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Why Is Crime Ignored in Palo Alto?

Original post made by Jay on Jan 18, 2007

I've only lived in Palo Alto for a couple of years, but I am always amazed by the way that serious crimes just seem to get ignored here. There have been three muggings in broad daylight in Palo Alto in the last couple of days, but nobody seems to be interested at all. The news is buried in the papers, and there is no real official reaction. Why is that?

Comments (19)

Posted by Resident, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 18, 2007 at 11:05 am

I agree. Here is the story that Palo Alto Online posted on the two attacks...both in Old Palo Alto.

Web Link

Posted by jane, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 18, 2007 at 1:18 pm

I lived in Palo Alto for many years and recently retired back East. I think the crime rate in Palo Alto has risen considerably in the past few years, at least that's my impression. I would like to see statistics about this, and an article in the Weekly about how the police are addressing this if that is correct.
I don't want to be unfair here, so I will say that it is just my general impression from reading the newspaper, but it seems to me that under the previous police chief we didn't have the problems we have been having now, higher apparently unaddressed crime, police accused of racism, etc.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 19, 2007 at 2:34 pm

Oh, so blame the police dept because the newspaper decides to bury the news?? What a load of dog poo!! You are obviously ignorant of the happenings going on in the city.

I guess the Palo Alto Bowl incident wasnt big news with 2 arrests, or the carjacking with an arrest, or the multiple drug users that the cops take to jail on a daily basis...the cops do what they can with what they have...If u want them to do more, HELP them, dont be against them

Posted by kurt, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 20, 2007 at 1:02 am

Help them how, Resident? Maybe we should form auxiliary groups to beat up members of various racial groups for them?

It used to be safe to walk the streets here in the evening. That can no longer be said. The previous police administration would have been all over this problem until it was fixed.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 20, 2007 at 10:59 am

I think the Police do try to do what is expected of them.

My husband is a late night walker, often leaves his computer and goes for a walk to stretch his legs before bedtime around 11 pm or later. In these cold evenings he wraps up warm with a warm hat and admittedly looks unusual. He has been stopped on a couple of occasions by the police and asked where he lives, etc. The discussion is always pleasant, but they are being observant. My husband has never taken offence because he acknowledges they are doing their job and we feel safer as a result. The only people who should take offence at this type of thing are those with something to be guilty of.

Posted by Outsider, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 21, 2007 at 11:39 am

Come on guys. This is no place to fight about these things. We need communication. We need to be face to face instead of being being a computer scream sending each other hate messages about each other's opnions. Now, I've been thinking and maybe the reason why crime is ignored in Palo Alto is because the city is trying to keep it's good publicity of being a very priveleged city and a safe one too. But who are we kidding? There is crime all over the world. In every city. Palo Alto is not as safe as everyone thinks, but that does not mean we should all go crazy and not go out at all. I don't know if you guys have heard about all the "shootings" going on in East Palo Alto, but it's ridiculous. Don't you guys remember just this past summer that guy that stole that car and had a gun here in Palo Alto?! Did people hear about it? Some did. But it's like Jay said, there no real official reaction. Just yesterday, I was on my way home around 10:40 p.m., I saw six cops in just two minutes! This is apparently because of all the recent "shootings" as an attempt to reduce gun violence. To tell you the truth, cops just make me mad. I feel they need to take a whole new approach to this violence thing. East Palo Alto has just been given $75,000 by the United States Department of Justice. This will all go towards EPA's attemp to reduce violence. For me, police presence just makes me mad. It just makes people tense, even if you're nt guilty of something. This is especially true if you're a minority. They always expect something bad from you, of course it's hard for some people to relate because they are not minorities. Anyway, please comment.

Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 21, 2007 at 11:52 am


I'm listening. If you don't like police presence, what do you suggest? I'm talking about crime suppression here, not a remake of society.

Posted by Outsider, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 21, 2007 at 9:44 pm

Crime suppression is good, and maybe a little remake of society wouldn't hurt either, but that's besides the point. You must still wonder why crime in Palo Alto is ignored. Why don't people ever really hear about it, and when they do why is there no real reaction? What do you think? I still think it's to keeo trying to make the city look good. I'm not saying it's not a good city either. It's a great city! I go there everyday, but why? I mean, yeah, who doesn't want a nice city, but maybe there's another reason why crime isn't publicized like it is in other areas in the bay area. Maybe it's not expected in Palo Alto? But it's like I said: Crime happens everywhere.

Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 22, 2007 at 3:35 am


I agree with much of what you just said. I think crime in PA is downplayed by the local press. Part of that is probably due to the image issue you describe. I also think part of it is because of lot of the crime is committed by non-whites, and PA is very PC and doesn't to blame minorities - this is why they don't release ethnic statitics.

However, what does this have to do with police presence in EPA? You say you get mad about that. I get happy about police presence, especially in Downtown PA at nighttime. You seem to imply that less police presence in EPA will result in less crime. Is that so? Or are you just saying that EPA gets a bad rap in the press?

Posted by Jay, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 22, 2007 at 1:37 pm

All I am saying is that in the town I lived on in the East Coast (one very similar in demographics to Palo Alto), if there had been even one daylight robbery, it would have been front page news in the local paper, and it would have been the top issue for the town government and residents until it stopped happening. In Palo Alto, no attention is paid, and I don't really understand why.

I find it extremely bizarre that in a town with million dollar plus houses you have to constantly worry about burglaries, vandalism, and now being mugged. Meanwhile, we spend all our time talking about zoning and language instruction in the schools.

Posted by Neighbor, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 22, 2007 at 3:23 pm


It sounds to me that you are almost on the mark with what you say except that it is our local media (The Weekly and The Daily) that are not interested in making local crime front page or headline news. I know that neighborhood watches and various other resident groups are certainly very concerned about this and also the police are doing their bit but not through loudspeakers mounted on the backs of their vehicles. Crime happens and is dealt with. We don't make a noise about it because the police are the ones who have to do the most.

However, educating our children and what happens at the end of our block are important to us Palo Altans because it is something we feel we can do something about. We all have our own opinions and our vocal about them because that is something positive. We lock our doors and have sensible precautions against crime, and that is the most positive thing we can do about crime. We don't make a big noise because it is something on which we all agree, crime is a fact of life we would rather not have but unfortunately we do. There are other things that also matter because we have spunk and backbone.

Posted by Outsider, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 22, 2007 at 7:25 pm

John (and others),
I'm glad that we see a little of the same views in terms of Palo Alto and crime media. To answer your question about the police, I don't believe that no police presence will result in a decline in crime. However, I personally do find police presence very annoying. Like I said, it makes everyone tense, both local residents and non-residents. Yeah, Palo Alto doesn't like to post their crime all over the front page, but why go out of the way to post EPA's crime? Just today, in the daily they had an article about another shooting yesteday that resulted in the death of two young boys, one 13 and the 17 years of old. I know part of this has to do with there being a lot of shootings recently, but you never hear nothing from Palo Alto, in terms of crime that is. Yeah, they don't want to blame minorities or whatever, but what that does in turn is give EPA a bad, but every bad rap in the media. If you hear about all these shootings and you happen to pass there and you see all these cops driving around and stuff, what are people going to think? That it's not a safe city and that you'll get shot if you even go near there. This is the part that makes me mad because a lot of my friends think like this. And it's like John said, while people live in their million dollar plus houses they still worry about crime. Yeah, crime happens everywhere and Palo Alto is no safer than any other city so why do people judge and get these preconcieved ideas that EPA is a really bad city? Maybe it's to keep taht good image, but again why but about other citys' crime and have it all over the front page? I just don't find it right because it makes EPA look bad, and yeah it has its downfalls but Palo Alto isn't much better or anything, you just don't hear about it.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 23, 2007 at 8:23 pm


Oh the do you compare our petty crimes to what is going in EPA right now. So, someone gets strong armed and gets their brand new CD taken heinous of a crime!! Meanwhile 13 and 16 years are getting killed in EPA. Serious happenings should get the the police blotter for most of the crimes that happen in Palo Alto.

And stop blaming the Police for not making the headlines....they dont own the Daily. The police release news all the time to the is the press to decide if they choose to print it or not.

Posted by Jay, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 24, 2007 at 3:33 pm

Who is blaming the police for not making the headlines? I'm certainly not. I just find the lack of coverage of pretty serious crimes (Yes, getting mugged is serious) amazing. Moreover, I find the repeated comments above like "crime is a fact of life" very telling. Where I have lived previously, crime was not a fact of life. It was extremely rare, and it was not taken for granted.

Posted by Outsider, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 24, 2007 at 8:47 pm

I agree with Jay, Resident. Yeah, sure your crimes that are actually put in the paper may not be serious, but you hear about those types of crimes all the time in the paper. All I'm saying, like Jay is, is that the more serious crimes almost never appear anywhere in Palo Alto's media, and if it does, it's hidden. I'm not blaming the police, the media, or anybody, but if you remember the point of this forum is why is crime ignored in Palo Alto? WHy are all these big crimes, that do in fact happen in Palo Alto, not mentioned? I just found it interesting and wondered more into the meaning behind it all.

Posted by PA Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 25, 2007 at 5:57 pm

We now have a murder mystery in Palo Alto. The death of the Stanford Student will not be ignored. This affects us all. This is not an EPA gang issue (as bad as they are and on our doorstep too) so I expect it will become a media frenzied search.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to May's family, friends, the Stanford community and the Palo Alto community.

Posted by Outsider, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 25, 2007 at 9:09 pm

Yeah, ok. Except for the fact that it isn't a murder mystery. You obvoiusly need to read the news more often buddy. It is suggested that this was a possible suicide. An autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow. And besides? Do you see this in any East Palo Alto media? No. This story is not on EPA's site, and yeah, I know the Daily covers East Palo Alto, but that's the only place in East Palo Alto you'll find it. Also, this is a different sort of crime, this is a suicide, not a robbery or even a shooting. That isn't to say that this doesn't affect the people that knew this young lady, may she rest in peace. But guys come on, let's not get bitter here or anything. I mean, East Palo Alto could easily post all your little police blogs and little crimes and all that and try to make your city look bad or whatever you want to call it, but the fact is they don't. Palo Alto Daily does. People think Palo Alto is very, very safe. And this may very well be the case, but you can't go hiding the fact that nothing ever happens in Palo Alto. There must be some reason why this is hidden or not published. And I don't think it's only in Palo Alto. News, important news is being hidden from the public every single day in every single city in this world! Don't you guys wonder about the bigger picture. There is something going on here. This all leads to bad impressions of people and cities and it only leads to division in the people of this country. I feel, because of all the bad media that EPA gets, it leads many people to think of this city as a bad city, and it might be, but it makes people who haven't even been here think that it's bad. Come on, this isn't middle school. We're all smarter than that and we shouldn't give in to all these stories all the time. I feel Palo Alto is a great. I also think East Palo Alto is a great city too. But there are differences and one starts to thinking why these changes exist. We must look at the bigger picture and its greater context, understand its history and make improvements for the future generations. There are so many issues that are like this in the world where there is division and nothing can ever get done because people are always pointing fingers. Global Warming, the War in Iraq, we all have different opinions about it and that is fine, but we should let our ideas seperate us, you know? Like I said, we gotta look past that and try to understand the other side, look at the big picture. The government is hiding stuff, I feel it is becoming more and more corrupt and there haven't been strong leaders recently. We must do our part as people of this land and make this land ours. You guys can't tell me this is what you want for your kids, for them to always argue and point fingers and all that. We should respect and honor each other. We've got to do research, Knowledge is Power! This isn't just random events taking place. Anyway, I'm getting a little off the point, sorry. Why Is Crime Ignored In Palo Alto? I feel it is to up keep Palo Alto's "good and safe" image, but also I feel there is some sort of corruption going on here. Why does it seem that people keep an eye like a hawk in EPA for crime to report and in PA people see it but maybe don't bother to report? All of this causes bad reps for everyone involved. We must go to our leaders and elected officials and demand something to be done. I don't know, whatever.

Posted by p.a.resident, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 9, 2009 at 11:32 am

Youv'e probably got just one, or maybe two officers patroling your palo alto streets between 12:00 and 6:00 a.m. Where could they all be? Starbucks is closed then.

Posted by member, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 13, 2010 at 12:55 pm

It should interest you to know that when you call the police to report a suspicious person prowling your neighborhood at night that it will take them at least fifteen minutes to get there, with billy clubs in hand. The prowler, by that time is about a mile away if he is not sitting there watching the officers try to find him.

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