…As You Wish to be Treated

I know, I’m slacking. I just don’t have the patience with this. It’s a lot of work for little return and a lot of frustration. There are a ton of items on my list, I imagine I will get to them at some point, maybe; for the moment, this a particular soundbyte has been chafing at me, and ultimately has driven me back to my keyboard here.

Reading a piece by Herhold the other day, I was amazingly pleased to see a small bit of reason there for a change. Usually when I agree with that paid sheriff’s troll, it’s not because we have the same reasoning on the subject matter. I applaud the recognition that not everyone who exists under a particular leader reflects the ideology of that leader, good or bad. If Laurie Smith was the best sheriff ever, it could not be assumed that the people immediately below her are equally qualified. Similarly, we can’t assume Hirokawa is as equally unqualified as Laurie Smith to enact the change needed in both correction and enforcement. We need to give him the chance to be heard, the opportunity to explain what his real role may have been.  Most of us inside understand Hirokawa had little power to do anything, regardless of his title. Laurie Smith is notorious for micromanaging to the detriment of all. There’s no reason to assume any differently in this respect.

But to the point that just been irritating me raw, it was an unattributed claim that deputies may not “fear” Hirokawa enough to qualify him to lead the office. Herhold’s piece states “I’ve talked with people who wonder whether he instills any fear in the deputies.” There’s another assumption here, that “people” literally means he’s heard more than one fool think it was a good idea to utter that sentiment aloud. There’s only a handful of people I can think of that are so ignorant of law enforcement leadership that they would make such an utterance out loud. Laurie Smith, Carl Neusel, Rick Sung, Troy Bellview (sp?) or that blithering idiot, Rich Robinson. I would place a bet that it was one of those people because that is how all of them view leadership in law enforcement. All of them have easy access, some more so than others, to Herhold.

The sheriff is notorious within the office for her “fear and intimidation” tactics to keep people she doesn’t like from making to much noise about all the things she does wrong. But beyond that, let’s talk about what leadership by fear ultimately begets. Something that Robinson openly verified last election when his biggest claim was they were afraid of Laurie Smith holding them accountable. Well, we’ve spent the last 3+ years seeing the results of her “accountability”  – the Blue Ribbon Commission clearly showed there was no such thing as accountability in the jails. It’s no different in enforcement. So afraid of her? Yes. In an appropriate context of professional accountability? Clearly not. There is nothing professional, productive, or appropriate about the way the current sheriff goes about “accountability” in her office.

Employees in any industry are notorious for living in a culture created by their leadership. If a leader fosters innovation and progress, that’s what you get. That’s what each rung of the ladder will produce, right down to the bottom rung. If you foster innovation, that’s what you get — right down to your production line and customer interface offering a constant means of improvement and new ideas.

If you treat your employees to fear, that’s what they learn and that’s what they do. Right down to the boots on the ground. When you teach law enforcement that fear is their best tool in controlling the situation, that’s what they do. When their sheriff’s idea of managing a situation is to send a threat of punishment down the line for doing something innovative that, for whatever reason, she disagrees with, that is what every single person in the chain of command from Undersheriff to deputy learns.

So ultimately when you’re a deputy on the street or in the jails, you’ve seen physical and emotional intimidation used from your days in the academy, as you come into the office, you see it is how the entire hierarchy is run — fear the sheriff, or else — that is what you exact on your unsuspecting public.

The sheriff can claim she’s doing everything she can in the form of training and policy — she’s not, but assuming she did — that single line, in a single article shows the public exactly the mentality creating the culture inside our law enforcement that exists: Training is nice, policy is policy, but if the person you’re dealing with doesn’t fear you, all is lost.

If you, as a voter, think that we should fear police — Laurie Smith is exactly who you need to vote for. If you on the other hand believe that law enforcement is part of our community and should be interacting with the community always looking for the best solution, give Hirokawa a shot. He honestly can not be any worse and from my limited experiences with him, fear and intimidation in leadership isn’t really his career goal.

Yes, let’s be clear – if you screw up in a major way as a law enforcement officer, you should fear the repercussions. Not your leadership, but the accountability that comes with gross failure. The problem is, in Laurie Smith’s office, the people who should fear accountability will never see it.

Between the culture of fear and continuing promotions based on favors to the sheriff versus deputies who’ve developed the qualities and skills, the management of the sheriff’s office is an unqualified disaster.

The sheriff had the audacity last month to claim that she felt she deserved to have the opportunity to finish the changes the county is beginning to implement in the jails.

Let me point out a few things to put under the flag of fear she waves and what it hides.

Laurie Smith has had the jails for nearly 7 years. In those 7 years she hit full reverse on improvements that had been happening in prior years. Her entire argument for taking over the jails was she could save millions by gutting everything from staffing to training – which she did. These were her best ideas then and now she wants us to believe that she has better ideas and can do better implementing them?

During the last election there were documented facts, a slew of reports, many of which I posted here on my blog, that showed what she was doing in the jails was verging on disastrous and still she did nothing and the County Board of Supervisors backed her. Personally, I think not only voting for the sheriff, but for anyone who backed Laurie Smith in 2014, to be back in office is an exercise in hating everything about Democracy, regardless of party.

Since the last election, lives have been brutally and cruelly lost, people have been harmed, millions in tax dollars is being spent in lawsuits, more millions are being spent on “implementing improvements” for situations that, in 2010, were model programs – like the jail oversight system that she dismantled.

And now, the big question they want you to ask yourself in considering the next vote for sheriff is: will the deputies be afraid enough of the other guy?

Here’s a thought – if Laurie Smith loses, who’s there to fear enough to maintain continued silence when any potential crimes by the sheriff and her handling of monies begins to come to light?

Make your choice people – last election was make or break time. You chose to break the sheriff’s office completely. Now it’s survival time – do we spend the next generation climbing out of this roiling swamp of fear, intimidation and corruption, or do you spend it doubling down the ideas of someone who has proven over the last decade they have nothing new or of worth to offer progressive law enforcement?


2 thoughts on “…As You Wish to be Treated

    • At this point, the only other potential I’m currently aware of is Deputy La Jeunesse, who has not filed at this point, and not to be insulting, but he doesn’t appear to have the support of deputies for a variety of reasons. Some of which I agree with, others which I don’t have the knowledge to address.

      There have been some other people that were “hope to run” and being courted according to sources, but my understanding is, at this point, all have ultimately declined or continue to refuse to make a decision. If you’re not making a decision by this point, there probably isn’t a really committed position. Though to be fair, I remain open to any incoming candidates. Time is of the essence though since any real window to campaign is down to a year or less at this point.

      It’s an unfortunate situation, but given the Board of Supervisors and Mercury News’ sway over voters, they are controlling who does and does not run at this point. If you don’t have the pre-approval of both, expect to be nuked. They don’t even seem to be mildly embarrassed over manipulating that much control over public opinion to their personal advantage in a democracy. They control the situation far more than the voters at this point, which one would think would give voters pause. Maybe Silicon Valley doesn’t have the brain power that it claims. In my opinion, all bets are off to the county that elected Laurie Smith for 5 terms and give her reasonable belief she deserves a 6th.


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