the dark side of that funny little police blotter
Atherton, California is consistently one of the USA's top three most expensive places to live, and is (moderately) famous for its police blotter, which features an ongoing parade of first world problems.
I have in no way, shape or form "hacked" Atherton or its police department to produce this site. Every bit of it was gathered from public records put out by the Atherton PD. All posts from the Atherton police Wordpress blog were carefully massaged into one large JSON object. Incident categories and dispositions have been normalized where possible; corrections or properly-sourced additions will be gratefully accepted. To see an archive of exactly what I was looking at, please download the original site.
Try It Out
While it's fun to giggle at all those suspicious circumstances, mysterious disturbances, construction complaints, parking hassles, and miscellaneous town ordinance violations, the data takes a sobering turn when we examine vehicle code violations from February through July of 2013.
- 175 out of the 182 drivers cited have Hispanic names.
- Almost nobody from Atherton ever gets a ticket. Here are the stats:
- Redwood City: 96
- East Palo Alto: 23
- Menlo Park: 11
- Atherton: 2
- At least 64 result in the vehicle being left at the scene.
- At least 31 result in the car being confiscated. Cars towed under 14602.6 VC (20 on this list) are impounded for 30 days, costing around $1800 ($180 to tow, at least $50/day to store, $130 to bail) to recover.
- If you'll look on a map, you'll notice that El Camino Real crosses Atherton at its narrowest point. 56 citations were issued along less than a mile of road in under six months. 43 more were written on Middlefield Road, the other main access from Redwood City to points south of Atherton.
- Why were so many (over a hundred) of these citations filed as misdemeanors instead of infractions, under 12500(a) VC instead of 12500? A misdemeanor charge means that the subject must report for booking, including mug shots and fingerprints, and will retain a misdemeanor arrest on record unless (massively expensive and time-consuming) legal action is taken.
- Where are the non-Hispanic drivers? Are they all let off with warnings, or are they simply never pulled over in the first place?
- On July 23rd, the Atherton police department quit providing updates.
- Portions of Atherton's police blotter can still be found in the Daily Post and crimegraphics.com. All information about "subjects" has been stripped from the latter.
- This isn't a new thing. The Internet Archive shows entries going back to 2010 featuring HMAs and HFAs (Hispanic male and female adults) being cited for 12500(a) violations.
I'd sincerely appreciate it if discussion wound up on Hacker News.
Following Up: Menlo Park, 7-7-2013 to 8-7-2013
Here's a month's worth of police blotter data from Menlo Park, the city directly to the south of Atherton. This came from Menlo's Police Log Archive, which are (sadly) only available as PDFs, and are pretty much locked down to the last 30 days. For this report we're looking at any event containing the word "license." Menlo Park has a lot of 14601s with confiscated vehicles, but please note the much wider-looking distribution of ethnicity.
I am informed by a city councilman that full data will be online shortly; when it shows up I will do my best to pull down the same date range that I'm using for Atherton. Everything from the days I'm studying is available here and definitely worth checking out; we've lived in the bordering community of East Palo Alto for the last five years and can say from experience that the Menlo Park police department is an exemplary force for good.