As a retired police officer (sergeant) with over 26 years service to the town of Atherton, I do not agree with the comments that were made that "officers often perform mundane tasks like checking the residents' homes while they are on vacation or stopping suspicious vehicles that might venture into the town." These tasks are anything but mundane, especially when you consider the low number of burglaries that take place in Atherton. Stopping suspicious persons and vacation checks are proven tools in crime prevention and this has proven itself over and over again in the past years. While there is no way to give a statistic on crimes prevented, the low number of crimes speaks for itself. Also added to this, vacation checks allow the officers to become familiar with the properties so that when they respond to a call for service they know how a property is laid out, allowing for a successful outcome of whatever the nature of the call for service. Over the years the courts have ruled in favor of the Atherton police officers' justified right to stop suspicious vehicles and persons.
I strongly believe that most Atherton residents would rather pay officers who are working to prevent crimes to their property than to have them respond to their property after a crime has been committed. The residents can leave their homes during the day and sleep well at night knowing that their police department is doing its job with a high degree of professionalism.
I do agree that Atherton "officers enjoy relatively easy duty." But compared to other cities with a higher crime rate there is no comparison for the type of policing that Atherton does. The police constantly work to prevent crime and it is a constant job that continues twenty-four seven. The entry level of standards for the Atherton police officers are as high if not higher than other cities. At the entry level it is up to the candidate to decide what kind of policing they want to be involved in. In my case I came from a department (prior to Atherton) that did not give the quality of service that the Atherton police department does. And I learned very quickly the value of the quality of service that the Atherton police department gives.
In the years 2011-2012 the department had over 12,000 calls for service. And for an understaffed police department like Atherton, that is a huge number. I enjoyed giving the service and never regretted my years serving the town with a very proud police department that has proven itself over and over again. The quality of the Atherton police officer has continued to show itself over the years by showing that when an Atherton officer did decide to leave that they went on to distinguish themselves by rising within the ranks to become sergeants, lieutenants, captains, sheriffs, chiefs and even a California Highway Patrol commissioner.
In closing I do agree that something has to be done about the high cost of salaries and retirement plans for all of law enforcement in California. I saw this coming years ago and the answer won't come easy. Both sides have to work together and be reasonable. All the citizens of this "great state" should continue to enjoy the highly professional quality of its law enforcement employees. It seems that the unions only add to the costs with their outrageous demands that are not not realistic.
Bottom line is that the Atherton police department is doing their job. I know from my experience that the Atherton residents greatly appreciate their police department" (as they have stated many times) and the quality of service given.
Sergeant retired A.P.D.