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Atherton cop named in report-alteration case

Original post made on Dec 2, 2010

Jon Buckheit's battle with the Atherton police department over a falsified police report intensified this week when Mr. Buckheit named the officer who altered the report -- information gleaned from a police computer database log -- and filed a complaint with the police chief.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, December 2, 2010, 6:11 PM

Comments (125)

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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Dec 2, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Why hasn't San Mateo County District Attorney James P. Fox and DDA Steve Wagstaffe charged this Atherton Police Officer.


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Posted by Ed
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 2, 2010 at 7:28 pm

I seriously doubt that De Vlugt is the only officer that should be held to account for this fiasco. Two Atherton Police Chiefs and an entire chain of command in between plus, the DA's office and police union have been complicit in this two year long Mexican stand off over blind justice with nobody willing to blink. I don't think the damage done to this town or this police department can ever be fully repaired. but the financial loss should be a cost that should be paid in full out of the Police Dept. buget and the DA's buget--not the town's.
When this game of chicken ends up back in yet another judges courtroom, I will wager that he will agree. This all went down on Nielson's watch--his pension is large enough to cover what it has cost.


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Posted by Blue line crossed
a resident of another community
on Dec 2, 2010 at 7:59 pm

Whoever broke the law by releasing that letter to the press us going to be one very sorry man or woman. [portion removed - avoid unsubstantiated accusations of wrongdoing.] This is breaking the law on police complaint confidentiality and this is the real crime here, not the bs in the letter.

[portion deleted.]


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 2, 2010 at 8:39 pm

Blue line is crossed is simply wrong. Jon Buckheit's letter is neither confidential or privileged and it has been widely circulated - no laws were broken in the Almanac's reporting on this very serious matter.

The Blue code of silence has been broken by simply pursuing the truth.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 2, 2010 at 9:07 pm

"What will Mr. Wagstaffe do? Will he man up? Will he admit the Atherton PD is dirty? "

Don't hold your breath Mr. Johns. Don't hold your breath.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Dec 2, 2010 at 9:27 pm

I think these latest revelations from the Atherton Police Department are stunning.

I am honestly amazed. Atherton isn't Hazzard County and Chief Guerra isn't Boss Hogg.

Chief Guerra: Clean up this mess. You're better than this.


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Posted by You Got Me Interested
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 2, 2010 at 9:35 pm

Can someone bring a new observer up-to-speed:
Why was this apparently done?

Is this political? Personal?
Someone out to get Mr. Buckheit? Or someone supporting the girlfriend?

Inquiring minds want to know!


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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Dec 2, 2010 at 9:35 pm

Pogo,
Chief Guerra has had enough time to solve this. He chose not to...His choice.

Thank You Jon Buckheit. The Citizen solves the crime not the Police or the District Attorney of San Mateo County.

Another good reason for a Citizens Oversight Committee of law Enforcement for the entire County.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 2, 2010 at 9:42 pm

You got me interested asks:"Why was this apparently done?"

It was done because a few officers in the Atherton Police Department felt that they were above the law and that they could get away with it.
And they would have gotten away with it were it not for Buckheit's relentless pursuit of both truth and justice.

Hopefully we will soon see a rising tide of citizen outrage that will force the Police Chief, the Town Council and the DA to vigorously pursue this matter.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 2, 2010 at 9:46 pm

"Hopefully we will soon see a rising tide of citizen outrage that will force the Police Chief, the Town Council and the DA to vigorously pursue this matter."

don't hold your breath Mr. Carpenter. The citizens of Atherton have shown a huge disinterest in the corruption within their police department. As long as APD continues to act as their own personal, glorified private security force, they have no interest in the corruption that lies whithin.


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Posted by Big question
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 2, 2010 at 9:48 pm

I admit, IF this is true, IF the log is true, then clearly a crime was committed against Mr. Buckheit and there needs to be an explanation and justice. No question about this.

But what did the Almanac do to fact check here? Were the logs determined to be accurate? Was the copy of the letter the Almanac received the same as the one Mr. Buckheit allegedly sent?

These are big issues. They could be affecting the career of a police officer. They deserve to be checked.


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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Dec 2, 2010 at 10:49 pm

Dear Big Question,

James P. Fox, Steve Wagstaffe, and Chief Guerra can verify this information for you.

They have had it it for a Very long time and done nothing with it.

I will go with Jon Buckheit's information over the other three gentleman anytime. He is more honest and he has not taken an oath to uphold the LAW.


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Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Dec 2, 2010 at 11:16 pm

Menlo Voter is right about one thing, there are some in the Atherton Police Department who view their jobs to protect those who feel as though they are entitled to enjoy the luxury of being protected from rather than being required to obey the law.

When Atherton cops take such a perverse and distorted view of their role, it is a long rapid descent down a very slippery slope.

Dean DeVlught did not act alone. He was aided and ordered by his colleagues and superiors. This investigation should go beyond DeVlught. [Portion removed; see terms of use.]


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Posted by WRONG
a resident of another community
on Dec 3, 2010 at 1:56 am

Peter Carpenter - like so many other times you are wrong. It is AGAINST THE LAW to discuss police personnel matters. You, Buckheit, the Almanac, McKeithen have all BROKEN THE LAW.

Can you imagine what things would be like if every criminal got to put a police officer on trial, in public, for false allegations that were made to discredit him or her? Yes, there is a reason it is AGAINST THE LAW to discuss police personnel matters and the reason is to keep you safe!!!

The Almanac should delete all of this right now and stop supporting these totally baseless and slanderous accusations against police officers. Officer DeVlugt is a great officer and his ability to do K9 handling is a tremendous benefit to Atherton!! He never falsified anything. That is just nonsense that has is made up.

What is wrong with you people!!?!?? can't you see that people like Buckheit, Carpenter and McKeithen are not normal, and don't respect or support police? Everyone else here does, and does not want to see a good man smeared with false charges!


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Posted by Brian Bothun
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 3, 2010 at 7:53 am

That's ridiculous -- it is not against the law to discuss police personnel matters.

There are certain aspects of police personnel records that are exempt from public disclosure by authorities, but that does not prohibit discussion by others.

And as far as I can tell from this discussion, none of the authorities prohibited from disclosing information has said anything in this forum.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 3, 2010 at 7:56 am

Wrong states:"It is AGAINST THE LAW to discuss police personnel matters."

Please cite the specific law(s) which provide such total immunity for police personnel from any public scrutiny.

There are laws which protect INTERNAL police personnel matters that do NOT involve criminal behavior but NONE which prohibit the public's right to discuss ANY police behavior.

If Wrong had his way there would be no accountability for illegal police behavior. Fortunately, the Code of Silence does not extend to the public.


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Posted by hello Almanac
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 3, 2010 at 7:57 am

What is the definition of libel?

The classic definition is:
"a publication without justification or lawful excuse which is calculated to injure the reputation of another by exposing him to hatred, contempt or ridicule."
(Parke, B. in Parmiter v. Coupland (1840) GM&W 105 at 108)


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 3, 2010 at 8:01 am

Sorry Wrong, but you are wrong. I am ex-law enforcement and I support the police. What I don't support is corrupt cops. It is clear from much circumstantial evidence that Atherton has or had, one or more corrupt cops in its ranks. If DeVlugt did, in fact, alter the report he deserves to be prosecuted and fired. The criminal portion of this case is subject to public scrutiny and is NOT covered by the Peace Officers Bill of Rights. Until this entire incident and investigation sees the light of day, it casts a huge pall over the Atherton PD and the HONEST officers that work there.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Dec 3, 2010 at 8:08 am

WRONG -

No one on this thread is against cops - they are against BAD cops. You should be too. And, newsflash... we are free to discuss police personnel issues all we want. It's OFFICIALS that are prohibited from doing this, not the public. By the way, your pseudonym could not be more apt, especially using the ALL CAPS emphasis.

Unfortunately, unless the Town Council takes on this issue, the only thing that is going to change the Atherton Police Department is a huge jury verdict against the Town.

When Mr. Buckheit has a chance to tell his story in court, I have littel doubt that a jury will totally slam the Town. We're talking millions of dollars. No one likes officials who abuse their power.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 3, 2010 at 8:27 am

For a statement to be libel it must be known by the person making it to be false - that is clearly not the case here where the facts have been determined by a review of the police logs.

Libel is a mild description of what the Atherton PD did in falsely accusing Buckheit and then altering its records - those who did this need to be held accountable rather than hidden behind the Blue Code of Silence.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 3, 2010 at 8:40 am

To put some perspective on this discussion here are some excerpts from an excellent report "CIVILIAN OVERSIGHT OF THE POLICE IN DEMOCRATIC SOCIETIES":

"In democratic societies, the police are accountable for many things. Most prominently, police are accountable for the effectiveness with which they deal with crime and disorder, as well as for the legality, professionalism, and respect with which they treat people.
But to whom are police accountable? While authoritarian police are accountable only to their superiors, democratic police are accountable to a multiplicity of bodies. In addition to their superiors, democratic police are accountable to the legislature, to the courts, to members of the public who seek their assistance, and to society as a whole through the press and organizations of citizens. It would be simpler for police if they were accountable to only one or two authorities, but the presence of an armed police force in a democratic society requires these multiple lines of accountability, making the job of police executives particularly challenging.

It is fundamental to democratic societies that police power, including the powers to arrest, to question, and to use lethal and non-lethal force, be closely regulated, often through the mechanism of an independent judiciary, and ultimately be subject to civilian control through democratic institutions. In such societies, a continuing challenge is to create practical mechanisms for ongoing oversight that curb or correct the occasional abuses of police power."


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Posted by Get a grip
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 3, 2010 at 9:57 am

People who have the ability to think will wonder why this was done. They will also consider that just because the logs show this change was made, it doesn't mean it was made wrongfully or with malice. Police are trained, and it is completely reasonable, that when a child witnesses a domestic incident, emotional trauma is produced and that can be considered child abuse, which must be reported. It is possible that the Police Officer involved here used the wrong coding for the crime, and that is an honest mistake, human error, that takes place all the time.

Just because someone is charged with something does not mean they are guilty of it. There is a system that extends way beyond the arresting police officers that is designed to give a fair , full hearing to determine that issue. In this case, the system determined that Mr. Buckheit was innocent. That's what happened, and that's what the system is for. It does not mean there wasn't a valid reason, and probable cause, to have made the arrest, or be concerned about the welfare of a child. A mistake in coding should not be used to libel someone or attempt to ruin their life and career.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 3, 2010 at 10:03 am

Get a grip states:"just because the logs show this change was made, it doesn't mean it was made wrongfully or with malice."

This is precisely why we have judicial review and why we should also have citizen oversight - to determine why these highly unusual changes were made in the police report. Until we know that answer a cloud will remain over a lot of good officers.


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Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Dec 3, 2010 at 10:07 am

I know from personal experience that the abuse of police power in Atherton is anything but occasional. I also know that this abuse of power is largely a result of the contempt the Police Department has for many of those who reside in Atherton.

I can recall one time back in 2006 when the police dragged a man out of his house stark naked. This man's offense was that he wasn't wearing any clothes, he was visible from the street and he didn't own the house he was residing in. (He was a renter.)

To this man's humiliation he was not given the opportunity to cover himnself. He was interogated on the street, in full view of his neighbors and without a stich of clothing on.

During the City Manager's meeting Bob Brennan, the chief at the time described this incident to the City Manager and to those of us in attendance, including each department head and the City Attorney.

Chief Brennan thought it was very funny. He was the only one that was amused. Most of us were disgusted.

This incident occurred on Walnut Avenue, close to Town Hall. The Police Department used to refer to "the nuts on Walnut" because it thought a large percentage of the residents on that street had mental problems.

Jon Buckheit's experience is, unfortunately not unusual. What is unusual and remarkable is that Jon Buckheit has the courage and the resources to stand up to the Police Department's abuse of power.

Jon Buckheit has sent a message to Chief Guerra. Chief Guerra, curb Dean DeVlught and his K9!

My hope is that whoever investigates the criminal conduct of the Police Department will look into other instances of criminal activity by Atherton's men in blue that have not yet come to light.

I hope that Officer Clark Yee, who was present during my unlawful detention on the morning of August 29th 2007 will be asked to provide his account of what happened. Clark Yee was present at my unlawful detention but somehow his presence has been erased from the official account of events.

I have reason to believe that the police reports pertaining to the three criminal complaints that the Atherton Police Department filed against me with the San Mateo County District Attorney in 2007(false allegations of fraud, trespassing and intimitation of a witness) were falsified.

I believe these reports were falsified to conceal an abject abuse of power by Marks, Lynch, Hall, Nielsen and Brennan. This abuse of power constituted violations of my right of freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and due process. This abuse of power included evidence tampering.

I filed a complaint over this misconduct. Chief Guerra assigned Lance Bayer to investigate the complaint.

Lance Bayer is a joke. Lance Bayer is the kind of man one assigns to an investigation when one doesn't want to find anything untoward.

In support of Jon Buckheit, I am publicly calling for a resumption and a swift conclusion to the citizen's complaint that I have filed with the Police Department.

I am publicly asking Chief Guerra, to get off the dime, to hire an honest, capable and truly independent investigator, not a paper tiger like Lance Bayer.

I ask Chief Guerra to stop acting like a palace eunich and to find out what's really going on in his department.


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Posted by I've got a grip
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 3, 2010 at 10:12 am

I've got a grip

Get a grip, here are the problems with your analysis:

1. Go to the courthouse in either Redwood City or San Jose. Sit in on a criminal matter. EVERYBODY accused of doing something wrong has an explanation for it, a story to tell, a reason why it wasn't done with bad intent, why it was all a big mistake, etc. etc. It's up to a jury to decide whether or not that's true, based on all the facts and circumstances, and cops don't and shouldn't automatically get a pass just because they can come up with an explanation also.

2. The facts and circumstances here indicate this was more than a "coding error". The report had a separate section with the same "error" (recommending that an actual criminal charge be made for the alleged/false physical abuse to a child). There was also a report made to chldren's protective services, a report that physical abuse had been made to a child.

3. If it's all a "mistake", why wasn't that mistake reported to Mr. Buckheit and corrected during the year after the "mistake" was made? I think he had to go to court to get this "mistake" fixed.

4. If it's all a "mistake", why were efforts made to withhold the police report that contained the "mistake" from Mr. Buckheit for nearly a year, forcing him to sue to get a copy of it?

Personally I think there are too many "mistakes" here to lead me to believe it's all much ado about nothing. It seems to me that this officer believed that Mr. Buckheit failed the "attitude test" and decided to teach him a lesson. But that will, or at least should be, up to a jury.


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Posted by hello Almanac
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 3, 2010 at 10:40 am

Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room.

Winston Churchill


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 3, 2010 at 10:43 am

hello Almanac quotes :"Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room."

Cute, but what is your point?


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Posted by amazed
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Dec 3, 2010 at 11:11 am

Here we go...Atherton may as well just open the check book and start writing a big fat settlement offer. If this matter goes any further it will be beyond financially detrimental for the town. Stop this madness and outsource. No more parcel tax, no more settlements paid out to lawsuits that could have been avoided had the corruption and criminality been quashed early on.


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Posted by the cowardly lion
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 3, 2010 at 11:18 am

This post is devoted to all of those anoyous posters who don't have the courage to use their own name as they defend corrupt atherton cops.

My oh my how far the police department has fallen under the reins of Brennan, Nielsen and Guerra.

What ever happened to that supposed 97% approval rating Nielsen used to brag about?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 3, 2010 at 11:33 am

Just imagine what would happen if the Town settle this case now and outsourced its police services to the Sheriff.
1 - the settlement cost would be far less than the highly probable jury award plus everyone's legal fees
2 - the good Atherton police officers would be hired by the Sheriff with much greater opportunity for training and promotion
3 - We would have a much broader and better range of police services - in fact we could have anything that we were willing to pay for.
4 - The Town would no longer face future CalPers pension liabilities levies for police services - it would be pay as you go on an annual basis.
5 - There would be a lot of space freed up in the Town administrative building which could preclude the need for a new Town Center.
6 - the Town's annual budget would go from a deficit to a surplus.

What am I missing?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by TinMan
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Dec 3, 2010 at 11:55 am

[This and responding post removed; stick to the issues and don't make personal attacks on other posters.]


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Posted by boiling
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 3, 2010 at 12:23 pm

The 97% approval rating was based on surveys sent out to "selected and chosen residents" by the police administration.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Dec 3, 2010 at 12:26 pm

John P. Johns - I recall that awful incident w/the man dragged out of his home unclothed. It was terrible.

I, among many, many people, make fun of a lot of Atherton residents (& Palo Alto, too) for the attitudes we witness often. However, that's as a private citizen. As much as I've enjoyed, (my whole life, to be honest), poking fun at the Athertonians who are smug, snotty & ridiculous, it's been even more fun to make fun of the police there, who are considered to be something of a joke compared to other departments (& believe me, when an Atherton cop mistreated a crime victim who was a member of my family, the derision towards the dept was well-deserved).

However, my joking recently has slowed down considerably given the nasty shenanigans in recent years. It makes me sad & angry to know that the dept. is just as inept, with a nasty twist, as it was when I was a kid. I know there are some good officers, but it's hard focus on them when there are so many problems.

It's strange to read pro-cop posts on here that are so condescending towards the posters. Supporters of the officers involved in these shenanigans will continue to emerge, thinking they know how the law should be applied to the various aspects of this case & its disclosure. But this is pretty complicated stuff & people aren't always informed as to a cop's rights when the cop has broken the law.

I hope Mr. Bucktheit will use caution now & keep his eyes open - as I bet you are doing. Jobs may be on the line.

Best of luck to you - this can't be easy.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 3, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Get a grip:

There are procedures for modifying an error in a police report. It involves filing a supplemental report noting the correct information and identifying the incorrect information. Once a police report is filed it is evidence and a part of the "chain of evidence." To go in and modify an already filed report is tampering with evidence. It is a crime, not a "mistake."


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Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Dec 3, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Peter was too kind in describing the benefits of contracting for police services.

He left out the part about being able to jetison the bad cops without going through an expensive, embarassing and time consuming investigation.

This should be Atherton's greatest motivation for outsourcing at this time.

Atherton would have, in effect the ability to turn bad cops who are protected by a very powerful union, into what amount to at will employees.

All that would be needed is a clause in the contract that says any staffing proposed and changes thereto during the duration of the contract are subject to the City's approval.

As an aside, Peter is right about the potential for cost savings. The structural deficit could be eliminated completely.


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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Dec 3, 2010 at 1:33 pm

Stogner Youtube Atherton Police Officer finally identified in Buckheit case.

Web Link


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Posted by Ed
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 3, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Peter you asked "what else am I missing" at the en of your list of the financial benefits of outsourcing. What about adding:
That it would no longer be necessary to build such a fancy new monument to house the department when considering the needs of the new town center. So there is a few mil. saved right there.
Also
How much money could we recover from who ever would assume operation of our mobile command unit (100,000, 200,000? Would the Fire District be interested in acquiring it? The firemen are the ones that know what to do in an emergency anyway-not the police who would likely play favorites with it anyway.
.....I'll keep thinking about what else


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Posted by Ed
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 3, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Mr. Wrong: Trying to spin the Brown Act into the Blue Act in any discussion with Mr. Carpenter is unwise.


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Posted by Patterson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 3, 2010 at 4:08 pm

You cannot trust our law enforcement or fire personnel. They work exclusively for themselves and avoid any honest comments or accountability to the public. Often they are anxious to take credit for an event that is not noteworthy.









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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 3, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Patterson states:"You cannot trust our law enforcement or fire personnel."

I totally disagree regarding our fire personnel. I have worked with them closely for years and I have never seen one of them violate the public trust or hesitate to put his or her life at risk to protect others.

As for the police, I believe that we have a few bad apples and they need to be exposed and prosecuted so that the rest can continue to do the superb job that they do protecting our communities.


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Posted by You Got Me Interested
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 3, 2010 at 4:51 pm

I still haven't received/seen a real answer to the basic question I poised: WHY would have this been done in the first place?
Motive is, after all, the key in criminal cases.

The lack of a response seems to indicate that Mr. Buckheit is far from an innocent party here, despite whatever "finding of factual innocence" might have been issued in the end.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 3, 2010 at 4:56 pm

You got me interested asks:"WHY would have this been done in the first place?"

That answer will only come out in court under sworn testimony. There is no need to speculate and certainly no justification to ignore the facts simply because the motive is not known. I suspect the motive was simply to exercise the power that the police officer(s) had been privileged with - but that is supposition. Motive need not be established before this matter reaches the court.


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Posted by Motive
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 3, 2010 at 5:10 pm

You got me interested is probably a cop or friend/family of a cop.

Someone suggested a motive: Buckheit pissed DeVlugt off, probably by being indignant over being arrested.

Here is another possible motive: give the guy arrested enough to contend with so the DA can get him to accept a plea deal over what they arrested him for in the first place, since he might have fought that otherwise. If he admitted guilt on the girlfriend over pressure from not having to contend with child abuse charges, no possibility of factual innocence, lawsuits, etc.

You gotta love the devotion though. At first the cop admitting falsification in court didn't mean anything. Now the log shows who did it, but no "motive" so no crime.

Do you cut the guys you arrest even half as much slack??


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Posted by Ed
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 3, 2010 at 7:03 pm

I doubt that either party needed to be arrested but is was probably correct for the officers to want to separate the two from one another.
My theory is that because a kid was present on the property it complicate matters for the cops. By arresting the male property owner, instead of the girlfriend and her son, the cops simply made the choice that was most convenient for themselves and how they wanted to spend the evening. If the police had arrested the girlfriend then they would have had to spend the rest of the night dealing with placing the kid into child protective services--hours and hours of hassle and some other agency's red tape. If they had chosen to just escort the girlfriend and boy off the property they still would have been stuck with them all night at the station or had to help arrange some other accommodation. As I recall there was no desk sargeant on duty that night to receive advice from, so they just made a choice based on their own convenience. Who knows what they needed their evening free for? A good game? A nap? Surveillance on La Bell?...
Later when it may have been explained to these officers, or might even have dawned on them independently, that their own plans for the evening shouldn't have been the basis for decisions that ruin other people's lives the story began to get tinkered with. As is usually the case, the coverup (especially with over two years worth), is always worse than what ever mistake started it all. But if they were only being lazy or incompetent, dose that really qualify as an acceptable mistake? after all this? I know people who are now afraid to ask the police for help because they can bring more trouble than aid. This may be the biggest message of all from this whole story-- We are being trained--The Cops don't want to be disturbed. Cops first--Special Friends second--Regular Residents maybe, maybe not


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Dec 3, 2010 at 7:14 pm

You Got Me Interested -

Motive is not the key in criminal cases. Bad people sometimes do bad things for no reason at all.

Any child who has ever run into a fellow student acting as "hall monitor" or put in charge of the class when the teacher steps out, knows how power can corrupt and become abusive. Although we are speculating, cops can become just as abusive as anyone else.

The difference here is twofold. First, cops have the power of law behind their actions and, for that reason, are trained to show restraint. When they do not show appropriate restraint, we all pay for their abuse. Second, there is a definite pattern of abuse here - whether it is Mr. Buckheit or any of the various other alleged abuses that have been well documented on these pages.

Because they have such a difficult job and must make split second, life-or-death decisions, I give great deference to the police. In this case, neither of those were at play. This was a deliberate, pre-meditated abuse, plain and simple.

And I predict the Atherton taxpayers are going to pay a very high price.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 3, 2010 at 7:38 pm

Ed:

I hate to say it, but you're probably right about the motive. In my experience, a good percentage of cops are basically lazy. They will do what they have to do to minimize the amount of "work" they have to do. Given the choice of arresting the woman and having to deal with putting her kid in the shelter or just arresting the man and booking him, the decision is simple for the average cop. Book the man. They also know that if they don't get one of them out of the house, they will be back. Since domestic disputes are every cops least favorite call, they don't want to go back. If they can't talk one of them into leaving for the night and they don't want to come back, someone's got to go to jail. If Atherton were an average town with average citizens, the person arrested would either plead no contest to make it go away or the DA would see it for what it was and not file charges. In any event the arresting officer never has to deal with it again. Unfortunately for these arresting officers Atherton is not your average town.


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Posted by You Got Me Interested
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 3, 2010 at 8:46 pm

Interesting choices:

a) Peter says: Who cares about motive? (must be a friend of Mr. Buckheit)

b) POGO says: "This was a deliberate, pre-meditated abuse, plain and simple" without offering any proof at all. (apparently another friend of Mr. Buckheit)

c) Ed says: Due to natural police lazyness that would go over virtually anywhere but Atherton (the implication being where money and the lawyers such money can buy rule the day).

I'm going with (c) at this point.




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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Dec 3, 2010 at 8:59 pm

Some questions, if folks in the know don't mind answering them:

-So Buckheit called 911 because HE was being abused at the hands of his girlfriend?

-Although he was the victim of the abuse HE was arrested?

-The cops say in the report that HE, Buckheit, the victim, abused his girlfriend and her kid?

-When he got a copy of the police report, the facts were not reported correctly, he pursued that aspect of the case (as well as was found innocent of putting his hands on the boy) & that has led him to where he is today w/all this?

-What happened to the complaint against the girlfriend?

-What happened to the charges against Buckheit re abusing his girlfriend?

-Did Buckheit has a previous troubled relationship w/the cops in Atherton?

-How was the cop who changed the report involved in the first place?

Sorry if these questions are dumb at this point in the storyline. I'd be happy to read up on it if anyone has any good links.

-BTW, why does the poster think that cop laziness DOESN'T go over in Atherton but it does elsewhere? Lazy cops are everywhere - all cities have them. It can be hard to get rid of them, too, especially if they have rank or other seniority.
Thank you.


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Posted by Ed
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 3, 2010 at 10:09 pm

Dear "You've got me Interested": This is Ed and I can't figure out what the heck you are talking about.
Please! Instead of spinning my opinion into something completely unrecognizable to me and then pretending to agree with it, wouldn't it be preferable for you to simply articulate you own view and then agree with yourself.
While I am at it--I do not recognize your reconstituted versions of Carpenter's or Pogo's statements either. Hopefully this reading comprehension problem is something that you and I will continue to share.


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Posted by Thomas
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Dec 3, 2010 at 10:33 pm

While I'm a always struck by the foolishness of the posts revolving around this matter, I am amazed that Mr. Buckheit would sanction delivery of his letter to Chief Guerra for publication in The Almanac and then also ask The Almanac not to identify his source. Like Mr. Buckheit's "you tube" video, it seems implausible his counsel could approve publication of the letter but then I was surprised to read that his counsel would advise him not to release the police report to the district attorney back in December but recently changed direction and then hand-delivered the the report. How much $$$ did that ten months of stalemate cost Mr. Buckheit which served absolutely no purpose and then a hand delivery by his counsel to Mr. Wagstaffe's office. What's up with that? Another video to look forward to?

I still cringe when viewing the you tube video at town hall, as well as Mr. John's continual post's about Mr.Buckheit's courage through this matter, while on his payroll and various other individuals that post like Mr. Stogner with his latest video and proclamation that he remains Mr. Buckheit's advocate. It's not my opinion that the circus like events are helping Mr. Buckheit's case and I don't think the individuals that post on his behalf do so with any objectivity. All plaintiffs at some point start to realize those they think that have their best interests at stake really have their own agendas. I cautioned Ms. Sweidy, herself an attorney, and it's no surprise she no longer posts any comments with regards to her $10M lawsuit against the town.

While the Almanac failed to publish the text of the Buckheit letter, the lawsuit has been a matter of public record for over six weeks and easily found online (Buckheit v Dennis) as well as many other answers
to the questions that people are hypothesizing about on this blog. I've listened to Mr. Buckheit's posts and while I understand it's not about the money, I would have more sympathy if he did not surround himself with individuals that are so quick to convict others because they feel they have been wronged. While misery loves company, I don't get that impression through Mr. Buckheit's posts.




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Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Dec 3, 2010 at 11:12 pm

As Bothun pointed out, Atherton has a long history of problems with its police department.

These problems were reinforced during and shortly after my tenure. Jim Robinson studiously avoided confrontation and he refused to acknowledge the possibility that people working for the Town were capable of wrongdoing.

I don't know what kept Jim Robinson from asserting himself. However I do know that the result was that Bob Brennan and his thugs had unchallenged power in the town.

The problems in the PD were amplified with an emboldened police departmet and a weak City Manager, Jerry Gruber.

When Gruber had the opportunity to go outside the department he chose twice (or the choice was made for him) to promote from within.

The first chief he selected, Glenn Nielsen was a man who survived, even thrived during Atherton's darkest days. He did so by keeping any integrity, any sense of principle he might have had as a carefully guarded secret.

Nielsen was an active supporter of a Chief who resigned in disgrace (Steve Cader), he was also instrumental in forcing out two cops (Chaput & McTaggart) who had stood up to misconduct in the PD a decade earlier.

The second chief he selected, a Phd and second in command for just a year showed promise but has failed to fulfill that promise.

"You got me interested" suggests Buckheit purchased his declaration of factual innocence. Another poster seems to imply that DeVlught's falsification of the Buckheit report couldn't have been intentional for there was no apparent motive, it must have been just a clerical error.

This is all spin. I know the Atherton PD. My office was adjacent to theirs. I saw them come and go every day for six years. The good ones did their job and kept their noses clean. The bad ones did bad things, for no apparent reason other than because they knew they could get away with it.

The lousy cops were easy to pick out by the way. It was the little things they did.

For example I once took a ride with Glenn Nielsen in the DARE car once. This car was the Ford Mustang that Alan Carlson donated to the Department and was refubished.

Nielsen was having a great time, travelling in speeds exceeding 50 miles per hour in Loyden Park, the small neighborhood just north of Town hall. I am ashamed to say that I wasn't assertive enough to tell Nielsen to slow down and stop acting like a teenager. Fortunately this joy ride didn't last long and there weren't any pedestrians present. However it was a clear indication of the lack of respect for the rule of law that Nielsen had.

Anothe example that comes to mind is the way DeVlught who stood outside Town Hall using his K9 to intimidate those attending an audit committee protesting my suspension three years ago.

What motivated guys like DeVlught and Nielsen to act with such recklesness, and with such contempt for the law and for the rights of others? This is likely to remain a mystery.


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Posted by SC
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Dec 3, 2010 at 11:29 pm

It's easier for some supporters of the police to believe that anyone with a gripe has been paid by Buckheit, or whatever other spin as Mr. Johns said has been used. What I have seen is a number of highly charged, and sometimes public, incidents with certain people and the police department in Atherton that has left them with some very vocal critics. Mr. Johns comes to mind, and some would say for very good reason. Blaming the latest guy to have a problem doesn't fix what the real issue is. The police department needs to give some serious thought about its credibility, stop attacking anyone they think is criticizing it, stop attacking Mr. Buckheit because anyone criticizes it, and figure out how to earn back the trust and respect they want. It's not too late.


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Posted by Tim Wulff
a resident of another community
on Dec 4, 2010 at 12:25 am

Has everyone forgotten completely about Operation Dollhouse?

Why are you so eager to expand the County's and the Sheriff's realm of power?

Munks came within a whisker, apparently, of being arrested in an FBI sting of patrons of under-aged foreign sex slaves in Las Vegas far out in the suburbs amongst dark streets and single story residences, miles from downtown, according to the information shared with me by Michael Stogner. Then he returned home to emails from Jim Fox and Steve Wagstaffe about how horrible it was to be treated shabbily by the press and how they thought he was a swell guy.

Then both he and Wagstaffe run UNOPPOSED.

Now there's word worth caps.

What's wrong with you people. Am I the only human being who finds theses events appalling? What is wrong with the voters in this county? What is wrong with the press?

Why can people not see the unbelievably obvious?

The government of this county is out of control. It's not just Atherton. There is no opposition party, no debate, no rancor, no healthy divisiveness, and no law enforcement officer willing to run for Sheriff.

There is not even one paper willing to print a story of any significant nature that is critical of the government. Even the crusading Mercury News has been totally hands-off the topic of wrong-doing in San Mateo.

Something is horribly wrong and no one seems to even notice.

I will never live there again.


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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Dec 4, 2010 at 1:31 am

Tim is right,

We San Mateo County have Munks and Bolanos our top two Sheriff's Law Enforcement Officers caught and identified as Customers of Underaged Human-Trafficked Sex Slaves 4/21/07 Operation Dollhouse. Munks was a financial contributor and political endorser of the Supervisors who had to duty to the public for oversight of all elected officials and their employees.They the Supervisors should have called for outside help to investigate because of what looks like a conflict of interest.

Munks runs for re-election unopposed, How does that happen?

We San Mateo County have a Coroner who got caught retaining an entire heart [Portion removed; unproven allegation of criminal behavior] He gets re-elected. How?

We San Mateo County have a Chief Deputy District Attorney who has abused the authority of the Office of District Attorney, costing Taxpayers for filing false charges, most recently he charged a Belmont man, the President of the Chamber of Commerce with 17 counts of Child molestation and sexual acts etc. The man was found Not Guilty of ALL counts after spending 1 year in our jail because bail was $1,000,000.

I have personally requested the Board of Supervisors to investigate DDA Steve Wagstaffe for this case and others, they have refused.

Steve Wagstaffe just ran Unopposed for District Attorney of San Mateo County, How?

San Mateo County has No Newspaper with an Investigative Journalist, No Television Station and not one Supervisor willing to Supervisor,

Voters, Taxpayers, Residents, Time to wakeup, pay attention to what is going on around you in your village.


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Posted by Larry
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Dec 4, 2010 at 3:43 am

Peter Carpenter has correctly identified the need for outsourcing the police. I grew up in Atherton and these problems have come up constantly, but probably never reached this level. Yet, the underlying cause is probably the same.

The reason is the department is too small for officers to have a real career path, like in Palo Alto or Mountain View. Very few sergeants, and really no organizational matrix above. Thus while there are some good people who work at Atherton, it also attracts some who frankly couldn't make the cut at the larger departments where there are more promotion possibilities and chances to get higher pay through those promotions.

I don't like the nasty personal attacks on either side of this, it's uncalled for. There are good officers in Atherton who will make good officers for the sheriff. There is also no excuse at all, period, ever, for falsifying a police report. I don't care if the victim is arrogant, a snob, or raped a chicken. Because if it's okay to do to some people, it might be thought of as okay to do to you or me someday.


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Posted by The Grimace
a resident of another community
on Dec 4, 2010 at 6:56 am

The Town, undoubtedly at the request of its attorneys, has remained silent about all aspects of the Federal lawsuit. It has also, out of respect for the law, refrained from discussing confidential personnel matters.

That silence has wrongfully been interpreted as an admission of guilt or as the Town having no reasonable rebuttal.

The Town can't speak about the personnel matter. That issue has been hashed out earlier in this diatribe. The Town is wise to hold back its defense until the Federal jury trial.

Because of the Town's silence on both issues, we've heard only the information the plaintiff wishes to release: portions of a court transcript, excerpts of police reports, and interpretations of events.

There's also speculation to fill in the gaps caused by the Town's silence, including the claim that Officer DeVlugt is a criminal.

THIS THREAD IS NOTHING LESS THAN AN ELECTRONIC LYNCHING. The participants on this thread already have the rope hanging from the tree limb in front of Town Hall.

Officer DeVlugt has a right to due process (see 5th Amendment to the United States Constitution). He has a right to an assumption of innocence.

A leaked letter from the plaintiff and a YouTube video from a guy in a cowboy hat do not establish guilt.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 4, 2010 at 7:32 am

Grimace makes an excellent point about this thread only having input from the outside perspective - that, however, is because the Town has chosen to treat this issue as a legal one and not as a moral or leadership issue. What this thread is calling for is the truth not a lynching.

The Police Chief could clear the cloud over the department with either firm action against any illegal activity or a declaration that an impartial review, which he then makes public, has concluded that no illegal activity occurred. The Town could settle this case with the plaintiff tomorrow with an apology and mutually acceptable compensation. Instead the Town has hunkered down and seems determined to go to court - hoping Buckheit will run out of either money or courage first. Fortunately, for the good of the citizens of Atherton, Buckheit has lots of both money and courage.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 4, 2010 at 8:47 am

Another way of looking at how we deal with unproven charges is to simply look at the way in which the Atherton PD reports arrests:

"23:32 WEAPONS CHARGE / VIOLATION 101203043
Officer initiated activity at Middlefield Rd/Oak Grove Av, Atherton. Subj: Yatman, Ryan dob 1/4/87 o/o Menlo Park and San Jose, arrested and booked in to County Jail for 12020(a)(1) PC and 1203.2 PC
Disposition: Arrest Made."

The name was given and a charge was made - it remains for the judicial system to determine if a crime has been committed.

In this thread we see a very healthy discussion of a charge which has been made and evidence which has been uncovered linking this to a specific individual - it remains for the judicial system to determine if a crime has been committed.

What is good for the goose is good for the gander.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Dec 4, 2010 at 9:09 am

Grimace -

I cannot disagree with your point about due process. And using your logic, Mr. Buckheit has received due process, at least as it relates to his criminal case. A court of law ruled that Mr. Buckheit was "factually innocent." The court didn't rule he was "not guilty," which, as you know, is a very different thing. The court ruled he was INNOCENT. Mr. Buckheit did none of the things those cops charged him with and they knew it. Mr. Buckheit was the victim.

So let's stop giving the benefit of the doubt to the cops who perpetrated Mr. Buckheit's travesty. A court has ruled on it. The cops were wrong and the have admitted authoring a false police report.

These are criminal acts and they should be charged and prosecuted so they can have their due process.

As for Mr. Buckheit, his damages will be determined by a jury in civil court. That jury will not be kind to these cops, to the Atherton Police Department who has a history of tolerating these things (and their past bad acts ARE relevant in the determining the amount of damages), or to the city leaders who have done nothing.

This is a huge case. Assuming there is no settlement, I predict Mr. Buckheit's award will be the most significant liability the Town of Atherton has ever seen.


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Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Dec 4, 2010 at 9:10 am

I speak with authority when it comes to the subject of electronic lynchings.

In late August 2007, I was suspended from Atherton on charges that I created a "hostile work environment" for the former Chief of Police Robert Brennan. Chief Brennan took issue with my objection to his spending money without proper authority (a violation of California Penal Code Section 504).

Immediately after my suspension, Councilman Charles Marsala who received illegal favors from the Building Department, stood ready with an electronic rope. He made highly charged accusations against me in an attempt to bias the outcome of my personnel investigation. Additionallly, during the investigation, Marsala gave statements to the press disclosing information derived during my administrative investigation.

What "the Grimace" either doesn't understand or refuses to acknowledge is that there is a significant difference between a crimnial complaint and a personnel matter.

This too I know because, in retaliation for my complaint regarding Robert Brennan's criminal conduct I was subject to a 9 month-long and highly publicized criminal investigation resulting from false allegations of fraud leveled against me by Robert Brennan.

"The Grimace" and other anonymnous supporters of the Police Department can't have it both ways. They can't cry foul when the public raises legitimate questions over the conduct of more than one corrupt cop in Atherton.

This isn't a personnel matter. Dean DeVlught has been accused of a crime. There is evidence supporting this criminal allegation. What is worse, Atherton has had this evidence in its possession for well over a year and, contrary to the assertion of "the Grimmace" has failed to initiate a personnel investigation.

So now the Atherton Police Department has to anwwer for two crimes, Dean DeVlught falsifying a police report and Chief Guerra conspiring with DeVlught to obstruct justice.

[Portion removed; see terms of use]


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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Dec 4, 2010 at 9:13 am

Grimace says "its out of respect for the law". REALLY?

What is being discussed on this thread is the lack of the law being enforced equally. We have no less than 10 elected officials plus a Police Chief, 2 employees of San Mateo County District Attorney's Office and a Judge, who all know a crime was committed in the Buckheit case.

This is not about the Town of Atherton, This is about our County. San Mateo County is responsible for not stopping this the day Hon. Judge Mark Forcum issued the Factual Innocence ruling. From that day forward they all knew.

Grimace is being childish and silly, when he writes
"THIS THREAD IS NOTHING LESS THAN AN ELECTRONIC LYNCHING"

We expect our government employees to do their job equally. If a Law Enforcement Officer commits a crime, charge him, if found guilty sentence him.....Its that simple



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Posted by The Grimace
a resident of another community
on Dec 4, 2010 at 9:14 am

Mr. Carpenter,

That would be an appropriate comparison had DeVlugt been ARRESTED. Then the charges against him would be public record and subject to disclosure.

But, unlike Mr. Yatman, Officer DeVlugt has not been arrested. Instead, he has only been subject to a bunch of speculation about his guilt.

Can you not see the difference?


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Posted by Dave
a resident of Woodside: other
on Dec 4, 2010 at 9:18 am

I agree with Tim Wulff when he says "There is not even one paper willing to print a story of any significant nature that is critical of the government. Even the crusading Mercury News has been totally hands-off the topic of wrong-doing in San Mateo."

I was told by San Mateo County Times Executive Editor Glenn Rabinowitz last summer that San Mateo County is one of the most corrupt counties he has ever seen in his days as a journalist.

Yet his paper does nothing to expose the fraud.

Kudos to Renee Batti and the Atherton Almanac for being the only paper that is actually reporting on misconduct by law enforcement in San Mateo. The rest of the papers are house organs of Wagstaffe.


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Posted by Dave
a resident of Woodside: other
on Dec 4, 2010 at 9:20 am

It is my understanding that the San Mateo County Times editorial board did call for Greg Munks to resign.


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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Dec 4, 2010 at 9:55 am

Dave,
The Palo Alto Daily Post also covered the Atherton Police Officer being identified.

You might be right on the call by the SMCT for Greg Munks to resign i'm not positive on that one. I do know they did almost a full page "Won't somebody run against Greg Munks" when he ran unopposed.

I do know the Half Moon Bay Review was one of the first to call for Sheriff Greg Munks to resign.

Here is a video I did recently to show the public where the most powerful political leaders of San Mateo County are members of a little private org. The Service League of San Mateo County. Web Link

Also from your post: "I was told by San Mateo County Times Executive Editor Glenn Rabinowitz last summer that San Mateo County is one of the most corrupt counties he has ever seen in his days as a journalist."

Now if he (Glenn Rabinowitz) was an investigative journalist, he would have unlimited story resources.....Why no coverage?


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Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Dec 4, 2010 at 9:56 am

"The Grimmace" calls to attention the fact that DeVlught hasn't been arrested.

There is evidence that DeVlught falsified a police report. There has been a citizen's complaint filed agianst DeVlught.

Chief Guerra must now answer for his failure to act on the evidence he has been confronted with.

Mr. Devlught's case does not appear to be isolated. Instead it appears as though Mr. DeVlught's case is part of a widespread pattern of conduct.

There is a criminal element within the Atherton Police Department Chief Guerra knows this. Chief Guerra is paralyzed by the knowledge of this criminal element.

This is why Guerra has refused to do the right thing. He knows that arresting DeVlught will open a Pandora's box that is likely to result in the decision to do away with the Atherton PD once and for all and the loss of those prized stars on Guerra's collar and the prestige that goes along with those stars.

Here are a few questions I pose to the readers of this forum. These questions deserve an answer. The answer to whether or not Atherton is a legitimate law enforcement agency lies in the answers to the questions below:

When I was detained on the morning of August 29th 2007 without probable cause was the police report falsified to create the impression that my vehicle was in motion? Was it falsified to omit key details including being coerced by Chief Brennan to start my car and to immediately shut off the engine and to hand over my drivers license? Was the police report falsified to omit any mention of the Chief's involvement in this bogus traffic stop? Was the police report falsified to omit the presence of Officer Clark Yee who was present and who objected to what was going on at the time?

[Portion removed; avoid speculation of criminal behavior]

When I complained to Glenn Nielsen about Bob Brennan's unauthorized use of public funds in 2007, did Glenn Nielsen file a police report as was his obligation or did he ignore my complaint in order to cover for the Chief?

With all due respect to "the Grimmace" the fact that none of the instances described has resultedin criminal charges being filed doesn't mean that a crime hasn't occurred.

To the contrary, the failure of the Atherton Police Department to rid itself of the criminal element that resides within is a crime in and of itself.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 4, 2010 at 10:49 am

Grimace, on one hand you have a point but if you peel the onion there a problems with it. When DeVlugt's friends and co-workers make the decision about whether or not to arrest him, the lack of an arrest shouldn't be used as persuasive evidence there's a huge difference between the situation he's in and Mr. Yatman, at least from a moral point of view.

When are cops going to arrest another cop? C'mon. They didn't arrest Clark Yee either, who was criminally charged and went to jail.

I will agree with you on this: Mr. Devlugt is entitled to be assumed innocent until a jury would find him guilty. That's the legal standard.

But the moral standard is that if a cop falsified a police report, the town needs to take some moral leadership to correct it. The civil lawsuit shouldn't stop that, as there are ramifications to other residents for that type of police behavior.

You also said we've only heard the information Buckheit wants to release. But that included a decision and words by a judge who looked at all the evidence. I know, and I've read, that this is explained by the police supporters on these forums and possibly you're one of them as Buckheit bought the judge who rendered a completely off the wall decision. I find that ridiculous, that judge has been around a long time, and is very well respected. Also the transcripts have apparently said that officer Dennis admitted someone changed his report to include additional charges that were totally off base. Then it should really only be surprising if Judge Forcum didn't do what he did.

How loudly would you be protesting what is happening to Mr. Devlugt if the Almanac had printed fabricated charges, with no evidence? In some really ironic way, your protests about him not being tarnished with guilt underscore the seriousness of what he allegedly, perhaps apparently, did to Mr. Buckheit.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 4, 2010 at 11:16 am

As Grimace points out only the police can arrest somebody - so who polices the police and how?

I repeat an earlier posting - here are some excerpts from an excellent report "CIVILIAN OVERSIGHT OF THE POLICE IN DEMOCRATIC SOCIETIES":

"In democratic societies, the police are accountable for many things. Most prominently, police are accountable for the effectiveness with which they deal with crime and disorder, as well as for the legality, professionalism, and respect with which they treat people.

But to whom are police accountable? While authoritarian police are accountable only to their superiors, democratic police are accountable to a multiplicity of bodies. In addition to their superiors, democratic police are accountable to the legislature, to the courts, to members of the public who seek their assistance, and to society as a whole through the press and organizations of citizens. It would be simpler for police if they were accountable to only one or two authorities, but the presence of an armed police force in a democratic society requires these multiple lines of accountability, making the job of police executives particularly challenging.

It is fundamental to democratic societies that police power, including the powers to arrest, to question, and to use lethal and non-lethal force, be closely regulated, often through the mechanism of an independent judiciary, and ultimately be subject to civilian control through democratic institutions. In such societies, a continuing challenge is to create practical mechanisms for ongoing oversight that curb or correct the occasional abuses of police power."


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Posted by The Grimace
a resident of another community
on Dec 4, 2010 at 11:26 am

Aside from not answering my question about the difference between DeVlugt and Yatman, Peter says, "As Grimace points out only the police can arrest somebody - so who polices the police and how?"

You have your FACTS wrong, Mr. Carpenter. In fact, private persons can make arrests.

CA Penal Code 834. An arrest is taking a person into custody, in a case and in the manner authorized by law. An arrest may be made by a peace officer or by a private person.

CA Penal Code 837. A private person may arrest another:
1. For a public offense committed or attempted in his presence.
2. When the person arrested has committed a felony, although not
in his presence.
3. When a felony has been in fact committed, and he has reasonable
cause for believing the person arrested to have committed it.

I see nothing in those sections which exempt Police Officers from a private person's arrest. It would, however, be unusual. But, given the nature of this controversy and the allegations, perhaps it's a logical step. It could get the DA off the dime.

Of course, private persons are also subject to the consequences of false arrest. If, however, you feel you have probable cause, go for it.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 4, 2010 at 11:37 am

Grimace asks:"But, unlike Mr. Yatman, Officer DeVlugt has not been arrested. Instead, he has only been subject to a bunch of speculation about his guilt.
Can you not see the difference?"

Given that a judge has determined that the police report was falsified and that pretrial discovery has established who falsified that report I see NO difference between the police report on Yost (an ALLEGED crime) and the ALLEGATIONS being made against Officer DeVlugt - in both cases the court will decide the guilt or innocence. That is not to say that the Town and the Police Chief could not preempt the judicial process by showing moral leadership and providing the community with a prompt unbiased review of this matter.


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Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Dec 4, 2010 at 11:46 am

When I was detained on the morning of August 29 2007 the Police filed a criminal complaint against me for trespassing and for intimidating a witness. The second charge being a violation of California PC 131.1

The report that accompanied the Atherton Police Department's criminal complaint to the District Attorney against me was written in a way that suggested the implied use of force by me in the report's false allegation of "intimidating a witness".

The report said I had my hands in my pockets (with the implication that I might have been carrying a weapon). The report said that I did not respond to police instructions to vacate Town Hall. The report said I a dazed look on my face. The report said I had earlier bragged about being a sharpshooter when I was in the Marines.

My experience was very similar to that of Buckheit. The criminal complaint against me was not only false, the report describing the events of the morning of August 29th was falsified. It was falsified to make the charge even more serious.

I firmly believe that the police report and my detention under the threat of force was a violation of California PC 131.1. Accordingly, I intend to make a criminal complaint against each and every officer who participated in my detention, with the exception of Officer Clark Yee. Clark Yee was present during my unlawful detention. However Clark Yee refused to be a party to what Brennan's thugs were doing. As such I intend to call upon Clark Yee to corroborate my complaint.

In short, I was ganged up on by five of "Atherton's finest" including Brennan. All of these men were wearing weapons. They made no secret of being willing to use these weapons if I were to make a false move. A patrol car blocked my retreat. The Police Department's show of force was for one reason and one reason only to dissuade me from filing a criminal complaint against Chief Brennan for embezzlement.

If the Police Department is capable of falsifying a report resulting from a call for help from a man like Jon Buckheit and if the Police Department is capable of falsifying a report regarding me, one who thought of himself as a friend and trusted colleague of Brennan and Nielsen can anyone really think they are safe in Atherton.

If it can happen to Jon Buckheit and if it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody.


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Posted by Double Standards
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 4, 2010 at 11:55 am

Where were the Grimace and Sherman Hall when Atherton and its cops and Charles Marsala were using public forums and newspapers to make John Johns seem like a criminal, but was never arrested for anything?

Where were the Grimace and Sherman Hall when newspaper articles were written about the raid on former reporter Brian Bothun's house several weeks ago, even though Bothun was not arrested? Actually, Hall was in the house.

[Portion removed; see terms of use]

These are sickening double standards. Cut the crap, cops.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 4, 2010 at 12:08 pm

come on grimmace you're being obtuse. Yes a citizen could make a citizens arrest of a police officer. The thing you fail to include is that the citizen then has to turn the arrestee over to a police officer or other law enforcement. Get it? At some point the arrested officer will have to be taken into the custody of another police officer. You and everybody here knows that isn't going to happen.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 4, 2010 at 12:20 pm

Wrong and Grimace and Hello Almanac do the rest of us a great favor by posting on this thread - they remind us that many of our fellow citizens desperately want to Hear No Evil, See No Evil and Speak No Evil - at least until they themselves get bit by Evil.

In a democracy we get exactly the kond of government and police services that we deserve and unless we demand change there will be no change.


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Posted by Appalled
a resident of another community
on Dec 4, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Mr. Carpenter: you have gotten many FACTS wrong here. You have been involved in public service, and should know better.

A Police Officer is entitled to the legal protections under the Peace Officer's Bill of Rights.

If a complaint is made in Atherton against a Police Officer, the Lieutenant investigates this complaint, and recommends findings to the Chief of Police.

This is not a public process. Yes, you do need to have faith in the Police Chief and Police Lieutenant to handle the matter properly, but they are not union positions so there is a natural check and balance for them to do their job properly and without bias.

This situation involves an individual who is aggrieved over being arrested. The person who was arrested was found to be innocent. I will not comment on that other than to say that our system anticipates innocent people will be arrested as part of the various phases of the system. It is human nature for people to feel aggrieved when they are arrested. This is why the police complaint process is not public.

You are clearly no friend of the Atherton police.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 4, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Appalled states:"You are clearly no friend of the Atherton police."

On the contrary, I am a big supporter of the Atherton PD and simply wish that the clouds of suspicion that swirl over it would be removed by a prompt response to the formal allegations which have been made by a number of individuals. Unfortunately NONE of those complaints was processed in the manner that you describe and NO action was taken on any of them - including a clear demonstration any of the complaints were unfounded. Why not?

The Police Officer's Bill of Rights does not protect police officers who have committed a crime and, as the above postings clearly show, at least one such crime has been committed.

What I know better than you is that the citizens have a right to a prompt review of their complaints and to a police department which is not clouded in suspicion.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 4, 2010 at 1:32 pm

Apppalled:

you are full of it. The Peace Officer Bill of rights only covers officials speakig regarding INTERNAL investigations. If there is a criminal investigation it can be made public, especially when an arrest has been made. It has been well kown for over a year that an officer of APD committed a crime by falsifying a report. Yet, no criminal investigation, no charges, nothing but deafening silence. The department and the city have done nothing but stone wall this entire time. All it would take for much of this to be dealt with is for the Chief to announce that he is looking into these allegations or a leutenant is. But that is not what happened. What happened was a statement from the Chief to the effect that this report was not the only falsified report at APD. Not to mention being a really stupid statement to make when the city is involved in a lawsuit over a falsified report, it makes clear that the Chief's attitude toward the crime of falsifying a police report is that it is of little consequence to him. All this does is make clear to me that he doesn't care if his officers break the law.

No one can be a friend of Atherton PD. They only have friends that protect their illegal behavior. If you are a citizen you could well be subject to their illegal antics.


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Posted by karma
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Dec 4, 2010 at 2:13 pm

i saw de luvt's picture in the paper yesterday

he has been a TOTAL jerk to me and my brother for years in atherton

he's rude and a bully . . . . i would use stronger words if i could !

what goes around comes around


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 4, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Appalled states:"You have been involved in public service, and should know better."

I tried to let this one pass but it kept coming back to challenge me.

Yes I DO know better - after more than 20 years of Public Service I have never forgotten that it is, in fact, Service to the Public. And 99% of those with whom I have served held exactly the same standard.


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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Dec 4, 2010 at 2:47 pm

Menlo Voter said,
"come on grimmace you're being obtuse. Yes a citizen could make a citizens arrest of a police officer. The thing you fail to include is that the citizen then has to turn the arrestee over to a police officer or other law enforcement. Get it? At some point the arrested officer will have to be taken into the custody of another police officer. You and everybody here knows that isn't going to happen."

I know this is going to be hard for some of you to believe, But here it is: I have personally conducted a Citizens Arrest of a very well known family law attorney in April of 2002. This attorney just happens to be best friends of our District Attorney James P. Fox. The Sheriff's Department under the leadership of Don Horsley and Under-Sheriff Greg Munks were kind enough to send several Deputies to the Seventh floor, Hon. Steven Dylina Courtroom, to assist me and accept my arrested person which they did after hearing my report and seeing that I videoed the arrest. The Sheriff's Computer system has no record of this arrest. I happen to have a transcript where Chief Inspector Michael Dirickson confirms in Judge Beth Freemans court, that the District Attorneys Office is aware of the Citizens Arrest by Mr. Stogner. So if the DA knows about the arrest and at least 5 Sheriff Deputies know about it why isn't on the County's Computer?

So Law Enforcement Officers Falsifying Records in San Mateo County has been going on for ever.

Transcript is available to anyone interested.

Time to wake up the Village


 +   Like this comment
Posted by The Grimace
a resident of another community
on Dec 4, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Press Release from the Atherton Police Department

Web Link


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 4, 2010 at 3:52 pm

The Atherton PD press release of 4 Dec 2010 states:"The Atherton PD cannot comment on the course of action or timeline by our District Attorney's Office for their investigation of the allegations, but we anticipate our personnel investigation will be completed within weeks."

Wonderful!! This is exactly what has been called for for months. Hopefully both investigations will be definitive and will have been conducted by unimpeachable individuals.


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Posted by Unimpeachable
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 4, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Thanks for posting that police press release here minutes after it was issued, Sherman...er, Grimace.

I am sure the APD will be hiring external investigator Lance Bayer, who was the police investigator for San Francisco and was fired by Mayor Willie Brown for refusing to investigate SF police officers who were indicted by a grand jury, stating their conduct couldn't rise to the level of an investigation.

I am sure the officers will be fully exonerated in Atherton.

Good job.

Case closed.


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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Dec 4, 2010 at 4:02 pm

The Grimace is like the Atherton Police Departments Public Relations agent.

Failing at all times to report that this case of criminal conduct by an Atherton Police Officer has been publicly known for almost a year now.

Stay focused everyone.


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Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Dec 4, 2010 at 4:03 pm

As I read Atherton's press release, Guerra has all of the information he needs to discipline DeVlught. He has a copy of the altered report and the change log denoting who made changes the report and when.

Once DeVlught has been disciplined all Guerra needs to do is arrest DeVlught, fill out a police report and recommend the DA prosecute DeVlught.

Guerra says that it is usually more efficient to let the criminal investigation run its course before completing the personnel investigation. This is a sham. This is an excuse to avoid taking any administrative action against DeVlught.

I know about the relationship between a criminal investigation and an administrative investigation by the way. The PD opened up a bogus investigation on me right when I was suspended.

The PD had Sherman Hall research my expense records (on a false allegation of embezzlement). Sherman Hall then fed those expense records to Mary Topliff along with a suggestion that I had spent Town money improperly. Remember the IPOD? It was Sherman Hall who dug up the receipt.

By the way, there is precedent for firing DeVlught and then handing him over to the DA. This exactly how the PD handled the Clark Yee case, which also included allegations of a falsified police report.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 4, 2010 at 4:37 pm

I have sent the following email to the Police Chief and copied the Atherton Town Council and Interim Town Manager

"Thank you for today's press release regarding the investigations that are now underway on the allegations of falsified police reports. This issue has been simmering in the community for a long time and I was pleased to see you address it so forthrightly. Hopefully both your and the DA's investigations will be conducted by unimpeachable individuals and completed in a timely manner."


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 4, 2010 at 6:09 pm

It is nice they finally made a statement about this. It is unfortunate it took more than a year. Given that it took this long I have little hope that it will result in any discipline or any criminal prosecution. Especially when the fox (San Mateo DA) is the one investigating the disappearance of the chickens. If Guerra really wanted to make a statement regarding his determination to get to the bottom of this and bring the guilty to justice, he would ask the Attorney General to complete this investigation.


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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Dec 4, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Every single Police Report (since this information became public last year) by an Atherton Police Officer is now in question/suspect. Every defendant will benefit by the lack of action by the Police Chief and the DA's Office.


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Posted by Ed
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 4, 2010 at 6:34 pm

I have just opened today's mail. Looks like the APD's PR team has been busy with not only the sudden press release, but also a mailer request for donations for the APOA. Looks like the APOA is collecting money to redistribute to their favorite charities. I looked up one called "Riley's Place" on Google. I notice that ex Chief Glen Nielson, dispather John Mattes, and John's wife Wendy Mattes are all the board of directors. The rest are either in real estate or are involved with the Sequoia Healthcare District. Sounds like a favorite charity to me-think I'll make my own donations directly this year. I don't need the police to do it for me.


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Posted by Interested
a resident of another community
on Dec 4, 2010 at 8:11 pm

"Wonderful!! This is exactly what has been called for for months. Hopefully both investigations will be definitive and will have been conducted by unimpeachable individuals."


Peter...Please don't hold your breath.

I would really like you to enjoy Christmas....LOL


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Posted by CopSpeak Translation Services
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Cop-speak: The APD "takes corrective action to ensure compliance when misconduct has been proven".

Translation: The standard the APD uses of "proving" misconduct with their own is demonstrated by not a SINGLE citizen's complaint being upheld in more than five years.

Cop-speak: "Most of our residents believe this to be true as evidenced by an independent research-based survey in 2006 of our residents, which earned the Atherton Police Department an overall 97% customer satisfaction score."

Translation: Because 97% of the residents we sent surveys to four years ago didn't have a problem with us, the report falsification didn't happen, despite the obvious evidence to the contrary. When we say it couldn't be proven, 97% of the people will believe us.

Cop-speak: "Personnel management begins with daily shift supervision by Sergeants and extends up through the organization to the City Manager and then the Town Council."

Translation: When Kathy McKeithen has courageously tried to reign in out-of-control behavior in the APD, she has been retaliated against up to and including an APD-led raid on her home a la Brian Bothun.

Cop-speak: "Besides day-to-day routine supervision, we have procedures in place for investigating employee conduct and Citizen's Complaints."

Translation: You bet. The procedures for investigation, and the investigators hand-picked by the APD, will ensure no misconduct is ever verified (unless they want it to be, such as retaliating against a cop who spoke out against the cowboy attitude of the APD, Clark Yee).


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Posted by Ed
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 5, 2010 at 5:25 pm

The DA's Office and APD are pretending that their hands have been tied because of the sealed records.
Beverly Colburn from the DA's Office is who actually represented Dennis and DeVlut at the hearing. The DA's reps were not only present, but actively in charge and had full access to all materials.
How can they now use lack of access as an excuse to for stonewalling when they should know already (and possibly did all along) the full facts of the case?
When you couple this odd logic with the "protections" of "Police Personnel matters" that even the City Council can't be legally apprized of, you have a perfect Catch 22 built right into the system to keep anything from ever being properly resolved that the Police and or DA's Office doesn't want resolved. So ultimately, this leaves any outcome to the discretion or convenience of the DA. Pretty scary when "the system" turns out to actually be so subjective. I wonder if he feels the weight.
So I am trying to imagine standing in Mr. Wagstaffe's shoes right now. Years of relying on my good friend Glen Neilson's version of all things Atherton (sort of understandable but incredibly dangerous), and wanting to assume office in January without this thing tainting both his own chances and all of ours for a clean break. Wagstaffe has had both an excuse and a boss to please all these years. This is a big opportunity for him to make both his own future and that that of that of all county residents, a much easier one to inhabit. Wonder if he will take it.


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Posted by Real Story
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 5, 2010 at 6:03 pm

Despite the conspiracy theories on these boards, the real FACTS are quite simple:

1. A police officer testified that someone other than him edited a portion of a police report. No crime, happens all the time, and this it what is supposed to take place (multiple people working together in collaboration to do the job).

2. An aggrieved person who is used to getting his own way all the time has literally made a federal case out of it (Jon Buckheit).

3. An aggrieved Mayor who has a score to settle with the police has fanned the flames instead of supporting the department (Kathy McKeithen).

4. A gadfly who needs to feel like he's important and making a difference has made this one of his celebrated causes to justify outsourcing the police department (Peter Carpenter).

The police department press release says it all. 97% of residents approve. The police department is one with a heart. The residents love these officers, all of them, and that is why Buckheit, McKeithen, and Carpenter will not succeed.

Now I would ask Peter, how much simpler could this all have been if:

1. Buckheit was satisfied with his factual innocence and let sleeping dogs lie.

2. McKeithen found other ways to fulfill her sense of importance instead of being on the City Council and turning living and working in Atherton into such a contentious struggle?

3. You found other ways to fulfill your sense of importance instead of trying to undo the will of 97% of Atherton's residents - to keep an independent police department.

WHAT AM I MISSING?


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Posted by just a thought
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2010 at 6:36 pm

Real Story:

You are missing the fact that falsification of a police report is felony and can lead to people being falsely accused of a crime.

You are missing the fact that an honorable organization would already have is dismissed this person for life, an honest DA would have indicted him and a jury would have convicted him preventing from ever serving in public office of any kind.

You are missing the fact that cops acting out their anger discredit every decent person in uniform.

You are missing the fact that our government structure is grossly flawed and that there is no venue that is not biased in existence in the US whose intended and empowered purpose is the investigation and public referral for prosecution of police officers for misconduct in the course of their duties. As a result, there are many permanently injured, imprisoned and dead. The cases are too numerous to be mentioned and you know it.


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Posted by just a thought
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2010 at 6:44 pm

I have a prediction:

This case will be investigated and no wrongdoing will be found. No charges will be filed. There will be an outcry. It will be ignored. There will no ramifications for elected officials at the ballot box. The DA will feel put upon and bored that he is being forced through this absurd and pointless pantomime. Buckheit will win his case and be awarded a large sum. The taxpayers will pay for it and all those in office and employed by the government who are responsible will just laugh about it privately knowing how invulnerable they are.

The investigation of the building department was the same way. I was there. The purpose and intent of every public and temporarily hired official was to contain and limit discovery and whitewash the whole event. Make it go away. Claims were made that the scope of discovery was comprehensive. It was not. I was a witness and have personal knowledge of this, as do many others.

This is how business is done. There are professional cleaners. They've hired one. If it doesn't work, it only matters if someone in office gets dinged. If it's monetary, the people pay for it. They just don't care about anything but themselves. That's how it is.

And you all let them get away with it.

Got a mirror?


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Posted by Ed
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 5, 2010 at 6:56 pm

What you are missing "Mr. Real Story" is that you have lost you way, and you have experienced a complete loss of sight of the difference between right and wrong. This has been a police department with complete autonomy for far too long that has gotten way out of control, no oversight, no actual leadership from the last 5 or 6 Chiefs, weak or non existent management from any city manager, attorneys who love billing to clean up the mess, and a city council who is kept busy with so much infighting that they never have time to even think about the supervision of the police dept. I don't blame the Police Department entirely for the problems that have developed, it was predictable that unchecked power would eventually corrupt--but the fact remains that it has. Its going to be extremely difficult to fix this problem that we have all allowed to develop but can not afford.


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Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2010 at 7:27 pm

I have a message for "just a thought".

This time it's different. This time any whitewash to be done will only result in a more thorough housecleaning.

Jon Buckheit has a $10 million claim against Atherton. With his discoveries and the Town's reaction to those discoveries, the probability of a jury verdict that forces the Town to the brink of bankruptcy becomes increasingly likely.

If one wants to get a preview of what Atherton is headed for, just look over the hill to Half Moon Bay.

Jon Buckheit's case isn't the only $10 million lawsuit either. There's one concerning the Building Department and the actions of CSG Consultants. There are also two EEOC complaints against the Town for discrimination, one of which is mine.

The work Tim Wulff did as my subject matter expert on the Atherton Building Department audit will not have been in vain. The dirty cops that intimidated Tim and forced me out of the Town's employment will be held accountable.

The only question is how long will it take and how painful will it be for the Town.

I know Jon Buckheit. I have the privilege of having him as my client. He is a demanding task master. He is has a brilliant mind, he has integrity and he is honest.

What the Atherton Police Department did was reprehensible. Even worse, what happened to Dr. Buckheit constitutes a pattern of criminal conduct.

It wasn't "teamwork" it was a criminal conspiracy.

As far as that bogus 97% satisfaction figure I've seen reference made to. If fully 97% of Atherton residents are happy with the police department now, don't you think they'd post comments in support of the PD under their own names?


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 5, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Just a thought:

I hate to say it, but you said EXACTLY what I was thinking. My prediciton is the same. Nothing will come of this other than Buckheit collecting a huge sum of money and no one but the taxpayer paying for the malfeasance that has occurred.


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Posted by just a thought
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2010 at 7:49 pm

John Johns:

Show me.

I don't believe it.

All efforts are futile.

The populace is indifferent, arrogant and self-involved.

A determined voting majority is the only entity that will make it happen and I see only a handful of interested individuals.

How will this occur? Your judgment is off.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by just a thought
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Menlo Voter:

Thank you.

I respect you too.

We'll see who's right. If I were you, I'd move out of this county. You are now on a list.

John did. Why'd you do that John?


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Posted by The Grimace
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2010 at 7:53 pm

Here's just another thought: if the investigations don't result in findings of malfeasance, it could just be because there was none.

Thought provoking, isn't it?


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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Just, I agree,

"The populace is indifferent, arrogant and self-involved.

A determined voting majority is the only entity that will make it happen and I see only a handful of interested individuals."

The Citizens are at a disadvantage because there is no place for them to get information.
This subject is not being covered by the San Mateo County Times, The San Mateo Daily Journal, The San Jose Mercury News, You don't think this is a National Story....

To those who matter comes to mind.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 5, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Grimace:

[portion removed.] Of course malfeasnce occurred. An Atherton PD officer testified to it in open court, under oath. His report was altered. That is a crime. What don't you understand about that [portion removed]?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 5, 2010 at 8:13 pm

I believe that the truth will prevail in this case and that heads will roll. And that, as a result of the truth prevailing, a LOT more citizens will start to pay attention and that we will get fundamental reform.

Change is not easy and the first steps are always small and the hardest.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 5, 2010 at 8:18 pm

Grimace:

one other thing. I am not a believer in conspiracy theories. Quite the contrary. I am a believer in Occums Razor - the simplest explanation is likley the true explanation. In this case there is far too much evidence to indicate that the simplest explanation is NOT that "no malfeasance occurred." If a very transparent, logical explanation isn't given for what has occurred it will just confirm what I and many others think - there is a big cover up going on here.


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Posted by just a thought
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2010 at 8:48 pm

Grimace:

Derisive and rude aren't you.

I shall respond by doing my best to treat you with respect and kindness because you deserve that as a human being who disagrees with me.

Others will decide who has chosen well and who has not.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by The Grimace
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Menlo Voter, it is not a crime to alter a police report. The Police Officer who testified at Mr. Buckheit's factual innocence proceeding said changes were made to the report by someone other than himself. That is not a crime. There are multiple people editing and approving reports, and multiple changes are made in the normal course of Police Officers doing their jobs.

As others have tried to point out, a crime requires a motive. With the absence of a motive, it is most likely that whatever alleged inaccuracies are in the report are due to human error that did not involve any malfeasance or motive, and therefore no crime.

One of the reasons the Atherton Police Department has a 97% satisfaction rating with residents of Atherton because they know that when malfeasance is proven, action will be taken. This incident is no exception. If any improper or illegal behavior is proven, the Department will act.

However, it will take more than a guy in a cowboy hat saying it's so to establish illegal behavior. Until actual illegal behavior can be proven, Officer DeVlugt is entitled to the presumption of innocence.


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Posted by just a thought
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Peter:

All I've ever wanted is to help someone of your stature.

You are really a godsend to this situation, and I hope you're right, but I won't believe it until I see it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by just a thought
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2010 at 8:55 pm

We have in The Grimace's presentation what I believe to be a preview of the investigation results, and every indication of someone with an anger management problem. I sure hope he's not a cop, Menlo, as you say. We have entirely enough of that.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Dear "Just A Thought" and "Menlo Voter"

I wasn't living in San Mateo County when I relocated, I was living in Santa Clara County. Having said that I don't so much as spit on the sidewalk, jaywalk or drive faster than the speed limit when I'm in the County. I know there's a target on my back. It is that knowledge that keeps me safe.

Atherton, quite possibly as a favor to the rich and powerful whom I offended when Tim and I did our audit, tried to enlist the support of the DA to crush me. The only reason the Town failed is that I was honest, hard working and most importantly I obeyed the law.

As an aside, what's "Grimace" afraid of? Why isn't he or she posting under his or her own name?

There has been progress in Atherton and in the County. Its been in fits and starts. The progress that has been made isn't nearly enough, but it does constitute progress.

I have the benefit of experience. I have been on the inside. I know the system has checks and balances. I know that the most significant obstacle to reforming the system is to find out how those checks and balances work, knowing which levers to pull so to speak.

I also know that it takes resources, courage, perserverance and it takes a good cause.

Call me polyannish if you will. I've known Jon and of his efforts for over a year and a half. A year and a half ago he was unkown and ignored.

At last count there are about 100 posts on this thread. There have been more than 1,000 views of the thread.

People are beginning to take notice.

Having been on the inside. I can tell you this, the pressure on those at the Atherton Town Hall who have broken the law is unbearable. They know that they can't hide behind apathy any more.

Jon Buckheit has moved mountains. Give the guy some credit. He's not in this for a paycheck. He's in it to make Atherton a better place.


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Posted by just a thought
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2010 at 9:06 pm

John:

Surely you're aware that you were unable to describe a process or means that is going to effect the ends you desire.

I will throw a party,I promise. I just can't see having the occasion.

But, I also sure can't see the future. Maybe you and Peter are right. I just can't see the means developing as of yet. And their power is unchecked.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 5, 2010 at 9:09 pm

Grimace? states:"a crime requires a motive."

Wrong - a crime simply involves breaking the law. Why you broke the law is irrelevant. Prosecutors do attempt to establish a motive when there is doubt as to wether an individual broke the law but motive is not a prerequisite for a conviction.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 5, 2010 at 9:13 pm

"Menlo Voter, it is not a crime to alter a police report. The Police Officer who testified at Mr. Buckheit's factual innocence proceeding said changes were made to the report by someone other than himself. That is not a crime. There are multiple people editing and approving reports, and multiple changes are made in the normal course of Police Officers doing their jobs."

Grimace:

that is total BS and you know it. I spent 10 years writing and filing police reports. NONE, repeat, NONE of them were EVER altered or modified in any way. If there was something that was incorrect in a report a SUPPLEMENTAL report was filed to correct any incorrect information. That is what is required by the chain of evidence. But, you know that don't you [portion deleted]? Of course, maybe in tiny town Atherton where the police seem tho think anything goes and there is no such thing as a chain of evidence, then yes, reports are probably routinely altered. That doesn't make it right. Nor does it make it legal. In my ten years I NEVER, repeat NEVER, had a superior modify or edit a report. EVER. If that is going on in Atherton, then your entire department has a problem, not just a few corrupt officers. This is not standard police procedure. I suggest you consult the California Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) if you don't think so.

Serioulsy [portion deleted], keep on digging. Your hole just keeps getting deeper.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2010 at 9:34 pm

[portion deleted] wouldn't have a problem with altering a police report because he's done it himself.

I've got copies of e-mails the Town tried to get back after it produced them in response to my public records request that serve as evidence of [portion deleted] illegal behavior.

[portion deleted] redacted the entire contents of his supplemental report he wrote on my investigation in an attempt to conceal this crime.

[portion deleted] is an example of an officer who was supposed to be a shining light for the Department. Instead he has become a symbol for the Department's ineptness and corruption.

I have filed a citizen's complaint against [portion deleted]. I am waiting for Chief Guerra to take action.

As far as "just a thought"'s question about process. The process is simple: pressure, continual pressure. These criminals will break. We don't know when and we don't know who, specifically. However, I know one of them will break because they are cowards.


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Posted by just a thought
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2010 at 10:03 pm

Menlo Voter:

Dang!

Now I respect you way more knowing that you are ex-law enforcement.

I know a lot of cops and people in support, and I don't think they're ok, I think they're amazing, exemplary people.

They, in their hearts, are ready to put themselves at risk everyday, day in and day out for the sake of citizens or to support those who do. This is my very definition of 'courage'.

But consider this: in this county, those type of people are NOT being promoted to positions of management responsibility. Only players get promoted. Brian Roberts would get nowhere in the Sheriff's Dept. and will never be offered Atherton. How do I deduce that? Monks. And the response of the law enforcement community to his clear openness to committing illegal acts. If the top (Monks) is that way, he came up through a process, and when the brass responds as they did to that incident, then you know what that process consists of. The good-hearted people in law enforcement are the ONLY people I believe who are able effect a change that really matters in a timely manner, by being willing to activate change from the power within the ranks. It's my best hope. Maybe you can get that process started.

And thank you so very much for being here and contributing your presence.


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Posted by just a thought
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2010 at 10:07 pm

John:

Understanding that bullies are cowards ain't much to hang yer hat on.

I await an event.


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Posted by Ed
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 5, 2010 at 10:13 pm

While The Grimace and other posters are on the topic of motives, here is one to consider.
If you had grown up in Atherton, with lifelong aspirations to one day be Chief of Police in your hometown, you would have enormous motive, now especially, and for the last many years to participate in any coverup necessary to protect and ensure that the Department continues to exist long enough to achieve this dream. The most nobel of intentions and expert surveillance prowess can still be subverted to blind ambition and or blind loyalty, especially if you are" just following orders" and are anxious to please. There are a few ex chiefs and several currently employed officers that I could easily bid good riddance to, but a story like the one above would be mournfully sad.


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Posted by Some thought-provoking questions
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 6, 2010 at 2:41 am

Here's a little story to think about.

Once upon a time there was a long-time Atherton police officer and manager named Glenn Nielsen. He really wanted to be chief. In summer of 2008, he promised if promoted to chief, he would stay on longer than the minute his 30-year pension kicked in. Jerry Gruber promoted him.

Nielsen then retired suddenly, just before the Buckheit factual innocence hearings.

[Portion removed]

Now we have a current police sergeant, a computer expert who landed himself on the REACT task force of the best and brightest computer experts in the bay area.

[Portion removed; speculation about an individual's motives and possible criminal behavior violates terms of use.]

No revelation from the Atherton police about the identity of who falsified the report for a year. The Almanac had to publish Buckheit's letter. Couldn't this computer expert have figured it out? Is Buckheit that much more of a computer hacker than he is? And if he did figure it out, but it's also all some big mistake having a honest explanation, why not just come forward and say so. Wouldn't that have looked better?

Ask The Grimace.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 6, 2010 at 8:13 am

Just a thought:

thank you for your kind words, but I don't think there is any change in Atherton that I can effect. The only way change is going to come about in the Atherton PD is when the town hires a strong City Manager and the town council grows a pair and both stand up to the PD and demand change. This will require a new Chief of Police as well. From what I have seen Guerra is not the man to straighten out the mess that is APD. He's had well over a year to do something about it and has done nothing. Now he launches an "investigation" when his hand is forced and he has no choice. Want to bet on the outcome of this so called "investigation?"


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Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2010 at 9:16 am

[Post removed; unsupported accusations of criminal behavior by named individuals violate terms of use]


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Posted by an onlooker
a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2010 at 10:53 am

Even as a stranger to the matter, I would have to advise that "Grimace", "Blue line crossed" and others who appear to be members of the police department be very careful what they write.

As "Menlo Voter," a former police officer pointed out, to make a statement: "it is not a crime to alter a police report" is an admission of guilt in itself. As anyone who was stopped for speeding, ignorance of the law is not a defense.


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Posted by just a thought
a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2010 at 9:41 pm

Menlo Voter:

I'm not taking that bet, even with huge odds, but you know that.

I was unclear and I apologize.

I was referring to the many exemplary Sheriff's Deputies.

Here in Santa Clara, when DA Carr got out of line with unethical behavior and instituting an outlandish boycott of a judge who sanctioned an asst. DA for lying and withholding evidence, the Merc. News was all over it and the DA's staff and the Sheriff's department linked hands to clean house.

This is what a healthy system looks like.

In my opinion, the body of officers in the Sheriff's Dept. are being discriminated against in promotion for possessing the very qualities we long for in leadership positions, so that political entities can use the Sheriff's Department for political surveillance and intimidation of dissenters. This is NOT a statement of fact. It is only my presumptive opinion.

If it is accurate, they represent the most empowered and motivated source of real change around.

The only other venue I can see is Peter Carpenter's systemic change, which I also endorse with enthusiasm.

Please consider this suggestion.


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Posted by random googler
a resident of another community
on Aug 17, 2011 at 1:42 pm

I'm a total outsider to the events in question, and happened randomly upon this page through a google search.

A resource I have not seen mentioned in the discussion is the FBI's color of law page here: Web Link

The key point is that there is a potential federal angle to go at this.

The google keywords I was looking for were "under color of law" "citizen's arrest" "police officer". Fortunately in my case, my interest was theoretical in nature. It would be a pretty gutsy move to make a citizen's arrest of a police officer for deprivation of rights under color of law, and take them to the local FBI office instead of the local police station. Not that I am recommending such an action. As I said, it was more of a thought exercise on my part.


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Posted by Noah Tall
a resident of another community
on Aug 17, 2011 at 11:32 pm

Thought exercises are great. I hope the current Atherton regime is exercising some thought about which police officers should work in Atherton and which should not.


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Posted by random googler
a resident of another community
on Aug 19, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Noah Tall,

Of course, the best solution is for the citizens of Atherton (and their elected representatives) to handle things at a local level. Corruption of the sort which seems to be going on here has a very corrosive effect on justice and democracy itself.

My essential point (which, after looking back at my post, I realized I failed to make as well as I could) is that, in the event of a breakdown in justice at a local level, there is always the option of bringing in the feds, analagously to the federal investigations in the deep south during the civil rights era.

I previously mentioned a hypothetical scenario involving a citizen's arrest, but the page I linked to also has a procedure for simply making a complaint to the FBI. Some of the people involved in this mess would seem to have cause to make that complaint. One would hope that an FBI investigation would make the local papers and possibly trigger the attention of the citizenry toward these matters. Perhaps that is naive, but I at least thought it was a point worth making, for the consideration of those directly affected by these events.


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