Concealed Carry Permits
California Penal Code § 25655. The sheriff of a county may issue a concealed carry license to a person upon proof of all of the following:
(1) The applicant is of good moral character.
(2) Good cause exists for issuance of the license.
(3) The applicant is a resident of the county or a city within the county, or the applicant’s principal place of employment or business is in the county or a city within the county and the applicant spends a substantial period of time in that place of employment or business.
(4) The applicant has completed a course of training as described in Section 26165.
A county sheriff is ostensibly empowered to publish his or her definition of that which constitutes "Good Cause." As your sheriff, it would be my intention to rewrite the current definition of "Good Cause" to be more inclusive of the otherwise eligible constituency who reside in this county.
Detentions Bureau Deaths
Detentions bureau deaths in San Diego County Jails are currently being highlighted in the main stream media as the highest in the state. What hasn't been mentioned, much less stressed, is how the comparisons to other counties in the state were made. In order to first know how immediate a problem this is, one would first have to understand what normal is. That element aside, a professional assessment would have to first be made. A good leader would pick a responsible, knowledgeable member from each detentions facility, preferably, but not necessarily, a line supervisor, and give them the task of evaluating each facility as a team, looking for ways to improve the way we're currently doing business. I know this process works as I was once tasked as a deputy sheriff to be a member of such a team to inspect each facility for vulnerabilities as they might potentially relate to security.
Retaining and Acquiring Staff
Proposed methods for retaining current sheriff's staff and for recruiting new sheriff's staff.
In today's world, pay and morale are two huge variables one needs to seriously consider when pondering how best to attract new and to retain existing law enforcement candidates and personnel. While higher pay and frequently recurring pay increases are highly desireable by both groups, these inducements may not be readily available, or even currently feasible; high-costs, such as these, however, are not necessarily involved by simply improving morale.
Conventional wisdom holds in most cases the best candidates are attracted by those employers willing to pay the best to the best candidates. This may hold true until even these candidates delve into and learn the instant workplace dynamics may not fit their comfort levels, long term. How does such negative institutional knowledge get out there? Word of mouth from current staff, mostly. Even higher pay to those candidates thus enlightened may not in sufficient cases mitigate against applicants accepting on the front end that for the extra money they must thereafter tolerate an unsupportive, or negatively charged work environment. What things might make a law enforcement work environment so unattractive to new-hires that they will likely apply elsewhere or quickly move along even after having first made that initial risk/reward assessment? Similarly, what poor working conditions might likely drive tenured LE staff to start seeking employment elsewhere?
From early childhood, one quickly learns to recognize unfair experiences for what they are perceived to be. When a sibling even seemingly received what was perceived by the other as a larger scoop of ice cream, this inequity was summarily noted and processed, even if the perceived slight was not expressed verbally, or in other ways, that perception was still recorded as their reality. This is human nature.
What is the point of this foundation? Law enforcement candidates, applying to a particular department, soon learn by asking tenured staff, they can expect to be immediately thrown under the bus and/or summarily discarded by management whenever it is politically expedient for management to do so. Further inquiry may too divulge that this particular department’s practice in performing administrative appeals are -- in actual practice -- designed to short-shrift appellants of their due-process and other constitutional rights. Those applicants with any sense will not surprisingly refrain from wanting to join or to stay on such a department.
Today, law enforcement is riskier than ever out in the world and in the field for our first-responders who must work in the field. Their perceptions, as a group, or as individuals, should not be that their own admin is a bigger threat and far more hazardous to them and to their careers than the violent felons they encounter in the streets. Again, perceptions are reality. Human factors cannot be ignored.
A good leader understands human factors and that human factors must be considered in all things. All humans playing at the game of life are unavoidably constrained and restrained by human factors.
The best way to mitigate against, or to eliminate, staff’s and prospective staff’s fear of such unwanted disparate treatment is to make it the department leader's business and mission to treat ALL people fairly and equitably, every day, and in every way.
Implement Recurring Meetings With Sergeants
Implement regularly recurring meetings with first-line supervisors to promote trust and gain buy-in by making them part of the decision making force.
An argument can be made that first-line supervision is the most important rank in both the military and in law-enforcement. Why is that? Familiarity breeds either trust, or contempt. Assuming a good first-line supervisor, trust is more likely going to be the outcome and the desired takeaway of one's such frequent contact with the actual work force. Trust is essential to gaining buy-in from any work force. It is the first-line supervisor who has, if not daily, then at least, the most frequent contact with those who perform the organization's missions.
Given too, that the span-of-control for a first-line level supervisor is generally the tightest among the ranks of supervision, that means influence and information passed down from the first-line supervisor to their charges is less likely to be distorted due to the phenomenon of "telephone syndrome" wherein the original message is lost or skewed in the pass down through many people.
In theory, it would seem that were the head of a department to regularly meet with first-line supervisors -- both to inquire about field needs and to direct the head's expectations for activities from the field -- the information flow would be tightened and less prone to being lost in the translation when passed down through too many levels potentially having nefarious and self-serving reasons to act as information flow filters.
What about the affects of this on the well established practice of respecting and at all times and in all things properly utilizing the chain-of-command? The answer is that these are not necessarily competing interests. A better question might be why would those in the chain-of-command above the first level supervisor be fearful of their department head desiring to periodically meet with and have a direct line of communication with first-level supervision?
Are line-level staff, who in many cases are at least somewhat distrusting, if not outright fearful of the brass, more apt to understand the need for a new procedure and buy into it when such direction is given and explained personally to them by their own, trusted supervisors?
The sergeant says to his or her team at briefing, "Henceforth, the policy will be that on cell checks, a deputy will pause at the door of every cell for a count of five. This change is necessary so there is no question later that you didn't take a sufficient amount of time to look properly and thoroughly at an inmate on a cell check. This is for your protection. The sheriff wants you to be protected against false claims in this regard as much as possible as he well knows you are busily always engaged performing your many other duties one after another - if not concurrently. As you know, the cameras are recording your activities on cell checks. I know that the experienced of you think you can make the necessary observations of life in a cell without breaking stride so that you can get to your next task. However, the seconds you save there in order to make time to handle some other required task do not adequately protect you from jurors getting the wrong idea. The sheriff doesn't want to risk jurors substituting your expertise in quickly making assessments of this sort, with criminal negligence on your part." The first-line supervisor will be immediately available to all affected personnel to explain why this change was necessary and to field questions from all of those affected.
In no way should this change in delivering the message be interpreted to say that ignorance of the policy is no longer NOT an excuse, rather it is to stress that we can do these crucial information exchanges better by being more attuned to how best to get the wanted performance we want from either a verbal or a written policy transmitted from the top to the bottom with as few misinterpretations picked up along the way as possible.
When first-line supervisors on a department meet regularly with the chief or sheriff to discuss the department's work, what could possibly be the downside of them being on the same page for the public? Similarly, what is the downside for the department if the department head routinely discusses with the sergeants the state of affairs of the various bureaus, divisions, and units they are assigned to supervise?
Historically, first-line peace officer supervision is given an eighty-hour course of instruction as is minimally required by P.O.S.T. within the first year they are appointed. The sheriff's department doesn't have a training sergeant program per se for the newly appointed sergeants. They generally get a walk through with a local sergeant or by the local lieutenant and are given the basics of what is minimally required before being put to work -- without all of the knowledge they need to proceed -- but with all of the responsibility that goes with operating in the position of sergeant.
Killing two birds: Training the trainer has long been a concept and a practice in policing. Wouldn't it be simple to create a position for senior sergeants, akin to a Training Officer, but for sergeants? A five-percent pay raise for designated Training Officers at the deputy level is already available, or could easily be adjusted to apply here. Were there to be such a "Training Sergeant" assigned to each sheriff's facility, on a split-shift that overlapped the other two, the quality of local, first-line supervision could immediately be raised several orders of magnitude over what exists currently simply by creating the supervisor consistency that would create among sergeants even between shifts and facilities.
It is not unusual for shifts at even the same facility to have different "working" policies because sergeants have had to wing it in terms of learning the ropes of being the sergeant at "their" facility, on "their" shift. This looseness adds unneeded and unwanted ambiguity and confusion, especially for overtime deputies, for sure. These unnecessary vagaries serve only to fuel misunderstandings of what exactly was expected of line-staff by admin. The solution to shoring up the lines of communication between the top brass and the working deputies has always been there. It just takes a leader who solves problems by thinking outside the box to flesh it out.