Lack of Communication, Lack of Cooperation

We’ve been telling you about how the incumbent sheriff does not play well with others, doesn’t reach out into her sphere for ideas and fails to develop strong communication within her ranks — and Friday, one single article exhibited all these failures of the Sheriff in one swift blow.

Some people are calling Sheriff Smith’s and Supervisor Cortese’s plan to send deputies over to supplement (eventually supplant? It’s been rumored the two of them have talked about replacing SJPD completely with a “metro” force staffed and managed by the sheriff) San Jose officers a “brilliant” idea. Others are openly shocked at how a Supervisor and the Sheriff seem to be blatantly selling a struggling agency down the river for their own personal political interests.

Late last Friday (probably hoping the issue would die a convenient death over the weekend cycle and avoid discussion) SJI launched an article shockingly critical of sheriff and Cortese and their actions in regards to the current law enforcement situation in SJPD and SCCSO.

I guess, on the face of things it seems like a very good solution, it gives SJPD back up and extra bodies, more people knocks down property crimes, which allows law enforcement to focus on active reduction of other crimes. In theory, this is a great idea, I agree. In practice, though, the real world can interfere with “brilliant” ideas all too easily when you chose to ignore the facts of the circumstances surrounding the “brilliant” idea. The solution is not viable for a number of reasons that should have been readily apparent to Supervisor Cortese if the BoS elected officials were doing their jobs, collecting, sharing and applying the information they’re given on a pretty regualar basis from the Sheriff’s office, usually via John Hirokawa, as well as County Exec Jeff Smith.

Reality ensures this “brilliant” idea is not a viable solution and if David knew anything about his own job, he would realize the sheriff’s office is understaffed and struggling with it’s own ability to provide services to it’s community. The SCCSO has been hacking away at less visible programs for years in order to sustain patrol levels at the minimum they are currently staffed at, much of it only so the Sheriff can brag about how she’s kept the budget incredibly low.

I went back and listened to the last two Public Safety meetings (involving Chavez and Wasserman) and it’s been no secret that Hirokawa and Jeff Smith have been letting the supervisors know there are staffing issues. They clearly indicate there are staffing issues in both the enforcement and corrections divisions of the Sheriff’s Office — before and after this “brilliant” plan is put in front of the BoS. Yet every last one of the supervisors appear unaware of this situation as Cortese and Sheriff Smith (who should know better than anyone) go on about assigning personnel over to SJPD jurisdictions to help. Clearly there is either a breakdown in communications between supervisors or Chavez and Wasserman did not share information. They certainly didn’t pipe up in the BoS meeting as Sheriff Smith and Supervisor Cortese laid out their plan,

It comes down to this: if the Sheriff’s Office can’t staff current contracts, if the Sheriff’s Office clearly isn’t even communicating amongst themselves (really, Hirokawa was “surprised as San Jose” by this proposal?) Why should SJPD considering giving more of their money to the SO who isn’t capable doing the job they’re already being paid to do? Courts are so short staffed they have literally had Assistant Sheriffs in there helping. Patrol is so short staffed they literally made the CASU unit to follow up on released AB109 deputies out of correctional staff that doesn’t have near the training a fully trained peace officer has in the event one of these people goes sideways.

Do we pull patrols from the contract cities and let them go short because they have borders up against San Jose?  Do we pull from the already short county patrols?  Do we pull the rural deputies and let those areas suffer with no law enforcement since there at a bare minimum with a response time of an hour or better to some of their jurisdictional areas?  Who in the county loses?

This is a solution when you have at least one functioning, fully staffed agency in the equation. Pretending that the SO is functioning and fully staffed and can further extend itself at this time is a lie.

Cortese is running on caring about law enforcement and public safety issues in San Jose even as he proves he’s absolutely unaware of the current problems in law enforcement and public safety in his current job and throws the agency he’s currently responsible for under the bus so he can get a new job.
And the Sheriff… oh, the Sheriff. Could we excuse her ignorance since she has barely been seen in the office since before Christmas? Not really. You’re in talking about taking resources from your office to extend to another office and you have no conversations within your office, not even with your Under Sheriff? You don’t go to the Captains, the DSA… anyone in your office… ANYONE… to determine the feasibility of this plan before going to the BoS with Cortese?

If the communication between the Sheriff and her 2nd in command is so broken that Hirokawa is publicly surprised by a proposal like this even as the Sheriff has been involved in conversations and planning the proposal, can you even imagine how broken the communication becomes further down the line? There is a saying, information is power. This is true, but the power comes not just in having and holding that information, but knowing when and how to use it appropriately. The sheriff believes simply keeping as much information from the lower ranks as possible makes her powerful — in reality it has weakened her, but worse, it has weakened the services and potential of the personnel in the Sheriff’s Office, increasingly to the detriment of the community.

The solution that the incumbent and Cortese are proposing literally increases the risk that the county ends up in the same boat as San Jose – too few deputies to respond to county needs, thereby further increasing crimes rates that are already rising, placing further stress on sheriff’s personnel, increasing risks of poor decisions and the vicious cycle continues. Stop it before it starts, our sheriff should be thinking more clearly than this in regards to the future impact of this plan on her office, not just SJPD’s office.

To me the article in SJI was a disturbing look into just how out of touch the incumbent is as a manager, leader and administrator of the Sheriff’s Office when your 2nd in command is surprised by something like this and she appears so sadly unaware of the circumstances of the staffing of her own agency.

There are other ideas out there and ideas are not exclusively in the domain of two people in this county. I and others have suggested before the consolidation of special units. The county can easily handle taking over specialized units that are duplicated in service to free up personnel in SJPD so they can spend more time on patrol. SWAT, Air Support, Motors, Bomb Calls, CSI services, and various other support to pretty much the entire county outside of San Jose. This would likely free up more San Jose personnel than the Sheriff’s Office could reasonable provide with their current staffing issues and would have a minimal impact on the need to expand special teams already large enough to serve the entire rest of the county and multiple agencies within the county.

Between consolidation of special units and the Sheriff committing to pick up the slack on the contracts she already holds – VTA, county buildings, etc. – this would give SJPD more patrol resources than the sheriff could provide.

You can turn two units into one, you can’t turn one deputy into two.

Reality is, there should have been a conversation between all parties involved to hammer out a best solution for both agencies; instead we go the whim of two people both in election races where they’re looking for any toehold that will put them above their competition, even if it’s only long enough to win an election.

We need better leadership in the entire county. I hope SJ takes Cortese, the county is clearly better off without him at this point. He considers the county past employment already or he would have taken the time to better understand the impact of his proposal beforehand. I wish SJ better luck with him and that he pays better attention to detail as their mayor than he has as one of our Supervisors. My focus continues to be the fact that we need better leadership in the Sheriff’s Office. She’s not going anywhere else, not running for another office, but she wants another 4 years based on the fact she broke a glass ceiling (which she promptly rebuilt if you look a the makeup of her staff from captains up over her tenure) 16 years ago. She has not improved the office, she has not improved the moral and she doesn’t care, as long as she gets to be the person who has held the office of sheriff for 5 terms for the first time in CA history. Need evidence? I would say her lack of insight into the condition of her very own office in this latest incident lays out clearly that it’s time for someone who cares to be leading the Sheriff’s Office.

Elect Kevin Jensen for the next Sheriff of Santa Clara County. Jensen will make mending our office issues a priority, rather than pretend we don’t have issues just to expand his power base. Perhaps there is a way to help San Jose that won’t further damage services to either community, if there is, he’s the man to lead  the charge from the county side of the problem, not the Sheriff and not Cortese while he’s running for mayor.

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9 thoughts on “Lack of Communication, Lack of Cooperation

  1. We only found one resident that enjoyed the lack of Sheriff’s staff seen in those contract cities. Hard to imagine with the current lack of deputies on the streets currently how the loss of deputies to go to work for San Jose will go over with those “two safest cities”. Most say they seldom see patrol cars driving around their areas.

    Really, safest is sort of a misnomer when the homes are multi-million dollar homes with gates and cameras everywhere. Plus security patrols done by private companies. At least Los Gatos-Monte Sereno PD (of which the Sheriff was trying to get a contract for Monte Sereno) has volunteers do home checks and drive-bys of empty homes (vacation checks for free).

    Has anyone asked the residents of these “two safest towns” if they mind if the current staff leave and go to San Jose to work real crime? Bet not!

    Maybe staff what the department lacks and then worry about staffing a city of 1 Million. They could always sell the helicopter and get two more deputies back on the streets?

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  2. Pingback: Accidentally Politically Transparent | Casey Thomas' World

    • And by the logic you use, if your house was on fire too, you would let your house burn and bring your hose over to your neighbor.

      I agree, we should help SJPD in any way we can — however we should not do it to the detriment of our own communities.

      Two of the safest cities? The office’s prime customers are the unincorporated areas – 3rd highest homicide rate of all jurisdictions in the county, 20+% increase in property crimes with the state average at 7.4%, unprecedented increase in domestic violence… shall I continue? How long can the 4th floor pretend they’re only responsible for demographically easy contract cities?

      The bigger issue here “Truth* *snort* is that the Sheriff and Cortese don’t even seem to have their story straight between themselves — did they or did then not have “conversations” about this plan? The Under Sheriff was publicly put on the spot about a plan he knew nothing about and the Asssistant Sheriff can spout off time frames for the contract but is clueless after an apparent year of “negotiations” between San Jose and the Sheriff’s personnel whether or not they’re first response or secondary response.

      The Sheriff and the Under sheriff were clearly uninformed as to the status of conversations between personnel in their office and San Jose regarding these contracts just the day before.

      This is representative of how the incumbents office is managed from top to bottom — captains have their feifdom’s, the 4th floor all but has a guillotine on it and there is not a soul who has a clue what anyone else is doing.

      If the Undersheriff isn’t being told what is going on, do you really think some of the other people in the office are getting the information to do their jobs? If you’re truly a “deputy” or anyone in the office for that matter, you know the answer to that is, No, they are not getting the information they need, never mind the equipment.

      The executive management at the Sheriff’s office is incompetent — you have at two Assistant Sheriff’s that likely didn’t spend more than 6 years between Sergeant and their current positions. You have a Sheriff who was NEVER a Lieutenant or a Captain implying that somehow she’s magically gained the knowledge and experience at those levels.

      And what has this resulted in? An office full of deputies who will walk out the door if the Sheriff wins this election and leave the lot of you standing there trying to figure out how you can blame them for the empty offices around you.

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    • You know what isn’t normal in a successful office?

      The failure to cooperate to find Sierra Lamar
      Putting off the investigation into a sexual assault and death of a teen for months while evidence is destroyed
      Calling a potential terror attack vandalism for hours and refusing to provide resources for up to 5 hours
      Losing evidence in murder cases like Adelita Rojas-Lomeli – yes, you know what I’m talking about. I haven’t even gone forward with that nightmare of a story yet
      Refusing to send resources to a gang rape like the De Anza incident
      Calling off the SERT team in the middle of an active shooter incident against all expert advice to “save money.”
      Captains driving brand new muscle cars while deputies drive vehicles with excessive mileage on them
      A Sheriff who has been seen in the office a handful of times in the past 6 months.

      Fear of sounding trite here, “Deputy Sheriffs’ Truth Squad”, you can’t handle the truth.

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    • Really sounds like you are looking for a promotion!!

      Saratoga Population 29,926
      Los Altos Hills Population 7,922

      San Jose Population 945,942

      Los Gatos (29,413) has almost the same population as Saratoga and there are 64 sworn and civilian employees for Los Gatos. Doubt there are anywhere near that many deputies for the City of Saratoga.

      Really funny!!! ^^^^^^ Har Har har!

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  3. Dang, I just read Laurie’s letter to the DSA. She is scared to death. I guess she has handed out all the promotions for the last 16 years that she can and is running out of ways to buy the DSA leadership. She has been dishonest for decades, playing favorites for campaign cash and her own sick views of “diversity”. Looks like the chickens are coming home to roost Laurie. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer person. Like most of her senior management she couldn’t lead a group of cops to 7-11 for a cup of coffee.

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  4. This was obviously a political move by Cortese and Smith, made without much thought or investigation. Apparently Smith didn’t even discuss it with her senior staff. Chuck Reed was right when he said these ideas begin with staff studies to see what services are needed, what can be provided, how much does it cost, how does it affect other operations, etc. An idea such as this could also start with the two agencies involved as way to solve some problems. In either case, a thoroughly discussed and studied plan is presented to the Board and City Council for approval. As those normal steps were completely bypassed, I am surprised that the remainder of the Board voted to support this half-baked idea.

    That begin said, the time is ripe for a more efficient way to do law enforcement. That could mean a trading of response areas such as the Sheriff’s Dept. being the primary response agency in the fringe areas of San Jose like the Coyote Valley, Almaden Valley and west of Lawrence Expressway. San Jose PD could be the primary agency in unincorporated pockets such as Burbank and the Alum Rock area. Another method would be a merging of special units such as EOD, special weapons teams and helicopter operations. The most extreme change would be a metro department with a complete merger of SJPD, the Sheriff’s Department (or at least the Enforcement part) and any of the smaller cities who could choose to participate. This has been done in similar size areas such as Las Vegas, Nashville, Jacksonville and Indianapolis. It would make sense in such a scenario that the Sheriff serve as the Chief of that department as that creates a savings of at least one Chief of Police. There would be huge cost savings in recruiting, training, records, investigations, communications, etc. It would not be an easy transition and requires a buy-in from all entities including the affected unions. Some group of “adults”, not reactionary politicians, needs to study this problem and make legitimate suggestions to all stake holders.

    One further thought is that should any of this come to pass, especially a metro department, the San Jose POA may regret their decision to not take a stand in this race for Sheriff. It is not outside the realm of possibility that they could be working for whomever is the Sheriff in the next four years. Do they want the person who was been rejected by a large majority of her own staff? Or would they prefer Kevin Jensen? It is not too late to get into the game.

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  5. i completely disgusted with our leaders after reading this. Casey is right, how the hell can we continue as a law enforcement group with such total idiots at the top? Hirokawa is caught off guard by this, really?? That seems to be his response to everything nowadays when he’s either caught lying or is shown to be incompetent. As for our absentee sheriff, I for one am glad she hasn’t been seen much since christmas. Maybe that’s here late christmas gift to us, her absence. She should continue to be so giving and bow out gracefully and take her stuttering fools she’s surrounded herself with too. Unfortunately given her track record of doing whats right and best for the department in the past…….we’re gonna continue to be stuck with her till we kick her out come the election. Go Kevin!!!!

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