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Letter: "Having An Albany Police Officer Do Nothing Put A Really Bad Taste In Our Mouths"

One reader expresses frustration about a near-accident with cyclists on San Pablo. Albany Patch welcomes guest columns and letters to the editor via email at albany@patch.com.

[Editor's Note: Albany Patch would love your 300-word letters to the editor. .]

We were almost run over by two speeding bicyclists, on the sidewalk near the Mechanics Bank driveway and Nizza La Bella, last week just shy of 7 p.m.

The real kicker was that the bicyclists were heading directly at an Albany Police car, turning onto Washington, from San Pablo.

We couldn't believe what we saw next.

Despite res ipsa loquitur and my concomitant ministrations, the officer just kept on going.

So did we.

All the way to Bucci's.

That wasn't our first bike incident on the San Pablo sidewalk near Nizza, but having an Albany police officer do nothing put a really bad taste in our mouths, and we just had to leave the area.

--Bob Hink

Caryl O'Keefe September 14, 2012 at 08:39 PM
My experience with Chief McQuiston and the APD does not match Steven Steve's comments. Since Albany amended its charter to appoint rather than elect the police chief, APD has increasingly used modern policing standards, including ongoing public outreach efforts. I attribute much of this to Chief McQuiston's leadership. It helps that he has selected good lieutenants and Community Outreach person. There are various ways to voice any concerns directly to police, such as "coffee with cops," tweets, a phone call to the Chief, and via their Facebook page (Albany Police Dept). Asking questions or expressing concerns can be very informative. The one time I followed up with police on why they did not do something I thought was obvious, it turned there was a very good reason for what seemed like non-action. It's not clear how easily that information would have been shared had I broached the conversation with snide insinuations.
Steven Steve September 14, 2012 at 09:30 PM
@Caryl - Not surprising your experience would be different than the rest of us as you are in a position which could exhibit power and influence over McQuiston. The 'public outreach' which you tout as one of the 'increasingly modern policing standards' has been the standard for decades in other cities...some EVEN next door to us. While it is modern for McQuiston (and you apparently) it has been considered a staple of civil governance for sometime now and I am shocked this is the criteria you use to exemplify McQuiston's leadership. While it is true, there are other venues which can be used to voice our concerns; they, as you point out, often lead to explanations rather than solutions. A leader finds solutions and does not give excuses or have others give excuses for them. I will leave the mud slinging to the you and the politicians and not return the favor but I think these were an overkill 'snide' or 'insinuation'; it is interesting how your framing my comment like that though. More concerning, is how you (our public representative) so quickly jumped to the defense of McQuiston using you own personal experiences as a politician. In such a leadership position, I would have expected you would be more aware that you are experiencing McQuiston very differently than the rest of us.
K September 14, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Maybe the police officer was on the way to a more urgent situation.
Peggy McQuaid September 14, 2012 at 10:46 PM
@Steven Steve, I am confused by your reference to Caryl as a "public representative" and one who is "in a position which could exhibit power and influence over McQuiston" What public posittion does she hold?
Steven Steve September 14, 2012 at 10:59 PM
Peggy - Caryl is on several committees within our small town. She was also endorsed by APD back in 2010 (http://albany.patch.com/articles/letter-to-the-editor-albany-police-endorse-caryl-okeefe-for-city-council). And she is quite active in our political scene. I could go on and on if you need, but I am not sure if a sticking point is whether or not she is or is not involved in our local politics. I think the answer is obvious, as is the reason for the type of comment she made here.
Peggy McQuaid September 14, 2012 at 11:43 PM
Please note, the APD does NOT endorse candidates. The Albany Peace Officers Association made the endorsement.
Lizz Bronson September 15, 2012 at 01:50 AM
If someone has a complaint or an issue with the department, they can always walk in and talk to the supervisor on duty. If that doesn't work, call or write to the police chief. Or file a report at the department. Or talk to the next officer they see. That's it. It's that simple. There is always someone at that department willing to help, or listen to what you have to say. If you aren't satisfied with the answer you get from someone, ask someone else. Alot of the officers with Albany are really dedicated people who want to do the best they can. I sincerely believe that for Albany PD to be most effective within the community, us citizens must do our part too, and that includes effective communication to the department about issues that concern us.
Steven Steve September 15, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Peggy - Your comment is meant to mislead, imo. The APOA is made up of APD.
Brian Parsley September 15, 2012 at 02:14 AM
Steven I don't believe Peggy's comment was meant to mislead, it was clearly stating there is a difference between the Albany Police Department and the Albany Police Officers Association. The APOA is a collective bargaining unit that represents some APD employees, but not all. As a collective bargaining unit, the APOA is free to endorse candidates or propositions that they believe benefit them, just like the Albany Teachers Association, SEIU, AFSCME, or any other union have in the past. The Albany Police Department is a City of Albany department and can't endorse candidates. While it may seem like splitting heirs there is a significant difference.
Mr. Malarkey September 15, 2012 at 03:23 AM
Morale is low. Cops are quitting and going to other cities. They tell me it sucks to work here. In short, they don't care. Get it?
Caryl O'Keefe September 15, 2012 at 06:00 AM
@Steven Steve, we see things very differently. I am not a politician. Being appointed to civic committees does not make me a “public representative.” I am sure I have no power over any City official. In my comments above, “increasingly” modified “used”, not “modern”. In no way did I point out, or even imply, that “solutions” rather than “explanations” were needed when I raised a question with police. Let's let the PATCH readers draw their own conclusions about the tones of posts on this thread. Thank you Lizz Bronson for your points.
Steven Steve September 15, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Brian - I think Peggy's note and your explanation are actually examples of splitting hairs. APOA is the Representative body for the APD. And while it does not represent 'ALL' of the personnel for the APD, the title of the article I cited clearly shows that others also see the two as synonymous. I also think Peggy's comment was meant to mislead because, she was accentuating that 'APD does NOT endorse candidates' and that it was the APOA which made the endorsement. But, excluding the rather important fact that APOA is made up of APD. Makes it appear as though the APD is not involved in this endorsement, and while a legal case can be made for this point. The fact that the members of APD and APOA are the same people, for any real world discussion, means the APD endorsed the candidate via the APOA. Hence, my points still stands as to why Caryl O'Keefe made the comment she did. http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/split+hairs
Steven Steve September 15, 2012 at 06:04 PM
@Caryl - Whose interests do you think you represent on these civic committees, if being appointed to them ' does not make me a “public representative.”'??? O.o? Yes, Patch readers already are drawing their own conclusions, so I am unclear as to the point of that part of your comment re: tones. Also, I think you meant the opposite of what you wrote here. " In no way did I point out, or even imply, that “solutions” rather than “explanations” were needed when I raised a question with police."
Brian Parsley September 15, 2012 at 06:08 PM
So following this logic, when the Albany Teachers Association endorses a candidate it is actually the Albany Unified School District endorsing a candidate?
Steven Steve September 15, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Brian - No, to correct your example. "when the Albany Teachers Association endorses a candidate..." it could be said that the Albany teachers are endorsing a candidate.
Brian Parsley September 16, 2012 at 04:48 AM
I suppose then when the Albany Police Officers Association endorses a candidate it could be said that the Albany Police Officers endorse a candidate and not the City of Albany Police Department.
Emilie Raguso September 16, 2012 at 05:09 AM
Via the city - The City of Albany is initiating a "Complete Streets" planning process for San Pablo Avenue which is intended to identify opportunities for safer pedestrian and bicycle usage along San Pablo Avenue within Albany. The planning process is made possible by a grant award received by the City. Details about the upcoming planning process can be found on the City's website (this item was also distributed at the Solano Stroll: http://patch.com/bvdNa The City also issued a Request for Proposals for consultant assistance with the planning process. The RFP documents can also be found on the City's website: http://patch.com/bvdMZ
Steven Steve September 16, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Brian - Truly, I respect you and your comments are ones I look forward to reading as I find them insightful. That said, I believe your exhibiting the same error in logic as I pointed out Peggy was using to be misleading. She claimed that APOA was wholly different than the APD when considering 'who' made the endorsement of O'Keefe. But she omitted the fact that it was the APD makes up the membership of the APOA. For your comment, I would say the same error exists. Your saying it is the Albany Police Officers who are doing the endorsing, while excluding the fact that the Albany Police Officers are the people/members who make up the APD (who then also make up the APOA). I believe if the APD can not endorse a candidate; then, to maintain uniformity, an individual from the APD can not endorse a candidate as a Albany Police Officer, but they can endorse a candidate as a 'generic' Police Officer (where they may state in what city they work). But this really is just really more of the same process of muddying the waters behind a infinite process of splitting hairs. As I said before, and is obvious from the title of the article I cited, the public perception of O'Keefe being endorsed by the APOA is that the APD is doing the endorsement (while legally, the endorsement from the APOA provides the appearance of APD being apolitical). This clearly, is not the case when O'Keefe's comments are reviewed; both above and through out the public record.
Steven Steve September 16, 2012 at 05:52 PM
McQuiston's elite leadership in action, I wonder if the other two prognostications will come true. ^.^ http://albany.patch.com/articles/letter-having-an-albany-police-officer-do-nothing-put-a-really-bad-taste-in-our-mouths#comment_4710928
Alan Riffer September 16, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Steven Steve at 10:47 am on Saturday, September 15, 2012 - You said that the APOA is the representative body for the APD. Wrong. The APOA is the representative body for the employees of the APD (except for the Chief). The APD is an organizational unit of the City of Albany. The Albany Teachers Asociation is the representative body for the teachers of AUSD. Your later comments are based on your false premise.
Robert Marshall September 16, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Didn't it used to be illegal for cyclists over the age of 16 to use the sidewalk? I know it's been a really long time since I was in Driver's Education. However, I thought I remember something like that from many Moon's ago.
Steven Steve September 16, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Alan - I made that distinction here http://albany.patch.com/articles/letter-having-an-albany-police-officer-do-nothing-put-a-really-bad-taste-in-our-mouths#comment_4723225
Zack M. September 16, 2012 at 08:18 PM
Robert, there's no statewide rule on the issue, it's up to each city to determine their own regulations on sidewalk riding - it varies a lot by city and even part of the city (some cities only restrict sidewalk riding to downtown business areas, some don't at all), which no doubt leads to some confusion.
Randell September 16, 2012 at 11:48 PM
I have no problem with the Albany Police force and greatly appreciate their service. However, it appears that both Albany and Berkeley police do not like folks who ride bicycles as they are clearly trying to make them believe it is OK to run stop signs.
Amy Smolens September 17, 2012 at 06:03 AM
@Randell. Please. As Maureen points out, it's not fair to generalize about any group due to the behavior of some. Do you really believe that every motorist who exceeds the speed limit in Albany is ticketed? Let alone every motorist who hits a pedestrian or a cyclist? There are pedestrians, cyclists, motorists and dog-walkers who disobey the law. Some get ticketed, some don't. Albany Strollers & Rollers is heavily involved in cycling education, working in cycling classes and bike rodeos with Albany students to teach them to ride lawfully and safely. We created a bike lights program four years ago and have sold almost 600 lights and given away almost 1500 for free, more than half of those installed free of charge on school kids' bikes by volunteers. We're distributing our "Check for Bikes" vinyl clings, designed to create awareness among motorists of cyclists on the road, leading to safer driving and cycling. We're working on solutions to problems. We'd love anyone out there to help us with our current programs or bring us new ideas.
Randell September 17, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Amy - Thank you for the info. I ride a bicycle daily and my comment is based on 10 years of observation. I am glad there are organizations like Strollers and Rollers, however, I am concerned there are a lot of people who believe it is OK to run stop signs when riding bikes because the police allow it. Flagarently.
Tim Q. Cannon September 17, 2012 at 05:35 PM
I saw a jogger with a stroller in the bike lane on Marin yesterday...I figured him for a Darwin award winner....
You Enjoy Myself September 17, 2012 at 05:55 PM
ǝɯoɹpuılɐd ɐ sı lol
Stephanie Travis September 20, 2012 at 02:27 AM
I have twice had direct contact with Albany police officers. Both times officers responded very quickly and took my concerns seriously. Frankly, I could have not asked for better and quicker service from any police department. I have never held any office in Albany, either elective or as an appointment, so I think it’s safe to say I was not given special treatment. I don’t know how the system works in Albany, but I understand in many cities priorities for ticketing are not set by individual police officers but either by an entity like a city council or a police chief, at the behest of an administrative body. If people feel bicyclists (or any group) are given a pass in Albany when they break the law then I think they should find who sets priorities for the Albany police and make clear to the City they want a change in how laws are enforced. As it’s the City Council that controls the police budget, I suggest you start there. It is my opinion the childish remarks made by some in the comments on this issue are neither helpful nor original. I think we should remember that unlike any other professions in this City, the bottom line for fire fighters and police officers is they are expected to put their lives on the line to protect our children, our property and ourselves. Constructive criticism is one thing, however, vacuous belittling remarks may make the writer feel better but in the end they achieve nothing but soil the tenor of the discussion.
Tatter Salad November 06, 2012 at 02:46 AM
Last week, on San Pablo, 2 blocks north of University my neighbor was riding on the sidewalk. A Berkeley cop cut him off ( stopped him), asked for I.D. and told him that riding a bike on the sidewalk was illegal. Back-up showed up as well for the incident. As I've said before: Albany didn't know how good they had it when the Police Chief answered to us, and not the City Manager. Public relations (the 'Elvis' bit; 'baseball cards' of the officers were all in vogue; President Clinton singled out Albany PoPo for an award). He was an advocate of logical Police work conducted at the Sargent level; his priorities were 'carefully listening to citizens' as he walked about on Solano Ave. (or encountered them at the RaceTrack LOL!). Part of the reason he was given the boot was his inability to contain 'overtime' hours of his men. In the last 6 months, there has been a GREAT DEAL of overtime, -performed in lieu of NOT hiring extra uniforms. McQuiston is good, the uniforms like him, he does exactly what the City Manager asks of him and doesn't rock the boat... even when it would be in Albany's best interest that he does.

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