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Palo Alto cop identified in 2009 DUI arrest
Original post made
on Oct 1, 2010
A Palo Alto police officer has been identified in a 2009 arrest for driving under the influence after he rolled his SUV on U.S. Highway 101, according to court documents.
Read the full story here Web Link
posted Friday, October 1, 2010, 9:56 AM
Posted by Aram James
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 2, 2010 at 4:32 pm
The first and foremost duty of the PAPD is to serve and protect the people of Palo Alto, not to provide special/favored treatment to an arrested off-duty officer. Lt. Brown's and Chief Burns' explanation to the Daily Post-- on this subject, raise troubling questions re their credibility.
October 1, 2010
Thanks for taking time to review my piece. Yes, Sandra Brown's comments to the Daily Post, back in February of this year, were outrageously reckless, untruthful and irresponsible. Similarly, the comments attributed to her in today's Daily Post are equally troubling.
(1) When Lt. Brown was asked about PAPD Sgt. Zack Perron, while on duty, driving to San Jose-- to pick up officer Bulatao from the county jail, to then drive Bulatao home-- she is quoted as follows: "We take care of our people."
(1a) I have no problem with a friend or colleague picking up a fellow officer from the jail while off duty, but here, Sgt. Perron (while on duty), apparently abandoned his duties to the citizens of Palo Alto, drove to San Jose, picked up the off duty citizen Bulatao-- and then transported him home.
***** The first and foremost duty of the PAPD is to serve and protect the people of Palo Alto, not to provide special/favored treatment to an arrested off-duty officer. Chief Burns' explanation to the Daily Post, on this subject, is equally troubling:
****Burns comments on the subject were" ...it was appropriate for Perron to drive Bulatao home because of concerns for Bulatao's safety...
****Bulatao was not injured or arrested due to conduct on the job, but rather for conduct off the job. And Burns suggestion that it was appropriate for on-duty Sgt. Perron to leave his post-- to travel to San Jose, to transport private citizen Bulatao home--- is badly misguided policy and smacks of attempting to cover-up the cover-up.
(1b) Need I say, no other citizen is treated this way. Anyone arrested for DUI in Palo Alto and then transported to the county jail, in San Jose, is on their own when released. I doubt that the Palo Alto Police Department is there to pick up the released arrestee and transport him/her home when released, due to safety concerns. Oh Please!!!!! Burns' comments are hogwash.
Need I say, that given the limited number of Palo Alto officers that are on duty during any given shift ( and given current budget concerns) , it is very problematic that and on-duty sergeant-- would leave his post to give a friend, or off duty colleague, a ride home.
(1c) Left unanswered is who paid for the time Perron was off handling a private matter while on city time? Was Peron docked pay for his conduct? Is officer Bulatao being asked to pay back the taxpayers for the time Sgt. Perron took--- to pick him up and transport Bulatao from the county jail to his home, and for Peron's trip and time back to Palo Alto? Any guesses?
(1d) How far does such a policy extend? If the accident and arrest had happened in Gilroy, would Peron have been allowed to do the same thing? What if the accident had happened out of county and the CHP had contacted the on-duty Sgt. Perron, would it have still been permissible for Sgt. Perron to leave his post to retrieve officer Bulatao?
(2) Lt. Brown also commented to the Post that news of Bulatao's arrest would damage Bulatao young career. One might ask how would that damage be any different had the disclosure of his arrest---been made in a timely fashion.?
(2a) Isn't one of the standard consequences of a DUI arrest potential damage to one's reputation and career? Is Lt. Brown suggesting that an officer who is arrested for a DUI should avoid the stigma attached to such an arrest? -wouldn't any other citizen expect to suffer such damage to career and reputation when arrested for a DUI?? Anyone smell a double standard here?
(3) In fact, I suggest that had the disclosure of Bulatao's arrest been made public, at the time of his arrest-- that Mr. Bulatao's career would be subject to potentially less damage. Why you might ask?
(3a) Here by the management of the PAPD covering up the arrest the public is now much less trusting of this department (and the officer by implication). By forcing the press to spend much time and money to track down this information--- once it was actually disclosed--- it now becomes front page news--- arguably putting much more attention and mistrust on both the officer and the department.
In any event, I am much angrier with the Dennis Burns, Lt. Brown, James Keene and the management of the PAPD ,then I am with officer Bulatao.
I agree that one arrest and conviction for a misdemeanor DUI should not automatically be cause for firing. What is troubling here is that the management of the PAPD --with the complicity of the city manager and the city council--- allowed the PAPD to cover-up, for a 12-14 month period---a very series potential public safety risk to the people of Palo Alto.
When any public employee --but certainly a police officer with a duty to enforce the law, engages in criminal conduct, the people of the community should be entitled to know of such criminal conduct in a timely manner, and to then be able to monitor that employee's conduct to minimize the chances that the officer yet again puts the public safety at risk.
If, as the Daily Post article suggests, officer Bulatao had a positive career path before his arrest-- and subsequently has not violated the terms of his three year long probation, and is otherwise carrying himself in a professional manner --he should be allowed to do his job without undue attention or harassment.
On the other hand --the people who pay his salary, the citizens of this community, should be able to monitor his conduct--- to ensure that officer Bulatao does not in the future injury or kill someone due to his unchecked drinking--- and or failure to comply with his probation.
P.S. I know of at least two current public defender who have misd. DUI convictions( both excelent attorneys) and they were not fired from their jobs. ( Mark Dames is one of them--represented Victor Frost at trial). I believe in rehablitation--both for cops and public defenders).
Nice job. I think another point to make is Sandra Brown's remark that the department did not want to tarnish the officer's promising career by being identified as a drunk driver. How come she is not concerned about the hundreds of citizens who are arrested for the same offense and have their careers tarnished by the PAPD posting their names not after they have been convicted but only after they had been arrested? This guy was drunk off his rocker crashing his vehicle and the PAPD picks him up from jail and conceals the incident. Do you think if he crashed his vehicle and killed someone in the process while in Palo Alto, that his fellow Palo Alto cops would have covered it up?
(Originally sent to Mark Petersen Perez on February 22, 2010includes new language.)
It's time the city council order city manager James Keene--to direct Palo Alto Police Chief Dennis Burns, to draft a policy that requires immediate disclosure to the press and the public anytime a member of the Palo Alto Police Department is arrested. To require anything less is to turn a blind eye to the public safe concerns that failure to release such information implicates.
Dear City Council:
Why would any department be proud of a DUI convicted officer (and why would that same department allow someone like Lt. Sandra Brown---apparently acting in the capacity as the department's spokesperson-spinmister --try to get over on the public--- by stretching credibility to the breaking point and by attempting to turn truth on its head)?
Lt Brown's suggestion that when an officer of the PAPD is arrested or convicted of a DUI that they should be held to a different standard then the rest of us, is simply untenable on its face.
The truth is once arrested (any of us, cop, or non-cop) the information re the arrest, becomes public under the California Public Records Act--see California Government Code & 6254 (f) (1).
Law enforcement agencies must make available to the public the following information about individuals the agency has arrested. In addition to other information mandated to be released, pursuant to the public records act, the following must be released:
The full name and occupation of every individual arrested by the agency.
As such --this officer's name has no doubt already been published (made public) in the local police blotter and or newspaper --in the town and county where he/she was arrested.
By failing to provide this information the PAPD is simply engaged in a delay tactic--hoping that the press, and or some other entity--- is simply unwilling or unable to track down the information that has already been made public.
In other words, the PAPD is playing cat and mouse with the public trust--hoping that the controversy will simple go away without anyone tracking down the information that has already been made public.
In the Daily Post of February 16, 2010, in an article tiled: When a cop gets a DUI: Lt. Sandra Brown made the false and misleading claim that for the PAPD to release the name of the officer would be an unwarranted invasion of his privacy. In fact she is quoted in the piece as follows:
"We all have our right to privacy, we are all human and we all make mistakes, no matter who writes our paycheck," said Brown.
Lt. Sandra Brown knows this is not true. Every day when a member of her department makes an arrest such information becomes public by way of the department's police blotter and in the press who reports such arrests.
Lt. Brown comments, suggest, misleadingly, that somehow police officers are above the law and are entitled to more privacy then other individuals arrested. The truth is just the opposite --police are entitled to the same level of privacy as any other individual arrested, no more and no less.
In fact, a case can be made that once a person takes on a high profile public position --their privacy interest must be balanced against the public's right to know. Thus when one decides to work in the public sector, in a public safety position, one in effect understands their actions will be subject to a higher level of public scrutiny then someone employed in the private sector. And in fact, that is what is contemplated by the California Public Records Act:
Note... "Cases interpreting the CPRA also have emphasized that its primary purpose is to give the public an opportunity to monitor the functioning of their government. The greater and more unfettered the public official's power, the greater the public's interest in monitoring the governmental action" (Cited from California Attorney General's Office Summary of the California Public Records Act 2004, at page 3).
Clearly the job of police officer carries the very kind of unfettered discretion the CPRA concerns itself with.
"Law enforcement officers carry upon their shoulders the cloak of authority to enforce the laws of the state. In order to maintain trust in its police department, the public must be kept fully informed of the activities of its peace officers." Bradbury v. Superior Court 49 Cal.App. 4th 1108, 1116, (1996)
Lt. Sandra Brown yet again attempts to turn both common sense and the truth on its head with the following comments attributed to her in the same post article:
Police Palo Alto would not have to attend mandatory alcohol counseling for a drunken driving conviction, and an officer who had been convicted of drunken driving would still be allowed to make drunken driving arrests, as a matter of public safety, said Brown. (Note: also in the same article--- comments attributed to Lt. Sandra Brown suggest the DUI officer would not be subject to random checks for alcohol.)
So think about the implications of the above comments: we are led to believe by Lt Brown that it is a matter of public safety that a convicted DUI officer should be allowed to make drunk driving arrests, while at the same time not being subject to random drinking tests himself--or mandatory DUI classes for his DUI conviction. Does this absurd suggestion by Lt. Brown make you feel safer?
Common sense suggests that absent disclosure of the officer's name, absent a clean bill of health re this officer having completed mandatory DUI classes, and absent random tests to ensure that the officer is not drinking on the jobit is the officer and the department--- that allows him to continue on the job-- that is the public safety threatnot the other way around.
Lt. Sandra Brown's further suggestion that not allowing this officer to conduct DUI arrests, until he has been subject to all of the above programs and testing, would somehow implicate public safety is disingenuous and reckless at bestand at worse a blatant attempt to put over a big-time-lie on the public her department is sworn to serve and protect.
One final bit of ironythis is the same Lt. Sandra Brown who apparently now supervises internal affairs, and oversees citizen complaints filed against fellow members of the PAPD. Given Lt. Brown's obvious contempt for both the public trust and the truthit does not inspire one's confidence that citizen complaints will be taken seriously by this department.
It's time that the PAPD release the name of the convicted DUI officer now! Justice, fair play and public safety demand such a result.
P.S. It's time the city council order city manager James Keene--to direct Palo Alto Police Chief Dennis Burns, to draft a policy that requires immediate disclosure to the press and the public any time a member of the Palo Alto Police Department is arrested. To require anything less is to turn a blind eye to the public safe concerns that failure to release such information implicates.
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