News - April 20, 2011

Atherton: Investigator named to review complaint against police chief

by Renee Batti

A private investigator whose background includes a long stint with the San Francisco District Attorney's Office and reviews of hundreds of personnel matters for public agencies and private corporations has been chosen to conduct the investigation of a complaint against Atherton Police Chief Mike Guerra and Lt. Joe Wade.

The town announced on April 15 that David Reuben will look into allegations of misconduct by the chief and Lt. Wade, filed by former finance director John Johns.

Interim City Manager John Danielson chose Mr. Reuben to assist him in the personnel investigation, according to a contract signed by Mr. Reuben on April 11.

Mr. Reuben is the principal of DR Associates International of Davis. The firm has been the investigative consultant for the Oakland City Attorney's Office since 1983, according to a statement issued by the town of Atherton.

Under terms of the contract, Mr. Reuben will be paid $175 per hour, not to exceed a combined total of $6,125 without the city manager's approval.

Mr. Johns alleges that Chief Guerra and Lt. Wade denied him "the right to a (proper), thorough and timely investigation of the citizen's complaints I filed during the time frame of February 2010 through January 2011."

Those complaints stemmed from his August 2007 detainment by police at the Atherton Town Center, when he was on paid administrative leave while being investigated by the town. He was subsequently fired, then he successfully sued the town for wrongful termination.

Chief Guerra hired Pete Peterson, a former police chief of Clayton, California, to investigate Mr. Johns' original complaints, which included allegations against several officers involved in the 2007 incident.

Mr. Peterson concluded in March that Mr. Johns' complaints were unfounded.

Mr. Johns, who had written a flurry of emails and postings on the Almanac's Town Square forum complaining about Mr. Danielson's authority in choosing the investigator, said late last week that he had reconsidered his opposition.

"I trust Mr. Danielson's judgment and intentions," he said, adding that he had "acted rashly ... in questioning his intentions so far."


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