On chasing criminals, race relations and being the chief | January 13, 2017 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 13, 2017

On chasing criminals, race relations and being the chief

Palo Alto Police Chief Dennis Burns reflects on 35-year career

by Gennady Sheyner

It takes Palo Alto Police Chief Dennis Burns about 15 minutes to walk from King Plaza to the conference room inside the Police Department — a remarkably sluggish pace for a guy who used to run track at San Jose State University and who made headlines just six years ago by chasing down a bike-riding purse-snatcher on University Avenue.

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Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be emailed at [email protected]


Posted by Anon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 13, 2017 at 11:10 am

You will be sorely missed, Chief Burns. Palo Alto has been so lucky to have such a kind, gentle and compassionate Chief such as you.

Wishing you the best in the next chapter of life

Posted by Penny
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 13, 2017 at 11:10 am

Penny is a registered user.

I will greatly miss Chief Burns, a kind and ethical man, excellent manager, intentionally fair and thoughtful (as you can see in this interview) person. He has served our community with distinction.

I wish him the very best in his well-earned retirement.

Thank you, Chief Burns, for giving us your best work for so many years.

Posted by Ken Horowitz
a resident of University South
on Jan 13, 2017 at 12:59 pm

Chief Burns has been a terrific police officer....and an even better human being. Thank you for your service to Palo Alto.
You will be missed here. I wish him a bright and happy future. It is well deserved!

Posted by Hamilton
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 13, 2017 at 1:19 pm

Chief Burns. Thank you for your service. We will miss you.

Posted by Tony Press
a resident of another community
on Jan 14, 2017 at 5:12 pm

Oh, my, now you have me remembering the days of Officers John Costa and Dennis Burns -- there weren't many duos like those two. Cheers to Chief Burns (and to John Costa) --- it was always a pleasure working with you. Some would say we were on "opposite" teams but I never doubted that we all strived for justice.

Posted by @PAFreePress
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 15, 2017 at 7:58 am

We believe Mr. Sheyner conveniently forgot the Jorge Hernandez, David Carlson, Albert Hopkins, Tony Ciampi cases? But most important Luis Verbrea... The PAPD sex crime detective who stopped unsuspecting females and raped them in the back of his squad car... All under the careful eyes of Dennis Burns. Why no mention of these cases....during his illustrious career.. We know why, the Palo Alto Weekly has enjoyed a very confortable relationship with the PAPD... Bed fellows...The article should be renamed the PAPD Weekly. Waiting now for Mr. Sheyner to censor or delete comment....

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 15, 2017 at 10:36 am

Well there's a list of people we could name our schools after.

Posted by Aaron Aguilar
a resident of another community
on Jan 15, 2017 at 8:41 pm

Congratulations Chief! Enjoy your retirement and thank you for your service. Professional in every sense of the word.

Posted by Aram
a resident of another community
on Jan 15, 2017 at 8:48 pm

Hi Mark,
>> All of the cases you've mentioned involved members of the PAPD engaged in unconstitutional police conduct. Thanks for not letting these cases, and the human beings behind them, slip from the public consciousness.
>> The cases you recall-mentioned involved officers extracting coerced false confessions leading to wrongful convictions. Officers engaged in extreme police brutality, motivated by racial animus. Polices officers engaged in sex crimes, and convicted for their crimes, but given sentences that were no more then mere slaps on the wrist.
>> Cases where but for subsequent crime lab work; an innocent person might well have been wrongfully convicted of molesting a child.
>> And of course there is your case, and Tony Ciampi's case, both of which haunt not just you and Tony, but the community at large. And let's not forget the Jameel Douglas case.
[Portion removed.]
>> Palo Alto must face the truth of this horrendous legacy of police crimes before we will be truly able to move forward as a just and compassionate community.
>> Mark, thanks for not letting me or the community forget.
>> Aram

Posted by John Bost
a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2017 at 8:09 pm

congratulations cousin Dennis Burns. glad to have you join us retired folks. hope to be down to see you sometime soon.

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