October 19, 2018
link to facebook link to twitter
More Stories
Frightful, fun, free Halloween activities Public invited to give input on Downtown RP Site Scrappers Steal Win Rancho Cotate Band fundraiser BBQ New interim superintendent Cotati Chamber of Commerce Oktoberfest Big changes to big project in Rohnert Park Cotati approves tree lighting Students at University Elementary discussing the labyrinth R P Foundation gives grants to NOAH and Petaluma Bounty The Cougars defeat the Jaguars at homecoming RP local, Petri Alva, 14, a nationally recognized athlete Seawolves serve up a victory 3.0 quake shakes Rohnert Park Cardinals rout Cougars Fire storm anniversary Arrests and charges target Apple stores It wasn’t an easy fight but Rancho wins again Annie Rasmussen Celebration of Life Sidewalk repair gets big break from City of RP Lowerys help with campaign Cotati residents decry lack of enforcement Spreckels and Alchemia connects community RP Safety Dept. climbs in remembrance of 9/11/18 Another tough break for roller derby RP fireworks to be added to agenda Cougar to Bear — Simmons’ new pelt SRJC picks up local quarterback Third pedestrian struck by SMART train Little ones with big Polynesian dancing spirit Rohnert Park waiting for approval for canine program The biggest little parade in the U.S.A. celebrates the 4th It’s not quite tennis, nor is it pickle ball, but rather something in between. SweetPea celebrates 31 years Football in full swing, 3rd win Cotati votes opposition to oil leases 3.0 quake shakes RP Polynesia celebrated at annual Pacific Islander Festival SC neighborhood sues illegal pot grower Yes on Measure W will keep fire stations open 98 cited in traffic enforcement program RP Public Safety report card Emergency Alert System Test Sept. 10 & 12 Enjoying ribs A seed of thought grows into a peace garden: Burton garden completed RP residents provide input in police chief search Imitating major leaguers A taste of nostalgia – Penngrove’s Power Up! Event RP’s new interim police chief Forum hosted by WLV for RP City Council candidates Penngrove Community Church celebrates 120 years Police officers inspect inside of car Cotati Accordion Festival still a hit after 28 years Kid’s Day Parade celebrates our hometown heroes March for the blind highlights need for more accessible sidewalks Kids and firefighters compete in RP Cougars slay Dragons Rohnert Park Bike & Pedestrian Committee adds new member How to help victims of wildfires Plan approved for Station Ave. park Revisiting those who lost it all: October wildfire victims still on the road to recovery New principals 2018-2019 SMART celebrates a year of service Penngrove native set for amazing voyage Back to school for Rohnert Park and Cotati Office of Civil Rights agreement closes investigation of special ed complaint Penngrove grassfire destroys buildings Supply giveaways lend a hand to families RP to host community forum for public safety director search Search still on for A&L Market robbery suspect A unique university for dogs: Bergin University makes Hatchery and Green Mill buildings its new home RP waits to make update to emergency alert system SSU names new police chief International students continue to flock to SSU’s Language Institute RP Health Center celebrates anniversary

Busy night for RP City Council

By: Katherine Minkiewicz
July 27, 2018

After much discussion Rohnert Park City Council members decided to give the go-ahead for the altercation of the city’s facility and park naming policy, which will eventually allow residents to recommend park names based on famous RP citizens as a way of memorializing those who did good in the community. Yet, perhaps one of the more popular agenda items was the closed session item, which was held to discuss and carry out counsel regarding four cases, one of them the alleged seizures of cash and marijuana near the Mendocino County border by a Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety officer, which has shaken residents and Sonoma County media. Council members could not report on any details of the closed session portion of the meeting. 

Rohnert Park Police asset seizures

Earlier this month The Press Democrat reported that a former Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety sergeant, Brendon Tatum, was under investigation for the seizure of copious amounts of cash and drugs 40 miles north of Rohnert Park near the Mendocino-Sonoma County line.

Tatum was allegedly the lead in the department’s operation of cash and valuable seizure of suspected law breakers, which brings in a profit of millions. According to a July 9 article in The Press Democrat, the total amount of confiscated items came to a whopping $2.5 million, more than any other police agency in Sonoma County.

But what is really turning heads is the questionable case that launched the investigation back in April, the supposed wrongful seizure of a Mendocino motorists’ marijuana, who claims his property was wrongfully taken by unidentified officers, according to the article.

Normally state mandates allow for the confiscation of items (civil asset forfeiture) from a person if officers have reason to believe the person is suspected of a crime such as drug trafficking and can be charged and prosecuted; however, if an officer were to take an item without ever pressing charges or with lack of reason to believe the person was involved illegally with drugs, then that may point to wrongdoing. 

The man who claims his property was robbed, Zeke Flatten, told The Press Democrat that he has been trying to figure out who the unidentified officers were and what agency they were from, as they supposedly made the stop in an unmarked car.

As reported in the same article, Flatten said he first thought the officers could have been tribal police from The Hopland Band of Pomo Indians; however, in February, about two months after the traffic stop, his name appeared on a RP Department of Public Safety police report and Tatum was cited as the author of the account. 

Tatum has since left the department, the investigation is still ongoing and RP residents are questioning the department’s police work.

Since news broke of the controversy, The Voice has received numerous letters to the editor, all expressing their shock and disappointment in the so-called incident. 

Liz Reyna wrote, “As a resident of Rohnert Park, I am very interested to know why our police officers were some 40 miles north of Rohnert Park when they got involved in seizing assets from citizens, including cash and marijuana. I am also very curious why our police department continued to practice civil asset forfeiture when most agencies scaled back or discontinued the practice… I would like our elected representatives to take responsibility for the agencies they supposedly oversee.”

Another resident, Vern Smith, wrote in a letter published in The Voice last week, “I am not only shocked, I am also disappointed after reading all of the news about a Rohnert Park police officer, paid by the taxpayers of Rohnert Park, patrolling a 40-mile stretch of Highway 101 looking for pot dealers… I am shocked that a time the city was short of officers to protect the citizens and property of the City of Rohnert Park, such an operation was taking place.”

According to a July 14 Press Democrat article regarding the ongoing saga, more people have come forward claiming their property was wrongfully taken and their rights violated.

City officials have had their lips sealed tightly shut, but met behind closed doors Tuesday to discuss the controversy with legal counsel.

Council members held the closed session for about an hour and 15 minutes and after finally emerging from the conference room at around 9:10 p.m., said there was no reportable information.

Altered park naming policy

Before council members went into closed session, they discussed a more benign item, the possibility of making changes to the facility and park naming policy that would allow parks to be named after a historic citizen following a submitted and approved recommendation.

Currently many parks throughout the city have names based off of the section they are located in. For example, the park in M section is dubbed “Magnolia Park,” and the park in H section is called, “Honeybee Park.” 

Most city facilities are also simply named according to geographic location, such as Ladybug Recreation Center in L section.

However, according to the agenda item report prepared by Cindy Bagley, Community Services Manager, the city also has “an established history of recognizing community members through various means as a way of honoring these individuals and memorializing the city’s history.”

With this is mind, the city hopes to either rename the Goldridge Recreation Center, Five Creek Park, or Willow Glen Park after Maurice Fredericks, the co-founder of Rohnert Park.

Following the presentation, city council members indicated they wanted to rename Willow Glen Park after Fredericks.

There are already several city facilities named after notable RP residents, such as the city’s first mayor, Pete Callinan and Dorothy Rohnert Spreckels.

Cities throughout the North Bay and beyond also have policies that allow them to name parks and buildings in honor of certain residents, according to Bagley.

“We did look at 11 other cities — some very small like Apple Valley and some very large like the City of Stockton. It did appear that pretty much every single one had a pretty similar process to Rohnert Park… based on geographic locations and in honoring significant people,” Bagley said.

Council members unanimously expressed interested in implementing the new naming policy, which would, “give a formal mechanism to receive and accept donations of park improvements in memory of people along with a maintenance plan.” However, they did mention that they want to be able to give the honor of naming parks and facilities not just to the deceased, but also to the living.

Council member Gina Belforte said of the plan to honor Fredericks, “I wish we could have honored him earlier, but I am glad we are doing it now.”