Calls to reform, defund police dominate council conversations

During last week’s Los Altos and Mountain View city council meetings, the cities’ respective police chiefs shared their plans for reviewing department policies amid national protests against police brutality. 

Local leaders offer ‘message of unity’

The agencies that police Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View have released statements condemning the actions of police officers involved in the killing of George Floyd May 25 and promising better law-enforcement practices than those displayed during that incident. 

Law enforcement, city leaders issue statements of solidarity to protesters

Police_9231
Town Crier File Photo
A Mountain View police officer and a Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office deputy team up during a traffic enforcement effort. Both local departments have issued statements against the Minneapolis police officers involved in the killing of George Floyd May 25.

The agencies that police Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View have released statements condemning the actions of police officers involved in the killing of George Floyd May 25 and promising better law-enforcement practices than those displayed during that incident.

Los Altos Mayor Jan Pepper, Police Chief Andy Galea and City Manager Chris Jordan signed a “message of unity” released on social media Wednesday (June 5). Addressing their “Los Altos friends,” the three leaders called the movement an act of “justifiable outrage” caused by a shared grief over Floyd’s death.

“What we witnessed does not embody these values upheld by our city and police department,” the message said. “We do not teach, support or condone this behavior and take pride in our police officers serving with humanity and respect. Los Altos officers are trained to de-escalate situations for the safety of every individual involved.”

Pepper, Galea and Jordan acknowledged that the relationship between law enforcement and communities nationwide has been “tainted” and will take time to fix. A pledge to continue to learn how to “police better” was included.

Peaceful protest is a citizen’s right, the leaders said in the joint letter, but they requested people to “unite as one to respectfully honor the life and memory of every person whose life has been unjustly stolen away” and not replicate the looting and rioting that have occurred in other cities.

Mtn. View shows support

The Mountain View Police Department issued a statement Monday (June 1) highlighting the city’s diverse population and how it should be used to acknowledge challenges as well as “work together to build one another up and move ever forward.” Mountain View Mayor Margaret Abe-Koga directly called Floyd’s death a result of institutionalized racism that plagues the country and applauded Mountain View for its efforts to “ensure it is a community for all.”

Police Chief Max Bosel issued his own statement just a few days prior as “a solemn vow to uphold the expectations of the community regarding officer conduct.”

“This aberrant, inexcusable, and inexplicable incident has angered the policing profession,” Bosel said. “It goes against the tremendous service many peace officers across this nation perform each and every day.”

Deputy Police Chief Chris Hsiung added that officers should always act in accordance with the oath they took their first day on the job: to protect and serve.

“We, as a profession, must honor that,” Hsiung said. “We must be better. We must never stop trying to be better. And we must continue to build trust and dialogue with the communities we serve.”

Mountain View officials concluded their statement with a link to the department’s policies, procedures and policing plan. All can be accessed at mvpd.gov.

Hills vows to build trust

The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, which serves Los Altos Hills and several other cities, posted a statement from Sheriff Laurie Smith May 29 that called Floyd’s death “disturbing” and “heartbreaking to watch.”

“Let me be clear that the actions of a few officers do not represent the brave men and women that selflessly serve and protect the county of Santa Clara,” Smith said. “The Sheriff’s Office remains dedicated to building trust and continuing our partnerships with the community.”

For coverage of local protests scheduled this week, follow the Town Crier on social media – @latc on Twitter and @LosAltosTownCrier on Facebook. For the most up-to-date information on demonstrations in the area, visit losaltosonline.com.

New wave of catalytic converter thefts hits Mountain View

It’s almost become a cliche: Whenever an Ed’s Tow and Cradle tow truck pulls into a Toyota dealership or a body shop with a Prius aboard, the query posed to the driver is nearly always the same.

“Is that a cat?” 

House fire displaces Hills residents

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Courtesy of the Santa Clara County Fire Department
Santa Clara County Fire Department vehicles line the road outside a Mora Drive home as firefighters extinguish a fire there Thursday morning.

A Los Altos Hills family – including two cats – escaped injury Thursday (May 21) morning when their home caught fire. 

Fatal Los Altos shooting possibly motivated by jealousy

Days after the fatal shooting of construction worker Roberto Rivera in a Los Altos backyard, his suspected killer attended a party where he allegedly confessed the crime to a friend, according to court documents released this week. 

Police make arrest in Los Altos murder case

Highlands shooting
Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Cyclists pass a Los Altos Police Department vehicle on patrol on Highlands Circle Thursday afternoon.

Los Altos Police detectives have arrested a Redwood City man in connection with last week’s murder of Roberto Rivera, a mason who was shot to death while working at a south Los Altos home. 

Email records show MV police investigated child predator for two years before arrest

Although Mountain View police reported they acted on a cyber-crime tip received in January to aid in the arrest of an alleged child molester last week, resident Steven Callister blew the whistle on the suspect in 2017, according to emails he forwarded to the Town Crier.

Victor Miller
Miller

“Do you know if the Mountain View detective made any headway in the case or if they’re still looking at it?” he asked police spokeswoman Katie Nelson in one email from 2018.

Nelson responded to Callister at the time, confirming the investigation was ongoing and thanking him for his help.

So when a press release the department issued last week said the investigation into 27-year-old Victor Miller – who offered his services as babysitter on the Care.com website – began at the beginning of this year, Callister was upset.

Nelson explained the discrepancy, noting that investigation was “arduous” and only completed when Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office deputies recently took Miller into custody on an unrelated weapons charge.

“Contacting a suspected predator prior to the ability to arrest them is rarely done in investigations due to this simple fact: If we make them aware that they are in any way under investigation, they destroy the evidence and we could no longer have a case,” Nelson told the Town Crier. “Suddenly, everything goes out the window.”

Callister initially alerted Nelson of his suspicions about Miller two and a half years ago after a Care.com representative allegedly called Callister and his wife and told them not to speak with Miller, whom they had hired as a babysitter vetted through the service, or allow him in their house. Miller, who used the name “Allen M.” on Care.com at that time, had been banned from advertising on the site.

But Miller repeatedly showed up on the site using a series of aliases after multiple account suspensions, despite Callister’s pleas to Care.com representatives to investigate him.

As the Mountain View police investigation continued, detectives learned in 2018 that Miller had moved out of Mountain View. His Care.com profiles placed him in Santa Clara and Sunnyvale, but his exact whereabouts were unknown.

While it is not illegal to create multiple accounts under different names on a website, it would be illegal to enter Miller’s home and search his electronics and account history, according to Nelson.

Building a case

Detectives worked on the Miller investigation for two years to build their case. The District Attorney’s Office, neighboring cities and county partners were aware of the department’s monitoring at the time.

Callister reached out to the Mountain View police and the Town Crier simultaneously in the days following Miller’s arrest. An officer walked him through the timeline Monday (May 4).

“It was very clear that they had filed warrants and actively worked to try and get Miller even before the (January tip),” he told the Town Crier in an email. “That being said, I do think Care.com dropped the ball here and could’ve done much more instead of playing ‘whack-a-mole’ with Miller’s accounts.”

Care.com did not respond to requests for comment prior to the Town Crier’s deadline.

Miller remains in custody after a judge denied his bail request Saturday. He is charged with two counts of attempted lewd and lascivious acts involving children, contact or communication with knowledge and intent to commit specified offenses, two counts of possession of child pornography, distribution of child pornography and arrangement of a meeting with a minor for purposes of engaging in certain lewd and lascivious behavior.

Police urge anyone with knowledge of the case or other potential victims to email detective Angelica Espitia at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For the Town Crier's original coverage of Miller's arrest, click here.


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