Police Chief shocks council members by quitting, says he’s lost their trust

Menlo Park Police Chief Dave Bertini

BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer

Menlo Park Police Chief Dave Bertini unexpectedly announced today he was retiring during an online town hall meeting regarding policing, saying he has lost the trust of council.

Bertini made his announcement after Councilman Ray Mueller asked him how the police department can build a better relationship with residents.

Bertini, who has headed the department since 2018, said that he thinks it’s time for the city to have a “fresh start” and that the only way to do so is by him retiring.

“It is obvious to me that I have lost the trust of council,” Bertini said.

Council members were clearly shocked. Mayor Cecilia Taylor called for a 15-minute break since it was the first she had heard of Bertini retiring. The council has since gone into an emergency closed session meeting to discuss Bertini’s retirement.

Bertini said he is staying on until July 30 to allow for City Manager Starla-Jerome Robinson to find an interim police chief.

“I’m sorry and God bless to the men and women in Menlo Park Police. I am sorry to them and thank you very much,” Bertini said before turning off his video.

Pick up today’s Daily Post for more details about this story.

 

50 Comments

  1. The CIty Manager should be the next to leave. Very nice person. Not someone you want leading the city out of these crazy times. She doesn’t want to open the city back up because she is scared of the virus. Staff has lost confidence in her.

  2. Sorry to hear the police chief decided to leave rather than face criticism. Many of the community members at the town hall and city council meeting did express a desire for reform, rethinking and transparency. However, city council seemed to be committed to working with him in executing review and reforms. I logged off a few minutes before his resignation but the discussion had been very civil and open for the time I was “in” the meeting (till roughly 6:45)

  3. It must be hard to be a policeman these days. When people are arrested they often make unfounded allegations against the police in the hopes they’ll be let out of the charges. So they all say stuff like ‘I can’t breathe’ when obviously they can breathe or they couldn’t talk.

  4. I remember Menlo Park Police Chief Dave Bertini in 2018 when he got nominated for the job saying his priority would be “traffic enforcement”. It showed a total lack of understanding of the right priorities: protect and serve! I hope the city will take this opportunity to rethink the whole department strategy, priorities and goals. Filling up the city coffers is not and should never be one of them! It’s time to drastically reduce the number of police officiers and have most of what they used to do handled by people and organizations better equipped and trained for that. Them responding to domestic disputes, noise complaints, homeless loitering, littering, and responding too late for burglaries, etc… is a waste of our tax money. Same for the spending in the militarization of the department. The solution is to put the money in making sure the homeless get homes, the mentally ill get the treatments they need, the petty thefts burglars get jobs paid enough to allow them to live and sustain a family, the bored young people who destroy property get occupations like sports, training, learning, etc… The rich should not get richer and want more, more, more police, the poor poorer and become the homeless, the sick sicker and engorge our emergency health system, and our youth more discouraged and not going to or dropping out of – expensive – colleges… All the money spent on police, the army and wars could solve all of these problems… It’s a matter of priorities at the federal, state, county and the city of Menlo Park levels. Council members and the mayor have a great opportunity to show what America should be about when choosing their next police chief. As a reminder, it’s not divide and conquer, it’s protect and serve… I can’t wait to hear what the priority of our new police chief will be. Thank you for listening.

    • You prioritize out of balance. In the long run, it seems like all what is going to be attempted is replacing a police group with another police group. But in this current state of mind, this replacement group is better just because they don’t want to fault others for wrong doing? Or they think that everyone should go to some mental health treatment to take the “criminal mind set” out of them? Communist/Marxist ideas won’t solve the problem. Giving those with a mindset to do harm, destroy, commit “petty” thievery and kill is not solved with a social program. Homelessness is a condition that is caused by various factors. It can be drugs, mental health and even just plain ol desire to be homeless (I know of some who have that desire and are). There’s a concept out there that gives the idea that we should have a society free of law and doing what we desire from the heart; no restrictions. The thought of a utopian society is so ill conceived. The issue lies at the heart of man and social programs and lack of law enforcement are not going to rid of what man can conjure up with his thoughts. It’s like a paper bandaid which will disintegrate at the bend of a joint. Order and leadership are needed. Leadership with the right mindset towards fair treatment, right treatment or all people (the doers of good and the doers of evil) and order with laws that punish the evil doer to protect the citizenry.

  5. Are you KIDDING me?!
    CHIEF Bertini made traffic enforcement a priority because traffic accidents were becoming all too routine and fatal.
    I cannot BELIEVE this liberal noise; reform what exactly? Rethink what exactly? Transform what exactly?
    You have NO IDEA who it was that joined that zoom meeting. This is a coordinated attack on communities’ trust faith and confidence in a well working police department.
    And for you west side girls that have been rolling up to MPPD officers and saying “F* the police”, you’re a waste of my time.
    You should be ASHAMED of yourselves!

    • Seriously, you are praising his traffic reform and ranting at liberals. Are you a white 90 year old male? Are you even aware of what is going on in our country with people of color and the police? You should be ashamed of yourself for your ignorance and total lack of understanding. I imagine if you were black a/o had a black son, you wouldn’t be ranting about the liberals. Your comments lead me to believe you are a conservative, so please tell me how you could have voted for a “man” who bragged about grabbing [genitalia] and has double digits sexual assault complaints against him?

  6. Guardians of Peace not Warriors of intimidation and degradation: the spirit and priorities in training and policies of policing that Menlo Park and all communities in the US deserve.

    It may have been good for Chief Bertini to remain in the role and work through police transformation. Nonetheless, as a community, it’s time to stand up and work for true reform, at the minimum to start by being compliant with 8cantwait steps for better measurable outcomes. We would be better served to modify our city policing scope of work and redistribute our budget to involve community Social Services to proactively help those with mental health and potential substance abuse concerns as well as to respond to Urgent calls in situations that are not violent but simply need immediate attention and assistance. As a community, we have work ahead of us. People of Color and the marginalized within this town have not felt safe here. Let’s all engage and help build the future Menlo Park that we can all trust, enjoy, and benefit in.

  7. traffic enforcement, that sums it up. how many time have we had a good experience when interacting with the police. The police is now a para military force, costing many municipalities an arm and a leg, for limited results.
    Time to overall the whole police force, starting with renegotiating pay and benefits to be based on customer satisfaction.

  8. Thanks to the police unions, cities pay a lot to their police. It averages to about 30% of a city’s expenses. Which is a lot. A result of this extortion is that cops can retire in their prime with a lavish paycheck, often equal to 90% of their last pay, for the rest of their lives. With such a sweetheart deal, why even bother answering uncomfortable question?

    • These contracts were negotiated through the Police Unions and the Cities they work for. They are based on prevailing wages and the exuberant cost of living in the Bay Area. These Officers put their lives on the line every time they put on a uniform. Anyone can apply and go through the process of testing and hiring. Written, physical, oral, psychological, polygraph, background, and medical tests. Give it a try. I don’t believe many will be.

  9. I hope Menlo Park City Council will join the growing ranks of cities on the Peninsula to interview and seriously consider Black and Latino candidates for their next Chief. There are lots of career cops of color that would love to bring their kids home to a safe neighborhood with good schools in Menlo Park with this level of compensation:
    https://transparentcalifornia.com/salaries/search/?a=menlo-park&q=police&y=2018

    And good luck to ex-Pacifican and ex-Chief Dave Bertini wherever he goes next.

  10. Clearly there is a lack of leadership going on in MP. How many people have jumped ship since Jerome Robinson took over as City Manager? The trail is long. 2 executive level employees have left during the pandemic alone. And what is she doing for MP residents? Keeping everything closed until January, I hear. That’s right- there are no plans to open up services despite the shelter in place order being lifted. Bertini saw the writing on the wall and is getting out. We can only hope Jerome’s resignation is next.

  11. One doesn’t quit one’s job completely out of the blue. My guess is he’s got another job lined up, with better comp and job description, and perhaps in a more affordable location. We’ll see in weeks to come.

  12. There is a need for a police force. But the police force in place — not just in Menlo Park but in San Mateo County — needs to be replaced. The culture is so corrupt that they behave like they are the law (often, above the law). They have forgotten that they are here to protect and serve the community.

  13. BYE, MP needs a police chief who won’t quit when things don’t go his way or things get too tough. Quitting in the middle of the meeting was childish and clearly her is not the person for the job. Please go work for another city.

  14. Over the last few decades police departments across the country have armored up and hardened up to be prepared to face the worst case threat. Our police officers now carry guns, tasers, pepper spray, batons, handcuffs etc and are properly trained to use each of those items. The unfortunate result is that they often respond to calls with literally tens of pounds of “defensive” equipment” and their appearance and training can unintendedly escalate minor situations into potentially deadly conflicts.

    We as a community need to deescalate this situation – it serves neither the interests of the community or of the fine police officers who serve us.

    Please let’s redesign Menlo Park’s public safety function so that a much smaller group of well trained and properly equipped police officers can serve us to protect us from criminals. And then let’s create a well trained, unarmed public safety force that deals with the issue of the homeless, neighbor disputes and civil infractions.

    The Chief’s decision is an excellent opportunity to create a new vision for public safety services in Menlo Park:

    1 – Separate criminal offenses from other public safety service functions,

    2 – Establish a new Menlo Park Public Safety entity to deal with non-criminal public safety issues including disaster preparedness,

    3 – Contract with the Sheriff for criminal policing services and include clear language regarding the permissible uses of force and deescalation protocols when serving Menlo Park.

  15. Cecilia Taylor and her former campaign manager, Karen Grove, have succeeded in pushing the police chief out. They can put Bertini’s head up on the wall like a hunting trophy. Score one for the Black Lives Matter-Antifa side.

    The town hall meeting was completely one-sided. Grove made her allegation about Bertini uttering a slur with no evidence, no tape or witnesses. And Bertini wasn’t allowed to answer her.

    It was a set up. A set-up created by this year’s mayor, Cecilia Taylor.

    Not only wasn’t Bertini allowed to respond to people during the town hall, but after he said he was retiring, Mueller wanted to bring him back to talk to council and Taylor wouldn’t hear of it.

    That’s a terrible way to treat your police chief. But, hey, it looks great to the “woke” Menlo voter, right?

    Now who will want the job of police chief? Yes, Bill Dixon will take the job on an interim basis, but he doesn’t want to be chief permanently. So Menlo Park will have to recruit somebody.

    Why would an accomplished police officer, who has an excellent career record, take the risky job of Menlo Park police chief, where he or she can have their reputation trashed by politically ambitious council members and their allies with no evidence? Why would a great chief candidate go to a city were the council cowtows to Black Lives Matter and Antifa?

    Normally in a city government, the city manager hires and fires the police chief, like any other department head. But this time the mayor did it. It’s now her job to find a new chief. It’s the Pottery Barn rule: You broke it, you bought it.

    • Byron, don’t you think Ray Mueller played a role in this “set up,” as you put it. The question Ray asked Bertini was loaded — how can the police department build a better relationship with residents? The question implied there was no relationship between police and residents, or a poor relationship. I think the police do an exceptional job reaching out to residents, participating in events, bike rodeos, speaking to groups, etc. Anybody who is critical of police can sign up for the citizens police academy. But Ray was kissing off all that work and acting as if they were starting from the beginning. I can see how Bertini felt as if his work was disrepsected by council after a question like that.

    • Terrible- can you please link so we can listen- I heard they were very disrespectful but the written media played it off like they were surprised and then took a 15 minutes break.

  16. “The question Ray asked Bertini was loaded — how can the police department build a better relationship with residents? The question implied there was no relationship between police and residents, or a poor relationship.”

    Wrong. Ray simply asked how that relationship could be improved and did not state that there was no relationship or a poor relationship.

    In my dealings with the Chief I found him to be a badge and gun chief who had no interest in a less confrontational style of interaction with the community.

    • Peter- do you have a link so we can listen to the meeting? The meetings are normally on tv- but I have a sense they won’t air this one.
      I heard they were very disrespectful.

  17. Menlo Park has become the joke of the Peninsula thanks to years of truly awful government. Our police, on the other hand, have been exceptional. Now this. Our downtown is filled with drunks and homeless. There is a guy with a desk, chair and light near B of A and he is there every day. No one does anything! He frightens children. We have 15 vacant stores now, with more closing weekly. This is all the fault of our incompetent, abysmal city council.

  18. I cannot believe what I am actually reading in these comments. Chief Bertini runs a transparent, hard working, and professional police department. Those officers are so well trained and professional. Do you people in Menlo Park even know how good you have it compared to other cities?? I encourage all of you to attend a citizens academy, go on a ride along, SPEAK to a police Officer in your city. I’ve never seen a department do more to create good relationships with its citizens. I would love to live in a community as safe and as clean as Menlo Park, where you actually get a response from officers, but unfortunately, I can’t afford it. So keep complaining someone stole your amazon package, ignore the fact that you have virtually NO violent crime in your city, and keep your head in the sand as to how amazing and incredible your police department really is.

  19. What a damn shame. I’m saddened but not at all surprised how many great cops are walking away. Who would want to be a cop now or in the future. Careful what you wish for people
    – you will soon reap what you sow. Good luck.

  20. 10 blacks were killed by police in 2019. 7,000 blacks were killed by other blacks in 2019. George Floyd invaded a pregnant black woman’s home and held a gun to her stomach. He had meth and Fentanyl in his system upon arrest, if that was even him, as attorney Timothy Japhet says George Floyd died 3 years ago. In his porn videos, he has masonic tattoos.

  21. I wish to opine to the fundamental question posed by the esteemed Council Member Ray Mueller, “How can the Police Department improve the relationship with the community ? “

    One only has to look to the past and the reforms instituted to the reforms instituted by Menlo Park Police Chief Victor Cizanckas whose tenure began in 1968, which too was a very turbulent time in America. Chief Cizanckas “demilitarized” the Police Department. One of his fundamental tenets, were Officers of the era donned Blazers instead of the traditional Police uniform. After detailed research into the subject, it was abundantly clear, without his reforms the City of Menlo Park would’ve become a barren post-apocalyptic landscape as a result of widespread lawlessness, looting and arson.

    Bottom line, Chief Bertini isn’t “woke” enough to command the Menlo Park Police Department.

    Simple solution since it’s clear it’s time for change, adopt the Black Lives Matter approved “8 Can’t Wait” , pass meaningless legislation and the city council can grandstand and eventually declare victory to there constituents.

  22. Compelled to write as a member of the MP community.

    After over a decade in the City of Menlo Park and with established relationships with a number of young people of color, here is what these young people will tell you: the MPPD has the worst reputation in San Mateo County for “driving while brown or black, walking while brown or black, bicycling while brown or black.” These young people have either worked for me or are their family members or friends of friends. I was left speechless when I would hear thier stories.

    We were just given an opportunity by Mayor Cecilia Taylor to listen to the stories, take it all in and perhaps work together to create a new relationship. Our Mayor never demanded anything, she asked this City to just listen. LISTEN. Take it all in.

    It was an opportunity to hear the stories and hopefully work with the MPPD to build a bridge between the truths of those wrongfully profiled and the young people of our world asking for a much needed change in the way our communities are policed.

    Is it wrong to ask for more transparency in police operations?

    is it wrong to want to learn more about concerns and complaints and, as a community, request additional information?

    Is it wrong to question the police unions that so fiercely and sometimes wrongfully protect this force when any misconduct is brought forward? Are we all awarded those same types of protections in our own lines of work?

    Why was it so hard for the MPPD to address the concerns of the young people that have gathered? Not once did they respond with, “what has happened to George Floyd, Amaud Aubrey, Breonna Taylor and the others was wrong, and we know this profession can do better. Instead we heard, “ride along with us, see what our jobs are like.”

    I end with this: Mayor Taylor did the absolute right thing by bringing this issue front and center. She has lived this, she represents a community that has been overlooked by the City, and this issue is now finally being addressed by this community and this nation. She did the right thing by asking for us to listen, learn and change.

    • Oh Brother! How do you know “the truths of those wrongfully profiled” were actually truthful? When you set up a town hall the way Taylor did, there’s nobody there to ask questions or to give the other side of the story. How do you know you have the “truth” when only one side of the story is allowed to speak?

      “Is it wrong to ask for more transparency in police operations?” Who is saying it’s wrong?

      “Is it wrong to question the police unions that so fiercely and sometimes wrongfully protect this force when any misconduct is brought forward?” What’s wrong with hearing both sides of the story?

      It’s easy to accuse the cops of wrongdoing when they’re not allowed to respond, as what happened the other night.

      An activist like Karen Grove accuses the chief of using a slur, and Taylor doesn’t even let him respond.

      Taylor is only interested in one side of the story. That’s why she argued with Ray Mueller about bringing back the chief to respond to this.

      It feels to me like the mob has taken over our city council, and the citizens who respect and support the police are being ignored. Menlo Park is in deep trouble.

      • Jordan- that is too funny- after reading that comment my immediate response was the same, “Oh Brother”
        Your right- God help us. I don’t know Taylor but from what I am hearing, sounds like I am lucky not to. Shameful. Putting people in office just because they are black (or ANY color), is not the answer.

  23. It is very telling that when faced with that input from the community, which was solicited in an open forum, Council Member Mueller simply asked the Chief how the Police Department could do better and , instead of rising to the opportunity and helping lead to a better response, he simply threw up his hands and quit. That is NOT the kind of person we need leading our police department at this time!

    I found the 4-5 PM Thursday telephone Town Hall to be a revelation and a much needed insight for me as a very safe, very old, very white male that all is not well in my community and now I have to take ownership of that fact.

  24. What a tragedy to lose you. We are so sorry to see you leave Chief Bertini and thank you for your service to our city. God Bless and so sorry for what the police are going through (minus the officers that are actually “not” good officers and DO need to be taken off the force). I trust that those officers (if any on our force) will be removed.

  25. Way you go Chief Dave Martini, aka father Dave. You were a class as a sgt while in sb40 and by you dedication and principles you are elevated to a higher level, good luck and God bless you sir.

  26. Racial bias goes both ways. If you’re a white person and you have a conversation with Cecilia Taylor, it’s hard not to feel that she has some kind of grievance against you. I don’t know how she gets all this animosity against people she doesn’t even know. I imagine that the chief felt this too, which is why he said he didn’t think he had the confidence of council any more.

  27. “f you’re a white person and you have a conversation with Cecilia Taylor, it’s hard not to feel that she has some kind of grievance against you. ”

    I am very white and I talk with Mayor Taylor frequently and I have never felt any animosity on her part towards me.

  28. The city manager should be supervising the police chief, not the five council members. None of these council members have any experience managing a work force as large as the MPPD. But council cut the city manager out of the chain of command and began dealing directly with the chief. Bertini probably thought he was now working for five uniformed, inexperienced political hacks and decided to pack it in.

  29. “But council cut the city manager out of the chain of command and began dealing directly with the chief.”

    Wrong. The City Manager participated in both the telephone Town Forum and the Council meeting. The Council was NOT providing direction to the Police Chief nor did the Council ask for his resignation. The Police Chief chose to resign.

    • Is this the same Peter Carpenter whose MPFPD board was unable to reach an agreement with its firefighters for 11 years and then was harshly penalized by PERB? That Peter Carpenter is offering advice to Menlo Park? Next.

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