We’ve been waiting for better than half a decade to see the 2nd Annual Deputies Appreciation night, the first being held at Gordon Biersch Brewery back in the 2010 election season. The event was disguised as an appreciation event, however, after a few beers, a happy hour style buffet, and a few tours of the facilities, it changed. The donors and politicians were separated out to stand alongside the sheriff while she climbed on the furniture to stand above everyone. It was suddenly an impromptu (read clearly planned) political event, free of charge for the sheriff from Gordon Biersch.
She gave a speech, announced she was running for another term, and told the deputies to sign a card and let the campaign know how they could help her win: donations, time, or signs.
Now, in 2017, here we are again with another “Deputies Appreciation” this time in the form of Thanksgiving, nearly 6 months after Thanksgiving, and shortly after rumor reaches my ears she’s been looking for a way to announce her next campaign for 2018. She got away with it once, why not again.
The sad thing about this event, she’s been trying to hold it in secret. An invitation went out only to few deputies — a select group from those who worked Thanksgiving 2016 to help recapture the escaped inmates from her poorly run jails — and without a date. One had to RSVP to their division captain to get the date of the event. I’ve been informed that the dinner is to be held tonight, around 5PM. Maybe the media will show up to see what our sheriff is up to.
The event is allegedly to make up for those who had to work Thanksgiving to recapture the escaped inmates that sawed out of their cells because policy mandated no one pay attention. Perhaps she hopes we could forget these lost hours with our families or the inmate who passed along information of “sawing” sounds through the nights preceding the escape and the failure of administration to order a cell search based on policy and this information. What’s been changed to correct the issue? That’s right inmate’s have been moved from MJS to lower security Elmwood where there is again, increasing levels of violence. Perhaps our sheriff should worry about real fixes rather than planning specious events for hand selected groups of employees in the hopes they forget their lives were unnecessarily disrupted and put at risk for her failures.
Let’s face facts, we all go into this job never expecting to work holidays right? Or getting a call to respond if there’s a major incident while you’re at home sleeping? I can name a number of times that deputies have been put in the position to work holidays when they weren’t scheduled to — special events, crisis incidents, covering for vacations for years before they could get enough seniority to schedule their own holiday vacations. Even for the most serious incidents, in the years I’ve been around the sheriff’s office, they don’t come with even the words thank you, nevermind a special recognition event. There were no dinners for those on overtime for the LeHigh shooting, for the extra hours searching Sierra… no event has earned deputies such a dinner from the sheriff. Shall we remind you that the sheriff hasn’t even held a retirement dinner in nearly 4 years now? Where is the special dinner for all those deputies and their families that have given up their time unexpectedly or spent 20 or 30 or more years working for this office? What about the guys who had to work Thanksgiving as regular shift? Because of the way the sheriff schedules her shifts, many years those that work Thanksgiving will also end up working Christmas and New Years. Have those that had to work all three holidays and miss all their family gatherings gotten a special dinner? Of course not. Because that’s what you sign up for when you enter law enforcement.
I’m sure the media hasn’t been invited (as working entities anyway) she’s kept this very quiet. Which if you think about it, is in itself odd. The sheriff has taken a lot of heat for the lack of morale in the office for years now. What better way to prove she cares about morale than a special event for the deputies? But media coverage means that this event could be outed as a political event this time. In 2010, no one knew enough about how far the sheriff was willing to go at that point. There were people who understood there were growing ethical issues with the sheriff, but no one had looked deep enough or was inside enough at the time (and talking) to know the problems that were building. The DSA considered a “No Endorsement” decision that election, the sheriff met with them and made many promises, virtually all of the promises broken within months of her winning the election. The Deputies Appreciation Dinner was part of the seduction to bring the DSA back into the fold and get their endorsement… her “I do care” moment of that election.
Ironically the last event was supposedly about unification and recognition of the sacrifices we make in law enforcement. This one is about her trying to divide deputies; separating out those who support Laurie Smith from those who want an office they can be proud to work for. I would hope all of us would want an office we can be proud to work for, I hope that we all make the conscious decision to not sell our integrity and doing what’s right for a promotion, special assignment, or other special treatment.
Hopefully, there is someone there tonight with the moral fortitude to take a few pictures of the politicians and donors show up (don’t kid yourself, they’re not there to honor you). If her “campaign manager” shows up, because he’s back in town telling us how she’s done a great job “modernizing” the office, you know why he’s there. If someone is brave enough, maybe hit record on the cell phone in their pocket when the sheriff starts her speech so we can show what happened this time.
Maybe, just maybe, the sheriff will read this though and be inclined to do the right thing — make this an event about the deputies (though not all that deserve to be there will be present) rather than her and her corrupt campaign. It’s too late to recognize all the men and women who sacrifice (willingly for the most part) for the Sheriff’s Office in this event, and too late not to feel the hit to morale knowing she has she hand selected and quietly invited those attending tonight. It’s not to late for her to change the way she’s doing things and stop willfully damaging the unity and goodwill in this office for her political benefits.