A Closer Look at Training

The county budgets for the past few years have been littered with comments about their commitment to training. I know because I just spent a lot of time doing what I’ve been telling people to do for several years now. Go look at the budgets.

I found a few amazing tidbits, some I may try to cover in the future. I’ll be honest here though, that takes a lot of my and other people’s time. I’m less than impressed with the community effort made to get the petition signed. Me and others have just spent a couple hours combing documentation to put information out there — but are starting to feel it goes nowhere. Clearly I may be wasting my time if no one else can even make an effort to get family to sign this petition if they can’t get past concerns to personally sign it. There are people putting themselves out, some with little to no benefit to themselves, for you because they know it helps you.  None of us ask a lot of you. With 1000+ deputies the least we all can do is reach out to get signatures.  If each of us signed and/or reached out to one person close to us, imagine where we would be with this.

Or maybe you’re all happy with the way things are going. If this is the case, please let me know, I’ve apparently confused the message…and I could be doing other things.  A little support here, please.

Anyway, on to the budget issues involving training. I want people to see just how seriously training is taken by the sheriff and our supervisors. Now understand, the budget for training in law enforcement is a little different than other departments because POST refunds expenses for certain training to maintain a minimum – like perishable skills. Other training is on the department. You can’t see the enforcement commitment to training because they don’t break it out in the budget, so we have no idea what the sheriff does to go above and beyond the POST required and refunded minimum. But in the jails, we can see she has virtually no commitment to expanded or extra training.

These are the budget numbers for training and the academy program since 2012’s approved budget through the 2016 budget, still unapproved as far as documentation I can find, though the FY started this past July. (Links below.)

Budget Unit 235 – Sheriff’s DoC

Training
3124 Training And Staff Dev Fund
2012 allocated 14,968
adjusted 14,968
actual exp. 737
approved for 2013 19,917

3124 Training And Staff Dev Fund
2013 allocated 19,917
adjusted 19,917
actual exp. 579
approved for 2014 19,873

3124 Training And Staff Dev Fund
2014 allocated 19,873
adjusted 19,873
actual exp. 11,100
approved for 2015 20,181

2016 recommended: 3124 Training And Staff Dev Fund
2014 actual 11,100
2015 approve 20,181
2016 base budget 20,439
FY 2016 recommended 20,439

Academy
3106 Academy Fund 0001
2013 allocated $ 158,545
adjusted $ 158,545
actual exp. $ 90,612
approved for 2014 $ 157,378

3106 Academy Fund 0001
2014 allocated $ 157,378
adjusted $ 157,378
actual exp. $ 111,238
approved for 2015 $ 167,395

3107 Professional Compliance and Auditing Unit – this budget line shows a 100% cut in 2013 and a -$4+K total for 2012 (PCAU isn’t necessarily training, but through their efforts one of the areas that would be identified is training gaps.)

$737 dollars? $579 dollars? That’s a commitment to quality? $11,000 is a little better, but still — 700 to 800 deputies. That says we do the base minimum and do not care. Each year has an ongoing backfill commitment (you can look it up) for about 16 hours per year. That’s it, for hundreds of deputies in corrections. Though as far as I can tell, it’s never approved for actual use. $90K for the academy? They pay the electricity and water bills, that’s about it from the looks of it. No non-POST-covered training there that we can see.

And yet every year the training money is put out there. In theory a budget surplus should be returned to the pot. That’s the big question — what is happening to that money? Is it going back? Or is the sheriff shuffling it elsewhere?

I have to say, hammering the training issue seems to be scaring the county — I ran a count for the number of times the word “training” was used in each budget. It average 90 times from 2012 through 2015. In the 2016 budget it’s mentioned over 300 times! I would say someone finally bought clue, though sadly little of it is mentioned in either the DoC or Sheriff’s Department budget planning.

Then another issue came up… two years, last year and in the new, yet to be approved budget. PREA requirements. In last year’s budget they established 3 PREA investigator positions in the budget.Let’s be very clear what they are being used for according to the outlined plan in said budget — PREA investigations, Narcotics Investigations, Gang investigations, the replacement for all the investigative power in the jails that used to be 16 enforcement sergeants. They are also to be available to the greater community for any night-time needs for a detective AND Crime Scene Investigations needs. This year they’ve decided they need to expand it by 2. So a total of 5 people doing the job of approximately 20 in the critical areas of PREA, criminal, Narcotics and Gang, and community investigations and evidence collection.

This is their commitment to respond to all criminal activities in the jail.  The best way to ensure you’re holding people responsible is to cut your investigatory power to the bone, right? And training? I haven’t been able to confirm, but it’s rumored that these investigators have not been nor have any future plans to be trained to the required PREA standards, though it’s outlined in the budget as part of the requirements. That some may also not be cross trained to meet some of the other specialized needs like gang/narcotics crimes or evidence collection/CSI training.

We certainly know there has been no comprehensive nor continuing training for deputies for PREA either. For the record, it doesn’t appear that either PREA training or FN 303 training, two recent issues that have been discussed, are reimbursed by POST. I could be wrong and perhaps missed them in the catalog, to be fair. Either way, keep in mind, that doesn’t mean that reimbursement isn’t available — the sheriff could have her corrections academy create the course and seek POST approval to be included in the catalog. She’s had several years to do so now. But that’s work. Much easier to just not train.

The problem, I suspect, is that much like her enforcement academy, it’s mostly staffed with handpicked people because it’s a “choice” assignment. These are often people who do the least because that’s what makes the sheriff happy. You’ll have a number of “work horses” who will bust their butts trying to keep up, but a person can only do so much and so many jobs. It’s also rumored she has blackballed a number of qualified people from the academies because the people who care enough to be qualified to train are often people who stood against the sheriff in some harmful effort and/or during the election. She also still refuses to use South Bay Regional Public Safety Consortium to supplement training, reducing accessibility to an expanded course catalog for deputies and increasing costs for taxpayers  by forcing travel all for no other reason than she can’t put personal issues aside and act with professionalism.

However you cut it, at best the sheriff is sustaining a minimum, at worst, she’s not even managing to do that. She’s certainly not striving to go above and beyond even as she stood in front of the public last election and called us keystone cops, that the only problem was the problem children who were pouting. That her office was nationally recognized, a premier agency to be held up as an example.

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think any agency is going to look up to an office as a premiere example that can’t even sustain basic staffing programs and policies, never mind one struggling to explain 2 deaths in a matter of weeks.

I think given the lack of information on training for enforcement and the anemic appearing effort on the corrections side, the sheriff should be obligated to publicize her training records. Especially seeing as one of the budget issues addressed is adding a training records sergeant to ensure minimum training and records of said training. How exactly have they been maintaining records and standards until now?

To be honest, there is a lot here we can’t tell, a lot I’m speculating on — so let’s get a little of that “Just Culture” to leak down the ladder that we’ve only read about in the budget and see some of that transparency the sheriff claims to have been “discussing at length.”

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Budget links:
2013
2014
2015
2016 (recommended)

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6 thoughts on “A Closer Look at Training

  1. Thank you Casey for mentioning our issue with South Bay Regional. I, along with many other department personnel, would greatly prefer to take required ICI courses at locations that are minutes from our homes. Instead, we have to pack a suitcase and stay at a hotel for one or two weeks at a location several hours away. This poses inconvenience to our families, ourselves, and greater cost of travel. Also, I prefer to network with personnel from other local agencies. It is much more likely that in my career I will work with Milpitas or Sunnyvale instead of Anaheim or Roseville.

    Living in an area where an agency like South Bay exists is an asset to where we live. From my experience, usually the only Agencies who travel long distance to attend ICI do so out of necessity because their Agency is located in a remote part of the state.

    If our Administration has good reason for not allowing us to train through South Bay, I would be more than happy to hear their reasoning. I, and many of us, would appreciate hearing a sound explanation from our Department’s leadership as to the reasons for the existence of this inconvenience that has affected many our Department’s employees. Hearing a sound explanation from our command staff would be an effective way for them to put this issue of South Bay to rest, instead of continuing to allow it to grow.

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  2. This information may not be completely accurate as I was never in the Personnel and Training Division but it is based on my understanding. Budgets are expenses and reimbursement from POST or elsewhere are income. As training expenses arise, they are paid from that line in the budget. If reimbursement is received from POST, that goes back into the County General Fund. You would think that if training was reimbursed 100%, then it would make sense to do it but that is often not the case. It is hard to say that when a proposed budget is submitted to the County, the Sheriff justifies the cost of training by pointing out that much of it is reimbursed and does not cost the taxpayers of this county.

    If training is important to the Sheriff, they can probably justify the cost. Originally the Leadership Development Class meant that one person at a time, usually a sergeant, traveled to the class once a month for eight months. Chuck Gillingham thought it was important enough to hold the class at the department after going years without promotions. That enabled about twenty people at a time to take it. The costs, including back fill overtime, had to be paid by the County, even though some percentage was reimbursed by POST.

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    • It’s hard to know what is going on exactly. There is no transparency, there is no information put out on budget. People in enforcement and corrections have been talking about the lack of training for years. When you look at the information the county and sheriff do make available best you can tell is that, at best, they’re meeting a minimum and no more; given complaints there’s a good probability she’s barely doing that. I didn’t even mention the shame of that from a sheriff that has been a sitting POST commissioner for how many years now.

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      • The Sheriff only sits on the POST Commission because of some element of prestige and it gets her out of the office. She can go to Sacramento and pal around with other officials. It does nothing to benefit her department. She cancelled the Sheriff’s Leadership Development classes started by her predecessor. She knew the open discussion would focus on her deficiencies and ferment of her reign. I’ll let others draw parallels with the methods of dictators to control thought and dialog.

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        • Pretty much like all her appointments, it’s prestige on paper, opportunities to manipulate things for her personal benefit and absolutely nothing for her office. If anything, her sitting on various commissions and committees has allowed her to create such adversarial relationships with those she feels “compete” with her that it actually harms her office.

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  3. Training at the sheriffs office has been an on-going joke because the only training we get is in-house training days or it’s mandatory….so, the minimum is right. We would have to take days off, if we can get them and pay for it unless your hand picked by certain admin as an up and coming deputy who will or has drank the Kool Aid.

    Also paying for Mandatory first aid and CPR for years is another joke.

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