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Palo Alto police urged to crack down on officers' profanity

Original post made on Nov 16, 2022

Palo Alto's independent police auditors have asked the Police Department to provide more training and counseling to officers who were recorded using profanities while trying to apprehend suspects.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, November 15, 2022, 5:27 PM

Comments (24)

Posted by Mark
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 16, 2022 at 10:22 am

Mark is a registered user.

Language is used to communicate. Sometimes profanity is very useful in uniquely communicating something. Police officers have incredibly stressful jobs and are commonly in emotion charged situations. Let them do their important jobs [portion removed.]

Posted by Wyn
a resident of Atherton
on Nov 16, 2022 at 10:53 am

Wyn is a registered user.

Men using profanity!! Unheard of!! A charge of witchcraft could apply here.

Posted by Ugh
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 16, 2022 at 10:55 am

Ugh is a registered user.

Agree with Mark- who cares if they’re swearing during moments of stress and potential bodily harm- a lot of people would be!

Posted by Forever Name
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 16, 2022 at 11:03 am

Forever Name is a registered user.

@ Mark. Agree 100 percent.

I challenge anyone doing a dangerous and difficult job, often in emotionally charged situations while protecting and serving, to hold themselves to an impossible standard of perfect decorum 100 percent of the time. Who could possibly say they've never cursed on the job? No one, ever! Our officers are under enough pressure wearing cameras 100 percent of the time without people picking apart their every word. Let our police officers do their jobs.

Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 16, 2022 at 12:43 pm

Hulkamania is a registered user.

They must all be former sailors as a Marine would never talk like that.

Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 16, 2022 at 1:26 pm

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

Language we choose shapes how we think and feel and affects others around us. Using profanity is a little like verbally punching someone in the face--a hostile act that is likely to escalate a situation and elicit hostile, angry response. As parents, we try to model courteous and considerate behavior. It seems to me that the good officers who enforce our community's laws (whose work I greatly value and appreciate) should model civil conduct and that includes civil language. Wearing the uniform is an awesome responsibility. It should command respect that is is earned through daily disciplined behavior.

My grandmother once heard me swear and said, "Your words and actions define you. Choose them carefully." Then she suggested five perfect adjectives that would have communicated better what I was trying to say and advised me to expand my vocabulary so I could choose civil language to express myself more thoughtfully. Sage advice.

Posted by Bill Bucy
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 16, 2022 at 2:04 pm

Bill Bucy is a registered user.

Oh, spare me.

Posted by cvvhrn
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 16, 2022 at 2:32 pm

cvvhrn is a registered user.

Seriously? Of all the problems we as a City and country face we are focused on the use of profanity? I am a huge proponent of body cams and could care less about some off hand F-bombs.

Posted by Chris C.
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 16, 2022 at 2:36 pm

Chris C. is a registered user.

I agree -- who cares if they swear. But if you read this article carefully, you'll learn that the auditor doesn't seem to really care about swearing either.

Instead, they are concerned that in the incidents where officers are swearing they are not *thinking*. The auditor appears to be highlighting situations where the officers are acting on reflex and emotion, in circumstances where they had the time and ability to take a breather and think. Given this it makes sense to train them on how to recognize these situations and do better.

Posted by Ryan
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 16, 2022 at 3:22 pm

Ryan is a registered user.

As long as they help me, they can swear as much as they want

Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Nov 16, 2022 at 4:47 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

Is this really a priority? This is over the top, and micromanaging at its worst. Let the police be human. Some will swear, and some won't. Just like the rest of society. And that's okay.

Posted by MyFeelz
a resident of another community
on Nov 16, 2022 at 6:09 pm

MyFeelz is a registered user.

I once got 86'd from a store for using a cuss word. I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If it's a cop, it's OK. If it's a customer, it's not. To enforce rules on one segment of society without enforcing it on another segment of society is ... guess what the word of the day is today ... DISCRIMINATION.

We even have keystrokes now that are presumed to be profane. Like GFY (Get Free Yogurt). KMA (Keep Me Apprised). YGMD (You Get My Drift). Profanity is a just a perception. I think it's hilarious that we have an oversight committee studying utterances by cops on duty, yet we aren't allowed to hear them ourselves on scanners. The double standards we operate with here are amazing. Maybe the City is too afraid that everyone who broadcasts on a scanner hasn't learned how to talk without swearing?

Posted by kimmy
a resident of University South
on Nov 16, 2022 at 6:57 pm

kimmy is a registered user.

With all the daily crime in our city and we are here discussing profanity. smh smh . Further understanding now on why this contiues week in and week out. Shame on you guys for actually spending valueable resources and time on this. Pathetic

Posted by JR
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 16, 2022 at 8:50 pm

JR is a registered user.

Outrageous! The police should have just asked nicely -- "Excuse me sir, would you please stop abusing patrons, smashing car windshields, and hanging off the balcony threatening to shoot people".

Posted by Nancy the real Nancy
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 16, 2022 at 9:05 pm

Nancy the real Nancy is a registered user.

What's the next article? Why the cop didn't shoot the perp in the leg instead of the torso?

This is just one of the many reasons why its hard to hire a cop.

Anyone who has the authority to criticize a cop for swearing should have their authority seized.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 17, 2022 at 5:41 am

Resident is a registered user.

Palo Alto's "independent auditors" need to harden the f*ck up.

Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 17, 2022 at 6:50 am

Annette is a registered user.

Amazing. I agree with all but 1 of the above posts. We just elected a candidate who opened her campaign with a F-Bomb and now we are being critical of cops for cursing? We've been denigrating our discourse with curse words for quite a long time now; we can hardly claim the high ground here.

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2022 at 7:51 am

Bystander is a registered user.

I also am not a fan of profranity, but if it helps the individual police officer do his job then who cares? Certainly not me!

I am just grateful that we have a police department that gets at least some of the crime solved and hope that they can get the extra help they need to do more.

Posted by Helen Wilcox
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 17, 2022 at 8:13 am

Helen Wilcox is a registered user.

Using profanity and obscenities while speaking in private with other officers is OK but not when dealing directly with the public.

When interacting with the public, the police should be courteous, considerate, and even-tempered as they are representing the City of Palo Alto.

A polite world is a sign of a nicer and more civilized world.

Posted by Eeyore
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 17, 2022 at 3:14 pm

Eeyore is a registered user.

So, almost everyone missed the fact that swearing was secondary to potentially poisoning subsequent prosecutions.

Posted by SteveDabrowski
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 20, 2022 at 11:55 am

SteveDabrowski is a registered user.

@ Consider Your Options: "Wearing the uniform is an awesome responsibility." Anyone who has served in a uniformed service is well schooled in profanity use. My time aboard a US submarine during the Viet Nam war was a real learning experience in this skill, almost as good as High School.

George Patton was not only the richest man in the US Army, but clearly one of the most profane leaders, although history records Ike himself as having reasonable skill in this also.

The fact is most high pressure occupations have this trait in common (among men at least). I attended a three month course that forced us to complete the first year of the U of Florida MBA intended to help prepare future corporate executives of a major defense contractor. All individuals had been selected by the general managers of each corporate division and most already had advanced degrees, but this was a real stress test and after a month the level of profanity that took over among these professionals amazed all of us.

Posted by Truth Be Told
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 20, 2022 at 2:58 pm

Truth Be Told is a registered user.

"I'll f---ing light him up"

Pardon my naivete but what does that phrase mean?

To light a suspect's cigarette or to actually set someone on fire?

Posted by SteveDabrowski
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 22, 2022 at 3:22 pm

SteveDabrowski is a registered user.

@ Truth be Told: It means to shoot him!

Posted by Horst Mueller
a resident of Portola Valley
on Nov 23, 2022 at 8:12 am

Horst Mueller is a registered user.

> "I'll f---ing light him up"

> Pardon my naivete but what does that phrase mean?

> @Truth be Told: It means to shoot him!

^ This expression infers a police propensity and desire to fire their service weapons whenever possible.

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