SCC Sheriff Laurie Smith Must Be Present to be Held Accountable

Dan Noyes

Additional footage of Dan Noyes’ interview with Christine Ferry, former Director of Mental Health at Santa Clara County jails.

If you click on the above image, you will be brought to additional interview footage posted to Dan Noyes’ Facebook page. I find myself wondering, far from the first time, what was David Cortese thinking when he failed to select Ms. Ferry for the Blue Ribbon Commission? I know she has spoken at least once in front of the commission during public comments, and I’ve found myself wondering — have they bothered to reach out to a clearly professional, knowledgeable woman about the degradation she saw within the system and what was and was not being done by the sheriff since the take over?  I certainly hope so. It seems the contrasts were significant.

It seems more and more the members of the commission selected solely by Cortese himself were spun to direct the process away from the collapsing jails and accountability by eliminating people like Ms. Ferry.  I’m understanding that Mr. Cortese may be very much working in a mode to protect himself and the poor decisions that he has supported in his avid support of a sheriff who is being increasingly shown to be dangerously incompetent.

What the above interview says about the sheriff is what we’ve been saying for years — she is an absent leader, she doesn’t care enough to invest her time or effort into what many would call the minutiae of the job that keeps law enforcement organizations running.  Her lack of effort leaves her completely ignorant of what is happening in her own department. Her ongoing failure to engage with her office, Hirokawa’s marginalization and unwillingness to do his job due to having to face her wrath, and the fact that none of her Assistant Sheriffs are even acting in the role of leader for the divisions they oversee have allowed the practices within the organization to go forward rudderless.

Not a single administrator on the fourth floor is seen on a regular basis by the rank and file.  There are weeks, even months that have gone by over the past 2 years where the sheriff hasn’t even been seen.  Captains and lieutenants are called up for staff meetings and sent back down with marching orders and answers to their questions. Answers that are usually little more than a shrug of the shoulders by the time they make it down the line.  This has led to a growing divide between middle administration and line management/staff that can never get answers to their needs, questions or concerns. All this leads to an increasing disengagement by the line staff who are taught that it’s not their problem to choose to solve and stop worrying about it.

And disengagement leads to heart-rending stories like the one that Dan Noyes ran last night:

ABC 7/Dan Noyes Investigation: Man with Alzheimer’s Released Alone, Killed on 880 

So while you add yet another name to our lexicon of Sheriff Laurie Smith’s horror show, Vladimir Matyssik, keep in mind this is a story that the sheriff tried to write off as not her problem since Mr. Matyssik died outside of her custody and away from the jails. There was virtual silence on her part, and when people started to talk about it, she remained silent.  Now she has the benefit of hiding behind the fact the family is suing for a wrongful death.

Because yes, David Cortese, Cindy Chavez , and our caring Sheriff Laurie Smith are more invested in protecting the county now, after the fact, and deny the public any real response to the growing number of failures under their watch.

Our only hope at this point, as far as I see it, is that Saturday, when the Blue Ribbon Commission hears the results from their private attorney’s interviews, that the report is offered with integrity and honesty, and it is acted upon directly and with a demand for accountability at the highest ranks rather than watch the Commission slide off into important yet tangential issues like commissary stock that aren’t causing significant suffering or death.

I will be posting the link of the video of the meeting to this blog after it becomes available. Please watch either live while it streams or when it’s posted. I believe that knowing what is happening in these meetings, how the commission is failing, at this point, to actually address the very real failures we’re seeing is important for us.  Even as they meet, the sheriff is not being honest about events, she is passing all questions off to Hirokawa, who it’s now said is planning on leaving soon, staying only long enough to get through to the end of the Blue Ribbon Commission hearings.

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3 thoughts on “SCC Sheriff Laurie Smith Must Be Present to be Held Accountable

  1. Treat others like you treat family…..not the supreme leader. More like, I will treat you according to who you endorse, what you can do for me or your willingness to drink the Kool-Aid.

    It starts from the top….hopefully this report make this commission realize the problem has been staring them in the eyes the entire time and recommend the change that NEEDS to happen.

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  2. Such a huge disgrace. Dear women of Santa Clara County, back when the elections took place you accused me of not supporting women when I campaigned for Kevin Jensen and you’re giving women the SAME pressure about Hillary Clinton. Well, maybe it’s time for you to realize that voting for a crappy woman just because she has a uterus just like you do is a BIGGER disservice to women than electing the RIGHT person for the job! We’d be SO MUCH better off had Kevin Jensen been elected and every time I read about another horrible thing happening under Laurie Smith’s watch all I can do is shake my head.

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    • Kind of makes you want to laugh at people in the public outraged about this… especially the Friends of Sheriff Smith club that to this day is still trying to protect her. Watching the public comments on the commission meeting today, I almost got excited when a PACT member started to call for top down accountability. I lost some of the excitement when he set the top at Hirokawa. I began to think it was little more than a campaign by the sheriff’s friends when Moore stepped up, and it was like they had the same speech writer — accountability at the top, meaning Hirokawa. It’s almost sickening to this day, even with people who have died, they refuse to hold this woman accountable for her incredulous lack of concern about maintaining the integrity and stability of the office.

      I guess we’re just going to have to wait until we’re like SJPD – 40% down in staffing and no candidates worth having — for people to finally get it. We’re already 20% down, people starting to bail out the door quicker and quicker. They see no hope and the commission really isn’t changing that right now.

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