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Police Auditor Reveals existence of Palo Alto Police Code of Silence

From: domainremoved <Tony>
Date: Tue, 1 Nov 2016 03:43:47 +0000

Excerpts of Palo Alto IPA Report in Italics
Case # 5:
Factual Overview:
This case was generated internally by PAPD executive command in the aftermath of an arrest and related use of force.

An officer who was on scene (but not present inside the garage) became aware of rumors and concerns that he brought to the attention of Department management within days of the incident. More specifically, there were allegations that not only had unreported force occurred, but also that a supervisor had subsequently and intentionally deterred his team members from sharing required information about their actions........

The allegations of a “code of silence” directive from the supervisor – in the form of text messages to team members – formed a separate and significant component of the case.........
Additionally, the officer who was responsible for initiating these allegations brought forth other claims of past misconduct by the same involved supervisor. These included inappropriate statements during training activities, failure to report another accidental K-9 bite of a PAPD officer during a deployment, the countermanding of orders from a Department executive in the...
context of a team operation, and instructions by the supervisor for team members to remain quiet about poor tactics during a multi-agency response in an outside jurisdiction, so as not to undermine PAPD management’s willingness to participate in mutual aid events.................

........were not always as persuaded by the supervisor’s explanations as PAPD executives turned out to be. Additionally, we found that the investigator..........was seemingly reticent during the administrative interview of the supervisor when it came to follow-up questions and further clarification of key points.

The investigation also produced substantial corroborating evidence regarding the “code of silence” allegation and three of the other claims about prior events. (Evidence established that the supervisor had not been involved at all with the fourth allegation, which related to a previous case of an accidental dog bite.) Nonetheless, the Department determined that ambiguity regarding the supervisor’s intentions, and the potential for actual or willful misinterpretation by involved subordinates, was such that no conclusive determination of formal misconduct could be sustained.


Case # 3:
Factual Overview:
This matter was brought to the Department’s chain of command by the District Attorney’s Office when it reported that a PAPD officer had told prosecutors that he had problems with the probable cause relating to a traffic stop and ultimate arrest initiated by a PAPD supervisor. The stop was initiated by a PAPD supervisor who had observed damage to a vehicle and also observed the vehicle speeding and failing to signal prior to pulling the driver over.

Based on additional observations such as the distinct smell of alcohol emanating from the vehicle, the supervisor determined that the driver should be field tested for driving under the influence. Another officer was called to the scene and performed sobriety tests on the driver. Based on the field observations made by the officer, the driver was arrested for driving under the influence.

The matter was eventually set for a preliminary hearing and the second officer was subpoenaed to testify. The officer then sent an email and had telephone conversations with several prosecutors in which he expressed concern about the probable cause that was alleged to have formed the basis for the stop. As a result of those communications, the Office of the District Attorney contacted the Department, which initiated an investigation into the matter.

Outcome and Analysis:
The PAPD investigation found that the vehicle stop conducted by the supervisor was appropriate and consistent with the Fourth Amendment and Departmental policy. The internal investigation further found that the officer had violated Departmental policy by making false and/or misleading statements questioning the propriety of the actions of the supervisor.2

IPA concurs with PAPD’s findings. The extensive investigation established that the supervisor had a legal basis to stop the vehicle in question. Moreover, the allegations made by the officer to the Office of the District Attorney against his supervisor questioning the propriety of the vehicle stop amounted to false or misleading statements.

While the conduct of the supervisor on the date of the arrest was found to be appropriate, one allegation that was learned by PAPD relative to this incident was not, in our estimation, sufficiently explored and addressed. The supervisor described having been approached by another officer shortly after the incident, and being told that the officer who eventually complained to the District Attorney’s Office had issues with the probable cause of the stop. However, there is no evidence from the investigation that the supervisor either addressed this matter with the officer or brought the allegation to the attention of Department executives. Instead, it wasn’t until nine months after the incident, when the District Attorney was preparing for a hearing, before the allegation formally surfaced.

Given the seriousness of the officer’s claim, the supervisor’s inaction in response to first learning of it struck us as perplexing. One would expect that a supervisor whose integrity is potentially being called into question by a subordinate would not let such an allegation go unchallenged or unreported.

In our view, this aspect of the scenario merited some response from the Department; PAPD protocols and policy obligate supervisors to ensure that appropriate notifications – and, if necessary, investigations – occur in the aftermath of a situation like this one.

The supervisor’s ultimate status as the “victim” in this matter may have influenced the Department’s assessment and contributed to the bypassing of this question. We also recognize that, from a conduct perspective, it is significantly less egregious than the false statements that drove the case forward. Nonetheless, in our view, this element merited further attention – whether formal or informal – in an effort to improve future performance.

 (So the subordinate officer was never disciplined for the false statements, Why? If they were actually false, why wasn't he disciplined? Perhaps the subordinate officers' statements are true and he doesn't want to be involved in a conspiracy and therefore there is no justification to discipline the subordinate officer and also explains why the supervisor never challenged the subordinates assertions that contradicted the supervisor)
Tim Pierce v. City of Palo Alt et al, Case number 5:15-cv-06117


IV. Taser Case
Factual Overview:

The one Taser use case of this review period stemmed from the search for, and ultimate apprehension of, the suspect in a residential prowling/attempted burglary case. Officers responded to a call for service in daytime hours from a homeowner who not only spotted the suspect on his property but also followed him long enough to take a cell phone photograph.

(Good thing citizen obtained photographic evidence)

When they had covered a few hundred yards, the suspect abruptly turned around and came back in the officer’s direction. At that point, the officer perceived a threat. He warned the suspect, per policy, and then deployed his Taser. The prongs struck the suspect in the back and lower buttocks area.
(Major Contradiction)

In this case, the interview led to several significant concessions by the subject, who admitted that he was intentionally defying the officer’s orders and that he heard the warning before the Taser was deployed. He did, however, deny that he turned back during the pursuit in order to aggress the officer. And he made a point of noting (accurately) that the prongs had hit the rear of his body – not the front, as might be initially be expected from the officer’s description of events and his justification for deployment. Moreover, the subject initially maintained that the officer did not have a justification for detaining him, which meant that his refusal to cooperate was justified.

Full IPA Report


Blue Ribbon Panel: SFPD culture a bar to reforms
A three-judge panel investigating reports of bias in the San Francisco Police Department determined institutional racism and bias exist among officers and the biggest hurdle to change is the department’s culture.
The Blue Ribbon Panel on Transparency, Accountability, and Fairness in Law Enforcement, which found the department has little real oversight, took strong aim at the Police Officers Association, which panel members said essentially runs the department through a culture of “us against them” and attacks anyone who goes against the so-called thin blue line.
The SFPO union’s head, Martin Halloran stated:“ Gascon, (the District Attorney), organized this whole charade to publicize his inflammatory claims of widespread racism in the Police Department, when in fact the problem is much more limited in scope. This panel is nothing more than a kangaroo court orchestrated by Gascon and the three puppets he handpicked.”

Legal Officers Section
Annual Conference
International Association of Chiefs of Police

By Neal Trautman
The National Institute of Ethic

1. The police Code of Silence exists.
2. Some form of a Code of Silence will develop among officers in virtually any agency.
3. The American criminal justice system and in particular law enforcement, has been negligent by not attempting to resolve the negative impact the code.
4. The Code of Silence breeds, supports and nourishes other forms of unethical actions.
5. Because the code is an essentially natural occurrence, attempts to stop it all together will be futile.
6. The Code of Silence in law enforcement is more dominant and influential than most other vocations or professions.
9. Whistle-blowers are generally not supported by the administration of law enforcement agencies.
11. The Code of Silence among administrators, although better camouflaged and less well known, is more destructive than when non-ranking personnel do the same thing.
15. The Code of Silence typically conceals serious law enforcement misconduct for years before the corruption is revealed.
16. Some officers who participate in the Code of Silence rationalize their behavior by convincing themselves that what they are doing is not actually hurting anyone, while others intentionally replace the facts with a self-serving version because it is emotionally painful to admit the truth.
17. The majority of officers who have been in law enforcement for several years have directly participated in the Code of Silence.
18. The Code of Silence is prompted by excessive use of force incidents more than for any other specific circumstance
21. The “Us versus them” mentality is usually present within the minds of those who participate in the Code of Silence.
26. A culture which acts as fertile ground for the destructive features of the Code of Silence to grow is one that promotes loyalty to people over integrity.
31. Leaders themselves lie at the core of both the cause and solution to corruption and the Code of Silence.
32. The “rotten apple” theory that some administrators propose as the cause of their downfall has frequently been nothing more than a self-serving, superficial façade, intended to draw attention away from their own failures.
36. The intentional ignoring of the Code of Silence by leaders is primarily caused by two problems: a lack of knowledge and self-centeredness.
37. Some leaders do not do more to improve ethical problems such as the Code of Silence because they believe bringing attention to their integrity needs could hurt them personally.
38. Hypocrisy and fear often dominate the culture of a law enforcement agency that has a substantial negative Code of Silence.
40. At its worse, a destructive Code of Silence is both condoned and privately encouraged by supervisors and administrators.
44. Some police agencies have shown they are incapable of policing themselves.
54. Officers should be fired for not reporting officers who commit criminal acts.


Groupthink members see themselves as part of an in-group working against an out-group opposed
to their goals. You can tell if a group suffers from groupthink if it:
A. overestimates its invulnerability or high moral stance,
B. collectively rationalizes the decisions it makes,
C. demonizes or stereotypes outgroups and their leaders,
D. has a culture of uniformity where individuals censor themselves and others so
that the facade of group unanimty is maintained, and
E. contains members who take it upon themselves to protect the group leader by
keeping information, theirs or other group members', from the leader.

Janis has documented eight symptoms of groupthink:
1. Illusion of invulnerability –Creates excessive optimism that encourages taking extreme
2. Collective rationalization – Members discount warnings and do not reconsider their
3. Belief in inherent morality – Members believe in the rightness of their cause and
therefore ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions.
4. Stereotyped views of out-groups – Negative views of “enemy” make effective responses to
conflict seem unnecessary.
5. Direct pressure on dissenters – Members are under pressure not to express arguments
against any of the group’s views.
6. Self-censorship – Doubts and deviations from the perceived group consensus are not
7. Illusion of unanimity – The majority view and judgments are assumed to be unanimous.
8. Self-appointed ‘mindguards’ – Members protect the group and the leader from
information that is problematic or contradictory to the group’s cohesiveness, view, and/or

Tony Ciampi


Is the Police Auditor Up to Par? | Palo Alto Free Press<http://paloaltofreepress.com/is-the-police-auditor-up-to-par/>
Several takeaways from Palo Alto’s latest Independent Police Auditor’s report to be officially submitted to City Council on January 11, 2016.

Received on Mon Oct 31 2016 - 20:48:56 PDT

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