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Palo Alto to bring back traffic-enforcement team

Original post made on May 17, 2013

After years of budget cuts and staff freezes, the Palo Alto Police Department is now experiencing an "early thaw" and looking forward to hiring more officers and restoring a motorcycle-riding team of traffic enforcers that was disbanded during the leaner times of yesteryear.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, May 17, 2013, 12:34 AM

Comments (39)

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Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on May 17, 2013 at 6:47 am

What's more important than a 2nd school resource police officer, and more public safety resources (did they not read about the number of strong arm robberies?):

- a chief PR Hack
- a chief Sustainability Hack
- Natural gas Civic cars instead of regular gas Civic cars
- consultant costs for various studies on bike paths
- consultant costs for surveys on how to tax the residents more
- consultant costs for building a compost factory
- consultant costs for the cost overruns on the Mitchell park library
- cost overruns on the Mitchell park library
- etc, etc.


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Posted by Sillycon Valley
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 17, 2013 at 8:20 am

Although I agree that there have been a lot of stupid, useless wastes of money by the city in the last two years (at least!), this is something that needs a little priority.

While not as urgent as dealing with the violent crimes downtown, Palo Alto has LONG had a problem with traffic scofflaws, especially in the residential neighborhoods. Witness the recent string of bicyclists hit by motorists on their way home from work. Witness the recent string of pedestrians, mostly elderly, hit in crosswalks by motorists on their way home from work. I have personally seen many schoolkids narrowly avoid being hit by motorists running stop signs on their way to work.

Personally, in twenty years I myself, as a bicyclist, have been sideswiped, forced into a parked car, and bumped broadside and knocked over, all by motorists in expensive cars, on their way home from work. Two of those times were in Palo Alto, all three motorists were not paying attention. The two in Palo Alto ran stop signs. All three were middle-aged adult drivers, although the two in PA were newly licensed foreign drivers.

That said, I feel that we really need a few more officers devoted to residential traffic, watching for the scofflaws who feel that stop signs to not apply to them because their destination is more important than anyone else's. it is a big problem in certain Palo Alto neighborhoods, I am sorry to say.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 17, 2013 at 8:27 am

I would like to see some enforcement of the left turn only rule at Churchill/Alma in the am. Students crossing Alma on foot and bike make this a huge problem.

I would like to see more enforcement of traffic rules by bikes. Kids learn from the elders and it is often parents teaching bad habits as well as those wearing lycra and cleats. Students should be given warnings and adults should be given tickets.

I am pleased that we are going to have traffic cops around town again.


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 17, 2013 at 8:29 am

I have my doubts that adding more "traffic enforcement" will achieve anything, other than increase the cost of policing Palo Alto.

I looked at the Traffic Stop data that the police had posted on their web-site, just before they convinced the Council to allow them to stop collecting demographic data. The analysis of this data revealed that 55% of the stops made by Palo Alto Police for traffic stops ended up in "NO ACTION". Unfortunately, the data released by the Police was not sufficient to understand why the stops were initiated, or why "NO ACTION" was the result.

One of the conclusions of the paper I submitted to the Council, was that perhaps the cost of traffic enforcement was not justified, and that some/all of this police activity could be reduced/eliminated.

The paper can be found at:

Review of Demographic Traffic Stop Data For Palo Alto, CA, 2009/Q4.:
Web Link

Over the past ten-fifteen years, the number of traffic accidents seems to be slow falling in number, linked to falling traffic volumes. The Police have never really made a hard case that "traffic enforcement" reduces traffic accidents. Long-term efforts to increase vehicle safety, as well as aggressive efforts to discourage drunk driving has seen the number of alcohol-involved fatalities decline at a national level, with the same results occurring here in Palo Alto. Presumably any reduction in traffic enforcement will not mean any reduction in traffic stops involving "erratic vehicle movements". Historic data relating to alcohol-related arrests shows about 175-225 arrests per year.

It's a shame that we don't have a "data-driven" Police force, that actually understands how to use the data/information they generate to better, and more cost-effectively, provide services to our city.


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Posted by robit noops
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 17, 2013 at 8:31 am

This is great news.

Palo Alto is rife with cell phone violations, speeding, light runners, stop sign runners, turn signal violations, hazardous lane changes, etc. I hate driving in this town because so many on the road don't care about road safety or laws. While they are at it, they can write up some cyclists who all seem to blast through stop signs


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Posted by parent
a resident of Midtown
on May 17, 2013 at 8:32 am

Traffic conditions around town are awful. Car drivers are constantly running stop signs and speeding on streets with 25mph speed limits. This is a huge safety problem for local residents, especially children. I'm glad that the city is taking this seriously and beefing up enforcement.


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Posted by fantasy
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 17, 2013 at 8:34 am

This would have been a much better story had gennady brought up the points that common sense mentioned. As an aside, we wonder when the weekly will do a story looking at all the wasted expenditures by the city.

And as usual as soon as a topic on traffic comes up, we here fantasy exaggerations about bikers and pedestrians being hit in the street. Sillycon valley provides no proof for her assertions.
And the claim:
"all by motorists in expensive cars, on their way home from work. Two of those times were in Palo Alto, all three motorists were not paying attention. The two in Palo Alto ran stop signs. All three were middle-aged adult drivers, although the two in PA were newly licensed foreign drivers.."
was made by "another" poster on another thread a while back. Of course, one has to ask how sillycon valley knew where they were going and when they were licensed and how she knew they were "foreign"????

It would best serve the city if these officers would target bicyclists--they are the biggest scofflaws in town.


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Posted by GreatS
a resident of Community Center
on May 17, 2013 at 8:45 am

The priority of the city is always upside down. Now they are planning to visit a high tech city(Kansas city) and try to learn a thing from them. Yes the city has been making money on the Fiber in the last few years!!!


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Posted by observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 17, 2013 at 10:10 am

More enforcement is exactly what we need in Palo Alto. This is good.
As common sense points out the cutting of enforcement was as much a question of "priorities" as a budget issue. So the City revs up traffic with massive office projects and then ignores the parking overflow problems and cuts traffic enforcement. The neighborhood backlash against the parking problems and traffic safety have now brought back enforcement efforts and studying the parking problem. Is this a policy shift in the City back to emphasing the importance of neighborhoods, safety and quality of life concerns, or is it just an effort to diffuse opposition to further massive office projects in the works? Don't hold your breath on a policy shift.




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Posted by Donald
a resident of Professorville
on May 17, 2013 at 10:22 am

Three or four years ago the traffic team did an enforcement effort to reduce bicycles on the sidewalk in the downtown area. It was effective and the bicycle traffic on the sidewalks on University Avenue nearly stopped. That is something I would like to see again. Once I was hit by a bicyclist on the sidewalk and broke my elbow so I find them terrifying. Knowing I was safe from this was one of the (many) great things about Palo Alto's downtown. It would be wonderful if the law were to be enforced again.


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 17, 2013 at 10:41 am

This is good news. You don't have to write a citation in order to convince people to modify their road and sidewalk behavior. Just the visible presence of the traffic team will have a positive effect for all drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.


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Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 17, 2013 at 10:52 am

@Wayne - "No Action" is not a bad thing unless the goal is raising money. Warnings can be appropriate for minor infractions, especially given the crazy cost of tickets these days.

More importantly a larger visible presence by the police is a deterrent to crime. Stopping more cars might allow them to intercept criminals before they commit the crime (effective profiling). And more officers on the street in more parts of the city will reduce response time when something bad does happen.


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Posted by PA Native
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 17, 2013 at 11:03 am

This is great news. I hope they enforce the rule about right turns into a bike lane, which is. . .

When turning right, cars must drive into the bike lane when the bike lane line breaks. DO NOT DRIVE TO THE END OF THE CORNER AND TURN RIGHT. CARS MUST DRIVE INTO THE BIKE LANE PRIOR TO REACHING THE CORNER. This gives bicyclists a chance to see that a car is going to turn right.

We all learned this at Paly when we took driver's training in Palo Alto. Too many transplants don't know this law.

There are also plenty of red light runners on Greer/Embarcadero and Oregon Expressway.


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Posted by This is good news.
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 17, 2013 at 11:27 am

I am glad to see the Traffic Team back out there. They do a GREAT job, particularly on the school routes. They ticket drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians who violate the law. Their visible presence encourages road users to behave better.

This is money well spent.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 17, 2013 at 11:44 am

There is red light running, and red light running that can give someone a flash of insight of almost losing their lives at the hands of some lawbreaking highspeed creep.
We are at a time when lawbreakers are geting brazen and we NEED police traffic enforcement.
I was so shaken (and not a newbie to driving)after the incident that I recount here that I called the PA police non emergency number, to report nearly being creamed in broad daylight morning commute by an illegal, super racing, super luxury vehicle (easily identifiable by special color/style, though no license # obtained) with the hopes the traffic enforcement team could stake out nearby at an obvious convenient spot for police to do so on the following day or so and time/place -- believing this is a VC or similar type racing off 101 up to Stanford on Embarcadero on a regular commute -- anyway, I was told the traffic enforcement team was no more. Yes, I realized they couldn't go then and catch this guy, who was someone with serious money, entitlement, a distinctive car and a real danger on the Palo Alto roads.
So - as someone driving legally, who came within a second of losing my life to an illegal, racing VC type commuting up to Stanford/work, I appreciate the resumption of traffic enforcement at KEY LOCATIONS that are KNOWN serious speeding/lawbreaking spots. Too many self-absorbed entitled types on cell phones, I am also sure.
There is plenty of traffic enforcement work needed in Palo Alto without resorting to ticketing someone going 2 miles over the speed limit.
Probably good to also give reminders to bike riding kids who sometimes do risky moves, like crossing streets mid-street at angles, without checking for cars driving routinely behind them, and similar things the traffic enforcement team are likely to witness and can advise/correct...so as to avoid collisions.


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Posted by Barbara
a resident of Downtown North
on May 17, 2013 at 11:45 am

What Great News! Aren't we all just sick and tired of pedestrians walking against the lights, rude drivers and cyclists all over town?? Hopefully, help is here again at last!


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Posted by fantasy
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 17, 2013 at 11:49 am

anonymous--great story and how did you know it was a "VC type" racing towards Stanford? Maybe you could compare notes with Sillycon Valley--she seems to know which drivers are heading home to work, when they got their license and if they are foreign.
The city will make a fortune ticketing bicyclists--for every driver that runs a red light at least 10 bicyclists are breaking the law.


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 17, 2013 at 12:23 pm

> @Wayne - "No Action" is not a bad thing unless the goal is
> raising money. Warnings can be appropriate for minor
> infractions, especially given the crazy cost of tickets these days.

Well .. did you read the paper? There is a large section in it dealing with "Pretext" stops--which have been a real issue plaguing the police all over the country. Please take some time and look it over.

The police have done everything in their power to hide their actions from the public, where traffic stops are concerned. The data collected by the PA.PD, that was released to the public, was not sufficient to determine reasons for "NO ACTION" stops, although race was collected. For the most part, when the percentage of "NO ACTION" stops gets to be as high as it was for the data I analyzed--it became clear that the stops were probably no necessary, and the police were very likely "out of bounds". Certainly the cost of providing police o the street was about $2M (if memory serves)--which calls into question the financial value of this so-called "traffic enforcement" efforts.

> inhibits crime

I looked into that in my paper. Unfortunately, it's very difficult to prove this claim, since their is no way to prove that a crimo-type was deterred by, say, a "Pretext" traffic stop. It's certainly possible that in some communities this is true--however their is no publicly available data provided by the police to make such a claim.

Try looking the paper over. Lots of interesting data in it.

wayne


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Posted by Susan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 17, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Why is the city spending money to change the style of the curbs on many streets in Old Palo Alto, instead of fixing all the potholes.
Prioities seem to be wrong in this town.


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Posted by A Mom
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 17, 2013 at 1:03 pm

I would rather see police budget allocated to having a policeman or police-trained security at each and every school. As the first priority.
Next should be traffic enforcement.


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Posted by Get Real
a resident of Green Acres
on May 17, 2013 at 3:01 pm

If there is one reason to increase police officer staffing, it would be to better control, and mitigate the rising crime being committed here in Palo Alto against persons, and property.

Don't be fooled by this ploy to increase traffic officers. If any one recalls Pat Burt's proposal that the city's portion of vehicle registration fees will be used to help build the new Safety, a.k.a police headquarters on Park Boulevard, then it is clear for the reason to up the traffic officer counts. Simply to enforce various vehicle code violations which "dump" money into the city's revenue pot. The intention is not to keep us safe on the streets from out of control drivers, although, let's hope that is a by-product of this traffic officer increase.

They must really think that we, the residents are deaf, dumb and blind. I am just saying......


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Posted by j99
a resident of Barron Park
on May 17, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Enforce the left turn lane from El Camino to Charleston. Ever since the idiots of City Council removed a lane from each direction going to Foothill Xway the left turn lane fills half of El Camino,blocking southbound traffic half of the morning.

Instead of giving out traffic tickets, how about putting more police downtown to stop the armed robberies. What stupidity to propose revenue generating traffic tickets over resident's safety. Typical City Council mentality.


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Posted by Some info about PAPD
a resident of another community
on May 17, 2013 at 3:37 pm

For all those who think PAPD generates revenue by writing traffic tickets they don't. They only generate revenue from writing parking tickets. For those concerned about the officers taking "no action" after stoping a car please realize that not every car stop is for a traffic violation, some are because the driver matches the description of a wanted person, was somehow involved in a crime, etc. those stops are based on " reasonable suspicion" which is something less than "probable cause". After the officer investigates the matter he may decide that not only is a ticket not warranted, there is no legal basis (probable cause) to issue the ticket.

Having a traffic team, or any additional officers, is only beneficial to you the residents if you want better service. The more cops on the street the less chance you will be victimized and the better chance you will get better service (cops showing up sooner, the crook actually being caught, etc.) If those types of things don't appeal to you there is no need to support the City unfreezing the 12 remaining frozen positions.


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Posted by Some more info
a resident of another community
on May 17, 2013 at 3:41 pm

If you ever want to see just how few police officers are on duty at a given time and how many of those are actually available, that is not dedicated to an incident already, call the police headquarters and ask to speak with the on duty police supervisor. Ask them how many are presently on duty and how many are available. Try that in the middle of the night one night and you will be shocked.


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Posted by Mark
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 17, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Mr. Recycle...I completely agree with you. An enforced presence can be a great deterant. Regardless of the "no action." We know the percentage of crime does not come from residence of Palo Alto. I am not trying to be discriminatory, just stating facts. But one comment that blew me away that I am surprised no one else commented on was Bermans comment...

"In high school it's a little too late sometimes to get them back on the right path," Berman said. "The impact that a positive interaction with police can have in middle school means more than it does once students get to high school."

That is very ignorant, I am all for officers in middle school, but please Berman don't act like such an expert and make a statement that basically says if
High school kids are getting in trouble they are a lost cause! Shame on you!


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Posted by Richard
a resident of Midtown
on May 17, 2013 at 5:59 pm

Having a dedicated traffic team is a great thing. They make school zones their priority in the morning, and traffic safety is their priority all the time. On motorcycles they are much more nimble than patrol officers in cars. They can make U-turns quickly and they can hide more easily in school driveways to use radar enforcement. They may not always write tickets, but just stopping a driver can be good education and can affect driver behavior in the future.


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Posted by Annoyed
a resident of another community
on May 17, 2013 at 9:13 pm

Kudos to the city for recognizing a need and taking action to fill it.

A well run traffic team can accomplish so many things that will make an immediate impact on the community. They can target problem areas for enforcement addressing such things as speeders, stop signs, bicycle enforcement and school traffic routes to ensure the safety of the children.

While out doing this they perform a secondary function in that their visibility deters crime just by their presence. Motor Officers can respond more efficiently than cars and are usually first on the scene for crimes in progress. They have no set beat responsibility so they can be anywhere in the city and available to respond to priority calls to assist patrol units.

There are state grants out there to enforce seat belt violations, cell phone violators and bicycle enforcement. Without a dedicated traffic team, the city does not qualify for these grants.

Two is not enough. Bring the whole team back.


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Posted by Terry
a resident of Midtown
on May 17, 2013 at 11:20 pm

On the rare occasions that I venture downtown for dinner, I switch wallets to one with no ID and limited cash. I don't feel safe walking downtown, but I do feel safe driving in Palo Alto. My suggestion is to center priorities around crime rather than traffic.


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Posted by Don G.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 18, 2013 at 1:07 am

As is often the case Mr. Martin cites information from which he draws conclusions or inferences but still can't prove his suspicion of hidden motives. As noted above, No Action may be completely justified; yet Mr. Martin seems to imply a nefarious plot created by the police dept. to hide information from the public.

It does not "become clear" that the stops were probably no [sic] necessary. How can he come to this conclusion without evidence? On what basis does he know how many stops of a certain kind are too many? Someone pointed out that there were plenty of reasons that an officer can use good judgment and not issue a citation. They are paid to use common sense and not throw their weight around. Does he have some magic formula that defines what amount of money is justified in making these stops?

Quoting Mr. Martin:
"The police have done everything in their power to hide their actions from the public, where traffic stops are concerned. The data collected by the PA.PD, that was released to the public, was not sufficient to determine reasons for "NO ACTION" stops, although race was collected. For the most part, when the percentage of "NO ACTION" stops gets to be as high as it was for the data I analyzed--it became clear that the stops were probably no necessary, and the police were very likely "out of bounds". Certainly the cost of providing police o the street was about $2M (if memory serves)--which calls into question the financial value of this so-called "traffic enforcement" efforts."

As noted it is very difficult to equate a police presence with any increase or decrease in a particular type of crime. Why is he trying to do so? Innuendo and suspicion are not enough to prove whatever points he is trying to make.


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Posted by Question
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 18, 2013 at 5:27 am

I thought the staff report said that they were adding back 7 police officers, 3 of them on the trffic crew. a bunch of posters are upset that the city has added traffic officers rather than those who would be focused on other crime. They appear to be upset on the basis of their own false conjecture. Can the Weekly clarify this?


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 18, 2013 at 7:22 am

> As noted it is very difficult to equate a police presence
> with any increase or decrease in a particular type of crime.

Yes.

> Why is he trying to do so?

The cost of police in Palo Alto is now pushing about $30M a year. Looking at the cost/benefit of traffic enforcement was one of the goals of this work. As I looked at all of the data, the possibility of linking traffic enforcement to the local crime rates became an obvious cost/benefit that should be examined. Unfortunately, such a linkage didn't seem to develop from the available data.

This is not to say that in some communities, a visible police presence does not have a positive effect on crime occurrences. Palo Alto is not one of those communities, based on its being virtually all upscale homes, with no gangs, and very little street crime. Occasionally, there are situations where police stop/search a vehicle, finding items that turn out to be stolen. In those cases, the "good guys" win one. However, there is no data published, systematically, to justify claims that increasing traffic enforcement reduces residential burglaries.

> Innuendo and suspicion are not enough to prove
> whatever points he is trying to make.

What I tried to do was use the data provided by the Palo Alto Police, via their traffic stop data, the CHP's SWITRS traffic accident data, and the DOJ's local crime data to put together some sort of a model that might possibly help to create a cost/benefit model for traffic enforcement. That is how "data driven" decisions come about. So—the "motive" here, was for better, more cost effective government decisions come about.

As to "innuendo"—well, most people see what THEY want to see.


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 18, 2013 at 8:04 am


> As is often the case Mr. Martin cites information
> from which he draws conclusions or inferences
> but still can't prove his suspicion of hidden motives

The Palo Alto Police were charged, many years ago, with being "racists" in their traffic enforcement. These claims were brought before the City Council on a number of occasions. Those accusing the police were, for the most part, non-residents. As it turns out, about 66% of all traffic stops involved non-residents.

The police could not prove that they were not harassing minorities, and the minorities making the claims could not prove that the police were harassing them. So, the Palo Alto City Council directed the Police to begin keeping individual traffic stop records, which were to include race and sex, in order to provide hard data about police behavior.

Having watched the police being involved in traffic stops around town, I had never felt that they acted in any way other than professionally. However, the police have budgeted for about 16,000 traffic stops a year—so it made no sense to think that some officers might not be acting unprofessionally.

The Police periodically produced reports of the data which were incredibly LAME! They did not use any statistical approaches, nor did they tend to do quarter-by-quarter, year-by-year, comparisons—that would have demonstrated changes in practices in traffic enforcement.

The City's so-called "Police Auditor" was requested to look at the data. This group clearly had no idea how to do any statistical, or data-modeling, so they spent a lot of time dancing around the problem, rather than doing the literature searches, or attempting to actually "prove" something, as I did. Their conclusion was that there was no "racism" exhibited by the police; they also recommended that the police continue collecting data.

My research suggested that "Black" drivers who were Palo Alto residents were likely to be (on average) stopped once every two years; whereas, "White" drivers who were Palo Alto residents were likely to be stopped (on average) about once every eight to ten years.
East Palo Alto drivers were also frequently stopped, far more so than Menlo Park, or Mountain View drivers. The data showed that, in fact, about 50% of those stopped were Palo Alto drivers.

As I attempted various models, I realized that there was data "missing" that, had it been present in the publicly-released data—data that could have helped to "recreate" each stop. From these "recreations", it would have been much easier to make inferences about those stops that might have been "pre-text", and those that were legitimate.

This issue of what data to collect has plagued police departments from around the country. Other researchers have come to the same conclusions. For the most part, few of the traffic stop data collection programs have proven that "racism" was at work in the departments collecting the data. On the other hand, few of the police departments have taken the time to do any meaningful data modeling with their collected data.

From looking at some of the datasets of other police departments, they collected more data than Palo Alto seems to have—at least from the released data. I make no claims that they have suppressed data, but anything is possible.

Menlo Park released some traffic stop data from about ten years ago. Although not a valid comparison with the 2009 data from Palo Alto, I noticed that the Palo Alto police were searching stopped drivers at about twice the rate of our neighboring city. Attempts to obtain recent data from Menlo Park were not productive—as the police officer in charge of the program did not respond to my requests for data. Interestingly, the same situation occurred when I contacted the San Jose Police Department, and the Alameda Sheriff's Department. So, I found that most local police departments did not want to talk about hard data associated with their traffic enforcement programs.

I came to the conclusions that without a similar program in effect in all the Bay Area cites/counties, that the data from the Palo Alto traffic stops, while informative, could in no way be definitive about any "racial profiling" that may, or may not, have been on-going at the time the data was collected. And as noted above, it became clear to me that the data was not sufficiently robust to be valuable enough to recreate stops and make meaningful inferences from those recreations.

As to my motives for doing this work—I wanted to see what a more rigorous analysis of the published data might produce—given the almost non-analysis that the Palo Alto Police produced. I also wanted to see how much work it would take to do this analysis. Lastly, I wanted to see if my initial sense that there was no "racism" in the traffic enforcement here in Palo Alto was true.

The Police have managed to convince the City Council that they should not keep data on traffic stops—and now they no longer do. Last time I looked, I think that had removed the small number of data sets that they had put on their web-site, although I think that their "reports" are still there.

Given that the Palo Alto Police Department does not produce a yearly report on its activities, the data from the traffic stops was one of the few "windows" that the residents had to view the police at work. I would very much like to see this data captured, and made public, in the future. Claims that it is "too much work" for the traffic officers doesn't make much sense today, with tablet PCs, and digital cameras, to do much of the work.

Hopefully, trying to prove that there was no "racism" in our Police Department is not a bad thing, but I am interested to hear why it is from the person suggesting otherwise.


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Posted by Sillycon Valley
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 18, 2013 at 9:12 am

@Fantasy: Do you not read the local papers? There were many car/bike accidents around Greer and Embarcadero last fall, also a few car/pedestrian accidents, all during evening rush hour. Where do most cars go during evening rush hour, u less they work the late shift? many times the model of car is reported!

RE: my own car/bike accidents.....once cell phones were invented, I did not bikeride without one! Called the police and tracked down two of the drivers, who did not stop. If someone does not speak English well, appears to be Asian, and the date on the driver's license is less than three months ago, it is safe to assume that this is a newly-licensed foreign driver. Car dealers do not care if you are an inexperienced driver buying a 12-cylinder Mercedes....they just want to make a commission.

Also, when you are taken to the hospital after being hit by a car, the citing officer visits you there immediately after citing the driver, and gives you all the facts he has collected, while giving your "crime victim card" with his phone number and the case
number on it. In the two PA cases, the guilty parties had to pay my medical bills, so I know full well who they are, where they live, what they drive, how many millions they make each year, etc.

Palo Alto needs more traffic cops, period. Palo Alto has a lot of inattentive traffic scofflaws, and inattentive inexperienced drivers. The end.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 19, 2013 at 11:21 am

I am very happy about more traffic enforcement. Cars speeding in school areas and residential areas are a major problem. But the worry in my heart lies with the cyclist who seem to think they are invincible and always have the right of way. I am a very cautious driver but have nearly hit a cyclist twice when they ran a stop sign AND cut the intersection by making a turn shortcutting into the wrong lane. I want my children to ride their bikes to school, but how can I allow this, if the mop they are riding with has no common sense and it is reasonable to assume that the kids will do what the mob around them does and not what mom preaches.
It's a very sad state in this town.


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Posted by negative
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 19, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Wayne I have yet to read a post from you supporting, or at least agreeing with any of the work done by the police department. Perhaps you should gain some additional insight other than "statistical data." No, a visual presence of cops' deterrent towards crime cannot, or is extremely difficult to capture. But see the effect it has on bar fights and drunks out and about on the weekends and you may understand how it works. But then you would have to leave the comfort of your computer. You always speak of technology as assisting, but merely cite ideas rather than the nuts and bolts of actual integration. My guess is there is quite a gap between reality, actual implemantation and your vague proposals. Everyone knows stats can be strewn many ways...

Good job council finally placing a priority on our safety and stop listening to the critics!


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Posted by Carlitos Waysmann
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 19, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Plenty of traffic enforcement to do :

* Embarcadero Rd, motorists that think that the speed limit is 45 MPH instead of 25 MPH.

* Alma Street, motorists that think 50 MPH is the speed limit instead of 35 MPH.

* Alma Street, there is the need for at least 2 traffic lights between Alma Village Plaza and Churchill, very often folks have to sit at the intersection for at least 15 minutes before they are able to merge to Alma Street.

* Speed bumps on Waverley, Middlefield Rd, Tennyson, Cowper, to make lead footed drivers to slowdown.

* "Educate" bicyclists that riding 3 abreast is not cool, and not legal on city streets.

* "Educate bicyclists that riding on the street against traffic is a no, no.

* "Educate bicyclists that there is a Helmet Law that applies to them once they hop onto their bicycle.

And please don't show any mercy for those motorists that do the stupidest things while driving: texting, eating, talking on the phone, shaving, applying their make up, flossing, having Fido on their laps, heated arguing with their passengers, etc.


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Posted by Not an issue
a resident of Community Center
on May 19, 2013 at 3:09 pm

At which intersection are drivers sitting for 15 minutes?


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Posted by please
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 19, 2013 at 4:34 pm

It's one thing to say that stepping up enforcement is needed and the right thing to do and quite another to praise the City for restoring
what should not have been reduced in the first place and at the same time the source of the problem, the massive office over-development
continues.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by oh well
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on May 21, 2013 at 1:05 pm

...too bad the city manager and city council have such a short memory (or maybe no learning curve). Much of the reason the motorcycle "traffic team" was disbanded was because the police officers crashed the motorcycles provided (which the city never replaced) and the majority of officers were granted disability pay and/or disability retirement resulting from their accident prone activities. At a cost of $20,000-$40,000 for replacement motorcycles and hiring of additional officers at a cost of $100,000+ (Salary/benefit package), well golly, that's over a $1,000,000 a year for writing traffic tickets! The city manager seems to be continuing his dysfuntional uneducated theory regarding progressive government. What a pity!


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