Training Fail

Submitted by contributing author, I Alítheia

We have been hearing a lot about all the good things that the Sheriff has brought to the office with all her hard work.  One of those things is training, the advanced training given to deputies at the sheriff’s office to provide a higher level of service to the community. Really? Many have come to me to say that most of the advanced training taken by the deputies and correctional deputies is on their own time. I have been told that there is an incentivized program where each deputy can choose to maintain a continuing education program through training. This is a great thing as it does keep those deputies up to date on the latest and greatest information, but as an entire office there is a void in the training.  There is no cohesive effort to make sure that there is a broader, standardized knowledge on updated and advanced education for the deputies.

Yes, I do know that deputies get the required California POST required training. But, advanced training? Not so much.

When was the last time Correctional Deputies were given any training in advanced techniques for dealing with emotional disturbed persons? Reality is that more and more the people coming into the jails are dealing with mental health issues. So for their safety and the safety of the correctional staff, how do we deal with these people? From what I have been told, it’s the deputies “gift of gab” to calm these people and gain compliance. How about a continued and ongoing training in self-defense and weaponless defense? The techniques are ever-changing and improving to gain best results with least danger to all involved. What about how to deal with those inmates who are armed with a homemade weapon? How about cell extractions? How about inmate management? From the big picture I’ve been offered, after initial basic correctional academy there is little more than what those new correctional deputies learn from their partners and a lot of on the job training.  OJT is great, until your senior staff is as untrained as your junior staff and simply passing on the same institutionalized mistakes due to lack of training outreach for so long.

It all leaves us wondering, where’s the advancement since the sheriff’s office has taken over? Where is the “better” leadership of Chief of Correction Hirokawa? Absentee leadership from what I have been told.   Where is the “better service for less” she claimed was possible?  We’ve certainly gotten the “for less” part down, but the community needs to remember, you get what you pay for.

Then we have the new addition of AB109 inmates since the Sheriff took over.  What training has been given to the correctional deputies who have now are with dealing with the AB109 inmates? AB109 inmate, who’s that? Those are the state inmates that the Sheriff and the BOS house in our facilities, and in turn receive increased revenues into the county coffers from the state. But, with the AB109 inmate comes a level of criminal sophistication that increases the sophistication of all the other inmates in our local facilities. What has been done to provide training to cope with this sophistication and hey, what about increased staffing necessary to deal with the increase in population? Virtually nothing from what my sources are saying.  Again, many have come to me saying that staffing minimum requirements have been eliminated and the staffing has been allowed to become dangerously low.  Failing to sufficiently staff the jails endangers deputies, it increases the risks of serious injury to inmates and it leaves open an increased potential danger to the public through decreased oversight of inmates.  Seems the Sheriff and the County have put the Almighty Dollar before the safety of correctional deputies, inmates and their own community.

So has anyone asked, with more money, less staff, more inmates, less training… where does all that money that the state gives for extra personnel and training to handle AB109 inmates go anyway?  Well, that is going to have to be an entirely different blog – we simply don’t know the answer to that yet.  But we’re working on that too.

I could go on and on about the lack of training within the correctional setting, but I simply must be mistaken.  After all, the media releases I’ve read keeps telling us the sheriff’s administration has assured us how much better corrections is now since the sheriff’s office reacquisition of the Department of Corrections.

As for the enforcement side of the office, the story isn’t much different.  All the information I have been given about training is that it is few and far between.

Let’s move on to the enforcement deputies from investigations to patrol. It has come to my attention that on some of the major cases out there the detectives who were required to conduct the investigations were not trained in the areas  they were required to investigate. Maybe, as pointed out by a commenter, that is the reason captains respond to crime scenes to be sure the underlings “do the right thing.”  Though with their increasing lack of experience and training at their level, I’m not sure how they believe that can actually help the situation.   I could go into the specific cases, but some are still going through our legal process.  Those deputies and detectives did their best and don’t need the difficulty of trying to explain why they did not have the foundation to do the job they were required to do, and those captains would not be there to help explain away the lack of training.

I’ve been told the administration is now sending off those same detectives to much needed training on how to conduct future investigations. Maybe too little, too late? Let’s hope not as those detectives will now have the needed foundation to do a better job and hopefully pass along the information to others to raise the level in the entire office.

Oh, wait I have been told that the detectives and the patrol deputies don’t train together? Really? Then how does the information get out too patrol to raise the level of everyone to become the top cops as expressed by the sheriff? Maybe we just have to wish really, really hard.

And then of course, after you’ve trained those detectives, they’ll be reassigned anyway.  It is a sad mistake the Sheriff makes limiting an assignment in to Investigations to a 3-5 year maximum.  How do you fully train a detective to do their job, allow them to develop the expertise through experience, and become an effective and experienced detective if you’re moving them out just as they starting to learn?  How do they compound the training they do get and then pass it on through their interactions as they conduct investigations?  What’s the point?  There is a reason that so many agencies consider investigations a career move – experience matters here.  But the Sheriff’s Office even undermines this basic development of knowledge that would improve people, results and the community.

From what I have been told, “It’s good to be in an election year.” I guess the deputies are, for the moment anyway, getting needed equipment and training to assist them in their jobs and the office supplies are rich.  It’s been mentioned more than once that personnel in divisions are hiding away reams of paper for the lean times to come if the sheriff is re-elected. It seems there have been times where detectives resort to pilfering from the copier machine so they could print their reports as “budgets were cut” to save money. But, I digress again, back to training issues.

I try to do my research and through that have found different articles out there about how well the deputies and SERT responded to an incident of an “active shooter” at a local cement plant. From what I have been told those responding deputies had no advanced training in “active shooter response,” beyond that of the basic police academy.  That there was significant command issues in conducting the ensuing search for the gunman into the next day.  Active Shooter training, in this day and age, should be a standardized requirement and a perishable skill, but the Sheriff has it as a one and done training at the academy.  Have you turned on the news lately?  Does a week go by anymore without something at a school?  A mall?  An office building?  But because the public never became aware of the shortfalls, the Sheriff was allowed to ignore addressing them.  Will we all be so lucky next time?

From what I have been told all the above examples are the standard practice with a majority of the training needs at the sheriff’s office. One time at the academy. The academy … there’s a story, the academy which I was told at one time was one of the top academies in California and now has dropped down the list. I asked why?  The response I got, the academy is now there for revenue generating opportunities and little more.  We’ve earned the “point of pride” as one of the best, there is no need to sustain it since we can just claim it now. Seems FTEs are the “cash back cow” from the state for each academy cadet. So where does this money go? Good question. Maybe between that and the money for the AB109 inmates we can figure it out.   Because what I have been told by people who have worked at the academy is the money is not going back into the academy.

It goes one step further.  She has turned cadets into the academy “work force.”   Some are reporting that each of the academy classes have to complete an improvement project prior to their graduation. Until recently cadets were required to show up early to take care of groundskeeping needs in order to “instill pride” in their academy.  Because I guess graduating from the best academy in the state just wouldn’t be enough.  Is this how the academy continues to stay afloat?  Putting our cadets to work under the guise of “character building” when they should be focusing on training critical to their future careers and which may be the only training they have access too for some time?

Then what about instructor development? From what I have been told there has been no development of instructors beyond their basic CA POST required training. Then they are pushed out to the academy and get no further development. The poorly trained instructing the untrained… this is a recipe for some kind of future disaster if you ask me.  This is not the way to stay on top and become a leader in developing new and innovative ways to teach cadets.

Again, we see another severely lacking area under the Sheriff with no concern about addressing it from her or her administrative staff.  Not even an effort to maintain status quo, but a race to the bottom in staff training and development.

SCCSO used to be a standard to reach for, now, under Sheriff Laurie, it’s quickly becoming a standard to get away from.  It’s a shame, because the sheriff’s office is a small office with large office opportunities that could certainly draw the best and the brightest through career path opportunities you can’t find in smaller offices and the ability to move quickly into specialized areas that t in larger offices.  SCCSO could be a state standard on many things, but Sheriff Laurie has made them the standard on how not to run an office and how not to work with others.

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3 thoughts on “Training Fail

  1. Pingback: Training and Why We Don’t Have Tasers | Casey Thomas' World

  2. There has always been a lack of training opportunities for Deputies since the 90’s, budget cuts, increased demand for services and being asked to do more with less. This is not a new happening, it’s just the way things have gone recently. Who remembers the “old” range?…look at it now, nice, modern and rented solid throughout the year. Change, sadly takes time, but time has come for things to change from the top down. The mistrust, name calling and general dissatisfaction of the line staff must be dealt with, not with intimidation, poor assignments and retaliation. The Deputy next to you might have to save your life one day, or give his/her life for you in the line of duty. How many of you would take a bullet for your partner?…but not for an administrator?…both are Deputies, some just played the game better than some of us. My 2 cents.

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  3. I just wanted to say this article is very accurate to what has happened. I also wanted to mention the sheriff had the SERT team go home during the cement plant active shooter because “everything indicated he had left the area.” That was completely untrue and upset the SERT staff. The sheriff endangered the public by sending everyone home while the gunman hid under a families house. The sheriff also put non patrol trained deputies on the perimeter that night in their personal vehicles….. Thank God it all worked out and a few good deputies found him before he killed more people. This situation is a prime example of choosing money over safety…..

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