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Auditor urges police to seek diversity in recruits

Original post made on Mar 1, 2010

The Palo Alto Police Department has taken giant steps to mend its relationship with minority communities, but its efforts to promote diversity within its own ranks leave room for improvement, a new report by the city's Independent Police Auditor Michael Gennaco argues.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, March 1, 2010, 5:12 PM

Comments (33)

Posted by John K. Abraham
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 1, 2010 at 6:45 pm

Mr. Gennaco's report has a mixture of good and bad features, in my opinion. The good is that he recognizes that detailed demographic data on what the police do on discretionary stops is important. The bad is that he says nothing about getting a statistician (if possible) who will look at this data in unbiased depth. Lorie Fridell (her spelling, not mine) is a Sociologist, not a statistician. Ron Davis is a statistician NOT, but has some familiarity with national profiling studies, but NOT Palo Alto's. The so-call Stanford study was an undergratuate class exercise, not a statistical study. No one showed up to defend their work at the HRC. Multivariate analysis is not necessarily the way to go here. Check out Greg Ridgeway's NYPD study. No multivarite analysis at all, and presumably the PAPD would approve of his methodology because he found no racial profiling in the unpopular Stop Question and Frisk program in NYC. There is a real need for various people, of various viewpoints, to read this Demographic Data and get the discussion started. (Google Search at "Palo Alto Demographic Data").

Posted by City employee
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 1, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Johnson was asked to resign in December of 2008, not 2009...

Posted by Denise S
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 1, 2010 at 7:16 pm

Perhaps if the easily offended minority communities spent more effort on proper child- and teen-raising in order to reduce their youths' disproportionate antisocial behavior, and less on hassling the police because they are looking for the most likely culprits (and usually catching them), real progress would be made. Almost all the murders and other crimes I've heard about in my neighborhood turned out to have been committed by non-whites. I see pure hypocrisy at work, diverting attention from the underlying problem, which is not the police.

The reporters and editors of this and other newspapers should be ashamed for supporting and publicizing these invariably one-sided attacks on the officers who very conscientiously try to protect us from predators. There is the tacit implication that the accusations of arbitrary profiling are true, since counterarguments in the press are subdued or nonexistent. The whole truth is far more complex than what we read. The press is supposed to present at least two sides of an issue and let readers decide on the merits. I perceive no such effort.

I am ashamed that the police department is forced to submit repeatedly to these so-called anti-racial profiling indoctrination procedures which look to me like Orwellian thought control.

Posted by ED
a resident of another community
on Mar 1, 2010 at 7:56 pm

Amen to Denise S. The media is bias and only relays the minoirty report of a single few. By far the police do an awesome job. How about, hire the most qualified in a color-blind manner. Suggesting hiring on the basis of race is, in my opinion, racial profiliing at its best. Sorry Mr. white male, you loose to the the XYZ because of his skin color, even though you are more qualified and deserved of the job. Diversity is perversity. Hire the qualified person whether male or female, red, white, blue, black, brown or purple. By the way, can we have the stats for arrests made in palo alto concerning serious crimes, I would like to know their race and city of origin. I am sure they all live in Palo Alto....

Posted by John K. Abraham
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 1, 2010 at 8:03 pm

It is easy to get sidetracked from what the PAPD is doing on discretionary stops. Actually, their data is supposed to be about 90% traffic stops--cars with tinted windows, night stops etc. that supposedly prevent police from pre-identifying the race of the driver before they stop them. If that is really the case, the stop proportions of each tracked racial group should approximately reflect the drivers on the streets. A near random sample. If that is the case, how come Palo Alto African-American residents get stopped at up to 7 times the rate White Palo Alto residents get stopped? Why are as many as 87% of stoppees on East Bayshore minority? Can anyone really believe that is the driver population? Why are most people who the police search on these stops minority? Not criminal activity stops, mind you, traffic stops? And why is the proportion of stoppees who are cited generally LOWEST of all groups for African-Americans, yet the proportion of those arrested generlly HIGHEST for Afro-Americans? If African-Americans are so deserving of stops etc why are they cited so seldom? Unless of course that is not the real reason they are stopped.

Posted by Jackson
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 1, 2010 at 8:26 pm

The law should be applied evenly. Traffic stops should be for infractions, unless there is an alert for a specific desription. The real question is how race is related to crimes, including minor automobile issues, like a bad brake light. I am white, and have been stopped several times in my life for such issues. I have also been stopped for speeding. I got arrested once on a warrant that was a mistaken identity (I never got an explanation or and apology...they just released me after fours hours in lockup).

If blacks are being sent on their way, without a traffic fix-it ticket, then that is racial discriminatin against other groups. We need to tighten up on such miscarriages of justice.

Posted by Neighbor
a resident of another community
on Mar 1, 2010 at 9:37 pm

I can't believe the ignorance and prejudice in the previous comments. Please, the media is biased in favor of minorities? Watch your average local news broadcast and more time is spent on local minority crime than on any other subject, on a consistent basis. Maybe that's why you reported only hearing of crimes committed by non-whites. Also, you'd probably be surprised at the number of unreported/unpunished crimes perpetrated by wealthy children who manage to use their parent's influence to escape punishment for breaking the law. (Trust me, I've seen it firsthand.) Take care of your own families, Palo Alto, your teens are crying out for help.

Posted by Jerry
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 1, 2010 at 9:44 pm

1/3 of the department is minorities...I think that is pretty high percent. Isn't the department support to refect the community? We need to hire more non-minorities (is there such a thing?) then!

Posted by Dave
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 1, 2010 at 10:41 pm

Please. Is this article a joke? PAPD is well known among other PDs and those trying to get jobs as the "if you're a white male don't bother" department. Of course there are white males on the force, but at one time (and maybe now)they had the highest percentage of women officers in the state. Suddenly women are out of the equation if they don't help the shock value of the stats?

If there is a more open minded dept out there, I can't think of it. Before the no beards dictate for the purpose of being able to don gas masks, it was probably the most bearded dept. Not to mention the most men with earrings....and even one officer with a beard, ponytail and earring....

Johnson got railroaded, I suspect its the city who threw her under the bus. Tossed out for looking for a black man when the victim described a black man as the suspect.

Not surprising--the officer who was involved in the fatal shooting on Stanford Ave was hung out to dry and ended up lateraling to another bay area PD where they have more felonies in a month than PA has in a year. Also where I might add she is known as a good officer.

Luckily nothing much happens in PA....

Posted by watching from afar
a resident of another community
on Mar 2, 2010 at 2:31 am

side bar here: the usage of the word "minority."

The term "minority," evokes a vision of inequality, The word implies inferiority and inequity among the city's employees.
There should be a serious motivational effort to discontinue the use of the word "minority."
The term makes it look as though there is a dominant racial group that decides and makes the decision of who is or who is not acceptable or equal to the majority group's status quo.

Would it not be more acceptable to use the term "multi-ethnic hiring," or "diversity employment practice," to show the public the Palo Alto PD is truly about change.

If the City of Palo Alto Police department is really trying to make a change for the future, perhaps it should begin by letting go of the word "minority" which for many non whites is an anachronistic and denigrating term.

(it's more than a matter of semantics)

Posted by Gunslinger
a resident of another community
on Mar 2, 2010 at 5:48 am

Denise and Ed said it best. And all others out there who are sick of this racism against whites from the government and activist groups, please, let them all know you're not going to take it anymore. You know. in predominantly minority areas, the police are harangued for having a few white cops, because the force is not 100% indicative of the community ratio. Meaning, if the community is 90% black and Mexican, they feel the force should be 90% black and Mexican. However, in predominantly white areas they demand the opposite ethos, demanding greater diversity, with more minorities even if it's not indicative of the community. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

What's funny though is that so called diversity in the police force doesn't curb so called racial profiling at all. Black cops target black suspects just as much as white cops. Black cops are accused of excessive force against blacks just as much. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 2, 2010 at 10:08 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

There is hope.

Posted by Al
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 2, 2010 at 10:47 am

> Almost all the murders and other crimes I've heard about in my
> neighborhood turned out to have been committed by non-whites.

Palo Alto is a town with typically 0-3 murders a year. For the most part, these murders tend to be people who know each other--husband/wife disputes that end in murder, rather than divorce.

In the downtown area, the Kay murder of some ten years ago was most shocking, and indeed, the work of non-whites from East Palo Alto. But there are two unsolved murders in the downtown area too, so the race of the perpetrators is yet unknown (girl shot in front of Q-Cafe, and Ukranian immigrant killed in hit-and-run just a block away on Alma some time later).

Given the very low number of murders, the statistics become skewed so that they are not meaningful. It probably is true that non-whites are involved in most of the property crimes in Palo Alto, but the closure rates for these crimes is very low (about 15%). Therefore, the race of those guilty of violating our homes is not generally known, other than by extrapolating from the race of those identified as the perpetrators by the police from arrest records.

Posted by so
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Mar 2, 2010 at 10:50 am

[Comment removed by Palo Alto Online staff].

Posted by Al
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 2, 2010 at 10:53 am

> By far the police do an awesome job ..

Can you say that? The police provide the public the most minimal of statistics, go out of their way to subvert many people's attempts to investigate their activities, two officers were indicted and tried for unnecessary violence against a resident, one officer was convicted of sexual misconduct and probably should have been tried for "kidnapping".

While no police force is free of "bad apples" .. given the low crime rates, and generally "sleepy neighborhoods" .. is there any reason not to expect a nearly perfect performance on the part of the police force?

What exactly this group distinguishes them from a police force in a neighboring city which has seen fewer crimes committed by its officers against the residents and visitors to the town?

Posted by Garden Gnome
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 2, 2010 at 11:30 am

Only 35 percent of the police force represent minorities, so we should add more minority representation? Did we actually pay Mr. Gennaco for his services?

Anyway, why are we discriminating against non minorities? Don't they have rights too?

Or is this some misguided effort to make sure the police force represent the diverse background of those that commit crimes in Palo Alto?

Sigh... whatever happened to judging people by the content of their character (e.g., their actions) rather than the color of their skin?

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Mar 2, 2010 at 3:36 pm

I agree with "watching from afar." There is no such thing as "white" when it comes to ethnicity in this area. Few of you who would identify themselves as white could point to a common point or country of origination, just as none of the people who are tagged as "minorities" all come from one country or even one continent. We are all minorities, and the use of "whites vs. minorities" is just a superficial perception of the powerful vs. the powerless. The PAPD should advocate diversity in the form of people (of all races) who represent the cultural and socioeconomic variety we are blessed with in the Bay Area, not on the basis of antiquated categories.

Posted by Al
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 2, 2010 at 6:00 pm

> The PAPD should advocate diversity in the form of people

The PAPD should enforce the law. Nothing more, nothing less.

Posted by JR
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 2, 2010 at 6:41 pm

Try this-go to East Palo Alto during non commute hours and watch the vehicles in traffic for 30 minutes, then do the same in downtown or mid town Palo Alto, and compare how many cars you see with obvious violations (non-complying tinted windows, broken glass, expired tags, etc) in each. Then decide whether you think that traffic stops should reflect the same distribution of race/ethnicity as the general population.

Posted by Marie
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 2, 2010 at 8:24 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] My son and I were stopped a block away from the Safeway on Middlefield. The white female officer asked where we were going and where did we live. We were driving about 30 mph - the speed limit is 25 mph. I have also been stopped by cops on bikes as I drove down Alma at 7am. Yes, I was going to work and driving at the speed limit. Remember Albert Hopkins? The late Mr. Hopkins' crime? Driving while being black!

Posted by Mary
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 2, 2010 at 8:32 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 2, 2010 at 9:10 pm

PAPD should seek competence in recruits, nothing more-- nothing less.
There are many veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan who are rotating out of service and who demonstrate high, discipline, courage under fire, leadership and competence for the PAPD.

These are the men and women we need in the PAPD, they should be priority recruits and we will be proud and grateful to see them serve in PA ASAP.

Posted by Mayfield Child
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 2, 2010 at 10:33 pm

Palo Alto IS the melting pot, or haven't you

opened your eyes up lately????

Posted by Connect the dots
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 3, 2010 at 6:24 am

Think about it, ..if cops stop folks when they can't see the color/race of the driver because off tinted windows or night time...think hard there racism involved if it happens to turn out a higher percentage are non/white?

c'mon...we really have to start accepting reality when it is staring us in the face.

Posted by Observation
a resident of another community
on Mar 3, 2010 at 10:10 am

Isn't suicide a crime? If so, Denise, take a look at your own city's "perpetrators" of that crime. Not to mention, there is a lot of crime committed by youth who reside in Palo Alto, who are white. There always has been, there always will be. There is always a percentage of youth who get into trouble, no matter what their ethnic backgrounds are. So it's not always the darker0-skinned "outsiders" & to think so is a bad mistake.

Posted by copo
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 3, 2010 at 11:01 am

one time a papd cop asked a non white not only what store they were going to ,but what bag are they going to use. the traffic stop was unrelated to ''where are you going ,what are you going to buy at grocery store''!!

Posted by P.A. Native
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 3, 2010 at 12:08 pm

I don't think someone can really appreciate being profiled until they've been repeatedly pulled over without a cause being given. I can't even count how many times I've been pulled over and had my license run, only to be told to "have a nice day". I really hope someday I don't have to explain to my kid why we're being stopped for no reason. I'd likely verbally tear into the cop if I felt it was justified. I don't need to tell you where I'm going or who I know in the neighborhood, I've lived here most of my life!

On a side note, I think the cries of racism towards white people are comical. How long have white people endured this racism? What is the most offensive racist action taken against white people in the last 30 years? Affirmative action? So we get as many white people appointed to as many jobs as possible for hundreds of years in this country, then we say "Hey, we're all good now." and just go from there? As if we live in some sort of racial uptopia?

Posted by profiling
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 3, 2010 at 2:24 pm

I recall a time when, after driving for ten years without being pulled over, cops started to stop me about once a week. Finally, I asked one of them, wtf, why do you guys keep stopping me? He said, well, your car (Mustang) is a little beat up, and most people who have insurance get their cars fixed pretty quickly. Also, the color and shape of your plate bracket makes it hard to see your license plate. I had started driving a used car I bought cheap and had not imagined that dents, scratches, and needing paint would be a cop magnet. But with a Mustang, it is. Or, I was pulled over because of my race and they wouldn't admit it.

Posted by Gunslinger
a resident of another community
on Mar 3, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Hey PA Native, if you don't want to understand how we feel oppressed in the country we created, then we don't care about your complaints either

Posted by P.A. Native
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 3, 2010 at 3:33 pm

"in the country we created"

LOL! How incredibly short sighted. I'm not going to take you to school, that's not my job. I do suggest you pick up a history book however.

Chances of this post being censored = 75%

Posted by Mayfield Child
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 3, 2010 at 5:33 pm

I like Walter's view best..............thanks Walt

Posted by Jon
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 3, 2010 at 10:28 pm

The PAPD would love to hire more minorities but very few apply.

What is a minority anyway? Typical of the general population, we have several mixed race officers, how are they categorized?

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 4, 2010 at 5:42 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Hopkins' crime was failure to show identification when asked by a police officer. I asked under what circumstances I could legally refuse to exit my car or refuse to show identification and received no response. I believe both Hopkins and Frosty the No Man were jobbing the system hoping for a payoff.
The reason behind Push Day is long past.

Incidentally, does anyone recognize similarity between the treatment given Adam Clayton Powell and that given my buddy in battle Charley Rangel?

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