Don’t Lose Sight of the Failures Just Because the Sheriff’s Celebrating

The information is flying. The spin is pathetic. The sheriff has come out of hiding now that there are answers to give and Rogelio Chavez and Laron Campbell are back in custody. It’s really embarrassing how she left Neusel out to stutter through endless “I don’t knows” and takes the glory for any success. Karl, don’t forget what happens to Laurie Smith’s scapegoats. If I was honest though, couldn’t happen to a better man.

But let’s not lose sight of what happened here, don’t let Sheriff Smith’s celebration overshadow yet another failure of leadership. Sending Carl Neusel out to offer stupid scenarios like it’s “1956 steel” and claiming that there were no significant policy violations — I would hope the media is more astute than that and not going to let the reality of this be disappeared, if you were aware of facility flaws that could be taken advantage of by inmates, what did you do to try to mitigate the risks. I know the answer, but they will never say it — they did nothing.  No bar checks, reducing cell searches — they did less than nothing because what it would take to do something offended inmates and they complained to the media. Our politically astute sheriff is more concerned with her political image than her professional job, therefore more worried about not offending the inmates than making sure no one is cutting out bars in their cell.

Let’s talk about how you can buy titanium cutting tools at any home improvement store? True dat boys and girls…and exactly what home improvement store do inmates have such easy access to that the 2nd in command is making off the cuff remarks like that? Yes you can buy that type of tool — why is it that easy to get it into our jails, along with all the other contraband Smith, Neusel and Belliveau continue to pretend doesn’t exist so you don’t have to figure out how to stop it from coming in or answer to the media when the inmates complain their cells are being searched and they don’t deserve to be treated like that? When are you three going to figure out ignoring problems until they blow up in someone’s face just to appease the media is not the way to run a jail?

If you’re doing it right, the hard questions will answer themselves with the correct answers. The media or the public may not always like the correct answers, but they are correct and they do protect us all. It all leaves me wondering how badly do you three wise men need to embarrass the county? How much do they, ultimately the taxpayers, have to pay out in lawsuits and damages before the Board  of Supervisors finally abandon their misguided loyalty and take the jails back from the sheriff and give it to someone who understands that.

I would hope we’ve all figured out by now it’s virtually impossible to violate policy that doesn’t exist; the sheriff and her fourth floor lackeys don’t write policy so they can claim exactly that there was no policy violated. Which is why we keep asking — WHAT WAS THE POLICY? Not was there any policy violated? Do I need to add that to the endlessly repetitive loop of things the public should be smart enough to figure out without someone having to say it anymore?

Catching these two is simply not enough. Sources are telling me there was every opportunity to stop this and the way the jails are run allowed it. We can not ignore that our sheriff’s miserable policy and practice let someone who I’m told is a gang shot caller escape despite warnings. Was the gun found in the house his? No, my sources tell me he may have taken it from another gangbanger that he then pistol whipped. Did the media know that? She let at least one really bad person escape with her lack of policy, unwillingness to address the fact that she has turned the far to small correctional force into little more than couch potatoes afraid to do their job — unable to do a bar check even if they wanted to due to lack of resources to protect themselves — and pretty much failed to tell the public that Chavez had possibly escalated the situation and was not only dangerous, but very likely armed and dangerous.  Thanks for the heads up, Laurie and Karl.

1956 steel – if you know there is a weakness in the facilities, counteract it with action, don’t just shrug your shoulders, cross your fingers and hope you don’t have anything bad happen. That policy has failed to many times. Stop it.

Let’s talk about some of the things that are being said, in some cases by some rather high ranking individuals in this organization. Things that if fully accurate should have the sheriff, Undersheriff and Ass. Sheriff resigning in shame.

It’s being said that the corrections officers were told by another high profile inmate that there were inmates were cutting through the bars. The warning, offered at least twice, maybe more times according to those who are talking about it, was ignored. Obviously. There is no reason to believe at this point Undersheriff Neusel, Sheriff Smith or Ass. Sheriff Belliveau are unaware of the information. Yes, of course they keep telling you they couldn’t possibly have any idea of how this happened. And they’ll tell you that until you stop asking.

Several sources have claimed that despite an inmate being found with pieces of hacksaw blades by officers, there was no larger scale cell search conducted. There was a policy memo (yes, have to love how policy is handled in Sheriff Smith’s agency) sent out some time ago that there would be no cell searches without express consent from a lieutenant. So despite the administrative staff being aware that there was a significant potential for cutting tools to be in the cells, they didn’t act on the information and allow an extended search before an escape occurred.

The two inmates that managed to stay on the loose for several days I was told were probably gone for at least 2 hours, maybe longer, before their absence was discovered. Who knows how much time they could have had if the two caught outside the jail didn’t let temptation draw them out the window only to be caught so quickly.

The two inmates that were caught by a “perimeter guard” is interesting — I’ve been told there is NO ASSIGNED perimeter guard. But it sounded great on the news, didn’t it?

Those are just the highlights my sources are sharing.

Perhaps it’s time to require that all correctional officers leave their cell phones in their lockers while on duty and the sheriff allow them to actually do their jobs, establish intelligent policy so they can do their jobs correctly and with clear understanding of the answers to any questions or where to get those answers, and require policy be followed at all levels without depreciating interference for administrative convenience when the press coverage gets uncomfortable because inmates are complaining they’re in jail.

Reality is we’ve seen the sheriff allege she has committed to reforms, but the problem is, the reforms are not generally policy reforms that fix the problems, and even sometimes make them worse as we see here…

…yet Laurie Smith still would tell us she thinks she’s doing a “great job.”

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3 thoughts on “Don’t Lose Sight of the Failures Just Because the Sheriff’s Celebrating

  1. Cell phone use had nothing to do with Correctional staff not doing their jobs. I do agree that they are afraid to do anything that might lead to confrontation by inmates due to the policy that “All allegations will be investigated as fact until determined otherwise.” Inmates control the jail now more than ever. Expect more chaos to come. All caused by failed policy and lack of leadership NOT cell phone usage. You were way off base on that “CO hating” suggestion.

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    • To be fair, John, cell phones are a result of officers not being allowed to do their jobs. There are many CO’s that have complained to me and to others about it happening. It’s not a “CO hating” suggestion, it’s something that your own co-workers have repeatedly told me for pretty much the entire time I’ve been doing this blog. It’s no my “suggestion” that it’s happening and it’s wasn’t stated out of “hate”. It’s an unfortunate reality whether you choose to see it or not. Others have seen it and they don’t like it and want it to stop. They also realize the key to making it stop is having a structure which officers can do their jobs and not be told to go sit in a corner and not upset the inmates.

      No, not all officers are doing it, many, most are professionals who are still trying to do their job to the best of their ability despite the sheriff’s deconstruction of the entire infrastructure. I’m going to assume from your personal offense that you’re someone who isn’t playing on your cell phone. Thank you for that.

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  2. Thank you. Many issues will never be admitted, addressed, acknowledged or fixed…. it is easier to continue to allow the inmates to run the facility! SMH!!!

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