The Sheriff’s Version of Jenga

From beginning to end, the sheriff simply does not care. She believes that no matter how poor her decisions, no matter who is put at risk, no matter who is harmed, as long as a deputy can be blamed, reprimanded, fired, and/or charged, she can walk away from any failed decision unscathed. As long as her tower doesn’t fall with each block pulled, she will keep it up.

Many people have forgotten in all the hubbub about Johnell Lee Carter, the man that escaped while awaiting his day in court facing life in prison with a laundry list of violent crime under his belt. A man not treated as a serious threat even though he was just given 175 years to life for his latest crimes.  Most jails treat people who are facing serious sentences for serious crimes as a higher risk inmate, even though not yet convicted.

More importantly than the escape and the failed policy to protect public safety, we forgot the sheriff’s reaction to the policy that endangered an officer and ultimately the public. While her jails, training, staffing, and other facets of the jail were disintegrating around her unbeknownst to the public, her response to a dangerous inmate so easily finding an opportunity to escape was, “she was comfortable with the policies and procedures in place, noting that it’s been 10 years since the last inmate escape.”

Her response is the equivalent to, “that’s how we’ve always done it, that’s how we’ll continue to do it.”  It certainly explains her lack of progression in virtually every area of her office. Most leaders with a real concern would look at a security gap that has been shown to them and do something about it. Clearly this is a major area of weakness that was easily exploited and with it becoming common knowledge is even more at risk of being exploited again.

The sheriff stated that they’re “always looking at their policies and procedures,” something we now know to be false. She used the phrase “policies and procedures” several times in that video link, because she knew that was the problem; though she felt it a serious enough issue to assure the public repeatedly she was addressing policies, ultimately she did not.

But additionally, in the that video she claims she is always reviewing policies. Many policies and procedures haven’t been reviewed in years; we didn’t know that then, we know it now.

But don’t worry, she immediately dismissed the notion that it was a policy or procedural problem in her statement by saying there hadn’t been an escape in years — easing the public conscience knowing she wasn’t going to review or update anything. She couldn’t anyway.  Since the sheriff took over she did away with JAD, she did away with PCAU, she stopped looking for problems. In her opinion and in her own mind there were no problems and apparently could be none under her better than perfect management. She claimed to have reviewed the transportation policy after this incident, but I would question that she did and if she did, how seriously since nothing changed.

The sheriff doesn’t understand, problems themselves don’t destroy careers and legacies, it’s how the person deals with the problems  that either builds or destroys a person’s legacy.  Ignoring problems, pretending they don’t exist, destroying the infrastructure meant to deal with them because you can’t perceive in your own mind how a problem would dare show itself on your watch despite your negligent management — that’s the sheriff’s legacy.

This is the cavalier attitude that our sheriff has always had towards ensuring security. She would rather fall back on “how we’ve always done it” than spend another dime making sure two officers transport inmates to ensure public safety. Thankfully no one was seriously injured, given today’s world where killing a cop is considered the height of honor in too many circles, we shouldn’t take security lightly.

The sheriff claimed repeatedly in the above video that they address policies and procedures. But we recently saw 3 deputies assigned to a high risk floor with no direct senior supervision, all who appear at this point to have lacked certain elements in their training. We saw the inappropriate and dangerous use of a high powered projectile launcher due to lack of training that may have resulted in the death of an inmate. We saw that there is no reasonable camera coverage and there’s been no attempt to correct that problem though deputies have been pointing to it as an issue for at least 10 years now.

And we have other issues in desperate need of investigation. The latest to come to mind for a number of reasons is CASU and repeated reports that this program is not being properly administered.  No, it’s not entirely new.  I’ve been trying to get someone to look at the CASU program for a long time as you can see from that link.

Even with questions and concerns about the CASU program and how the sheriff may be running it in a manner that endangers the public — from having corrections deputies on the street in potential high risk scenarios without a sufficient training regiment, to questions about how they’re addressing, if they’re addressing violations by inmates who are on on early release out in our community — she has now promoted both the lieutenant and the captain overseeing this program to assistant sheriff and captain. Both have been in a position of oversight within CASU and if there are truly any issues, and I have no reason to believe my sources have not told the truth, both would have had to look the other way, or even go so far as to have altered reports or given orders to deputies to not do their job correctly.  If this is true at any level, the sheriff is so secure in this situation not being examined, that she has promoted the leadership of this program because in her mind it is a “success.”

We are now 10 days past the announcement that the blue ribbon commission has been appointed, a significant number of the appointees have been stripped of a vote yet still allowed to sit in a position that would lead the conversation, the sheriff is out of town yet again even while her office is in a state of crisis and she’s supposed to be sitting on this committee, and we still haven’t seen a schedule of meetings for the public. The leader of this “blue ribbon commission” promised us a report in 16 weeks — nearly two of them are already gone.

When does someone in this county decide the role of the sheriff’s office is important enough to take seriously?


3 thoughts on “The Sheriff’s Version of Jenga

  1. Hey CT,

    Seems the Sheriff and Sups have been at it again and the Blue Ribbon commission is nothing but tattered rags flying over the Sheriff’s Office.


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