Dan Noyes, ABC7 let another failure out of the bag and strangely enough, the rest of the media is still silent and refusing to dig dirt on the sheriff if they can avoid it.
The sheriff’s office knew about a case of child molestation back in 2012 and investigations dropped the ball and now there’s another victim. Let me repeat that — the sheriff’s office investigation’s division failed to complete an investigation and because of that, there is another victim. The initial investigation in 2012 appears to have determined there was enough information to raise the case to investigation to complete the process and it was never completed. I’ve heard several rumors as to why, but at this point we can assume like so many others it was lost in the poor management and lack of staffing consistency that any investigations division needs to succeed.
Let’s start with the individual responsible for running Investigations. It’s run by a captain who’s idea of mentoring is exemplified in the now infamous letter posted earlier by this blog. You know the letter where he tears people who worked for him down for their uniforms, personal traits and other non-essential issues and says they’re not worthy of promotion without barely a mention of work ethic, capability, or the fact that as their supervisor at varying points he never addressed the issues? A captain who’s first move in Investigations, I’ve been told, was to put up his Captain America paraphernalia and tell everyone too call him “Cap”. Your first thought there should probably be more along the lines of Andy Capp rather than Captain America.
Let’s talk about how investigations is run. First off, an assignment into investigations, as we’ve said before, is only 3-5 years. Unlike other agencies around the country there is no investment into developing a detective into something better, a person more skilled, with a diverse understanding of the tools available to conduct an investigation successfully. For the most part it’s just another patrol assignment to rotate through. Then, people are frequently shuffled from one assignment to another within investigations at the whim of the captain.
Investigations used to at least be comprised of mostly experienced sergeants and deputies about a decade and more back. At least they had that going for them then. Now it has mostly new deputies and newly promoted sergeants bringing increasingly less cumulative experience to a division that should thrive on experience — experience brought from other areas, as well as accumulating experience over time as a detective. But Sheriff Smith’s investigations division offers none of that, the captain doesn’t fight for that. As near as I can figure, because they don’t understand it matters. There is no leadership, there is no mentoring, deputies are moved in and left to do for themselves as detectives in many ways.
The the entire Sheriff’s Office is painfully mismanaged and it’s no different in Investigations with little oversight and no leadership or organization to ensure good case management by deputies that are overburdened. Perhaps if office personnel wasn’t down nearly 20% the sheriff could make an argument that we need more detective positions. But she won’t, probably can’t at this point, fill those positions.
There is no system for case management in Investigations. Remember that crack I made the other day on FB about the sheriff’s office never will be in an article about new technology? That applies here. From what sources tell me the investigations computer systems are an entry only system, no tracking process, no means to quickly determine at what point in the process a case is currently at, no alert system to notify a detective a case is still open and should be looked at, no scheduling alerts or any other tool to keep a forgotten case on the rails to completion. For example, with a case like Sierra LaMar, because the captain doesn’t know how to run an investigation, the sheriff interferes with anyone who does because no one can be smarter than her or her admin, because resources are used so inefficiently, everyone is required to drop everything for a single case and other cases get lost. Weeks or months later, you’re digging through a new stack of investigations that have come in and have yet to even looked at, the cases you were working on are on the back burner. Cases get lost in the overwhelming chaos that would challenge even the most organized.
We can only hope that’s what happened in the case involving the Flynn’s. Because I really hope it’s not another case of the sheriff had a relationship with a well off individual and the case was put down because of that. AAA Auto and their scam with cars comes to mind, as does Audrie Pott. Has anyone looked to see if he’s an associate of the sheriff or an SAB member? Oh, that’s right, the membership of the non-profit group that gives the sheriff money is secret.
Back to the management of the Investigations division though. There is no manual means of tracking cases either in lieu of technology. The captain has no system with which he oversees case management. No checks and balances to know what cases are coming in and at what point they are in any given time. He holds no daily or weekly meeting for detectives to update their case status to give the department leadership an idea of what work flow looks like or apprise other detectives of ongoing cases in the event they cross over each other so they can share information. I would say the administration didn’t care, but to be honest, I don’t believe they truly understand this is a problem that needs to be addressed and their narcissism has prevented them from understanding their management is less than perfect.
Even worse, I’ve been told by several sources in recent weeks that there may be literally thousands of cases that remain “open” in the system, and people have no idea if they’re complete, stagnant or simply forgotten unless they filter those open cases and look up each case individually.
I’ve no doubt the sheriff is going to try to throw some investigator under the bus on this, but we can not ignore the continued downward spiral she has put this office into. This blog repeatedly stated how poorly the Sierra LaMar case was managed, calling her a missing person for a week after her belongings were found laying on the ground, running the investigation as if she was still a runaway. members of the Klaas Foundation spoke out regarding the lack of will on the part of the sheriff and her administration to find Sierra as well.
We know how the administration tried to manipulate the Audrie Pott case because the sheriff had so many personal relationships on both sides of the situation. When it was pointed out the delays lost evidence she claimed they had all the evidence and none was lost due to delays or any other reason. If it weren’t for deputies outraged when the then West Valley captain, now assistant sheriff, was trying to bury the incident with a few well placed citations, Audrie Pott would have received no justice. As it was, she didn’t receive nearly what she should have.
We saw how there was virtually no investigation into the Metcalf substation and one captain kept telling deputies to write a report for vandalism and leave. A lieutenant, since promoted to a captain, refused to show up to the scene until 8 AM despite events having been ongoing since about 3AM. The Undersheriff at the behest of the sheriff wrote a letter to Zoe Lofgren, who had asked for an explanation, that gave a distinctly different set of events than the logs showed. Look where we are today — Super Bowl Sunday around the corner and multiple cases of infrastructure attacks have been written off as vandalism by our law enforcement administration. Feel safer yet?
The list goes on for a decade now and shows no sign of stopping: Sierra, Audrie, the DeAnza case, Metcalf, Aldon Smith’s victimhood, the Internal Affairs investigations, and now the adopted children of the Flynn’s. Just some of the cases we know about where the Sheriff has failed to conduct the work of public safety in a manner that one would expect of an office of this caliber. What excuses will she make this time and are we going to buy them yet again? How many cases do we have to find for people to be outraged?
The sheriff doesn’t take investigations seriously. Her Captain of Investigations doesn’t take investigations seriously. It appears none of her captains take their jobs seriously if you look back over the long list of rewarded failures in the administrative ranks.
Line staff is left with a lack of resources and an overriding attitude from the administration that none of it matters unless the media is present, and then they stumble around doing little more than attempting to cover up the mistakes and make the sheriff look good. If you make her look good, no matter the gaping holes of accountability you have to step around as you throw your own integrity into them, you will be rewarded.
The list of failed cases keeps growing, today we have the Flynn case, where one boy was victimized and had his case been properly managed rather than thrown into a chaotic system, perhaps another boy would have found a better, safer home and lived a happier life. Who do we find that she failed tomorrow?
What if the day comes and it’s your child that is not only the victim of a crime, but also a victim of the sheriff’s poorly managed, archaic office? When do we begin to care enough to demand the sheriff step down? Kids are traumatized and dead, inmates are traumatized and dead. Deputies were demoralized to begin with which is why this blog even exists. Add the past months having been drug through the mud repeatedly to protect the sheriff and blame the line staff for major failures, to paint over 1000 deputies with the same brush that 15 or 20 put in her hand… angry, confused, frustrated, looking for a better office to work in pretty much describes the state of Sheriff Laurie Smith’s staff today. I received news last week at least one more deputy is leaving for another nearby agency. A good agency no doubt, but not an agency we should have to be worried about competing with.
When do we put our entire public safety ahead of protecting a few individuals like Sheriff Smith, those on the Board of Supervisors that continue to try to protect her to insulate themselves, and the people the sheriff has promoted to the level of their incompetence being truly harmful to the mission of public safety and the public itself?