. It would take some work, but if's likely that this 150 (+/- 10%) number will likely prove true over an extended period of time.

But how many people are killed by the police? That's a hard number to find, since it seems that the government does not collect that number:

Web Link

The following web-site is a little anti-police, but does seem to have some interesting numbers:

Web Link

(BTW—to suggest that when a single number of a set is different than the average of a set demonstrates either a lack of basic numeracy, or the act of some sort of troll—trying to pass off disinformation as facts.)


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Posted by wondering is wrong
a resident of Professorville
on May 14, 2012 at 7:10 am

Wondering, you are incredibly wrong. The last officer killed, Theodore Brassinga, did not shot himself at the range. Another officer shot from another agency accidentally shot him in the chest.

Please get your facts straight before disparaging an officer's ultimate sacrifice.

Oh, and Mouse, there is no guarantee of the 3 @ 50 you describe, even though the officers were promised that benefit...that's the whole point of the concession issues. The City makes promises and then takes them away.


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Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2012 at 7:56 am

> Another officer shot from another agency accidentally shot
> him in the chest.

It's been a long time since this happened. It was maybe the mid 1980s? The post stated that he was killed on the weapons's range. That seems to be true. If it was another officer that killed him, that part of the post is incorrect, and I stand corrected. However, the point of the post is that this valid death in the line-of-duty did not happen while the officer (and as I remember he was a Reserve Officer) was actually on the street, or was he killed at the hands of a "criminal". (Many police and fire fighter deaths end up being the result of traffic accidents, and heart attacks, not "shoot outs".)

Perhaps if the Police were to keep this sort of information on its web-site, then we could refresh our memories from time-to-time. There are plaques recognizing these officers in the police area of City Hall, but can you point to anything on-line that provides the names, dates, and situations of the officers killed in the line-of-duty?

> Please get your facts straight before disparaging
> an officer's ultimate sacrifice.

That was not my intent. Your use of the word "disparaging" causes one to wonder if you should be involved in discussions that seem to evoke emotional responses from yourself, rather than rational ones.

> there is no guarantee of the 3 @ 50

To pursue this a bit. The on-going problem of public sector pensions bankrupting America is the issue here. This problem of over-compensating police officers has been in the public's eye for almost a decade now, but has only been fully recognized since the 2008 meltdown. The "3%-per-year@50" means that the initial pension payouts are 90% of the last years' salaries. In some places, unused sick leave has been added into the equation that determines the initial pension payout. Then, with COLAs, the pension grows to the point that it's possible that downstream the retiree will be drawing twice the salary he/she was drawing when they retired. The current system also does not stop at 30 years. The pension accrual continues after 30 years, so that officers (or fire fighters) who are employed for more than 30 years can start their pensions at more than 100% of their salary when they retired. If, for instance, an officer were to serve 45 years, then his initial pension payout would be 135% of his exit salary.

Whether or not governments can "downsize" pensions that have been awarded is the issue. Since the general sense is that pensions are contracts, and contracts can not be changed without the consent of both parties, then this area is abuzz with theories on what governments can/can not do.

The two-tiered approach is only a band-aid, because no one can predict the future, and even with the lower pension obligations of the low-tiered pensions, the costs to government vs the value of the services of those employed could still prove too expensive downstream.


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Posted by Remember the Fallen
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 14, 2012 at 9:26 am

Wondering, go to the Officer Down Memorial Page at www.odmp.org. That website lists the "names, dates, and situations" of all 19,000+ law enforcement officers who have been killed in the line of duty, including three officers from the Palo Alto Police Department.


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Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2012 at 9:42 am

> Officer Down Memorial Page at www.odmp.org.

Thanks for the info. Will add it to my list of useful web-sites.

However, the question that I was posing was if these officers were remembered on the Palo Alto police web-site? Is there even a link to the officer down web-site? Given how inexpensive adding a web-page is, why isn't there an "In Memoriam" page on the Palo Alto web-site?



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Posted by Phil
a resident of Downtown North
on May 15, 2012 at 10:44 am

Some things I have learned over my many years, and which I believe to be true. Often time the most critical are the least informed. Additionally, those criticizing the honorable and courageous would either be incapable or unwilling to take on the task themselves. To the men and women of Palo Alto PD, and officers everywhere, thank you for what you do.


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Posted by Rspect
a resident of Barron Park
on May 15, 2012 at 4:33 pm

The facts are not shared with the community:
The actual costs and needed wage are not shared,
What % of retiree income does the city pay during retirement?
Why won't the League of Cities band together to address healthcare costs?
Why can't the police department fill positions?
What do we actually fully pay for city services like recreation, theatre, playing fields, zoo, and parks? That includes facilities, employee wage and benefits, upkeep, and outreach.
What is the manager to employee ratio?
Why is there no succession planning so retired managers return to their same jobs these past three years?
Why are some manager(s) reemployed after retirement to double dip?
What is the manager to employee ratio?


Why do we continue to hire more top level management employees 130,000 - 180,000 without objection from the public?


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Posted by Hold On
a resident of another community
on May 19, 2012 at 6:25 am

Wondering. Nobody retires with more than 100% from any agency. If somebody gets 3% at 50 and they work 35 years, those last 5 years don't mean 105% at retirement. It means 5% at retirement and those 5 years are pension funds donated back to the agency. Sick leave does not compute into retirement unless it is used as time credited prior to retirement. Basically an officer with 6 months of sick leave on the books could count that time as time worked, not come into work, PRIOR to retiring. Vacation is paid out as one time cash. It doesn't add into the highest year's salary. Besides, the vacation was earned. If it wasn't used, it's already a liability on the ledger.

Violent encounters for officers are up over the past 3 years. Check the FBI stats if you don't believe me.

To those that say Palo Alto doesn't have crime simply because it's Palo Alto, then go vote a measure to abolish the police department and have citizen patrols. Then investigate your own burglaries, car thefts, date rapes, spousal abuse cases, suicides, drunken assaults, etc. Interrogate your own suspects - but be sure you don't screw up Miranda and other rights. Make sure your transparent and record every step you take so that you can be scrutinized later by the citizens, city and press. Those crimes all horrible things to have to observe and delve into, especially if you're seconded guess every step. So getting compensated for them is a fair trade off.

To those that say there are many who would do the job for far less $$$, then step up and put in your application. The background check is rigorous. Hopefully, you've lived your life on the up and up since you were a teen. But if the apps aren't coming in, then ask yourself why not?


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