After sniper shootings in the South, Palo Alto officers patrol in pairs

City one of many across America to take extra precautions after officers in Texas and Louisiana are gunned down

With recent shootings of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge heightening tensions across America, the Palo Alto Police Department has changed its staffing policy to ensure that no officer rides alone.

The policy, which took effect earlier this month, is a break from the norm of one-officer patrol cars.

"In the immediate aftermath of the Dallas incident, our personnel moved to two-officer cars for a short period of time so that they could always have a partner on scene with them," Lt. Zach Perron, the department's public-information manager, said by email.

The Palo Alto Police Department is one of many law-enforcement agencies across the country that have taken extra precautions. Police departments in New Orleans, Milwaukee and Cleveland all implemented policies for officers to ride in pairs after the ambush in Dallas, according to USA Today.

Perron said that the department has altered staffing levels in patrol cars in the past, based on different circumstances and the needs of the community and officers.

This change appears to be temporary and is linked closely to recent events. On July 7, five officers in Dallas were killed and 11 others wounded by a sniper in what police described as an ambush. The shooter, Micah Zavier Johnson, was ultimately killed by a robot armed with explosives.

Just days later, three police officers were shot and killed in Baton Rouge by a gunman who was later identified as Gavin Long. He was ultimately killed in a gun battle with police officers.

In both cases, the snipers appeared to be targeting police officers in response to recent fatal shootings of unarmed black men, incidents that were captured on video and prompted protests and outrage throughout the nation.

On July 5, Alton Sterling was shot point-blank while being pinned to the ground by two white police officers in Baton Rouge -- an incident that was captured by numerous camera phones. The following day, 32-year-old Philando Castile was shot to death in St. Paul, Minnesota, while he was reaching for his wallet during a traffic stop. The aftermath of the shooting was captured on video by Castile's girlfriend, who streamed the footage on Facebook.

Perron noted that out of an abundance of concern for Palo Alto officers' safety, the department will not be discussing its operational, tactical or staffing deployments.

"Our officers, like those everywhere, are remaining vigilant and aware of their surroundings at all times," Perron said. "We are fortunate to work in a wonderful, supportive community, and we will continue to do our very best to foster positive, professional and safe interactions with everybody we meet."

Related content:

Vigil of reconciliation brings hope in East Palo Alto


Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

We can't do it without you.
Support local journalism.


14 people like this
Posted by pairs
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 21, 2016 at 9:27 am

[Post removed.]

13 people like this
Posted by Solon
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 21, 2016 at 11:32 am

Now is atone to help and support the daily necessary activity of police.

An attack on policies an attack on every person, and atrack on civilization itself
--- which we are seeing writ large worldwide.

Liberty freedom peaceful civil society wealth generation through hard work and honest government and courts, all of which we enjoy to a very large extent, weand our parents and ancestors worked very hard for

The legitimate degree of concern for any mistake, or wrongdoing, has been fanned into an hysteria , clearly not supported by facts,
And not good judgment. And not good policy.

Where political forces cause policing to be greatly reduced, as in Chicagp neighborhoods and Baltimore, we see violence and harm to minorities greatly increase, not decrease.

Palo Alto has professional mannered trained police. Yet just months ago there was a local incident where harm was directly intended to an officer.

Attacks on officers are almost daily occurrences in the bay area. Ramming of police cars and. Attempts to run over officers. Even at traffic stops is a weekly event now right here in he bay area!

Best to show restraint in rhetoric. In postings. In conversations.

Extreme conversations set off desparate or evil or mentally ill based violence, sometimes.

Be an instrument of peace. you can. We need you to help keep the calm,

1 person likes this
Posted by Your misplaced concern
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 21, 2016 at 11:34 am

Your article reflects the safety of the Palo Alto police--I'm concerned (like "pairs" above) about most of us who are not the police (who have guns and badges, unlike other civilian "pairs" who do not). I hope all caregivers (for the time being, at any rate) are white and not Muslim, Black, Latino, Asian, etc.
Do you think there might be at least one police officer in this community who might shoot first, then say, "Gee, I have no idea why I shot that person . . . " I'm sure the police in Florida, if a question, say, two days ago, would have been asked a question, something like: "You know, it's dangerous out there. As a community we're afraid caregivers, especially those of color, who lie on their backs with their hands up, might be shot by an allegedly trained "peace" officer who shoots a caregiver in the leg, then says, "I have no idea why I pulled the trigger." Surely the Florida police spokesperson would, without a doubt, have said: " There is no way this could ever happen in this community."
But I'm sure it could never happen here in high crime Palo Alto--wait--where have I heard that before?
And, you know what, it is entirely credible just why open carry is so opposed by the police. To quote the Reverend Jackson, "Things are different when the rabbit also has a gun.
As for me, you can be sure I'm terrified by caregivers of the disabled--so, good work, police--go in pairs by all means. Two guns by legal open-carry license holders, sworn to uphold public safety--are better than one. Just shoot first--the reason why is not an issue--but, think about it before you do, because you (wait for it) might be put on "administrative leave" until things cool down--then you can always use the Rodney King police exuse that "you used restraint".

In summary, I am of the opinion that your article represents what you call "objectionable material"--and I'm fairly sure this post will not see the light of day.

6 people like this
Posted by NoNameFits
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 21, 2016 at 11:35 am

I don't begrudge their safety, but now we will get half the police coverage that we got before for our existing manpower and budget.

17 people like this
Posted by Patriot
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 21, 2016 at 12:03 pm

Thank you to our brave police force that risks their lives to keep us safe in Palo Alto and around the country.
[Portion removed.]

5 people like this
Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 21, 2016 at 12:09 pm

What a way to whip up needless hysteria. Sure in the entire USA there have been 2 shootings where ex-military snipers targeted police. And so across the country police are doubling up in response? Good way to stoke a siege mentality. And then some are actually blaming Black Live Matter movement. I remember way back when, the cry was "Free Huey, Off the Pig". In that time yes people in organizations were calling for such and a war of sorts between police, FBI and the Black Panthers ensued. But in this time we've seen a countless flood of black males being executed and murdered by the police with no justice, and no organization advocating any such revenge. It doesn't surprise me that the anger would boil over in some individuals-- with certain life experiences and training. And if there were no video of that South Carolina Police Officer murdering a man by shooting him in the back, people would be supporting that murderer as a good officer protecting the populace. Maybe if the police want to stop the killing, they need to stop their killing? I don't celebrate the gunning down of police officers but no one should be surprised that the anger would boil up in some people desperate to end their own lives and wanting to affix such to some cause.

11 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 21, 2016 at 12:21 pm

"I'm offended that the Baptist Church at the corner of N. California and Bryant acknowledges "Black Lives Matter" on their church sign. St Marks Church on Colorado also has a huge banner across the front of their church that says Black Lives Matter."

Those churches are doing their job. America is a free country allowing free practice of religion. You are free to be offended by their message, and free to associate with groups whose message is more to your liking.

14 people like this
Posted by Open Season on Police
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 21, 2016 at 12:31 pm

Open Season on Police is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

8 people like this
Posted by Wynn Hausser
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 21, 2016 at 12:31 pm

I support our cops, who are public servants with very difficult jobs. But what's missing here is any reference to past racism and racial profiling in the PAPD and how the department is making sure it doesn't happen again. Maybe I missed that memo...

7 people like this
Posted by Duckwalk
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 21, 2016 at 4:44 pm

Duckwalk is a registered user.

With so many hate crimes against law enforcement officers, especially cold- blooded murders, I don't blame officers if they feel more safe when doubled up.

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

Be the first to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

If you do nothing else, do These Three Things
By Sherry Listgarten | 36 comments | 2,071 views

Lentil Brownies
By Laura Stec | 5 comments | 500 views

Finding Balance
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 298 views


Vote now!

It's time once again to cast your vote for the best places to eat, drink, shop and spend time in Palo Alto. Voting is open now through May 27. Watch for the results of our 2019 Best Of contest on Friday, July 19.