Menlo Park Police Department

This past July, Chief Dave Bertini took over command of the Menlo Park Police Department. Chief Bertini is beloved at City Hall, where he prior served as a Police Commander in various roles, as Interim Police Chief, and even as Interim Human Services Director when the need arose. I thought Menlo Park residents would enjoy getting to know Chief Bertini a little more and asked him to sit down for this interview.

Ray: Chief, when you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Chief Bertini: When I was a kid I wanted to be a pilot. I still to this day have a huge appreciation for aviation, both military and civilian and love everything aircraft related.

Ray: What lead you to a career in law enforcement?

Chief Bertini: When I was 15, a friend of mine got involved in the Police Explorer program in Pacifica and convinced me to come check it out. I went through the Explorer “Academy” and found that I enjoyed it a lot! I actually graduated #1 in my class. I really enjoyed riding with officers and assisting and found that I picked things up in Law Enforcement very quickly.

When I turned 18, I was still in high school but was still very interested in being a pilot so I went to go see an Air Force recruiter. I remember him saying that my grades were good, I was in good shape from playing football, but then he asked me about my eye sight. I said ‘not bad! 20/25 in one eye and 20/30 in the other’. He looked at me for a few seconds and made a fateful statement: “Well, I can guarantee you will work around planes!”

I politely declined, and when I graduated from high school, I got hired as a dispatcher and a reserve police officer with Pacifica Police Department. At 19, they seemed to like my abilities and work ethic and hired me as a police officer and sent me to the police academy, and the rest is history.

Ray: What has been your greatest day in public service to date?

Chief Bertini: It is hard to pick out one day in public service that is the greatest. I have been lucky to be able to work hundreds of great and interesting cases, especially when I was a detective. I had a nose for investigating crimes and the more complicated the crime was the more I enjoyed it.

It got to the point that while I was a Detective Sergeant in Pacifica (I had done three rotations through investigations), any case out of the ordinary would be given to me including the retrial of a double murder suspect and the bombing in 1999 in Pacifica (on which a Investigation Discovery television show episode was based). I think the greatest moments in my career thus far has been the satisfaction of giving families and families of victims closure to their cases and their heartfelt appreciation for my work.

Ray: Chief, now on top of everything else you do, you also teach? Can you tell me about your teaching background?

Chief Bertini: I have been teaching for over 20 years and aside from my work in Rotary, that is my biggest passion outside of law enforcement. I am an Adjunct Professor at the College of San Mateo, a certified police academy instructor, a State POST instructor and a national faculty member of the Josephson Institute of Ethics.

I very much enjoy public speaking and making presentations (some have said I am a “ham” but I disagree….maybe), and I truly enjoy when I am able to help students have that “a-ha!” moment when everything comes together and is clear to them.

I also have a passion for history (my Masters is in Military History), and I believe that everyone in this country needs to understand where we come from, our founding documents and the rights we all have. Recently I have presented this very subject to classes at Menlo-Atherton High School and at  Menlo School.

Ray: I suspect people are very interested to learn what your goals are for the Menlo Park Police Department in 2019?

Chief Bertini: Goals this year for the Menlo Park Police Department include fully activating the “Beat-4” team of officers funded by the Facebook Development Agreement. As of now it is only partially activated but I hope to have it fully running by the end of 2019.

We are also working on staffing a robust traffic team with four motorcycle officers. We currently have a new traffic sergeant and a motorcycle corporal and this team will help address the major traffic issues we have in Menlo Park. Another goal is to keep violent crime low, as it is now at its lowest level in over a decade, while also addressing the problem of rising property crimes, caused by several changes in state law.

Ray: Speaking of property crimes, what steps can Menlo Park residents take to protect their homes from burglary whether they’re traveling or just away from home while at work?

Chief Bertini: First and foremost is secure your home! Make sure all door and windows are locked, lights are on or on a timer, and if you have an alarm make sure it is activated.

You can also let the police department know you are on vacation and we can do “vacation house checks”. All you need to do is call the police business line at 650.330.6300 and say you would like this service. You will be asked a few simple questions, and an officer will check your premises daily.

Also, make sure you have a friend or neighbor you trust to be your contact in case of emergency, and let your neighbors know you are on vacation and ask them to keep an eye on your home.

Some other obvious steps that people sometimes overlook: Stop newspaper and mail delivery and whatever you do do not post on social media about the wonderful time you are having on vacation! Criminals have become very adept at surfing social media and can use this information to target your home.

Ray: Okay last question, and it’s a tough one. What’s your favorite dessert?

Chief Bertini: I am actually not a big dessert eater, nor am I a baker (but I do cook pretty well!). Having said that I do bake once a year, and it is at Christmas time. I am fortunate to be the holder of my Nonna’s (grandmother) famous biscotti (Italian cookie) recipe. Every year I go through bags of flour and sugar and 5 dozen eggs and bake these biscotti which I bring to the police department as a Christmas gift for everyone. Each team gets their very own box of biscotti!

Ray Mueller has served on the Menlo Park City Council since 2012; he began his second term as Mayor in December. This is the third of a series of conversations he’ll be having with experts, residents and business owners. Photo shows the Chief with appreciate girl who put together a lemonade stand for the department. 

{ Be the first to comment }

Rich Struckman joins Menlo Park Police Department as commander overseeing Patrol Division

Rich Struckman is joining the Menlo Park Police Department as police commander effective November 13, 2018, overseeing the Patrol Division. Commander Struckman was raised in San Francisco and is a longtime resident of San Mateo County. He began his life in public service in 1984, when he joined the United States Army. In 1990, he […]

Click to read more →

Elderly man found dead in Willow Rd. alley this morning

The San Mateo Coroner has been called in to investigate the cause of death of a 79-year-old man who was found dead in an alley near his home in the 1100 block of Willow Road this morning. When first responders arrived, they noticed a visible head wound. He was subsequently identified Kenneth Chou, according to […]

Click to read more →

Bev Mo! burglary suspect arrested by Menlo Park Police

At noon today, the Menlo Park Police Investigations Unit located and arrested Melvin James Williams a 58-year-old East Palo Alto resident who was wanted in connection to three burglaries of BevMo! located on El Camino Real in Menlo Park. During the commission of the burglaries, it’s alleged that Williams would smash the front window of […]

Click to read more →

David Bertini is named Menlo Park Chief of Police

Menlo Park Interim Police Chief David Bertini will assume the post permanently on  July 8, 2018. “Since stepping up as interim chief in January, Dave has shown me that he is the right person to serve this community and lead the department,” said City Manager Alex D. McIntyre, who made the announcement today. Bertini is […]

Click to read more →

Investigation of suspicious substance closes Menlo Park City Hall and police department

Early this morning (4/12), Menlo Park police officers requested the assistance of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District to address a suspicious substance brought to the police department. The individual had initially received the substance through the mail. Both fire and police personnel followed established protocols when dealing with the potentially hazardous materials. As a […]

Click to read more →

Arrest warrant issued for suspect in shooting incident in Menlo Park

The Menlo Park Police have issued a warrant for the arrest of José Gutierrez (DOB 1/12/82), a suspect in relation to a shooting incident late Saturday night. He is considered armed and dangerous and is associated with a silver Honda Accord with a license plate of 5ZCK527. Menlo Park Police Detectives have located the AR-style rifle in the […]

Click to read more →

Crime rate increases, citizen complaints level in Menlo Park during 2017

For the fifth year, the Menlo Park Police Department released its annual crime statistics and citizen complaint data. The 2017 crime statistics show an increase in reported violent crime (homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault); 54 incidents in 2017 over 30 reported in 2016. According to the department, this increase can be partially attributed to multiple […]

Click to read more →

Menlo Park Police Commander David Bertini named Interim Police Chief

City Manager Alex McIntyre announced that Menlo Park Police Commander David Bertini has been named as Interim Police Chief, effective Saturday, January 6, 2018. Commander Bertini will lead the Menlo Park Police Department on an interim basis until a permanent chief is named. The announcement comes after Menlo Park Police Chief Robert Jonsen accepted the […]

Click to read more →

Robbery and sexual assault at home on Ringwood Ave. early this morning

On August 11, 2017 at about 4:50 am, the Menlo Park Police Department received a 911 call from a victim who stated that an unknown male subject had broken into his home in the 1000 block of Ringwood Ave. and held him at knife point. The victim stated that the suspect had sexually assaulted him […]

Click to read more →

Commander William Dixon and Menlo Park Police Department spearhead innovative approach to homelessness

Editor’s note: As it has done in the past, InMenlo is participating in Beyond Homelessness, a special project produced by the San Francisco Chronicle, which is again spotlighting the topic in its editorial coverage this week.  At any given time, there are a dozen or so homeless people in Menlo Park. Commander William Dixon of the Menlo Park […]

Click to read more →