Palo Alto bids farewell to 'Downtown' Sandra Brown

Popular lieutenant retires after 24 years in the Palo Alto Police Department

After nearly a quarter century of patrolling the streets, testifying at trials, and counseling students, "Downtown" Sandra Brown is stepping down.

Lt. Brown, whose energetic presence and distinguished career made her one of the department's most popular and well-known officers, received a standing ovation and a special resolution Monday night from the City Council. She is retiring at the end of this week.

The resolution, which Councilwoman Karen Holman read into the record Monday, cites her long list of assignments, including stints as a field-training officer, a traffic-team supervisor, a recruiting officer, community-relations officer and a bike officer -- an assignment that prompted the San Jose Mercury News to give her the moniker, "Downtown" Sandra Brown. The council resolution also praises Brown for her "genuine care for people" and "passion for youth."

Interim Public Safety Director Dennis Burns praised Brown Monday for being an "outstanding ambassador not only for city but also for police department." Brown, he said, is "someone who made everyone play better every day."

"(She is) probably the most recognized Palo Alto police officer in our recent history and one of the best known personalities around," Burns said.

A well-known presence in downtown Palo Alto who earned her nickname in the 1980s, while patrolling, Brown is lauded in the council resolution being "instrumental in the Department's problem-solving and community policing approach to crime and quality of life issues in the Downtown area" and for her "creative and inventive collaboration with the business community."

In accepting the council resolution, Brown thanked the volunteers at the Palo Alto Police Department and her colleagues, whom she praised for honorably serving the community even while getting disparaged by the city's vocal police critics. The citizens of Palo Alto, she said, can "sleep peacefully."

She also thanked Burns and her colleagues in the department for "all the adrenaline rushes and for the opportunity to lead and be led."

Former Mayor Vic Ojakian said he met Brown more than a decade ago, when he was on the City Council, and said he was "impressed with her and how she connected with the people in this town."

"I'm very grateful that she served on the force, and we are losing a real asset," Ojakian said.

Brown's departure is the latest in a department that has seen an exodus of experienced officers in recent months. Lieutenants Scott Wong and Douglas Keith and Sgt. Rebecca Lynn Phillips had all received council resolutions over the past month in recognition of their recent retirements.

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Like this comment
Posted by
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 13, 2011 at 9:00 am

What is notoriously known for is the deletion of critical or negative police comments.

Their were plenty last night which this reporter failed to note so we will do so and I quote.

�Hi Mark, it�s Sandra Brown, Palo Alto Police. It is about 3:58. I wanted to talk to you about this press issue. I know we talked a couple of weeks ago about putting you on our mailing list for emails.

I have since done some research on your Free Press, Palo Alto Free Press, and myself and the City Attorney�s Office have determined that we are not going to recognize you as a newspaper. If all you want are the press releases, you can get those from the website, City of Palo Alto website.

So, you�re not getting black-listed per se, but you can�t call the individual PIO�s and get information on individual cases, and they will not take interviews from you. If you want to get information on individual cases, then you will have to go through the Public Records Act like every other citizen.

Now, I�m getting ready to leave, but I will be back in tomorrow morning about 7:30, about 8:00 I am free. If you want to call me back at my desk, 329-2394, we can discuss this further.

But at this point, and at this time, the City will not recognize you as print media or as a newspaper. They are considering you a blog. If I open up emailing the press releases to you, I�m going to have to open it up and email to everybody, and we are just not in the position to do that. So, give me a call tomorrow so we can talk about it.

Please don�t call Agent Philip (sp?), he�s a detective. Although he is a PIO, he�s been instructed by me not to answer your phone calls. So, anything in reference to � any questions in reference to this, please just deal with me, even if we have to sit down and talk and meet with the City Attorney, that�s where we are.

I will tell you that the information will be provided, but you have to go out of your way to get it just a little bit, okay.

Again, it�s about 4:00. I will talk with you in the morning. I actually don�t work today, but I�m going to get out of here. Thanks. Bye.�

Now lets see how fast the author of this story deletes the following negative comments made by Sandra Brown on equality and her discrimination of Palo Alto Free Press as a news reporting agency.

See related story Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by rem
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 13, 2011 at 10:24 am

rem is a registered user.

Hey get a life.

This is an outstanding example of why blogs are a "joke"..

Like this comment
Posted by inSOuthPA
a resident of Ventura
on Dec 13, 2011 at 11:10 am

While many blogs are editorially vetted, the HUGE majority are not. Many are opinionated forums that may or may not have an agenda to push.

I agree with Brown...she and PAPD can't respond to every inquiry from everyone who has a blog or a hardcopy sheet.

PAPD can decide that those publications (whether online or in hardcopy) which it believes has journalistically-trained reporters that intend to REPORT are the organizations PAPD will respond to and proactively send info to.

My only quibble with Brown is that some blogs are the equivalent to hardcopy or online journalistic publications.

Like this comment
Posted by Jared Bernstein
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 13, 2011 at 11:53 am

Officer Brown stopped me 10 years ago for riding my bike thru a red light downtown. We exchanged words (nicely enough) and I think I got a ticket, but from then on out she was my favorite cop. Articulate, firm, and lovely. I wish PAOnLine had run a photo of her.

Like this comment
Posted by Dennis
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 13, 2011 at 12:12 pm

As regards 'press releases," it shouldn't be a big deal to add people to an email distribution. In fact, every citizen of Palo Alto should be added if so requested.

As regards blogs vs legitimate press, both have points of view which determine the slant given to any reportage, especially regarding the politics and public safety of a community. Thus, the argument "editorial supervised" reportage is superior to an opinionated blogsters treatment of "news", is moot.

As regards the honoring of Lt. "Downtown" Sandra Brown, she is deserving of our respect and thanks for jobs well done.

As regards bike patrols, bring them back.

Like this comment
Posted by Aram James
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 13, 2011 at 12:25 pm

The comments below were orginally sent out to Lt. Sandra Brown--and many others--back in February of 2010. Given Lt. Brown's recent retirement, I thought it was appropriate repost the comments.


Aram James

Re: Has Lt. Sandra Brown misled the people of Palo Alto? You be the judge!

Hi Mark et al:
Why would any police department be proud of a DUI convicted officer? And why would that same department allow someone like Lt. Sandra Brown to---(apparently acting in the capacity as the department's spokesperson-spin-mister) --try to get over on the public by stretching credibility to the breaking point?

As I will argue below: 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, by being allowed to keep information re their arrest private, is simply untenable on its face.

The truth is, once arrested, any of us, cop, or non-cop-- the information and fact of the arrest becomes public record 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 (the convicted PAPD officer) 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 in fact already been made public.

In the Daily Post of February 16, 2010, in an article titled, 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 the truth. When a member of the PAPD makes an arrest such information becomes public, by way of the department’s police log (police blotter). The information is subsequently reported in the press.

Lt. Brown's comments, suggest, misleadingly, that somehow police officers are above the law and are entitled to more privacy then other individuals arrested. The truth is quite different --police are entitled to the same level of privacy as any other individual arrested, no more and no less.

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:

Palo Alto Police 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: in the same article--- comments attributed to Lt. Sandra Brown suggest that the DUI convicted 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 still be allowed to make drunk driving arrests, while at the same time not being subjected to random drinking tests himself ,or mandatory DUI classes for his conviction. Does this absurd suggestion/proposition 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 testing to ensure that the officer is not drinking on the job—it is the officer and the department--- that allows him to continue on the job under these conditions-- that constitutes the public safety threat—not the other way around.

Lt. Sandra Brown’s suggestion that not allowing this officer to conduct DUI arrests--- until he has been subject to all of the above programs and testing –would some how implicate public safety is disingenuous at best—and ,more simply, a blatant attempt to deceive the public Lt. Brown has sworn to serve and protect.
One final bit of irony—this is the same Lt. Sandra Brown who now apparently 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 truth –it does not inspire a sense of confidence that citizen complaints will be taken seriously by this department.
Its time that the PAPD release the name of the convicted DUI officer, now!

Justice, fair play and public safety demand such a result.

Aram James

Like this comment
Posted by
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 13, 2011 at 12:57 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 13, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Thank you for your service to our community, Officer Brown. We are lucky to have had officers like you on the local force.

Like this comment
Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 13, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

Amusing historical tidbit: Ticketing bicyclists who violated traffic laws did not always go as smoothly as with Jared Bernstein above. On July 25 1996, Officer Brown needed to subdue a cyclist: Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by zebop
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Dec 13, 2011 at 2:15 pm

palo cops routinely break the law , mr. james. they assume youre ''guilty'' so they make illegal searches. it has happened more than once. based on race.

Like this comment
Posted by george
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 13, 2011 at 3:04 pm

The PAPD public information officers are required to follow guidelines set down by the department and City Manager who oversees the department. It shouldn't be necessary to "shoot the messenger" as some above have done.

Lt. Brown has been a credit to the Department and the City. This is more than can be said of those who attack any form of government or restraint to their own actions.

Like this comment
Posted by Yoriko Kishimoto
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 13, 2011 at 3:40 pm

What a loss to our city that Sandra Brown is retiring! I had the pleasure of working with her and the rest of our staff on the Amgen Tour of California, the downtown Promenade, and she was always incredibly positive and helpful with a can-do attitude. I was expecting you to become our police chief someday. Thanks Lt. Brown for all your contributions!

Like this comment
Posted by T
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 13, 2011 at 4:28 pm

She's a lovely lady and a good cop. I wish her the happiest of retirement.

Like this comment
Posted by Sandra Lonnquist
a resident of another community
on Dec 13, 2011 at 6:58 pm

I met DSB about 7 years ago at a chamber of commerce committee meeting. She was an enthusiastic and capable addition to our group. Her creative problem solving & consistant follow through made a lasting impression. palo Alto was luck to have her for so long!

Like this comment
Posted by Mark
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 14, 2011 at 4:44 am

I was always impressed at how articulate Lt Brown was! I hope you enjoy retirement ma'am!

Like this comment
Posted by concerned citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 14, 2011 at 9:04 am

@Mr. James, I believe they must be stonewalling on the public records request, or whatever related law may exist as an internal tactic, and you may need to file a lawsuit and have the city pay your attorney's fees when you win, which you obviously will. I heard from a law enforcement person in another jurisdiction that their chief routinely denies these requests on "public safety" grounds, knowing this is specious but that most people just go away, so their strategy is to deal with a lawsuit if they get it. Good luck.

Like this comment
Posted by Tony
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 14, 2011 at 12:07 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Like this comment
Posted by say say
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 15, 2011 at 12:56 pm

you removed tony's post. makes no sense. it was a relatively innocuos post. his ideas do not reflect mine, but he made good points about the police. paloaltoonline just exists to sell real estate.

Like this comment
Posted by Deep Throat
a resident of another community
on Dec 15, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Does the Palo Alto Weekly let their City Council reporter read the citizen letters in the Council agenda packet? See page 11 in Set 3 of the letters in the packet for the December 19th meeting at: Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Tony Ciampi
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 15, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Palo Alto Weekly, you removed the below post, can you please explain why?

1. On February 9, 2010 the City stated that Burger used Taser Camera V06-015542.
2. On July 12, 2010 Chief Burns stated that Taser Camera V06-015542 does not exist.
3. On July 12, 2010 Chief Burns stated that Burger used Taser Camera V07-065373.
4. On July 12, 2010 Chief Burns stated that the Santa Clara County Crime Lab received Taser Camera V07-065373.
5. The Santa Clara County Crime Lab stated that it received Taser Camera V06-015542.
6. On September 3, 2010 Chief Burns changed his initial response and stated that Burger used Taser Camera V06-015542 and that he does not know where Taser Camera V07-065373 is at.
7. The January 2008 Taser Download Report states that Burger was issued and using Taser Camera V07-065373.
8. Andrew Hinz of Taser International stated in a Declaration to the Court that Taser Camera V07-065373 was first sent to the Palo Alto Police Department on November 26, 2008 and was never sent back to Taser International for any reason.
9. On June 30, 2011, Lt. Sandra Brown stated in Court that Taser Camera V07-065373was sent to Taser International for repair.
10. Andrew Hinz stated in his official report regarding the Taser gun and Taser Camera evidence that Taser Cameras V06-015020 and V06-015525 were the cameras used to record the March 15, 2008 incident.
11. The PAPD stated that Temores used Taser Camera V06-015530.
12. Andrew Hinz stated in his official report and Declaration to the Court that Taser Cameras V06-015020 and V06-015525 were sent to Taser International for repair but could not fixed and therefore they were destroyed.
13. According to Officer Burger’s initial Weapon Summary Report, Burger was in possession of Taser Camera V06-015020 in September of 2007.

On October 19, 2010 during the first inspection in which I was supposed to view the original videos that were downloaded onto the Department’s hard-drive, Palo Alto Lt. Sandra Brown informed me that the original hard-drive which Chief Burns had placed under lock and key on August 29, 2008 had been removed from evidence was being used in “traffic” where the information was being over-written hundreds and thousands of times.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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