Affecting Change upon the “Unaffected Deputies” of Santa Clara County

A little note of outrage was forwarded to me the other day in support of the Sheriff and all she’s done.  Problem was that there was little mentioned about what she’s done for the office she heads.  Now I entirely support some one’s right to support the current Sheriff, after all, on the personal level the author appears to know her, I’m sure she can be a decent person.  As the managing entity of a law enforcement agency however, no go.  She is now a proven failure and another 4 years won’t do anything to improve an agency on the verge of collapse given her lack of leadership, to put it as kindly as possible.  If you can’t do it in 4 chances, it would be foolish to support her in a 5th term considering the potential long term consequences a law enforcement agency faces after a complete failure of structure. What does a complete failure entail? Deputies who don’t want to be there; deputies who are able, leaving;  a continued decrease in quality due to the loss of solidly experienced mentorship; and inability to draw new, top rated talent; deputies who retire out as early as possible to escape a miserable day to day existence when they would happily put more years in to support doing something they enjoy doing under responsible leadership. Thing that are already starting to occur at a rate that should be concerning to anyone. Need a specific example?  Look at San Jose Police Department.  Yes, the cause is somewhat different, the end result?  The same.

I really just wanted to address a couple of the statements in the message to add a few facts to the repertoire that may be helpful for those who are going to continue to support the current sheriff.

“A Captain is right below the Sheriff. Working close with the Sheriff, [Kevin Jensen] would have made the changes he is talking about in his letter.”

In regards to Kevin Jensen being “right below the Sheriff” and worked closely with the sheriff and therefore should have affected change, that is not entirely correct.  A minor point, but while we’re here, a captain is actually third down from the sheriff, beneath an undersheriff and two assistant sheriffs.  While they are part of the administrative process, captains are not on the fourth floor “working closely” with the Sheriff in the manner the message attempts to imply.

As for Kevin Jensen affecting change as a captain; under his control, he has affected change.  He is respected by those who work with him.  He sets a standard as a leader that deputies can accept, be proud of and excel under.  He lives by an ethical and professional standard he expects of others as well.  When some one under him makes a mistake, vengeance is not the call of the day, grudges aren’t held, witch hunts are not organized.  The situation is dealt with, the subordinate is held accountable appropriately and every one moves on, hopefully with a lesson learned for the future.  He has exhibited qualities of leadership and managed his assigned domains in a manner that has led an overwhelming majority of the CPOA an DSA unions to endorse him as a better leader than their current sheriff.

A captain can only affect change in areas under his control, when it comes to department policy, then only with the blessing of the Sheriff.  When you have a sheriff and her immediate administrators actively working to segregate you from the office and prevent you from having any impact or interaction with deputies, it gets very hard to affect change.  However, Kevin was still able to affect change through his own personal actions by ultimately taking the moral high ground when these incidents occurred.  I’ve received several messages on how Kevin was removed to a position where they didn’t even have to give him office space at the Sheriff’s Office.  There have been currently unsubstantiated claims that Kevin’s inter-office electronic communications were voluntarily curtailed by internal entities, as well as that he was ordered to stay away from events where he would be able to freely interact with deputies and the public despite nearly every other captain from both the CPOA and DSA being present at some of these events.  Again, unsubstantiated, but well in line with actions the Sheriff has taken in the past that many are aware of, so the veracity of these rumors seems to be being taken a little more seriously than your average rumor.

The message said that a captain should have affected change, but consider the quandary of how does one affect change when your leader is actively working against you even in building and maintaining successful relationships within the workplace?

“The entire County of Santa Clara had [layoffs]. None of the [deputies] were affected.”

I also wanted to address this point made in support of the sheriff.  Yes, that is right; none of the deputies were affected in the most recent county layoffs in regards to being laid off.  I would like to add the word “directly” to that statement though, if you don’t mind.  Let me explain.

The deputies since 2003 have given up years of raises and allowed positions to go unfilled and reductions through attrition to take place in order to avoid layoffs threatened by the Sheriff several times over the years – even when no one else in the county was being threatened by layoffs.  Even now some inside sources say there are are possibly as many as 100 open codes (positions) within the office she can’t/won’t fill.  They have forgone raises to “help” the county now for the vast majority of a decade so the office didn’t have to endure budget cuts, layoffs and other negative impacts to the service the office provides to the community.   All while, if I may belabor the point, the Sheriff was raking in pay increases like mad.   When deputies have received raises, they have more often than not been a whopping 1% increase, not even close to even a COLA raise as costs in the area continue to skyrocket. Until their raise of December of 2012, and even that increase came with the weight of a 9.5% cut of a sort as well as temporary loss of holidays and other benefits.  In the recent agreements the DSA worked with the county to come into compliance with the new CALPERS law (something they didn’t have to do for 5 years) to help the county meet fiscal demands and were only partially made whole in that process. So actually, overall they took a pay decrease in base take home pay for the contract over next few years; a contract, which by the way, doesn’t give them another raise for the remainder of the agreement.  So to summarize this lengthy point – Sheriff gets significant pay increases over the past decade; deputies in turn receive an overall negative to neutral impact to their personal fiscal compensation during the same time period to protect the “fiscally pressed county.”

The deputies have literally given until it hurts at times under the Sheriff long before economic times got really hard in the county for people like you.  They did it to protect their community from a Sheriff who’s best tool was “look at me, I’m not spending your money” and they did it without a thank you from their Sheriff or their County or their community.  They stood silently as they were attacked as public employees in general as “greedy” and “unwilling to take a hit” when everyone else was suffering in the recession, and their Sheriff not once stood up and said, “No, they’ve been dedicated to the fiscal success of this community for years,” or anything close.

And now people come along and point out how deputies weren’t touched when the rest of the county faced hardship.  Excuse me if that just tilts me a little sideways.

Yes, you are right, the recent layoffs did not affect a single deputy’s job, but only because there was nothing left for the DSA to give and the deputies were going to fight back at any attempt at further significant cuts.  So when the county did stand up and say what are you going to cut, the answer from them was, “Nothing and here is why…” Now others come back trying to now imply that was the doing of the Sheriff protecting her people? Wrong.

Let’s not pretend the Sheriff went and sat with the county and fought for her people to protect them from the deep cuts others in the county faced.  She absolutely did not, and there were too many witnesses to her actions and those sent in her stead to deny the reality of that.  Her Undersheriff and Assistant Sheriff actually sat on the county side to negotiate against her deputies.  She’d simply been gouging at the flesh of the office for so many years by that point that the office was already bare bones with nothing to cut and no one willing to stand by her to force those cuts and no political will to let the public know the deputies weren’t the greedy public servants the public had been allowed to believe they were.

Please, by all means enjoy your personal time with the Sheriff and please recognize that while she may be a lovely person off the job, that doesn’t mean you should foist her off without thought on an office that has spoken out asking the community for new leadership just because she showed up at your social event.

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4 thoughts on “Affecting Change upon the “Unaffected Deputies” of Santa Clara County

  1. Another very on point assessment from CT. It is time for new leadership. Get behind Jensen now, contribute to his campaign and get involved by spreading the word. Only collectively can we re-establish a leadership we can be aligned with and proud of. Let’s make this a reality.

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  2. First off, right on Casey, keep up the good work. You’re obviously doing something right if your getting “hate mail”!! I couldn’t agree more with your point that the current Sheriff has had 4 terms to get it right, but has failed. I too love it when I hear Deputies say, “What’s the big deal with the Sheriff. She’s not that bad.” I’ve always wanted to ask them if they (we) are better off now after 16 loooong years with her failed policies and complete and total lack of leadership or is the department better off now? Due to the fact that these are often conversations I overhear and it would not be appropriate to discuss this with someone I supervise or the fact that it “could” be on-duty I often remain silent. Your list of what a “complete failure” is, is quite extensive. However you forgot the obvious…when an entity (The Sheriff and her handpicked “leaders?) have so beaten down, threatened and installed Gestapo like tactics in an attempt to silence any and all dissension then in my mind we ARE a failure as a Law Enforcement Agency.

    Now I’m not saying the men and women of our department are failures (not all of them anyway) but we as a group have failed because we allowed this to happen. Why do we remain silent? Are we scared? Are we afraid of possible personal discomfort? Don’t we respond/deal with life threatening instances on a daily basis? Why are we so afraid of what a total failure and FRAUD like the current Sheriff “could” do if she wins? BTW….if we as a group continue to do nothing and simply think, “Well, my jobs done. I voted for the DSA to back Kevin Jensen” then she has a much better chance of keeping her fiefdom together so she can hand out justice to us “Keystone Cops”. If we stick together, what could she possibly do to the nearly 450 DSA members who voted against her? What sort of person does this? Oh that’s right, our current Sheriff and her idiots she’s promoted. A retired Sgt. once told me a story about how her highly important and extremely important staff meetings went. Apparently they all sit around and congratulate each other for what a fine job they’re doing. Each time one of them speaks, its not long before someone tells them, “That’s a great idea. Isn’t it?” (as they turn to others to solicit encouragement) This sort of self congratulation continues on and on until they either run out of time or their mouths get tired.

    Now onto the other points. The ridiculous statement from this “note of outrage” where they falsely state that a Captain is somehow capable of going against the grain and doing what they want in their division is not only wrong, it’s moronic!! All your points refuting this line of thought were right on. I’d like to remind those of us who have been here long enough to remember that not even a Commander (I know they’re now called Assistant Sheriff’s, but still worthless) can affect change without the Queen Mothers blessing. I believe Commander Smedlund failed to rejoice to the sound of the Sheriff’s voice and actually disagreed with her (gasps, oh no, not that!). What happened……Demoted back to Captain and banished. Captain Pugh also had the gall to go against her highness. The crime, banishment and relegated to the “Oh, your still here” seats. As for Captain Jensen. What sort of influence or change can you affect when your “office” isn’t even in this county?

    As for the Sheriff (or her Admin) having ANYTHING to do with our contract…….HA! Time and time again we see what she (and the others up there) think about us, her worker bees. She lies to Deputies in squad meetings (staffing issues), lies to recruits/cadets (just look at her website of lies) and calls us “Keystone Cops” as if that’s an insult? Just remember,you hired us lady so who’s the idiot? Oh and just to be clear, these same “Keystone Cops” are where you pulled your current Admin from. The Sheriff actively worked against the Deputies during their contract. If you doubt this, just asked any of the DSA board that was present during negotiations.

    Failed leadership is the root cause of our departments problems. Nobody in any position of authority is willing to risk their job and do the right thing because there are just too many examples of what will happen to you if you do. I personally know (knew) several Admin that used to be good cops and honest/moral people. However, when you sell your sole in order to promote you may never recover. That’s why electing someone like Kevin Jensen who will actually LEAD with honor and integrity and will not only solicit advice but work to cut out the cancerous tumor that is our current Admin is needed for the job.

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  3. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    The examples and points made by CT in this newest of much appreciated blogs is a perfect example of why things need to change.

    As first responders it is our job to put ourselves on the line for our community; that includes the men and women of the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office. If the stories of corruption, over the top reprisals, and all around thuggery from the current administration does nothing to incite you to fight for what’s right, then i hate to say it, you are doing what is easy, not what is right.

    These “stories” may be unsubstantiated, but they remain that way not because of lack of proof, but out of consideration to the people who would undoubtedly feel the swift and unforgiving ire of the current administration; a clear, if not compelling symbol of the need for change.

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