News


Palo Alto police officer disciplined for texting photo of 'scantily clad' arrestee

New audit upholds department's decision, faults it for delays

A Palo Alto police officer faced disciplinary actions from the department earlier this year for texting to another officer a photo of a scantily-clad arrestee who had just been nabbed in a commercial burglary case, according to a new report from the city's independent police auditor.

The case is summarized in a new report from independent police auditors Michael Gennaco and Stephen Connolly, who largely agreed with the police department's response to the officer's action. The report doesn't include the officer's name or specify the disciplinary action taken. It notes, however, that after reviewing the text, the department concluded that the officer's conduct "was unbecoming for an officer and disrespectful to the arrestee and that it reflected unfavorably upon the Department and its members."

"PAPD found that the detective had violated Department policy and held him accountable for the transgression," the audit stated.

According to the report, the detective in question was interviewing the arrestee as part of an investigation into a commercial burglary. The detective was reportedly reviewing her cell phone in hopes of finding her "fence" (a middle-man between burglars and customers who ultimately buy the goods) or other photographic evidence that could assist the investigation.

The report notes that the detective found a photograph of the arrestee in which "she was scantily clad" and sent the photo by text to an acting supervisory detective who was also working on the case. When the woman got her phone back, she discovered that the photo was sent and complained to a different detective who was not involved in the case.

According to the audit, more than two weeks had passed before the supervisory detective shared the incident with a sergeant, who then stressed to the detective the need for a more prompt report and launched an internal investigation.

The audit agreed with the department's action and its finding that the detective who had sent the photo violated department policy. Yet it raises concerns about the delay in reporting the incident to the sergeant, calling the time gap "problematic and worth managerial attention."

The audit also faults the department for ordering that the photo be deleted, reportedly to prevent additional circulation. While Gennaco and Connolly praise the intentions of this action, they note that it would have been preferable to obtain a "screen shot" or some other way to preserve the evidence, in case the texting action would be contested.

The audit also noted that the officers returned the phone to the arrestee and asked her to help them find information about the fence. During this time, the audit states, she could have deleted information from the phone. They showed a "laxity of vigilance by the on-duty detectives," the audit stated.

The auditors discussed this matter with department management, who reportedly agreed that there should have been closer supervision.

Comments

15 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 26, 2014 at 10:32 am

Isn't stealing data from a cell phone a felony? A CHP officer was recently fired and criminally charged for the same type of crime, right? Why aren't these 2 PAPD officers charged with the same crime?


1 person likes this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 26, 2014 at 10:44 am

Hey i'm still looking for traction regarding the PD's inflammatory statements about an alleged but actually bogus "graffiti hate crime" at Gunn, May, 2014 (the one that started with "Thank God..."). You and several other news sources fanned the flames of racism and invited speculation on your anonymous comments boards.

Don't get me wrong: I support Chief Dennis Burns and our generally excellent public safety staff here. But we do demand excellence.

Why don't your report a follow up on the May, 2014 cold-case non-case and own up to your end of it.

If I did not have a meticulous habit of signing 234 of 235 posts to PAW I would have posted under NOBODYS PREFECT


5 people like this
Posted by Pl-ease.
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Nov 26, 2014 at 10:47 am

Anything we photograph is open to being used [or misused] by someone else. The woman must have been proud of herself, to have a photo like that. The officer sent it to an officer also working on the case. Must be a slow news day.


9 people like this
Posted by Disgusted
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 26, 2014 at 11:09 am

Scum bags even in PAPD. Im grateful the woman made a complaint so we residents know what really happens. Ironic that she was the one being detained for theft.


8 people like this
Posted by Unimportant
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 26, 2014 at 11:15 am

This is relatively unimportant in the scope of things.

More importantly, what about reports of police officers running stopsigns and making illegal u-turns and nearly colliding with civilians?

Last week, a PAPD officer backed out of a parking lot without looking and nearly hit my passenger door!

What discipline, if any, did these officers receive for endangering the public?


12 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 26, 2014 at 11:15 am

> Anything we photograph is open to being used [or misused] by someone else.
> The woman must have been proud of herself, to have a photo like that.
> The officer sent it to an officer also working on the case. Must be a slow news day.

It's people like this poster who enable corrupt police, and make the world a less safe place to live. Given the poster's logic, an officer who went into a person's home illegally and found photos in an album would be free to take them and do with them as he wishes. Presuably this poster would support the officer's taking these photos, scanning them, and then posting them on the Internet, or sendging them to friends?

There needs to be a high level of accountability for our police--and there is no reason that State law should not be in effect so that these sorts of offenses become both criminal, and the basis for termination with prejudice.

Slow news day? Hardly! It is another example of how poorly managed police departments are--and how much more oversight is needed.


Like this comment
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 26, 2014 at 12:03 pm

Because it is so important to show the proper photographical respect to our City's burglars ??


4 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 26, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Gosh, if they keep it up, they're liable to get elected sheriff and visit bordellos, just like former PAPDs officers Munks and Bolanos!


2 people like this
Posted by Where is the report?
a resident of another community
on Nov 26, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Where can I read the auditors report? It's not on the PD's website as other reports are.


2 people like this
Posted by Barbara
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 26, 2014 at 1:02 pm

How totally silly to make something out of this! Why would anyone carry around a photo of herself scantily clad if she wasn't just hoping someone would see it?? Like, "Hey, look at me." Give the PAPD a break here!!


6 people like this
Posted by James
a resident of another community
on Nov 26, 2014 at 1:09 pm

Wow! It's her cell phone and she can have pictures of herself on it! The problem is when the officer sent a picture to the other officer, that has nothing to do with the case. Both should be remanded.


11 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 26, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Here is a news report about a CHP officer who was accused of stealing "racy" photos from women's cell phones. He was fired from the CHP and charged with multiple felonies. Why are the PAPD officers getting slaps on the wrist and not even being named?

ABC News "EX-CHP OFFICER SURRENDERS AT JAIL OVER NUDE CELLPHONE PHOTO SCANDAL": Web Link


1 person likes this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 26, 2014 at 4:08 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

James - do you mean reprimanded, rather than remanded (like into custody)?


4 people like this
Posted by FreePress
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 27, 2014 at 3:31 pm

FreePress is a registered user.

@ Resident: The reason why the officers have not been charged is because the Palo Alto PD has a cozy relationship with the District Attorney and the Department of Justice.

Web Link
Web Link
Web Link


1 person likes this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 1, 2014 at 8:17 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

If you follow the link the auditors' report states that the PAPD officer's actions "easily left someone with the impression that it was sent as a joke." Worse than that, it would be reasonable to assume from that act that our police are involved in a corrupt conspiracy to recruit women for human trafficking rings.

For more on the topic:

Web Link


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

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