Letter to the Editor: To serve and protect

Letter to the Editor: To serve and protect

Letters to the Editor

With great concern, I read Ms. Turner's letter to the editor regarding her recent experience with APD at the site of her daughter's collision. I reviewed the call history and the collision report, spoke with the officers, and am now in a position to respond to Ms. Turner's allegations. Before I continue, I would like it to be known that Ms. Turner's daughter, by all accounts, was courteous and cooperative during the entire time we were in contact with her. My officers ultimately determined she was not intoxicated.

With all due respect, I believe the incident was mischaracterized in the letter. Here are the facts. Ms. Turner's 24-year-old daughter was involved in what turned out to be a relatively minor collision (although her car needed to be towed) with no injuries. However, that was not known until the officers arrived and investigated the incident. We received a phone report of the collision at 10:25 p.m. Two officers were dispatched at 10:26 p.m., which is standard protocol. The caller stated that two females and a male were standing by the involved vehicles, and it was unknown if there were injuries. The officers arrived at the scene at 10:27 p.m. Two additional officers were near the area, so they responded on their own to see if they could assist. If they were needed for another call, they would have been able to respond. Ms. Turner feels it was excessive. I call it teamwork and service. Two of the officers were there for about 30 minutes. The other two officers finished the investigation within an hour of the original call.

Shortly after contacting Ms. Turner's daughter, it was determined that she had been drinking prior to the collision. She admitted she had only one beer (a pint) with her dinner, but the officers' observations, along with her admission, required that they determine whether or not she was driving while intoxicated. This involved a series of field sobriety tests, or FSTs. Two officers are required to conduct the tests. Ms. Turner stated that the officers had to repeat the test four times because they "did not know how to do it correctly." This was inaccurate. One of the officers at the scene is a DUI expert, and the tests were done correctly. One of the officers is new to APD, and she did ask the expert officer to confirm her observations on one of the four tests. The FSTs were completed professionally and competently.

Ms. Turner stated that she was threatened with arrest for "asking questions" and that three of the officers were rude to her. What Ms. Turner may not know is that two of the officers had their digital audio recorders on for about seven minutes while they were speaking to her. Although I normally would not feel compelled to do so, I am making those audio files available to anyone who would like to listen to them. You will hear the officers warn Ms. Turner that she was "dangerously close" to being arrested for delaying/obstructing the investigation, not for simply asking questions. Ms. Turner's physical proximity was too close and the officers asked her to move away. She continued to interrupt and assert her daughter's rights and was delaying the investigation into her level of intoxication. On top of that, the actual cause of the collision, including measurements, still needed to be completed.

You will hear the officers ask her to please give them a couple of minutes to complete their investigation before they answered her questions. It appears Ms. Turner did not like what she was hearing, but I believe the officers responded professionally and appropriately. I encourage anyone to listen and decide for themselves. The officers were stern when they needed to be, but were professional throughout the investigation.

The collision investigation determined that the cause of the collision was an unsafe turning movement by Ms. Turner's daughter, which caused her to hit a parked car on the 1100 block of Park Avenue. An associated factor was that she was reading a text just prior to the collision.

Indeed, the citizens of Alameda pay our officers to serve and protect. If the officers had ignored the possibility of an intoxicated driver, I believe they would have failed in their mission. In this case, I believe they did EXACTLY what they are paid to do. I am glad that no one was injured, and I am glad Ms. Turner's daughter was not intoxicated. At the end of her letter, Ms. Turner asked if she overreacted. I know what my answer is. I'll let the readers of The Alamedan decide for themselves. Here is a link to the files: http://alamedaca.gov/police/audio-files (3).

Paul Rolleri
Interim Chief of Police


Submitted by Cturnover on Mon, Nov 4, 2013

I am fascinated by this letter. First, I sent the letter Mr. Rolleri, and have not heard a word from him. Second, the truth is one does not have to talk to the police. The officers lied about this by saying she had to talk to them. One of them finally admitted that I was correct, but not until they had continued to lie to me and my daughter over and over. As for the intoxication, the 'new' officer could not get her watch to work and kept starting over and finally asked for help. And a minute or two for me to talk with my daughter would not have 'impeded' their 'investigation'. Third, there was no need for four cars, nor could the officers give me a reasonable answer to the question. Lastly, I am not the least bit worried or embarrassed about what I said or did in this situation, as it was clear that these officers refused to allow her to make the choices she is entitled to, and turning their backs on me and refusing to give me their names or badge numbers was rude and disrespectful. Connie Turner

Submitted by Just Concerned (not verified) on Mon, Nov 4, 2013

She hit a parked car while texting. Next, it will be a child crossing the street. This was no accident - it was deliberate, worse than DUI. What have you taught your daughter Ms. Turner other than to divert fault at our fine police department.

Submitted by Rob Blaisdale (not verified) on Mon, Nov 4, 2013

After listening to the recordings it seems to me (seems, mind you, as I was not there) that the male officers were relatively patient with Ms. Turner, although somewhat evasive. After all, the woman was being naturally protective of her daughter as any parent would be in that situation, and she wanted to make sure the officers were acting appropriately. Perhaps Chief Rolleri's idea of teamwork can appear as overkill to a concerned citizen. One rarely sees more than two officers conducting a DUI test on a single individual.
The female officer however, was way out of line with her arrest threats to Ms. Turner. It sounded like she was just annoyed and didn't want to bother answering simple questions so threatening her was an easy way to shut her up. What would she have arrested her for? I wouldn't call what Ms. Turner was doing obstructing an investigation. As American citizens it is our duty to keep an eye on inappropriate police behavior and call them on it. If we don't, the day may come when we'll be sorry we didn't.

Submitted by Lloyd Dewolf (not verified) on Tue, Nov 5, 2013

Chief Paul Rolleri, after listening to the audio, I do think the *team* of *four* officers missed the opportunity to deal with the distraught mother with patience and professionalism.

Submitted by John Selander (not verified) on Tue, Nov 5, 2013

Having silently followed this exchange, regardless of the competing narratives, the audio files make clear that Connie Turner was aggressive and hostile towards the officers. Ms. Turner clearly attempted to obstruct an investigation into her daughter's accident. Her protestations of being disrespected seem wholly fashioned to absolve her very poor and abhorrent behavior. I do not find her complaints over police procedure particularly convincing or relevant. She seems to willfully misunderstand what her actual rights were (which were distinctly different than her daughter's, the individual actually detained), arriving at a strange misapprehension of what her role was during the investigation. Ms. Turner should act maturely and apologize for her conduct. From her response, it seems plain that she is not at all capable of reflection or contrition for her poor behavior. Instead, she seems intent on arguing a very unappealing and fruitless logic; seemingly more interested in public sympathy. Rather tellingly, none has appeared. In Alameda, news spreads quickly. Of those who know of this story, I have met no one who finds her narrative compelling. I suspect the audio files would only confirm their feelings. Thanks.

Submitted by BMac (not verified) on Wed, Nov 6, 2013

Cops don't Mirandize (read someone their rights) until they decide that they are going to arrest them.