No Surprises, No Real Commitment to “Comprehensive”

Lethargy and political gamesmanship wins and I continue to question more and more why I am doing this blog with so little support and the now years-long blatant lack of concern from our elected officials.

LaDoris Cordell, the person who did nothing but blame San Jose PD for everything wrong in San Jose and helped a mayor deconstruct the moral of a department that should be 2000 today and is more around 800, has been selected to join the Sheriff who is desperately in need of diverting the subject from her neglectful and self-centric leadership and administration to  “look at all the bad, bad deputies.” It’s not the first time the sheriff has tried, and been successful at diverting the issue with the help of friends. But this isn’t the first time we’ve tried to address the lack of leadership in the office and been ignored either.  Why should anything change now, things have gone so well so far.

We have two supervisors encumbered with political favors to the sheriff, who have repeatedly stepped out in support of the sheriff despite publicized concerns they never bothered to examine for validity.  Perhaps if they had listened at any point in 2013 or the beginning of 2014 they would have seen the potential of this. But they didn’t. They didn’t care. The sheriff was their “friend” and apparently that meant more to them than doing their job then, why should it suddenly matter to them now. Hey, if they get the sheriff to spend a little more overtime on another gun buy back day rather than say a detective investigating a rape case, the public will forget.

A law enforcement representative that appears to have something of a political background I’ve not yet had the opportunity to dig into but first look is a little disconcerting and whose “custody operations experience” from what I’ve been able to find to point involves little more than an intake and holding facility that Santa Clara had before they transported to the actual county jail.  Perhaps I’m wrong, I hope I’m wrong, but if I’m right, that’s a pretty big leap from what we’re talking about to his experience. I apologize if he has other experience, I think the supervisors should be more clear who these people are and what their level of expertise is so the public can attempt to trust them as much as they do.

There appears to be only one representative from law enforcement, I thought we were promised at least 2 seats.  Shocking I know, but with so many deputies and officers being bad people, they must have had a hard time finding even one they could trust.

Three judges, but only one politically tied former officer, and not a single person with expertise in actually running a jail successfully — or even working in a full jail from what I can tell on the face of things.  Logic clearly isn’t the leading factor in selection — not if you’re seeking to address broad ranging policy, training practices from academy to perishable skills and everything beyond, standardizing and ensuring protocols that meet today’s best practices in all areas, or improving security issues for staff, inmates and others.

Debug, La Raza, the NAACP — all seats at the table.  More weight, again, given to this sector than those that can address what was initially promised — a comprehensive review of custodial processes, procedures and protocols.  This looks like a pretty damned narrow review to me, not “comprehensive.”  Perhaps the NAACP can tell us what the standard of training should be for use of pepperspray?  Oh yeah, get rid of it and talk nice, it’s not like an unarmed inmate can actually kill you or anything.

While I see a plethora of people who have a function in the field of mental health, a critical component, I see no one who can look at a jail policy…. not a soul, but perhaps I missed something or don’t know something… that can look at a random policy outside of, and perhaps even related to mental health, and understand what components it has, what it may be missing, what if any standard for jails and prisons exists from state or federal agencies, and what are current recommendations for the subject of the policy.

How do you build a functioning mental health program on a broken foundation and expect it to work?

Apparently they don’t.  We got what we fought for and this statement completely sums it up, “there was an obvious discrepancy between the written policies and what is actually happening in the county.” How do you even make a statement like that when you’ve yet to look at policy to know what “written policy” states?  How do you even know a current policy exists for any given subject? Because there is a lot of missing policy.  Apparently the policy for the FN 303 — “according to training.” But it doesn’t appear there was any substantial training for a matter most agencies call perishable; a single sentence is not a policy. They don’t have any idea what written policy is, but they’ve clearly already made the assumption against deputies — policy exists, it is acceptable, and what is actually happening must be the deputies who aren’t following policy.

Take the PREA policy for example — apparently created only a couple years ago and not even complete.  It states all policies should be reviewed not less than once a year, however it starts with “as staffing allows.”  Since the sheriff gutted all staffing positions that would have a review process, I guess that’s okay then.  Staffing doesn’t allow it.

The PREA policy also states that the facilities will “strictly adhere to” all laws, yet in the same section only gives a throw away to staff training as “all applicable staff training.”  We’re in 2015, weeks away from 2016 — applicable training on this matter is a 2 year perishable cycle. But that’s okay, the sheriff never really provided legitimate training back in 2013 either.

But the deputies…you know!  They just aren’t following policy!  Because, of course, they set the training schedule themselves.

Don’t get me wrong. Santa Clara is in dire need of a functional mental health program to work alongside and inside the jails.  This is an absolutely necessary component of what should be addressed.  A component – meaning it’s a part of a bigger picture.  A picture that will not reflect favorably on the sheriff so they appear to be trying to push it to the side for a buzzword subject.  As I said, how do you build a functioning mental health program on a broken foundation?  Who cares, the buzzwords are there to make the public happy.  The actions are being taken and if they can keep anyone from looking at the fact policy is lacking, training is lacking, staffing is lacking, among many other deficient areas, it’s all good.

Good luck.  Our only hope now is that someone on that commission actually takes this seriously and asks the sheriff the hard questions directly, not the guy they put in to be a buffer, John Hirokawa.  I’m not holding my breath.


3 thoughts on “No Surprises, No Real Commitment to “Comprehensive”

  1. Pingback: You are Now Defenders of the Status Quo | Casey Thomas' World

  2. I know I’m only one person, but I appreciate your insights immensely. It’s a complete shame that the whole county seems to be mesmerized into ignoring all this crap to the point they just don’t care. Since most of them don’t have mental issues that will put them in jail personally, there’s no reason (in their minds) to raise a stink for better elected officials. Sadly these people are the same ones who carelessly vote for the incumbent because they are too damn lazy to actually investigate those running for office. I’ve posted many a Casey Thomas blog on my Facebook page, worked on the calling committee for Kevin Jensen, and encouraged people to sign the recent petition. The apathy in this county astounds me.

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