Sheriff Laurie Smith’s War Strategy

prejudices

I don’t even know where to begin. I’ve been tied up for a time with some other things, and will be for awhile longer and I just haven’t been able to keep up.  Let me state up front in regards to the deputies/officers in corrections that were caught saying some pretty heinous things — you’re grown ups, you made your choices, you know the repercussions.  Whatever your reasoning, I don’t want to know.  I don’t care.  What I do care about is you’ve managed to not just harm yourselves at this point, but the entirety of the CPOA and the DSA.  You’ve made our jobs harder, you’ve made it harder for the public to trust us to be fair. There is not a person out there with a distrust of cops that will believe the 1000 other people wearing a uniform in this office didn’t know and participate. You’ve “proven” in the minds of those who profile cops that we’re all racists, not just us, but all cops. You have done to others what we try so hard to not have done to us  – belittled them to the representation of the worst that is among all of us and by doing that, you’ve done it to us.

Even worse, you have given that weapon to a woman who will apply the philosophy in the above graphic with a vengeance to protect herself from our efforts to bring her lack of ethics to the public eye. You’ve undone the little headway we’ve made in getting the public to understand just how truly corrupt the character of our sheriff is and made us the sole problem in the eyes of far to many. Understand, it’s very hard to care about what happens to you when you brought so much damage on others who have been trying to change things — or simply trying to do their job with pride and accountability.  You probably aren’t thinking much beyond the mess you’ve found yourself in, but I hope some day you take the time to regret the more broad reaching damage you have done to our community, deputies and citizens, as a whole. To say I’m disappointed doesn’t begin to address how I feel.

That said…

I have been overwhelmed with life for a bit and haven’t kept up with everything happening.  I’ve been watching and wanting to write, but time has gotten away from me.

First I was going to write a piece called the “Invisible Man”. It was going to be about how Michael Tyree’s attorney was right when she stated, “they messed with the wrong guy…he had people who loved him.” We’ve heard NOTHING more about Mr. Walter Roches. He’s literally become invisible — when we talk about the Blue Ribbon Commission, when we talk about what is happening at the jail, he’s not even offered an anonymous mention. Hell, even LaDoris Cordell seems to have forgotten about him, holding a prayer for “Michael Tyree and others who’ve been abused.”  He’s dead, he’s gone, he is already forgotten.  He has no family or attorney to speak for him, so the Sheriff wants you to forget she still hasn’t released the autopsy of a man who had as much as 15″ of abdominal bruising that could have been internal bleeding due to deputies, sergeants and lieutenants not having been properly trained on dangerous equipment they were given to use.

The man that died less than a mile away from the jail on the highway, reportedly after being released on his own rather than into the required care of a caretaker — he doesn’t even reach to the level of being given a name by the sheriff. He is nothing more than a nameless problem for her, and as long as she can keep him nameless, he’s not much of a problem.

Then I was going to write about the “changes at the jails”. I had to LMAO when I saw the “changes”. So they’re going to move an LT and a Sgt to D-Team. Awesome. Sheriff Laurie stated at the press conference people won’t do bad things when supervisors are watching. Well DUH! Then explain to us why she has hacked away at supervision in the jails without a qualm if she knew and understood that to be a fact. Why she’s promoted people to supervisory  positions that are probably more in need of direct supervision than most?  It’s stunning how she knows and understands concepts like this yet continues to take action in direct conflict with good practice when she thinks no one is looking.

Then I saw one of the changes was that lieutenants and sergeants have to keep activity logs? Want to know how seriously she takes activity logs? She puts a PIO out in front of the media every day who is a proven liar. Who was caught falsifying his activity logs, padding them with the work of his co-workers. Yes, he was held accountable for a handful of days and then given a position where the sheriff could best utilize his skill set — Public Information Officer. The problem is, he is an officer caught lying in a professional capacity. It’s called being a “Brady Cop” — where you can not be trusted to testify because you are a proven liar. Trust me, the man has no qualms about not being… shall we say “transparent”. He’s proven that. So when one of her people in the jails is found padding their activity reports, what do you think is going to really happen?

Then I saw how the sheriff was “disgusted” by the racist texts she found during an investigation. Let me make no bones about it, I find what was said disgusting as well. On that, the sheriff and I agree — at least on the face of things. The problem is the sheriff has no problem promoting and supporting open racism and misogyny. None whatsoever. She had an Assistant Sheriff who was openly racist and never held back when he had some thing to say about any race. I guess they thought it was okay, his being an “equal opportunity” racist. He had at least one, I believe two sexual harassment grievances against him. Again, nothing ever happened to him. I have talked to a number of deputies who worked with him as he promoted through the ranks. They were embarrassed to be associated with him, didn’t want to be standing next to him when he started running his mouth because, in theory, it was only a matter of time before repercussions hit him. Problem was, no matter how egregious he was with his offensive comments — to minorities and women — he was never punished. For that matter, he is working for the sheriff, raking in taxpayer dollars over and beyond his retirement as a contractor doing background checks on new corrections and enforcement candidates. What a coincidence, huh?

She takes misogyny so seriously, a sexual harassment grievance was filed against one of the people in her Human Trafficking Task Force. It was filed by an outside agency, from what I’ve been told, who participates in the task force. Since the only other agency is the District Attorney’s office, we can assume the comments were so offensive to them that they were the ones that demanded his removal. His punishment? My understanding? It was a division letter that will be gone when he moves with the next transfer in February. No time off, no record in his personnel file. Like it never happened. And he’s placed in his choice of special assignments. Stunning accountability.

So please, when the sheriff stands there and tells us she’s disgusted, try to keep it in the context of the fact that she is DESPERATE to shine the spotlight off the fact her leadership has resulted in a number of utterly horrific incidents, potentially including as many as 3 deaths at this point.

YES, when a deputy does wrong, they need to be addressed. They need to be addressed fairly and equally. Not promoted if they’re willing to commit their lack of morals to Laurie Smith’s personal efforts. Certainly the entire agency, enforcement and corrections, shouldn’t be thrown under the bus because the actions of a few for public entertainment and diversion from the equally offensive actions of self-centered leadership.

The sad thing is rather than being a leader, taking responsibility, addressing the problems in a professional manner, Sheriff Laurie has instead decided to start a public war with her entire agency. For every wrong that can be attributed to her, she feeds the anti-law enforcement sentiment to change the subject. It’s our understanding from a source off the fourth floor that Cheryl Stevens left because the sheriff is refusing advice from county counsel and allowing the $100K (I’m betting more than that now) lobbyist lawyers to spin this war for her. They can’t fire you sheriff, do whatever you want, they elected you, they love you. No problem. The thing I find myself wondering — do her spin doctor friends realize that every time the sheriff points a finger, four are pointing back at her and her history is filthy? Oh, sheriff, it will come out. As I said, she started a war. I sincerely doubt the deputies who have watched her for well over a decade with their own disgust are simply going to stand by and allow her to paint them all as the bad element in the office.

Deputies throughout the agency are dumbstruck — she’s suddenly investigating workman’s comp fraud, despite reports being filed about potential fraud in the past that were NEVER even glanced at, never mind take so far as to be investigated. She’s investigating someone who looked at the computer — and making public allegations about sharing that information with the Hell’s Angels, I certainly hope she has proof of that claim because that guy will own the county if it’s not.  She has to tie this to something more, precedent demands it if she doesn’t want to be made a fool of when this comes to court. And then she’s suddenly concerned about racism, despite having promoted one of the biggest racists in her office all the way up to the Fourth Floor.

The saying “you are what you eat” kind of applies here — you are what you’re led by. When the so called leaders of the office do things to intentionally demean — like Beliveau forcing subordinates to write his name repeatedly if they misspell it, what do you think the overall picture of how to treat a subordinate becomes by those below him? Especially when you promote him all the way up to the fourth floor? But demeaning subordinates is nothing new — it’s the norm as we’ve seen, almost like it’s expected by the ghosts of the fourth floor.  We’ve known it was a growing problem for nearly a decade now. A willingness to demean others, mock them, intimidate them — that’s what gets you promoted in Sheriff Smith’s office, that is the example that is put in front of people every day.  Leadership who can’t make a decision, won’t do their job, assuming they know how to do it to begin with and get pleasure in minimizing subordinates.  So really, should it be any wonder that we’re seeing that creep down the ranks?

Now she has her little friend Herhold making an argument in his column to make the correctional officers full deputies — something that many have been arguing for only to be ignored.  She wants to make the idea hers now, she’s a “leader.” The problem is, as we inside the office know it, she won’t do it fairly. She’s already shown that. She is willing to overlook poor backgrounds, she’s proven that to enforcement repeatedly. She is willing to screw with the process when it comes to people she doesn’t like, no matter how well they’ve done their job. She’s proven that to corrections repeatedly. What corrections may not know that enforcement does know — the better you do your job, the more she feels you “know more than her” or her protected class, the less likely you’re going to be treated fairly.  Her protected class have all been taught to be offended by those who point out where things can be improved. There isn’t a man or woman left that fully trusts her to do the right thing.

We hear over and over in different ways from the sheriff how she didn’t know, she didn’t realize, and they’re going to fix it. Problem is, none of these problems are situations that appear overnight. These are problems that have been manifesting themselves for far to long. Her words are not the words of an engaged leader who is a part of and in communication with her office. Neither is the current state of the office; the result of her work, the standard she set during the election. The behavior of the administration is clear. I’ve spent over two years documenting the sheriff’s disregard. Yet somehow, people continue to believe, in the sheriff’s case anyway, that leadership couldn’t have possibly done anything pro-active to prevent these developing problems. We see Chiefs and Commissioners fired all over the country for the product of their leadership — Baltimore, Ferguson — “leaders” who failed to ensure best practices were happening. Baltimore had numerous injuries and lost millions over a number of years prior for the same practices that resulted in the death of Freddie Gray. No one at the top made sure to see that it stopped. It helped protect officers in some ways, not having to get in a small space with someone who may be intent on harming them. Leadership did nothing to improve the situation, nothing to make it safer for officers and suspects, nothing to change the system — and someone died. And someone lost their job. Why can other cities see the impact of the lack of leadership, yet the supposed brain trust of the nation, Silicon Valley, is blind?

It’s awesome in it’s obliviousness to see the Blue Ribbon Commission outraged about how so many things appear to have not been investigated, yet somehow fail to make the connection to the top of the ladder for the fault in that.

We simply can not trust the sheriff to do the right thing at this point. We can’t trust anyone on the fourth floor at this point. They’ve given every reason to believe they’re corrupt, they’re unwilling to say they are responsible for the lack of training, the lack of policy, the lack of communication, the lack of updated equipment, the lack of supervision. If nothing else, they have been willing to stand silent in the face of this growing disaster and that alone shows they’re far more worried about self-preservation, even in the worst environment, than they are concerned about the success of the office.

Sheriff, Undersheriff, Ass. Sheriff’s — to be blunt, an agency run by people who give a damn about something other than micromanaging to punish people, their take home cars, and name dropping doesn’t look like this. An agency with a leadership that feels a responsibility towards it’s success isn’t trying to hide dead bodies and humiliate the entire line staff to get people to look the other way.

If there is a body on the Fourth Floor with any integrity and a care for the success of this office, Smith, Hirokawa, Binder, Beliveau and Neusel would all step down. Let the agency heal, let someone who cares about the agency lead it. I do not believe any of the five care about anything other than themselves, their power, their ability to step on others, and their bank accounts.

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4 thoughts on “Sheriff Laurie Smith’s War Strategy

  1. Full Circle: Scott Herlong’s story lacked many simple TRUTHS. Not only facts but TRUTHS. The most glaring and simple TRUTH is that while the DOC existed apart from the Sheriff’s Office the jails never experienced this type of melt down. TRUTH: Street stops do not apply to the JAILS. CUSTODY SPECIFIC TRAINING applies to the jails. This is not to demean the Deputies. They know what they have been taught. It is like being taught German to translate Spanish. You can figure stuff out but mistakes will be made.The answer is to return to the DOC training. Use the ALADs models again. Return to the basics.

    830.1 (C) P.C. was created to be used in a method that addressed all the issues we are facing. You must read the Legislative Intent of 830.1 (C) P.C. to understand the balance intended. You see LA Deputies took up to 5 years before their first street assignment. Although they gain an insight into the criminals and the criminal mindset while working the Jails, the street tactics were diminished due to lack of use. LA County had to spend time refreshing these skills while on FTO. By creating a system that addressed the redundant training costs money would be saved and the deputies coming from the Jails would better prepared. Deputies would be mentored and monitored while in the Jails and a better more complete product would be the end result.

    The Jail Specific Training the 830.1(C) P.C. would prepare them for the issues they would immediately face within the Jails. This training would be tailored and intensified. The length of the Academy would be shortened as items that would not be used in the jails would be reserved for the second module given when the Deputy Transitioned to the streets and gained the 830.1 (A) P.C. Status.This provided savings in training costs, addressed the immediate needs for Deputies to staff the newly built Twin Towers, and had the added benefit of retaining staff. You see other departments could not steal the 830.1 P.C. Deputies with having to complete additional training.

    All this said: Santa Clara County followed this model in their own way until just a few short years ago when full control of the Jails were returned to Sheriff’s Department. Rather than continue what was working and modify it to offer a transition model similar to LA County, the Sheriff’s Office choose to reinvent the training. Not learning from the past, they went with what they knew: Street Training. This left out valuable information and training you need to understand and survive the jail training. These new trainees came into the jails with mindset they were already trained better than the JTOs that were training them. Administration, not wanting these new trainees to fail, manipulated the training in place. Responsible JTOs that documented the deficiencies in these new Deputies were not used and/or replaced by those who would pass them through. Trainees who had negative documentation were given a different JTO who would write additional documentation that would supersede the original documentation. Those JTOs that did not play along were no longer given trainees. You see JTO status cannot be removed without cause and they could not come out and say they are removing your JTO Status for doing your job and properly documenting the trainee. It is far easier to just not use the JTO.

    So you see Mr..Herlong the problem is not the officers on the deck, it is the folks that gave you the Kool-aid at the top. They changed the training models that worked for decades, and destroyed it in 4 short years. You failed to look at history, and as such only listened to the whispers of you Caesar. You failed the TRUTH. You failed your profession by not answering the glaring questions of Why, What, When and How. These are the cornerstones of good journalism. Ignoring these is propaganda. So let me help you with places you should have started so that you might redeem yourself.

    WHY DID THIS HAPPEN. The County need to save money so they finally admitted double administrations and department were not saving money. This was a stark reversal of decades long dogma.

    WHAT HAPPENED. The Jails were given back to the Sheriff’s office that had been out of the Jail business for over 2 decades that still had an axe to grind over the jails being taken away in the first place. Let the witch hunts begin.

    WHEN DID THIS OCCUR. A little over 4 years ago. Funny most of the current problems can be traced to this time period. Look for similar problems in the 20 plus years prior you find a stark contrast. During the DOC years you find a National Model. In the years since the Sheriff’s Office has taken over you find a National Joke.

    HOW DID THIS OCCUR. The Board of Supervisors and Dr. Jeffery Smith in particular failed to provide fail safes during the transition. They allowed a group of people whose true agenda was to prove they were better than another group to have complete control while turning a blind eye to the warning signs. I know for a fact these signs were pointed out as I among the Union Officials that tried. You see a simple method of transitional training was replaced with a who new system based upon the outdated jails training and street methodology that caused the Board of Supervisors to remove the jails from the Sheriff years ago. You see history is repeating itself.

    FACTS: Lawsuits created the DOC and caused it to be separated from the Sheriff’s office. Branson, Batchelder, and Fischer are the trilogy that documents the failings of the Sheriff’s Office. The facts of these cases seem to be repeating themselves in the issues being filed today. Common Thread? Sheriffs Department’s archaic mindset. Why did you break what was working. It could have been as simple as adding a street module to transition Deputies to the streets. LA County does it. From the Jails to the streets they are Deputies in LA.

    BOTTOM LINE: Someone had to get even and now everyone has to pay.

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  2. Put Your Best Players in the Game
    December 12, 2015

    Tony Moreno is a retired 32-year veteran detective with the LAPD. He has recently written a book, Cops in America: Dealing with the Ferguson Effect, and maintains his website atwww.gangcop.com. You might remember the movie COLORS: he drove the Yellow Fury and was given the name Pac Man.

    By Tony Moreno (LAPD/Ret.)
    Leadership is at the core of the morale problems plaguing today’s law enforcement officer. “One-dimensional leadership” is management’s practice of using intellectuals and academics to design their strategies for solving policing issues.
    These are well-educated people who have little or no actual hands-on, practical experience in police work. They don’t do the actual job. They are well-respected students of policing whose philosophies and theories are blessed by management. Some ideas are good and some not so good. This creates serious morale problems because those officers who actually do the job are not consulted for their input prior to the implementation of a strategy.

    The “elite” of law enforcement leaders have a collection of lobbyists, consulting firms, and think tanks that provide research and strategies for policing. The knowledge or input of the experienced frontline officers who actually do the job is rarely considered.
    The coach isn’t putting his “best player” in the game. It’s ironic because many of today’s “innovators” use the theme of returning to the “cop on the beat” method of community policing.
    That is because the “cop on the beat” understood the job, the people, and their problems.
    Yet in today’s intellectual environment, that actual “cop on the beat” would not be consulted for his unique wisdom and knowledge. Police work can be a dirty, nasty, and unpleasant job.
    Few people possess the mental endurance needed to be successful at it. Today’s frontline officers are considered at the bottom of law enforcement’s food chain due to their assignment and the rank connected with that assignment.
    Officers do not feel appreciated by their bosses for the difficult job they do. For a police executive to tell a group of officers to “dump the warrior mentality” and adopt a “guardian” mindset is demeaning and lacks insight.
    During a normal shift, a patrol officer will wear many hats, depending on the situation. That officer may be a counselor, teacher, parent, adviser, referee, babysitter, mediator, or coach.
    “Warrior” and “guardian” are just two more of the many roles the frontline officer must fulfill. In talking to frontline officers, I can tell you that many are upset, resentful, and frustrated by management’s lack of concern and respect for them. Everyone else’s opinion about their job seems to be more important.
    The spirit of doing police work is being sucked right out of officers by a leadership they perceive doesn’t respect or support them and caters to public opinion, which is the “easy way out.”
    This is a serious problem. One solution is a balanced mix of intellectual ideas and theories blended with the valued wisdom and experience that can only come from the frontline.
    Put those highly educated minds in a room with seasoned, battle-scarred veteran cops and watch the real innovation begin.
    Add another dimension to the problem-solving process by including insight, ideas, and knowledge that come from experienced officers.
    You stand a better chance of winning by putting your “best players” in the game.

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  3. I believe the Sheriff’s Office is filled with great people, even a few in admin but we will never see how great the office can be until “she” leaves.

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  4. Interesting that some media outlets (ie. Mercury/News) are giving more coverage to the jail issue than other sources. It is what is needed to heal the problem and move forward. I am not surprised about the comments in the paper about the need to make C.O.’s full deputy sheriff’s. I believe this is another subtle way to get the Sheriff’s Office to move in that direction for a full deputy department. Unfortunately, I don’t believe this will address the real issues. Just look at some of her staff. They look and dress the part of a full-time deputy sheriff, however, they are not. The public and others can’t distinguish one from the other.

    Not everyone wants to be a full-time peace officer. They didn’t necessarily apply, train or otherwise want to be a deputy sheriff. Then there is the issue of training, testing, backgrounding, etc. between the two job classifications. What do you do with personnel who do not want or cannot pass additional qualifications? Peace officers or not, it still does not address nor minimize additional incidents in the future from occurring.

    I have complete respect for the men and women who do this job, whether as a full time deputy sheriff or a correctional officer. The job is getting harder and public scrutiny more intense. I do believe that it is unfortunate some would push an agenda to make all employees deputy sheriff’s. I do not direct this comment at the author of the Mercury/News article whom I may not always agree but I do respect.

    The real issue is lack of leadership from the top down. After numerous years of weak leadership, the results we see are not really unexpected. If we were talking about a chief of police, they would have most likely been replaced. Unfortunately, we have an elected sheriff who is not easily removed or replaced. Her recent acknowledgement of racial and other issues seems very convenient now that there is public reaction to the jail inmate deaths. What did she know and when did she know it may seem cliche but appropriate. Someone should check her past, her emails/texts, her history and step forward with information. I know the evidence is out there.

    Let’s start a new chapter and one with transparency and truth. It is only with this type of foundation can we hope to build a strong infrastructure and gain community support. With continuing hostilities we see in France, San Bernadino and elsewhere, we need to be focused on the job and public we were sworn to protect.

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