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Where the Palo Alto City Council candidates stand on crime, policing

Original post made on Sep 17, 2022

This year's seven council candidates explain their greatest concerns when it comes to crime and to how the city's police department operates.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, September 17, 2022, 7:36 AM

Comments (23)

Posted by Miriam Palm
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 17, 2022 at 11:39 am

Miriam Palm is a registered user.

Very happy to see these articles, but when I printed this one to read offline, there were no breaks between candidates, so I had to copy and paste into Word to see who said what. I hope these will also be published in the print paper, because then I can print the relevant pdf pages.


Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 17, 2022 at 12:16 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

This is in my opinion is a very serious issue and has become much worse since the pandemic. I remember we were put under curfew when it was thought looters would be on the way to Stanford Shopping Center. Since then, there have been brazen robberies at the shopping center and many around town, in daylight, and seemingly without fear. Are we getting a reputation for being soft on crime? And if so, what can be done about it?


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 17, 2022 at 12:35 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Thanks for this. I agree with Doria Summa that we urgently need to restore police staffing to pre-pandemic levels given the increase in crimes of all sorts instead of adding staff to the already bloated City Manager's office. What are they thinking at a time when crime is soaring??

It was shameful that the PAPD and City Manager had to be prodded and pushed to condemn the anti-Semitic leaflet campaign here and that they stayed silent on the repeated death threats made against an Asian public official when anti-Asian crimes were soaring. Given all the crimes at Stanford Shopping Center, the refusal of the business community to pay its fair share in a business tax is upsetting.

Given the constant drumbeat that we should all ride our bikes, the failure of the PAPD and city to take bike thefts seriously is both hypocritical and unrealistic.

Re Julie Lythcott-Haims's points about racism against black and brown people, they're not the only victims given all the crimes, especially those against women and girls. I'm tired of seeing the DAs in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties say, "Yes, his repeated stalking while he had a meaningless restraining order against him was bad but if only he'd threatened more than one woman maybe we could have done something." I'm tired of reading about crimes committed by the same people while they're free and awaiting their next trial(s).

(And don't call me a racist because I've been to Black Lives Matters demonstrations.)


Posted by resident3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 17, 2022 at 2:06 pm

resident3 is a registered user.

@Miriam Palm,

“Very happy to see these articles, but when I printed this one to read offline, there were no breaks between candidates, so I had to copy and paste into Word to see who said what. “

Having a table would help to distinguish candidate positions on all the issues. If the Weekly has an opinion, they could add that separately but it is confusing when everyone seems to agree. Always like this during elections, the candidates appeal to voters and we get Council personal platform surprises only later.


Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Sep 17, 2022 at 2:42 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

"It is confusing when everyone seems to agree."

They're agreeing because they're on the same page politically. If it wasn't for an elderly relative in Old PA, I would be less concerned. The rest of my family and friends in PA are strong enough to hold their own.

Soft on crime is the reason PA has such a high crime rate for as nice as Palo Alto is. It has a 15 score on Neighborhood Scout, which means 85 percent of cities in the US are safer than Palo Alto. That's not only sad it's pathetic.

As far as the $600 bike, their hands are tied. Thanks to Prop 47, under $950 isn't punished. And who voted in favor of Prop 47? It wasn't moderates and conservatives.

Retaining police in Palo Alto will be hard. Why should they stay when there are so many anti-police residents? The police should be supported, and if you chose not to support the police - oh well.

Good luck Palo Alto. The truth hurts.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 17, 2022 at 3:44 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

"As far as the $600 bike, their hands are tied. Thanks to Prop 47, under $950 isn't punished"

Yes. And now there's a proposed state law to purge the criminal records of repeated felons working its way through the legislature or possibly even enacted.

Some common sense has to be applied to crime and policing. I empathize with Ms Lythcott-Haims's concern about her boys getting targeted by the police. A white friend married to a black man with 2 bi-racial sons had the same concern and moved. They got tired of the same PAPD stopping the black attorney husband seemingly whenever they were looking for a young black male. The SAME PAPD ignored the that he wasn't young but the same middle-aged briefcase-toting black husband in a suit they'd stopped repeatedly stopped before taking the same route from the train station.

That's harassment. But giving the same repeat felon or repeat misdemeanor stalker is wrong and dangerous.


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 17, 2022 at 10:32 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

Julie Lythcott-Haims is the sole candidate that speaks to youth Police issue. At Gunn Paly game 4 armed private guards w guns, tactical gear, cowboy hats and aviator stood around. Very un-nerving. Meanwhile, a CC candidate was outside the gate campaigning for himself while he sent a teen to pass out his flyers wearing Paly green. Then later, a large group of Paly, overly charged, exuberant flash mobbed the Gunn side. Our youth are stunted with the Pandemic PTSD & good sports decorum is learned not biological. What I surmise is there was little preparation for either school of what is good Pandemic friendly competition. Instead the Sup of PAUSD came down hard on kids. How about instead of consequences, consider what our PAUSD children have endured. Not once has he mentioned the Pandemic in months. Has it disappeared and the mental health of kids also gone away? A few Paly kids were on the Gunn side “chill’n” with their Gunn friend. Gunn students sat on on Paly side too w Paly friends. This good behavior could be honored. Yet all heck broke.How do u teach good sports behavior & grow friendsh when their has been all distance, fear, don’t touch, hug, are we r not safe, are we gonna die from COVID ?? Type of mayhem over course of this air born illness ? I appreciate Mr. Austin’s story. Yet we are 20 years on, 9/11, War, Pandemic, economy, home crisis. tenComing down hard on kids for not behaving during a World Pandemic they’ve been penned up in & very little to do together . Then you throw a Pally/Gunn game after a decade hiatus, w 4 heavily armed private guards present & only parent volunteer security? Foolish. I totally get it about egg throwing ritual dumb and dangerous — waste of food. As a community we ALL have 2 take responsibility 4 missteps. To Kline’s credit. He prepped Paly student body prior. was that enough? I think student , teachers, parents might do more. Yes.don’t beat a horse when down & so many r down. Educate, teach, learn, act. Reaction only now


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 17, 2022 at 11:07 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

@Jennifer “it’s confusing when we all agree” after the JV game, I spoke w a mother daughter duo. Grandma was wearing red t and daughter in red Wall Green’s shirt. I was friendly. And sad voiced sadness that Gunn had lost. Though I was Paly. The daughter was also friendly having come from her low paying job to see her Paly son play. She was sheepish about her mom having mistaking worn all red T . I was all “that’s okay” It was fun to see both teams play after so many years! You see, one-on-one interactions. It’s okay, really it’s fun, right?. Yet what transpired just 1 1/2 hours later?? Are we on the same team just differing colors or mixing it up. And so a Paly family wears red or a Gunn relative wears green. Spanish only speakers too who want to see thier grandson play. Who care green, red, yellow. It’s a mix and the point is: it does not matter which team, which color, which school — we are there to support our kids, growing, getting along, going out, being together. How to teach tolerance, friendly competition, support one another?! Like I said to my daughter. We just don’t beat a person, animal thing when it’s down. Already! I take responsibility as a grown-up for the misconduct. I had no idea it was a 10 year hiatus. And that PAUSD hired high priced, armed security. For what? That a youth would jump a 8’ gate to see their side win or lose. Obviously we all lost on this one. If PAUSD thinks school PAPD resource officers are bad optics, this surely showed 19 fold bad optics for all.


Posted by Fredericka Halsted
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 18, 2022 at 2:17 pm

Fredericka Halsted is a registered user.

There's no need to hire more police officers. Just utilize the volunteer reserve officers who are primarily being used for directing Stanford football traffic.

Civilian neighborhood watch committees could also be formed with residents providing a watchful eye over their own streets. Everyone owns a cellphone nowadays and those who have legal permits could also carry firearms and tasers to subdue suspects.

And those who own guard dogs like German Shepherds, Dobermans, Rottweilers, Pit Bulls, and Mastiffs could also participate in this crime prevention measure.

The regular police could then be assigned to patrol Stanford Shopping Center, the downtown district, and the smaller strip malls.


Posted by Ferdinand
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 19, 2022 at 12:55 pm

Ferdinand is a registered user.

Just FYI for "Native to the Bay"
The Gunn administration did prepare students prior to the game with a couple messages to home and students about civility, good sportsmanship, etc. I don't know what else the ASB and coaching staff may have done on campus nor afterwards but will ask our student. The first half of the game was very festive and it was wonderful to see all the students having fun and feeling the joy from socializing. It's too bad the Paly students made the choice to run into the stands which introduces a greater danger due to metal, tiered surfaces amidst a mixed crowd. A simple end zone "gathering" seems reasonable. I appreciated the superintendent's egg wars message regarding the danger of mixing getaway cars and mischief. The excitement of making a hit and getting away is too risky unless they change the "rules" to peds and bikes only!

Regarding the city candidate having a student pass out campaign materials, you may not know that history and living skills students are able to get (required) community service hours for this work.


Posted by Barron Parker Too
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 19, 2022 at 4:42 pm

Barron Parker Too is a registered user.

I am very disappointed in the number of "we need to fix the police department" responses to the concern about rising crime.

And I am particularly disappointed in the hyper-woke response by Ed Lauing, who I supported in his bid for City Council in 2020, and planned on doing likewise for this round.

Lauing starts by saying "not everyone feels safe calling the police." With 70,000 residents, that's like saying "water is wet." There are a very small number of noisy activists who distrust and hate the police. We see their anti-police posts all the time in the Comments section. And yet Lauing entirely frames his views as if this were a significant problem.

In fact, this is NOT a significant problem. (The problem is that Lauing and others are busy virtue signalling by formulating reforms where none are warranted.) PAPD is an extraordinarily well-educated, well-trained police force. It uses cameras to document all activities. There is strong oversight. The claim that it needs to be more "diverse" to be more effective is nonsense, based on the silly assertion that some people feel unsafe. Perhaps you've noticed: no organization is ever "diverse" enough for the diversity mob.

PAPD is understaffed, with many open positions unfilled, even with the budget cuts of the past two years. That's where your concern should lie -- not with yet more race-based training, "cultural reform", and calls for "civilian staffing" and police with different skin color. Those woke demands weaken the police. They generate a perception that Palo Alto residents have serious concerns about the police (untrue) and are only weakly supportive (also untrue), reducing the effectiveness of the force and contributing to under-staffing by making hiring and retaining police officers more difficult.

How bad does crime have to get before candidates for City Council get real about having a police force that is sufficiently effective to convince criminals to go somewhere else?


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 19, 2022 at 7:27 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

@Barron Parker Too, "There are a very small number of noisy activists who distrust and hate the police. We see their anti-police posts all the time in the Comments section. "

Those few "noisy activists" represent a cross-section of the population -- seniors, women, parents, blacks, car owners, bike owners, etc. If you think the comments here are bad, try reading NextDoor with its daily videos of people prowling, casing houses and cars and photos of what's been stolen. Did you miss all the legal settlements against certain police officers and the City Manager's stonewalling of whether the "bad cops" who'd cost us so much in settlements got to keep their full pensions?

How can anyone dismiss Mr. Lauing's statement that the increase in"brazen street crime" is making people edgy?


Posted by Concerned Neightbor
a resident of Triple El
on Sep 19, 2022 at 8:49 pm

Concerned Neightbor is a registered user.

I supported Lauing last time and was getting ready to support him now, but I changed my mind after hearing his positions on police and the so-called “safe parking”. Neither of these positions are resident-friendly.


Posted by Aletheia
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 20, 2022 at 9:53 am

Aletheia is a registered user.

"As a mother of a Black-presenting (though multiracial) son, I feared for his life as he came of age in Palo Alto."

"I also want our city's leaders whether elected, hired, or appointed, to stop avoiding talking about race."

Yes, racism is the #1 problem with PAPD. You believe that, waste your vote on this woman.


Posted by GTSpencer
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 21, 2022 at 7:32 pm

GTSpencer is a registered user.

I feared for his life as he came of age in Palo Alto."

Come on now...... stop being dramatic. Simply obey the law and the officer's instructions.


Posted by Wei Zhao
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 22, 2022 at 10:00 am

Wei Zhao is a registered user.

""As a mother of a Black-presenting (though multiracial) son, I feared for his life as he came of age in Palo Alto."

It is important to cooperate with the police when stopped for questioning or citation and very unwise to run or antagonize them.

Our children are also 'coming of age' and part of the maturity process is to prepare oneself for adulthood which means taking responsibility for one's actions or better yet, not getting involved in questionable activities which warrant police intervention or suspicion.

That is the Chinese way.


Posted by Trevor Thompson
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 22, 2022 at 1:54 pm

Trevor Thompson is a registered user.

"It is important to cooperate with the police when stopped for questioning or citation and very unwise to run or antagonize them."

In many cases, the suspect has an outstanding arrest warrant and to avoid arrest, flees and/or is in possession of an illegal firearm.

This scenario often justifies a police shooting if the police officer discharges his service weapon in self-defense or a perceived threat.

In isolated/past cases, mentally ill people should not be carrying unregistered weapons in the first place and this justifies a 'clean' police-related shooting regardless of the individual's mental state.


Posted by Jesse Phillips
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 24, 2022 at 7:53 am

Jesse Phillips is a registered user.

My uncle is a retired big city detective who in his illustrious career as a law enforcement officer, shot and killed four physically aggressive and armed suspects.

Three of the suspects were African American and one was Puerto Rican...all of whom were on parole at the time and in the act of committing further crimes against society.

Following the mandatory IA investigations, he was cleared on all four shootings and decorated for merit.

His mantra was, 'a moment of hesitation can get you killed' so fire appropriately and at will.

We need more police officers like my uncle as both a deterrent to crime and to protect the citizenry.


Posted by Vance Landrum
a resident of another community
on Sep 24, 2022 at 9:06 am

Vance Landrum is a registered user.

"His mantra was, 'a moment of hesitation can get you killed' so fire appropriately and at will."

^ This philosophy is also used in the military during warfare and justifiably so.

During World War II there was a similar saying in basic training, "Kill or be killed" and the same applies today whether a law enforcement officer or a civilian protecting his/her family.


Posted by MyFeelz
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Sep 24, 2022 at 11:17 am

MyFeelz is a registered user.

Was going to steer clear of this article and the comments. The more supportive of vigilante justice a community becomes, the closer they get to getting exactly what they promote. Some day it will be your family member who was killed in a street execution via LEO. This is why we have a justice system, and supposed diversity training along with training in de-escalating a situation. And all LEOs are supposed to be trained use non-lethal force. Comments like "During World War II there was a similar saying in basic training, "Kill or be killed" and the same applies today whether a law enforcement officer or a civilian protecting his/her family." are not appropriate. We are not at war. "KILL OR BE KILLED" is an extremist idea, and I hope you don't plan on turning thought into action.

Maybe we should just abolish the police and let the military do the job, eh?


Posted by Kerry Campbell
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Sep 24, 2022 at 1:52 pm

Kerry Campbell is a registered user.

"We are not at war. "KILL OR BE KILLED" is an extremist idea, and I hope you don't plan on turning thought into action.
@MyFeelz
Depending one's perspective, America is currently at war with repeat violent offenders being granted early release and committing further crimes against the innocent.

There should be absolutely no court leniency based on bogus 'humanitarian' grounds.

By locking up violent criminals on a long-term basis, our cities will be safer and the "Kill or be killed" mindset (in terms of protecting oneself & family) will ideally dissipate.

There is no room for permissiveness when it comes to violent crime and the DAs & judges must be held accountable for letting convicted criminals roam the streets.


Posted by MyFeelz
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Sep 25, 2022 at 6:31 pm

MyFeelz is a registered user.

@Kerry, do you have any statistics showing that all crimes are perpetrated by people who got early release? Even if you did, we still have not wiped out the constitution, to be replaced by "KILL OR BE KILLED" as our only law.

As far as judges letting offenders roam the streets, I seem to remember a violent Stanford student rapist who was slapped with a ruler and told never to do that again by a judge. In light of that fact, I am in agreement with the last sentence you wrote above. The Judge did in fact get what he deserved -- removal from the bench. The perpetrator, however got a short sentence and was released early. Let's see if he ends up on your list of repeat offenders someday.


Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 25, 2022 at 9:28 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

The societal breakdown that occurred during Covid and continues was entirely predictable. Cities should’ve planned better with their police departments for these sustained situations.

It’ll be great to have the Weekly do a candidate forum in East Palo Alto. In this race we have as candidates one who said a a black person was as bad as the KKK, a felon who was in federal prison and another who supposedly lives in Hayward.


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