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.
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.