Alameda County sheriff is shocked


Sarah Jane Holcombe, a graduate student in public health at UC Berkeley (and a neighbor of mine), was disturbed to see Alameda County deputy sheriffs using unnecessary force against peaceful student demonstrators. She's not alone -- a lot of people on campus have been upset about police conduct during the demonstrations. But Holcombe did more than grumble -- she wrote to Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern to complain. And she got back a remarkable message that says a lot about what the elected sheriff thinks about the protesters.

Here's Holcombe's letter:

Dear Mr Gregory Ahern,

I find myself just stunned and appalled at the behavior of your police in Sproul Plaza, and as a Berkeley student, have lost respect and confidence in the Alameda County Police Force.

Who are these Officers?  Where were they trained?

Perhaps more to the point is, why are you authorizing such blatantly violent and anti-democratic behavior?  This shows such bad judgement that I wonder why you are the head of the Alameda County Police Force.

Finally, what are you doing to address the gross problems and violations evident in Alameda County Police Officers' behavior?

My confidence and trust in you and your force is now very low.

I look forward to your response.

Ahern's letter back, sent within two hours:

I am shocked too.  I am shocked educated individuals who violate laws do not expect to be arrested. I am shocked that people who speak of peace in our society attempt to do harm to law enforcement personnel. I am shocked that some protesters throw rocks, cement, bottles and paint at law enforcement. I am shocked that protesters throw urine and feces at police officers.

I am shocked at the vulgar language used at my staff.

I am shocked that people like you make judgements about law enforcement without knowing all the facts and without asking questions prior to making judgements and assigning guilt on those prior to any investigation.

When the protesters follow the laws of our society and our lawful commands we have no issues.  Many of the protesters speak to us and provide us with their legal intentions to march and we assist them.

Let me tell you staff has done nothing wrong. They have assisted this community in allowing their free speech and right to assemble. We have provided protection to thousands of individuals and allowed them to practice their rights while some of those same individuals insult us. We have provided traffic blocks so people could march safely. We have protected buildings and provided escorts to frightened citizens in the area of the protest. We have escorted special need individuals and eldery from areas of the protest. We have assisted handicapped people to safety.

In each use of force that my staff has used has been in direct response to direct actions of individuals. We have not and do not and will not just use indiscriminate force. Each use of force is documented, reviewed and subject to further review of command staff. Indiscriminate force is not tolerated. Do not judge my people from news reports or YouTube videos.

I beg you to come to our training.  I will provide you full access, I will answer any of your questions.  I will prove we do our job correctly and according to national standards.  Let me know when you can show up at our training.

It was signed Gregory Ahern. I called his press spokesman and he confirmed that this was Ahern's message and represents his position.

Actually, Sheriff, I didn't see many reports of protesters at Cal doing anything to harm police officers. And to simply say "my staff has done nothing wrong" without listing to an evaluating any complaints that might be filed seems, well, a rush to judgment.

And honestly, were there "frightened citizens" at Berkeley who needed to be escorted from buildings? Was beating up a poet appropriate use of force?

Sheriff Ahern has made his decision. Already.



Fuck you and the four horses you and your hooded brethren rode in on.

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Nov. 26, 2011 @ 6:45 pm

Thanks for the straightforward response that sheds light on the the nonsensical jabber coming from these occupy freaks. There's a reason their not working. It's not that hard figure out why. All they have to do is LOOK IN THE MIRROR. It cracks me up that these clowns think they represent any semblance of Americanism. If they want to know a more accurate representation of me, my neighbors, friends, and my ideological counterparts as well foes, get the hell out your minute little world and OPEN YOUR EYES. A good place to start perhaps is to take a look the men and women who really represent the expanse of Americanism -- those who are in the military who deserve and thankfully are getting more sympathy than the irrelevants in the this occupy thing. I say thing because I'm still quite sure what their message is. I say irrelevants because its clear to me they have no clue how truly irrelevant they are to those most who are watching!

Posted by JC on Nov. 26, 2011 @ 7:44 pm

I guess english is your second language, in which case you did pretty good.
So what do you think about the latest developments in Pakistan.
Have you already, or do you plan to sign up and serve.
Thank god many of our Service Wo/men are finally coming home safe. Though unfortunately, according to latest reports, over 30% will be suffering from severe PTSD, and those who have already returned are not getting the care and services they need. Many of them have ended up homeless and on the streets, or isolated in grungy SRO's, I know because many of my patients have been Vets trying to survive under these circumstances.
But I guess gung-ho armchair chicken hawks don't give a damn.
FYI. One of the 'messages' of the "Occupy" movement is that our priorities need to be redirected towards 'serving human need not corporate greed'.
I'm curious to know whether you would be willing, or able, to give us your definition of "Americanism". For example does it include adherence to the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Just my 2c.

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Nov. 26, 2011 @ 8:34 pm

War is hell RN. This chicken hawk certainly knew what I signed up for when I chose to serve this country. I have friends like you describe, that is sad. But ask any of them why they went and they will tell you to defend the Constitution and Bill of Rights of this Republic. I did not always agree with some of the orders I was charged to follow, just as I'm certain the Police Officers would have rather done something else during the protests but an order is an order.

Just sayin.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2011 @ 8:28 am

A reasonable response, thank you. While we may not agree on 'tactics', most of us 'old-timers', and the 'young'uns', are also fighting to preserve the C & BOR.

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Nov. 27, 2011 @ 9:11 am

Patrick, his response was the same one given by Nazis at Nuremberg...

Posted by anonymous on Nov. 27, 2011 @ 2:24 pm

I know, I just keep hoping that occasionally honey may be more effective than vinegar, when I see an opening and a chance to possibly communicate across the divide - I go for it, generally in vain.
...though obviously this is not the case of someone who finds me 'more hateful than any redneck or southerner he/she has ever met', chacun a son gout.

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Nov. 27, 2011 @ 3:16 pm

It is amazing that all of you who so vehemently protest, and support those who protest, and are then confronted with cold, hard facts, must resort to name calling when bested in this comments section.

1) Pepper spray (And other chemical agents) are low end on the use of force ladder (These people refusing to elave and obstructing public passges and property were NOT sprayed with nitric acid)

2) If you can't stand the idea of having to take responsibility for your actions, don't get invloved in these protests. You'll only get hurt and have to go crying home to Mama.


3) Would you rather these "JackBooted thugs" really used jackboots, rubber hoses, and other impact weapons to move passive or active resisting people? In the next 10 years, you'll see devices that shoot heat waves, ultra sonic waves, and other EXTREMELY uncomfortable effective mechanisms that will forever silence your cries of "FOUL!"
But, until that day, Cops will rely on the same actions they've used for the last century to arrest and control people who want to prove a point.

If you want to resort to name calling as a way of "Winning" your argument's point, you are dire need of sensitivity training.

For the Students who have been so injured by all this, let me simply invite you to occupy your seat in the classroom you paid to attend.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2011 @ 8:30 am

And dear writer of this article, I see you have made up your mind. Already.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2011 @ 9:35 am

Occupy my ass. Losers, actually you are the 1% of natural selection on your way out of the human gene pool. Go away. Tax dollars wasted. Oh and shame on the cities for offering these crap bags anything!!!

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2011 @ 10:34 am

"VIOLENCE": swift and intensive force; rough or injurious physical force, action or treatment; an unjust, or unwarranted exertion of force or power; a violent act or proceeding; rough or immoderate vehemence, as of feeling or language; fury.

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Nov. 27, 2011 @ 11:52 am

Excellent letter by Sheriff Ahern! I challenge each and every one of you whiner's to take him up to his offer...shouldn't be a problem, right? Or will it conflict with your protesting schedule? Actually, I don't think you really want an answer to all your complaints or just want to continue complaining. If proven wrong, you would have nothing to complain about...then you'd have to find something else to protest about.

It's very simple: police have a job to do, which is in part to keep the peace and protect society from thugs and vandals like you. You all cause disturbances and break the law. You provoke and instigate the cops and then turn around and try to play victims and claim to not have done anything. Well guess what, we law abiding citizens want to live in peace, and we support law enforcement and are grateful for their patience and tolerance of your crap and for keeping US NORMAL LAW ABIDING CITIZENS AND OUR BUSINESSES safe from you guys.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 7:41 am

"The horror scenarios that you raised simply never happen in peaceful protests like this. Your scenarios are laughable." I guess you didn't hear about the three cops that were bitten by protesters or the cop that got his face slashed with a box cutter, or the one that got the brick to the head?

Mr Brooks, you continue to demand "links" (cause you're too lazy to look anything up) but when provided with accurate information, your response is "The horror scenarios that you raised simply never happen in peaceful protests like this. Your scenarios are laughable." So, you're telling me that I have to take your word for it, right? Just because YOU say it "simply never happened," that means it really didn't happen? The fact is, you know damn well that you are wrong. If you're not happy with the responses in this forum, go take the Sheriff up on his offer so that you can see first hand how things are done. Otherwise, go back to your activist job (aka unemployment) and leave the cops alone.


Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 8:06 am

Well this all was very entertaining (or should I say laughable), but I do have to go to work now... Try it Mr. Brooks.

Thank you Law Enforcement for all you do and continue to do. RIP Office Capoot.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 01, 2011 @ 10:52 am

Can anyone define "PEACE OFFICER?" 4 STARTER'S?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 31, 2012 @ 1:29 am