updated 1:17pm, 11/21/2013
Can you imagine going to work one day and no one sees you. Your supervisors walk by you like you don’t exist. If one of them does happen to catch your eye, they offer no reaction, certainly not a good morning.
Imagine having your office moved to a satellite office to handle a project that no one cares about. You’re notified of schedule meetings, but sometimes when you drive all the way from your satellite office to the main office, no one is there. They moved the meeting, assuming it was ever really scheduled at all. Your peers laugh, because this is the few times you’re recognized — when they think they’ve made you look foolish.
You offer ways to improve the office when you show up for “real” meetings. They brush you off, ridicule you or glare at you, all depending on the mood of the day and the order of the day from above.
Then one day, you discover, as administrator level personnel, you have been removed from all the administrative email lists. All the email lists. You are notified of nothing that may be relevant to doing your job, increasingly making it difficult. When you bring it to those above you, they just nod their heads at you.
This is the outline of the story of Kevin Jensen as he has finally verified as the working conditions his peers and supervisors created for him to work under, since even before he decided to run for office. This wasn’t even because he was running for Sheriff against her, it was all happening long before he even decided that he would run.
The project “no one cares about” is the Bay Area UASI. UASI, What’s that? I did a little digging, is the federal program that was created to help regions be better prepared in the event of a terrorist attack. It is the program that Boston Police Department attributed their ability to deal with the Boston Bomber too, providing the equipment, training and understanding how to coordinate a large-scale effort. UASI, offers funding and access to a variety of training and new equipment through government funding of this program. But remember, this office doesn’t want training and new equipment, not even for free through federally funded grants apparently. She SO wouldn’t even consider free money unless the Sheriff can make a show of it as an effort of her personal “hard work”. The rest of us are a bunch of incompetent fools who can barely manage to put their uniforms on day-to-day, never mind bring granted funded items to the office successfully.
This is, in brief, Kevin Jensen‘s story, but this is not only his story. I’ve talk to people at all levels who have wrought the ire of the Sheriff from Captains on down. You become invisible to her. You become invisible to those who reside on the 4th floor. You suffer the institutionalized oppression that I spoke of in an earlier blog that is so much a part of the management of the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office. You can see a recent example of this in the comments under a congratulatory post I made… an administrator, who chooses to remain unnamed, gloating about how he expects people to come back to the Sheriff with their tail between their legs, so to speak. A weak-minded attempt to crush the spirit of those fighting for something better in the hopes my followers will back off. They won’t.
And sergeants, the sergeants of this office are considered nothing more than chattel that are regularly undermined, ignored and circumvented. We’re probably back to hearing the infamous expression that one of our now infamous contractors was known for, “Follow the COC!” COC, chain of command. Oh how funny he thought that was in his juvenile glee, telling people to follow his COC in his own mind because of the rank he held in the office. I’m sure we can all figure out the childish joke without me getting offensive. The problem is, while the office has a paramilitary structure (as our administrator commenter pointed out in their defense of their following bad orders from above) that demands the chain of command be respected, both ways. All but on the way down at the sergeants level. Sergeants in all areas have told me stories of their management being undermined. Showing up for work and finding out one of their guys has been reassigned for the day, not being consulting on decisions involving the team they manage… just flat-out ignored as part of the Almighty “COC”. Sergeants, from what I’ve been told, are considered almost completely unnecessary and are totally disrespected in regards to their capabilities.
Sergeants who dare to try to find ways to mentor and improve those deputies under them – they’re hated. They simply do not understand their place. They do things wrong, even when they do nothing wrong. Helping deputies to better do their jobs and creating a better work environment for them! How dare they! If they learn their lesson, they become lieutenants and captains. If they don’t, they’re ignored, much as Captain Kevin Jensen was. Captain Kevin Jensen was respected. They don’t understand why. They don’t have it in their capabilities to understand respect breeds respect.
I guess when you consider the requirements that were offered to one deputy who asked what they needed to do to promote, you can understand why. After being frustrated in promotion, working hard to prove himself as a competent and worthwhile deputy, he asked someone far above the rank of deputy “what do I have to do around here to promote.” The answer? “Don’t do anything. Just answer your calls and don’t do anything more.”
The less you do at whatever rank you are in, the more likely you are to be promoted. Why? because you won’t question the sheriff and her henchmen, you won’t try to press “new ideas” and “better ways to do things” on them. You won’t attempt to work well with others. It’s the first test to how well they’ll be able to mold you to what they want, not to what the office needs. If you can follow one simple offensive order like “do nothing,” you prove that they will likely be able to ask you to do much uglier things as your career progresses through the ranks.
And still, even when they see you, you will be invisible to them.
UPDATE: I was just reminded of a very important point that should have been included here, I believe. Irony is never lost in the Sheriff’s Office these days. I recently did a blog about how the sheriff had just sent A/S Skip Shervington to Israel to “learn” about counter-terrorism. Yet I have gotten the UASI story from no fewer than 4 sources about how the UASI activities have been for the most part pushed aside. They have 2 special teams that participate in the Urban Shield program “most years.” But they do not work with other agencies, they do not apply for grants for training or equipment on a regular basis. They have allowed the county to take a back seat to other Bay Area agencies when it comes to large crisis preparedness – but the sheriff and Skip Shervington have been to Israel. Oh, rumor has it that there was some UASI money used… to send Captain Mark Eastus to Israel. But from these three trips, I can find NO ONE who has seen the benefit of this “knowledge” these three gained trickle down into actual policies or actions or training within the office.