Future of Palo Alto’s Secret Police Community Advisory Group Meetings – On Hold

Open MicIt was literally an open mic with only two of the original police community advisory group members present to hear Palo Alto Police Chief Dennis Burns outline its future role.

The police advisory group was secretly formed by Chief Dennis Burns with its members handpicked from the community, several being rejected during the interviewing process including an attorney.

This group was primarily tasked to mend what appeared to be strained race relations between the African American and Latino communities left in the wake of former Police Chief Lynne Johnsons’ directive, to stop and question all African American fitting a certain description as unchecked racial profiling having resulted from a string of assaults alleged to have been committed by an African American.

Many African Americans, especially from the East Palo Alto community felt her actions only validated there long held conviction that they had always been the target of discriminatory policing tactics namely, taillight stops .  Her actions coupled with a strong community outcry led to her eventual resignation.

In Chief Burns announcement to the Human Relations Commission on January 10th, stated, that the police advisory group would no long be meeting in what he described as having “exhausted what we have done” which suggested to us that Chief Burns and his secret advisory group had accomplished their goals, on improving police community relations.

During the course of these community think tank meetings or sessions, the general public nor the press were not allowed to attend causing further distrust within the community and some labeled it as an affront to open government and transparency.

In fact, the hand pick participants remained nameless for months and were held back from public vetting out of fear of ridicule and criticism coupled with what they later claimed was the inability to speak freely in a public forum setting.

I reminded Chief Burns during oral communications, a time allotted for public input (I was the only one) the need for greater public transparency by quoting the following directive as set out by Eric Holder of the Department of Justice.  Eric Holder is essentially Chief Burns boss, as top cop.

“In the 21st Century, democracy demands an innovative approach to policy making – an approach built on transparency, participation, and collaboration. These foundational qualities are the keys to creating a more effective government that taps the creativity and diversity of an entire nation to generate solutions to the challenges we face.”

In his closing remarks, Chief Burns suggested that the future role and direction of any new police advisory group, may fall into the hands of Palo Alto contracted Independent Police Auditor Michael Gennaco and his team, for what he hinted would be a new approach to fresh ideas.

Chief Burns, and to his credit, did recognized the value of Eric Holders challenge by suggesting that any future discussions on police community relations, should include the general public.  We hope it does….

Can We Trust Police Chief Greg Suhr With Tasers?

I could go into great detail on how taser guns do not work as claimed by lawChamberlain enforcement and Taser International and actually often times exacerbate benign situations, but I will save that for another story.

Before we address the effectiveness and safety of tasers we should determine if Police Chief Greg Suhr will hold his own officers accountable should they misuse tasers.

Suhr 2Police Chief Greg Suhr claims he needs tasers to save his officers and citizens alike from unnecessary harm during difficult detentions and arrests.  It is well established that some police officers use excessive force and have misused tasers causing great unnecessary harm.

 

Marin settles Taser-shock suit for $1.9 million

excessive taser use

I am quite certain that if members of the S.F. Police Commission and the S.F. Board of Supervisors were to ask Chief Suhr if he would hold his officers accountable should they misuse taser guns Chief Suhr would reply that he would.

s.f. video concealed

I propose a simple test to determine whether or not Chief Suhr would actually hold his officers accountable should they illegally abuse a citizen while using a taser gun.

A source has informed me that Greg Suhr and Palo Alto Police Chief DennisBurns in Badge Burns are long time friends.  P.A. Chief Burns has made numerous false statements, destroyed and falsified numerous pieces of evidence in order to conceal the illegal use of taser guns by Palo Alto Police Officers Manuel Temores and Kelly Burger.

To simplify things, we will focus on just one violation of department policy and the law and the Constitution as well as Chief Burns’ own honor in falsely claiming to uphold the Rule of Law above personal interests.

Chief Burns condoned and supervised the destruction of Palo Alto Police Officer Manuel Temores’ taser cartridge and taser probes that were used during a March 15, 2008 incident.  The destruction of these taser probes was in direct violation of Chief Burns’ own department policy as well as the Due Process Clause of the Constitution requiring that all evidence be retained and provided to defendants in criminal cases, Brady v. Maryland.  The destruction of these taser probes had a direct result in felony charges being brought against Tony Ciampi which is a violation of Calif. P.C. 141 b.

taser probeThere is no question that Chief Burns destroyed the taser cartridge and taser probes, for he has admitted to doing so.  

The Taser Probe in Officer Burger’s hand was never secured into evidence or even photographed, but was destroyed with Chief Burns’ knowledge and supervision.

 

Click Here For Evidence:

The S.F. Police Commission and the S.F. Board of Supervisors should demand that Chief Suhr issue a public/press statement condemning the destruction of Palo Alto Police Officer Manuel Temores taser cartridge and taser probes.

If Chief Suhr goes on record publicly condemning a fellow California police officer, Palo Alto Chief Dennis Burns, for destroying P.A. Police Officer Manuel Temores’ taser probes and taser cartridge, then Chief Suhr can be entrusted to hold his officers accountable should they misuse taser guns.  However, if Chief Suhr refuses to condemn Chief Burn’s destruction of evidence relating to a taser use, then Chief Suhr condones the destruction of evidence and demonstrates that he will not hold his officers accountable should they misuse taser guns.

I do believe that Police Chief Greg Suhr has already been informed of Ciampi’s allegations, but if not he has now.

“Chief Suhr, are there any circumstances in which you would condone the destruction of taser cartridges, taser probes or any and all evidence that resulted from a taser use by one of your own officers?”

Chief Suhr’s answers will determine whether or not the San Francisco Police should be entrusted with weapons that can cause permanent injury and even death.

Barron Pikes killed by a taser gun, said Dr. Michael Baden, a nationally prominent forensic pathologist.

As the highest paid police chief in the nation I cannot imagine that there is any justifiable reason why Chief Suhr cannot go on record of either condemning or condoning Palo Alto Police Chief Dennis Burns’ actions of destroying taser gun evidence.

D.A., city failed in naked cop case

Newspaper RacksBy now you know the story about the naked Menlo Park police detective who was arrested in Sunnyvale motel room with a prostitute wearing a catsuit.

When I heard about it, I had a good laugh like everybody else. But upon reflection, this story is deeply troubling because two parties — Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen and the Menlo Park city Council — didn’t do their jobs, and as a result, this detective is back on the job.

First, the D.A.’s office should have prosecuted this Detective, Jeff Vazquez. The excuse offered by District Attorney Rob Baker, who supervised the prosecution, was that on the day of the trial one of the arresting officers from Sunnyvale couldn’t testify because he had to attend to his ailing wife.

Case Closed

Baker could have refiled the charges and scheduled trial on a day when the officer could have testified. Or he could have tried the case with the testimony of other officers who were involved in the arrest.

But he said a misdemeanor case isn’t worth the effort. If the naked cop had been convicted of a misdemeanor his career would have ended right then.

D.A. Rosen was elected two years on the promise that he would end the corruption of his predecessor, Dolores Carr. Rosen didn’t live up to that promise in this case. It looks too much like a case of professional courtesy, when fellow cops find a way to help a colleague who gets into trouble.

But I am also concerned that Menlo Park, after firing Vasquez, had to allow him to return to work because the city uses binding arbitration to settle disputes.

The problem with binding arbitration is that the arbiters, while supposedly neutral, usually side with the unions, even in the most egregious of cases. And the naked cop case is evidence of that.

Abandoned Arbitration

Most cities in California that had binding arbitration have abandoned it. One of the last was Palo Alto, where 63% of voters agreed to repeal binding arbitration in 2011.

Menlo Park City Council should have ended binding arbitration years ago when other cities were dropping. I suspect that didn’t happen because most Menlo Park council member over the years have been union supporters.

The other problem with binding arbitration is that it takes important budget decisions out of the hands of city council members. If the unions disagree with the city manager over how much workers are paid, the final decision goes to the arbiter. And such decisions force cities to spend more money, which raises taxes.

That was one of the main arguments Palo Alto leaders gave in their successful campaign to convince voters to end binding arbitration.

But even with the arbiter’s ruling in favor of the naked cop, the city should have rejected the decision and taken its chances in court.

The union would argue breach of contract but, what jury would think it’s a good idea to have a naked cop return to the police force?

Rehiring the naked cop has sent a terrible message to other Menlo Park officers that anything goes– that they can break the law and not worry about the consequences.

It makes the police department look like a joke. And that isn’t fair to the majority of officers who to take their jobs seriously and obey the law.

And what is Vasquez going to do? He was assigned to investigate sexual assaults before his arrest. What rape victim would want to be interviewed by him? Why would a victim of human trafficking confide in him or any Menlo Park police officer?

If Vasquez arrests anybody, and is called to testify against them, jurors wouldn’t see him as a credible witness. So he’s useless as a cop. And he makes $160,000 a year including benefits. What now?

Council should come clean and explain how the naked cop got his job back. Council should institute a policy of informing the public anytime of police officer is arrested, no matter whether the arrest occurs in Menlo Park or another city. And council should defy the union bosses and repeal binding arbitration like so many of the cities have.

The Daily Post Today
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Flipping Off Police Officers Constitutional, Federal Court Affirms

WASHINGTON — A police officer can’t pull you over and arrest you just because you gave him the finger, a federal appeals court declared Thursday.

In a 14-page opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled that the “ancient gesture of insult is not the basis for a reasonable suspicion of a traffic violation or impending criminal activity.”

John Swartz and his wife Judy Mayton-Swartz had sued two police officers who arrested Swartz in May 2006 after he flipped off an officer who was using a radar device at an intersection in St. Johnsville, N.Y. Swartz was later charged with a violation of New York’s disorderly conduct statute, but the charges were dismissed on speedy trial grounds.

A federal judge in the Northern District of New York granted summary judgement to the officers in July 2011, but the Court of Appeals on Thursday erased that decision and ordered the lower court to take up the case again.

Richard Insogna, the officer who stopped Swartz and his wife when they arrived at their destination, claimed he pulled the couple over because he believed Swartz was “trying to get my attention for some reason.” The appeals court didn’t buy that explanation, ruling that the “nearly universal recognition that this gesture is an insult deprives such an interpretation of reasonableness.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/03/flip-off-police_n_2403563.html

 

One Difference Between Lance Armstrong and Police Chief Dennis Burns

Burns the coward

 

Chief Burns, you and Lance Armstrong have a lot in common, how come you can’t come clean like Lance?  What’s holding you back, what do you fear by telling the truth that you helped falsify videos to incriminate a citizen of a crime?

“Now things are different. I’m sorry I cheated. I’m sorry I lied to all of you who gave me your trust. I may never get it back, and I’ll have to live with that.

“What tears me up, though, is how I crushed your dreams. As a Hero, I had the responsibility to hold to our ideals, and I just couldn’t do it without cheating. I’m so deeply sorry. My betrayal is egregious and profound, and I’m going to spend the rest of my life trying to make up for the damage I caused.

“I’m a Winner. I’m also a Cheater and a Liar, and yet I still want to be your Hero.

“There’s an old saying, ‘The cover-up is worse than the crime,’ and that’s where his problem comes in,” Ganis said. “Cheating in cycling was rampant. Anybody who has followed that sports understands that now. If he was simply one of those cheaters, it would be like anyone who gets stopped by a cop for speeding saying, ‘Officer, I was just going the speed of traffic!’ The impact would have been far, far less.

“Instead, he held himself out to be the one honest man in a sea of dishonesty. He held himself out to be this bastion of doing things right. And anybody who fared challenge him was trashed. He lied under oath.   He lied to the media. He hurt quite a few people who dared challenge the mythology of Lance Armstrong. 

Related Stories:

Chief Burns’ Illegal Acts

Chief Burns Lies to Federal Judge

DA Jeff Rosen Covers-Up

 

Burgers taser camera

 

 

Creative Outsourcing

Ever wonder why the economy is seemingly always a day away from imploding?

Bob was his company’s best software developer, got glowing performance reviews and earned more than $250,000 a year.

Then one day last spring, Bob’s employer thought the company’s computer system had been attacked by a virus.

The ensuing forensic probe revealed that Bob’s software code had in fact been the handiwork of a Chinese subcontractor.

Bob was paying a Chinese firm about $50,000 a year to do his work, then spent the day surfing the web, watching cat videos and updating his Facebook page.

The incident was revealed Monday on a blog by security experts at the American telecom firm Verizon Enterprise Solutions and has quickly been the talk of tech websites.

“While the large-scale data breaches make the headlines and are widely discussed among security professionals, often the small and unknown cases are the ones that are remembered as being the most interesting,” wrote the blog author, Andrew Valentine, a Verizon senior forensic investigator.

He said the creative but deceitful programmer, whom he called by the pseudonym “Bob,” was a family man and long-time employee in his 40s, “inoffensive and quiet. Someone you wouldn’t look at twice in an elevator.”

For the past two years, the firm, “a U.S. critical infrastructure company,” had increasingly been getting employees to telecommute or work from home.

To connect remotely to the company computer system, staffers needed a personal identification number, which changed at regular intervals. Employees were issued security tokens, small devices that updated them with the latest generated PIN.

Last spring, the company grew concerned about computer security breaches and asked its IT department to inspect more closely its remote-access logs, looking for unusual patterns of activity.

To their surprise, they saw that someone connected into their network every day from Shenyang, a city in the historical Manchurian north of China, near the Korean peninsula.

More interestingly, the Chinese intruder was logged in using Bob’s PIN and credentials, “yet the employee is right there, sitting at his desk, staring into his monitor,” Mr. Valentine wrote.

“Based on what information they had obtained, the company initially suspected some kind of unknown malware that was able [to] route traffic from a trusted internal connection to China, and then back. This was the only way they could intellectually resolve the authentication issue. What other explanation could there be?”

Verizon investigators were contacted. They inspected Bob’s workstation, trying to find whether he had unintentionally downloaded some Chinese computer malware.

Instead, the cyber-sleuths discovered hundreds of invoices from a software developer in Shenyang.

The investigation revealed that Bob had outsourced his job. To get around the changing PINs, he couriered his security tokens to the Shenyang subcontractor.

Looking at his web browsing history, investigators found that Bob spent his workday checking sites such as Reddit, Ebay, Facebook and LinkedIn and watching cat videos. Then he would type an e-mail at the end of the day to update management about his “work” and left at 5 p.m.

The Chinese contractor Bob picked did an excellent job.

“His code was clean, well-written, and submitted in a timely fashion,” Mr. Valentine noted. “Quarter after quarter, his performance review noted him as the best developer in the building.”

The Globe And Mail

 

Top DA Jeff Rosen’s Prosecutorial Discretion List Grows to Include Naked Cops

Officer Jeffery Vasquez
Officer Jeffery Vasquez

As an elected or appointed official, the prosecutor is the most powerful official in the criminal justice system. Prosecutors exercise unfettered discretion, deciding who to charge with a crime, what charges to file, when to drop the charges, whether or not to plea bargain, and how to allocate prosecutorial resources. In jurisdictions where the death penalty is in force, the prosecutor literally decides who should live and who should die by virtue of the charging decision.

Criminal justice professors Joseph Senna and Larry Siegel propose the true measure of a prosecutor. In their view, a litmus test for the integrity of a prosecutor is how he or she answers the following question:

“When you exercise discretion, are you more concerned with fairness, the likelihood of conviction, or political considerations?”

Prosecutors exercise the most discretion in three areas of decision making: the decision to file charges, the decision to dismiss charges, and plea bargaining.

Charging

Once an arrest is made, a prosecutor screens the case to determine if it should be prosecuted or dropped. The decision to prosecute is based on the following factors:

The sufficiency of the evidence linking the suspect to the offense.
The seriousness of the offense.
The size of the court’s caseload.
The need to conserve prosecutorial resources for more serious cases.
The availability of alternatives to formal prosecution.
The defendant’s culpability (moral blameworthiness).
The defendant’s criminal record.
The defendant’s willingness to cooperate with the investigation or prosecution of others.
The defendant is a cop. See related story: Menlo Park Cop Busted “Killing Time” With Prostitute Gets His Job Back

Dropping charges

After a prosecutor files a charge, the prosecutor can reduce the charge in exchange for a guilty plea or enter a nolle prosequi (nol. pros.) . A nolle prosequi is a formal statement by a prosecutor declaring that a case is discontinued. Reasons for entering a nol. pros. include insufficient evidence, inadmissible evidence, false accusations, and the trivial nature of some crimes.

Plea bargaining

Prosecutors also exercise discretion in negotiating pleas with defense counsel. A plea bargain is an agreement in which a prosecutor permits a defendant to plead guilty in exchange for a concession, such as reducing the charges or recommending a lenient sentence. There are advantages of plea bargaining to both the accused and the state. For the accused, it offers the possibilities of a reduced sentence and cheaper legal representation. For the government, it reduces the financial costs of prosecution, improves the efficiency of the courts by having fewer cases go to full trials, and allows the prosecution to devote its resources to the more serious cases.

DA’s recent rational for not prosecuting naked cop and prostitute by Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Rob Baker. “I am not going to drag a cop, who’s dealing with a bunch of family medical problems, into courtroom just to prosecute a misdemeanor prostitution charge.”  

How does Top Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen reconcile and answer his own apparent conflict of two systems of justice.  A separate justice system for cops and a separate justice system for the ordinary citizen? Two systems of Justice

 

Don’t spit into the wind or pull on super PAPD cop’s cape

“Driver says he was spit upon in parking spat” as reported Daily Post today.

Finding parking in Palo Alto can be stressful, so much so that one man was cited for misdemeanor battery after allegedly spitting on a driver who blocked two parking spaces.

Police said psychiatrist Peter Lucy, 62 of Los Altos, became upset when a driver blocked two parking spaces with his car on 300 block of California Ave. at 9:25 a.m. Friday, essentially taking up two spaces.

Police cited Lucy for misdemeanor battery after the person he allegedly spat on called police to say he was putting Lucy on citizen’s arrest.

When contacted by the Post, Lucy said he didn’t assault anyone. however, he did not wish to comment on the incident further.

Cuban dissidents cleared for travel under new law

ReutersBy Jeff Franks | Reuters

HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuba’s new, freer travel policy took effect on Monday and for some notable Cuban dissidents it turned out to offer greater freedom than they had expected.

Well-known government opponents Yoani Sanchez and Guillermo Farinas were told they would be granted passports and allowed to come and go after years of being denied that right.

Under laws put into effect to slow migration after the 1959 revolution, Cubans were required to get an exit visa from the government and a letter of invitation from someone in their destination country, but the new policy drops both.

Farinas, who from his home in Santa Clara has staged numerous hunger strikes against government policy, said, to his surprise, he was visited at home by officials who told him he would be able to travel freely.

“I was really skeptical because there was an article in the new law that said those Cubans who threaten the public interest won’t be able to leave Cuba. I thought I was in that sphere, but it looks like not,” said Farinas, a psychologist.

He said he would get his passport renewed soon and planned to go to Europe to pick up several prizes he had won but been unable to collect. They included the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 2010.

Sanchez, well known internationally for her blog “Generation Y,” could not be reached, but posted her good news on Twitter.

She said went to a Havana passport office on Monday, where “the functionary who attended me has assured me that when I have the passport I will be able to travel. I still don’t believe it!” she wrote. “When I am on the plane, I’ll believe it!”

Sanchez said Cuban authorities had denied her trips on 20 occasions. She said she expected to get a passport in early February.

Fellow dissident Elizardo Sanchez, head of the independent Cuban Commission of Human Rights, said it remained to be seen if Farinas or Sanchez truly will be allowed to travel.

“Until they are on that airplane we can’t be sure of anything. It has happened in the past that people have arrived at the airport and the government has said no,” Sanchez told Reuters.

LONG LINES

The new policy has prompted long lines at passport offices in recent weeks and did so again on Monday as Cubans queued up to apply for new passports or renew the ones they have.

Some did not realize it, but they will still face obstacles from many countries that will require them to get visas and letters of invitation.

And in a country with an average monthly salary of $19, money will be a problem for many.

Possibly because of that, lines at popular embassies such as Mexico and Canada were normal and the same was true at the U.S. Interests Section, said spokeswoman Lynn Roche.

“It’s all by appointment here, so we’re not seeing anything different,” she said. The United States does not have an embassy in Cuba because the two countries do not have formal diplomatic relations.

In line at the Mexican embassy in Havana’s Miramar district, 18-year-old Yaser Hernandez praised Cuban leaders for changing the travel laws.

“It gives us the possibility of knowing other countries, other lands, to be able to know something beyond our own country. It’s a privilege for us Cubans, for all of us to have that possibility that our government has given us,” he said.

At the Havana airport, Cuban-American Jesus Sanchez, 60, said the travel reform was important for U.S.-Cuba relations, which have been mostly sour since the revolution.

“I believe it’s a historic day. The tensions that have been there for many years are thawing out,” he said.

The irony of the changes, said John McAuliff, head of the New York-based Fund for Reconciliation and Development is that Cubans are now freer to travel to the United States than Americans are to Cuba.

Most Americans must obtain a license from the U.S. government to go to Cuba, which is 90 miles from Florida.

“Cuba now provides greater freedom of travel to virtually all of its citizens than does the U.S. Our version of the expensive and bureaucratic white card (exit visa) is the expensive and bureaucratic people-to-people license restricted to group travel,” he said.

(Editing by Kevin Gray and Christopher Wilson)

Wanted: Astronauts for a one-way trip to Mars

A non-profit organization starts a global search to find candidates willing to settle on the Red Planet… indefinitely
By Samantha Rollins | January 9, 2013

The dream of colonizing Mars may no longer be relegated to the world of science fiction. If Netherlands non-profit Mars One succeeds in its elaborate mission, humans could be settling on the Red Planet in the not-so-distant-future of 2023. To kick-start the sweeping astronaut-selection process and begin what Mars One co-founder Bas Lansdorp calls “the biggest media event ever,” the organization recently released its application criteria, and announced that a team of Mars One experts and viewers of a “global, televised program” will ultimately choose the first of Earth’s ambassadors to Mars. Can this possibly be for real? Here’s what you need to know:

Who can apply?
Just about any physically and mentally healthy person over age 18. While applicants can be from any part of the world, at least rudimentary knowledge of English would be helpful. Applicants must also be willing to dedicate eight years to training for the 2023 mission, and be “resilient, adaptable, curious, creative, and resourceful.” And since this is a one-way trip, says Sam Gibbs at Gizmodo UK, “you’ll also need either a deep loathing of Earth, or have nothing to live for here.”

How will the selection process work?
Mars One experts and viewers of a reality show documenting the process will together choose at least six groups of four people for the mission. Only one of those groups of four will originally settle the Red Planet; the other groups will gradually journey to join them over the ensuing years.

What’s the point of the reality show?
According to Mars One’s business plan, the reality-show spectacle will not only allow Earthlings to help decide who will represent our planet, but will also be the main source of financing for the mission. “As entrepreneurs, we believe that the only way this will be possible in the near term is by funding it commercially,” says the non-profit on its website. And by commercially, they mean “with a global media spectacle.” Not only will the television show cover the selection process and preparations for the mission, but it will also eventually document the day-to-day lives of the astronauts living on Mars. “Think reality TV where the prize could be a trip to a dry, dusty world,” says Nadia Drake at Wired, and just imagine that the cameras keep rolling once the winners embark on their interplanetary mission.

Can this possibly be for real?
Mars One certainly wants to assure you they’re serious, and seems eager to provide curious potential astronauts with a ton of information about its plan. But only time will tell: Mars One will get its first true test in 2016, when it plans to start sending rovers, equipment, and supplies to Mars ahead of its human inhabitants.