Records are routinely destroyed after a specified time in police departments across the state, but given some Atherton residents' concern during recent years over incidents involving police, the latest request for City Council authorization to destroy 18 police files on internal affairs investigations and citizen complaints is likely to draw some criticism.
The council will be asked to approve destruction of the records -- all at least five years old -- when it meets Wednesday, Feb. 20. The request is on the consent calendar, which means it will be acted on with no discussion unless a council member or member of the public asks that it be moved to the regular agenda.
Police Chief Ed Flint said in a report that he has reviewed the status of the files "to ensure there is no legal or other reason to maintain" them. The city attorney also has reviewed them and has given his legally required written consent for their destruction, the chief wrote.
Last February, a similar request was authorized only after some tweaking by the council -- the result of concerns expressed by then-council member Kathy McKeithen and supported by Councilman Bill Widmer. Chief Flint explained that records destruction is "standard operating procedure for all police departments," but Ms. McKeithen, citing emails received by numerous residents and concerns about the public's perception that town government needed to be more transparent, said officials must do "everything possible" to show the town is operating above board.
The council unanimously approved a resolution amended to prohibit destroying records of incidents involving currently employed officers.
Go to the staff report and scroll down to Item No. 12 to read Chief Flint's report on the request.
The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Atherton council chambers at 94 Ashfield Road, in the Town Center.