A Palo Alto police sergeant has been disciplined following a confrontation last year after he was stopped for a traffic offense in another community.
"The PAPD supervisor was immediately confrontational and discourteous to the traffic officer who issued him a ticket," independent police auditors Michael Gennaco and Robert Miller wrote in a May 19, semi-annual report.
Police Chief Lynne Johnson said the off-duty officer was stopped for an "equipment violation."
"It wasn't even a moving violation," Johnson said.
The Palo Alto sergeant was driving with another, lower ranked off-duty Palo Alto officer.
When stopped, the sergeant "used profanity, made derogatory remarks about the officer's skills and stated that the officer would not receive any help or professional courtesy if he found himself in distress in Palo Alto in the future," Gennaco and Miller wrote.
A supervisor in the other department was required to resolve the confrontation, Gennaco and Miller wrote.
That supervisor reported the incident to the Palo Alto police.
Johnson said the officer involved also reported the incident to his supervisor as expected.
The department launched an internal investigation, which was reviewed by Gennaco and Miller.
"The bottom line is that we agreed with the department that what the supervisor did was not what the expectations of the Palo Alto Police Department are with regard to how an officer ought to react," Gennaco said Wednesday.
Johnson said the incident was more complex than portrayed in the auditor's report.
"Part of the issue was the other officer's response too. … There were two parties involved in the altercation," she said.
Acting Lt. Sandra Brown said the sergeant and the officer from the other department had known each other previously.
The Palo Alto sergeant received formal discipline following an investigation led by a lieutenant, Johnson said. She said she cannot say what type of discipline he received.
"The individual was not terminated, not even close," Johnson said.
The independent auditors concurred that discipline was needed.
"I think it's important to note … that he admitted his behavior and he apologized. That is very important and sometimes in our work in other agencies an action that we don't see enough, the acceptance of responsibility," Gennaco said.
Johnson said the department reviews officers' driving records each year, acting only when it discovers serious violations -- such as drunk driving -- or a pattern of poor driving.
Johnson said she could not reveal additional details about the incident to protect employees' privacy.
But in response to question from the Weekly, Johnson said the officer involved was not Sgt. Michael Yore, who has become well-known following his investigation of the Palo Alto Children's Theatre.
Johnson was outraged about how the story was portrayed in the Wednesday edition of the Daily Post, which had a headline of "Cop went nuts over ticket" with a subhead, "Supervisor wanted special treatment."
"It was a total exaggeration," Johnson said. "It's very infuriating."
The desire for or lack of "special treatment" did not play any role in the incident, Johnson said.
"Headlines and stories like this are what makes it really hard to recruit for police officers. Why do I want to go be a police officer when the media isn't objective in their reporting?" Johnson asked.