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.