Blue Ribbon Commission Exposures

Sorry, a bit late with the link, but here we are.

Another Blue Ribbon Commission Meeting behind us and we’re finally — FINALLY — seeing the true colors of the problems and the people involved as a whole rather than in the microcosm of single events. A lot of the meeting was a rehash and follow up of the reports from last meeting — by the way you can’t find more information on these reports in the agenda packet, including copies and at least some of the spreadsheets on the interviews (I haven’t gone through them yet to see what is fully there).

There were a couple of points that stood out to me. The man who was to be our only representation in law enforcement on this commission, Dennis Grilli, was concerned the deputies and officers were “stonewalling” the investigation. I was very pleased to hear the answer was a clear “no.” The investigator felt that deputies simply feared repercussions should they be caught talking. He informed the commission that a letter had gone out, but he said he didn’t know how well it was distributed as some he talked to never saw it.

I hope the public understands the irony of this — that the deputies were more fearful of repercussions from their administration than the inmates were of retribution when it came to talking. In an environment where you are taught that there is punishment for failing to do what your administration demands of you, no matter how innocuous or right, how do you think that translates to a deputy just coming in the door and learning the job?

I did have to say the moment there was a public realization among the commissioners that there seems to be significant financial discrepancies, I had to laugh. It’s not funny, but given the number of financial issues I couldn’t help it. To belabor the financial issues:

  • What is the SAB, who is on it, and who is paying for their use of tax payer owned equipment and what is being done with the money they ‘donate’?
  • Where is the money from the academy going? Classes have been cut and reduced, more and more people have been banned from instructing there. It’s my understanding that cadets actually have to do maintenance work on the facilities on their own time in order to pass!
  • I’ve been told there are certain areas of the office that literally run without a budget or have been told they can’t use their budget. How can a division run without a budget? Where is the money going???

That’s just a sorry, sorry beginning to the financial shenanigans. We’ve called for a forensic audit of the Sheriff’s Office repeatedly. In return, we haven’t even gotten a glance at her financial games.

Another point that hit home was during public comments — the sheriff has bragged about, even had media into the jails to cover her reinstatement of the shift briefings. I knew this in the back of my mind, but it never really clicked until the CPOA acting president spoke about it. The only reason those meetings are occurring is because they were demanded by the members of the union as part of their contract. If I recall, it was a bit more of a battle to get the meetings reinstated than it should have been.

As the DSA vice president stated during public comments, deputies realized the problems 2 years ago, this blog started in mid-2013, so really the realization came before even that. Until this time, in the jails and still in enforcement, deputies have been left to fend for themselves on trying to sustain an environment that has been intentionally decimated by the sheriff and her administration. Where we are today is a testament to the vast failures in the face of staff reductions, archaic equipment and systems, failure of oversight, lack of training and much more; much of it stemming from an administration that Does. Not. Care.

But today we are also at a potential turn around if, as Judge Cordell stated at the end of the meeting, we continue to speak the truth. We are here today, finally having a discussion that is shedding light on so many issues. Now is not the time to give up. The potential of this office demands that we give it at least one more shot while we have the opportunity.

There are many amazing, competent, professional individuals throughout the sheriff’s office. Very few are in the administrative ranks. So many, both new and old, with potential for leadership have been held back because their professional ethic was above the threshold of the sheriff’s and their work ethic was to “aggressive” for th organization she has chosen to build. These amazing people have been fighting in various ways to make a difference in an organization that stacks the odds against them intentionally.

The power of this particular meeting was in the public comments which start at 2:19 in the video link above if you want to skip ahead. Much of the rest, as I said earlier, was follow up questions to the reports received from last week.

I was disturbed to see while Reverend Jethroe Moore was passionate about what is happening he still failed to hold the sheriff directly accountable. I guess that is hard not to do when the person on trial is the same person who helped you with professional gifts like assisting him in receiving a California POST commissioner appointment in October, 2013; conveniently right at the beginning of her election run. To borrow a word I heard today, shameful. What exactly is a man who compared a POA contributing to the Freedom Train to Jews taking money from Nazi’s doing on commissions for law enforcement? I wonder if the POST investigation and background knew about that at the time… I wonder if POST knows about it now. Maybe they should be informed.

Same with Mr. Hanson from PACT. I’m disappointed to see while he calls for change, he chose to stick with “Sheriff Smith will not step down, and neither will she be recalled. Most of our citizens just don’t care,” that he posted on my blog as his general theme. I guess some community leaders don’t understand the power of community voices pressuring a poor politician to step aside… or worse, maybe they do.

Beyond those two, the power that was invoked in the words of so many after this meeting was unlike those that have come before. I again encourage our deputies to watch, at the very least from 2:19 on. There was honesty, there was an understanding that this touches everyone from inmate to deputy. There was passion and there was a certain relief in some words that finally the problems are actually being seen, if not addressed yet. Between the evident understanding on the commission in regards to issues and the voices of the public, some of the people who speak through me seem to be somewhat encouraged by events for once.