Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - It's Time to Change Party Affiliation

It has taken me a few days to process, what is in the minds of those in the San Diego Republican Committee, who voted to endorse the little rube. I have for some time felt the leaders of the Republican Party have lost touch with reality. The actions of the San Diego Republican Committee, lead by Chairman Tony Krvaric, prove my point. The little rube is simply a more polished, more calculating and slightly more intelligent version of Mike Aguirre. He would not know the real truth about anything, even it if were to hold him down and slap him in the face. He has created firestorm after firestorm with his half truths, fabrications and insinuations. He has proven himself to be a lone wolf who believes his is the best and only way of doing things. He has all the answers and solutions and everyone else is just part of the problem. He has proven he cannot work WITH people to solve problems. He uses his ability to spin and pontificate in a manner that creates raging fires and then sells his solutions as the fix all with short sound bites and half truths that when vetted prove to be wrong and detrimental. Yet Krvaric and company have bought his line of poo and are now his leading supporters.

I look at those seeking the nomination of the Republican Party to challenge the President and I wonder, "This is the best the Republicans have to offer?" If the answer is yes, then clearly there is a problem within the party. The problem starts at the local level. Evidenced by the endorsement of the little rube by San Diego's Republican Committee.

Tony Krvaric, the local chairman of San Diego's Republicans is one shady character. Krvaric seems to attract a lot of attention with his actions. A web page that questions some of his antics was launched not long after he took over as chairman of the San Diego Republican Committee. With the endorsement of the little rube, one has to wonder, what in the world are these people thinking? Krvaric is at it again.

I took a ride to the San Diego County Registrar's office this morning and removed my name from the ranks of the Republican's. I can not support a group who would endorse an individual like the little rube. His actions and the actions of the Republican's are what is wrong with politics in America today. Don't get me wrong, I am no fan of the Democrats either. I believe both parties have lost touch with the average person in America. Those of us who are "middle of the road" thinkers, which in my opinion represent about 50% of American voters, are suffering the consequences of the far right (Republican) and far left (Democrat) in politics. As a police officer I found myself stuck in quick sand when it related to politics. Being a labor representative I found I had Democratic needs and Republican values. The needs and values often clashed when deciding on endorsements and plans of action related to various political issues.

We can sit back and do nothing or we can send a message to the Republican Committee that we are paying attention and their actions are completely crazy and dangerous. I for one am not sold on any of the mayoral candidates, but can relate to the message Nathan Fletcher has put forth so far. I want to hear more from him. I have never been an "Anybody but" type of person, but in this case, I would vote for "ANYBODY BUT" the little rube.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

New Adventures for Sparky

I have been retired now for a month and a half and life is good. My retirement party was great and very relaxed. Amazing how relaxed people are when there is no brass around to have to worry about. No ass kissing and no politics. Thank you.... to everyone who attended. You made my day.

I have been enjoying myself and preparing for my next big adventure. I have been buying the equipment I will need for my hike and dehydrating food. My dehydrator is being worked around the clock. I have almost 25 pounds of jerky, pounds of apples, bananas, strawberries, pineapple, bell peppers, carrots, and corn. I have been packaging breakfasts and other meals and packing my re-supply boxes for later mailing. I have been attending the Sierra Clubs, Wilderness Basics Course (WBC), gaining skills that will hopefully keep me out of trouble on the trail. I had my first camping trip (WBC Car Camp) last weekend, testing my equipment. Next weekend we have our first backpacking trip. I'm learning to use a compass and read a topo map. Hopefully I can stay found. Funny how they use "stay found" as opposed to "getting lost."

I will be setting off on my hike Saturday, April 14, 2012. That is less than 60 days from now. Yikes. Lots left to do.

I have set up a BLOG to journal my hike. If you want to follow along you may want to check out: "Sparky's 2012 Pacific Crest Trail Adventure" 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Come to the Party

I hope to see you at the party. Yes, I have excluded the chiefs and a few captains. I am in no mood to deal with them at my party. I had to hold my tongue when working but no longer do and won't. The phony, insincere, persona they project has no place in this world.

I hope to see old friends, partners, colleagues and bosses as I say farewell and thank-you. While I speak out and voice what many feel and believe; I hope people take notice and someone will find the courage to challenge when appropriate and to do what is right.

Be safe and take care of each other. Hope to see you next week!!!

I Got Off The Bus - Watching it Roll

I am that old, cranky, disgruntled cop, heading out the same door I have seen so many over the years walk through. I never saw myself as being that guy. I often wondered why so many, who during the majority of their careers, were upbeat, hard working, positive officers, suddenly became disgruntled and angry. I get it now. I'm that guy.

I enjoyed my career in law enforcement. That is, until I got near the end. The memories I take away from the job are for the most part positive ones. The friendships and camaraderie built over the years will be with me forever. The loss of friends from disease, violence and accidents have taken their toll. But the biggest contributor to the anger and frustrations leading to me being disgruntled is the administration of the San Diego Police Department. Take what I have to say with a grain of salt. I am admittedly disgruntled and some would say I have an ax to grind. But I am not fearful of the brass and being retired no longer have to hold my tongue and smile at the thin skinned administrators who believe because they have been elevated to a higher rank they are somehow smarter or more important than everyone else.

In my almost 33 years, I have worked for five chiefs, countless captains, lieutenants and sergeants. I have worked for some outstanding, dedicated professionals who were true leaders. They were ethical, honest, caring professionals who knew their craft and were tough disciplinarians, yet compassionate individuals. They were experienced, knowledgeable, tenured officers who spent time in investigations, patrol and the all important but miserable administrative jobs. They learned from doing and were not afraid to buck the status quo and challenge when things were not as they should be. They were leaders who earned the respect of the troops. They cared about their own integrity and that of their employees and what toll a bad apple among the ranks would cause. You knew there were activities that would result in certain termination. Solicit a prostitute and you were fired. Associate with known felons, gang members or drug dealers  or commit a crime of moral turpitude.and you were fired. Have sex on duty and you were sure to receive a suspension at the very least. Drunk driving arrests resulted in lengthy suspensions; second offenses would result in termination. Lie or falsify reports and you are of no use to anyone and you faced certain termination. Off-Duty incidents were thoroughly investigated. Lansdowne's response to off duty incidents; "call them in and tell them to knock it off." No investigation, no discipline, no accountability. "Boys will be boys." The erosion of ethics and accountability began almost immediately.

Things were not perfect and in 25 years of being an employee advocate/representative, I often advocated for employees who got themselves into trouble. I sought fair, reasonable and equitable discipline for transgressions. When an employee was found to have been involved with a prostitute, associate with known felons, gang members or drug dealers; get arrested for drunk driving; lie or falsify a report; I would often tell them what to expect. No one would support fighting for a person involved in criminal activity after a fair and complete investigation that proved the allegation and followed the rules.

Promotions have always been a bone of contention. Subjective vs Objective; filling a "need"; nepotism; friendships; reputation; rumor; politics. All play in the promotional process. The bastardizing of the Civil Service Rules governing promotions started with Bob Burgreen and have grown even worse under Lansdowne. Lansdowne added another layer to the promotional process, outside of Civil Service; "Kiss the Ring" that you must participate in if you have any hope or desire to get promoted. Put your ethics, backbone, brain and ability to make a decision in the closet, for you are of no use to the administration if you only act with ethics; stand up to or question a directive from the chief; make a decision that is clearly thought out and in the best interest of the employee and the department; or associate with someone with whom the administration dislikes. Remember; YOU are guilty by association when it comes to me!!!!

The ability to pass over candidates repeatedly and without explanation has reached new heights with this administration. We can all think of a certain promotion (we all have one or two or more in mind) and just shake our head in bewilderment. The higher the promotion (Captain and Chief) the greater the impact to the department for passing over the most qualified and experienced candidate. Look no further than the most recent promotions to understand the direction this department is headed. The chief surrounds himself with people who tell him what he wants to hear. Tell him the truth or disagree with him and he will cast you to the furthest command; out of sight out of mind. You should have put lipstick on that pig and told him she was beautiful before telling the old man the truth or disagreeing with him. Learn to use "Extraordinary" in every conversation (worked for one) and in the face of flooding after days of heavy rain, make sure the chief hears its sunny and 72 outside.

Does anyone have faith that any one of the recently promoted chief's or captains will challenge Lansdowne and speak up against or in disagreement with ANY issue? If you do, I have some land for sale at a great price in Florida. I can show it to you after 9 PM on any night the tide is low and there is no moon.

Micro-management is not supervision and surely not leadership. Cheerleaders or not leaders. Longevity does not equal experience. Trust is earned and Respect is gained. Information is power. Speaking up is not an act of defiance. Dilbert has no doubt been in the chief's conference room. He has written extensively about the goings on on the 7th floor of Headquarters.

This department is run on fear. Captains running scenes from their offices as well as running around jumping radio calls taking command of scenes once handled by a patrol sergeant. Lieutenants rushing out to bank robberies, domestic violence calls, street robberies and taking charge, directing sergeants, officers and detectives. Captains calling detectives, directing routine investigations after reading cases in CRMS, sometimes before the sergeant has had a chance to assign the case. Chiefs showing up at hostage scenes where SRT is being deployed and telling them what window to look in and how to use a pole mirror in an attempt to get eyes on. Then countermanding the SWAT units decision to make an emergency entry. Tell tale signs the chiefs and captains don't trust anyone and are the only ones who know how and what to do. All because of fear.

Chiefs, Captains, Lieutenants calling sergeants as they respond to hot calls, demanding information before it is available. When no information is available because no one is on scene yet, they will get in their car and respond, taking charge and getting in the way. Of the current field lieutenants, how many, if any, have experience in a pro active investigative unit (outside of Vice) or worked for more than a month in investigations (Homicide, Sex Crimes, Robbery, Narcotics) at any rank? The answer is none.

The sad truth is the administration is breading a culture of "wait for the brass." This is in turn breading a bunch of supervisors who are followers, not leaders. It all starts at the top. The assistant chiefs are afraid of number one. The captains are afraid of the assistant chiefs and number one. This is pushed down to the lieutenants who are afraid. Afraid to make a decision or act and the need to be in charge (or at least look like they are). Lieutenants and Captains refuse to stand up for their people out of fear they too will suffer the consequences of the chiefs anger. The thinned skin of chief officers when someone with the audacity to speak up or challenge "The Bigger Picture" is amazing.

"The Big Picture." How many times have you heard this phrase? The problem with this phrase is the command staff only sees what it wants to see and uses this phrase to create fear and justify their actions when there is no other explanation.

"The Big Picture"??? The wrong people are in the wrong seats on the bus. The bus is headed for a cliff and there is no one capable of stopping it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Polish the Brass

I retired last week and even in retirement I seem to get under the skin of the thin skinned brass of the San Diego Police Department. It is no secret I have little to no respect for the command staff of the department. The individuals who occupy space on the seventh floor of the Headquarters building need only look in a mirror to answer the question as to "Why" I have elected to eliminate them from my retirement party guest list.

I put out a flier letting friends and colleagues know of my impending retirement and party to celebrate. In the flier I made a not so tongue in cheek comment not wanting to deal with the brass and for them to stay home. This comment was directed at chief officers and a few captains. It did not take long for word to get back to me they were not happy with the slam. A couple captains I respect asked if they were included in the "No Brass" comment as well as several lieutenants. I explained my reasons and to whom the comment was directed at and meant for.

You see I have served for 32 years and 8 months as a sworn officer with the SDPD. During this time I also served for the better part of 25 years as an employee representative. I also served two times on the POA Board of directors. I made some enemies along the way. I was not shy about calling bullshit when the administration ran afoul of rights, MOU or policy. I knew the bill of rights, policy and the MOU better than they did. I pointed out when they were wrong. They didn't like it. I always did my pointing out in private and professionally. When the offending party fought back and continued the actions I was not shy about calling them out in public. Kill the messenger seemed to be their natural reaction.

I have been lied to so many times by chief officers that I grew weary of having to hear their voices. I have watched chief after chief spew lies to and about officers over everything from reasons for transfers, promotions, discipline, to why something (pick the event)occurred that did not make any sense. I watched chief officers and captains talk glowingly about an officer retiring, knowing the chiefs were all to happy the officer was leaving. Like me.

I know full well how the chief officers feel about me. They are doing the happy dance now that I am gone. They are no doubt having their own party to celebrate my departure. So I find it humorous they took exception to being excluded from my party's guest list. Their only reason for attending is to make themselves feel good and show people they are stand up, by attending and saying kind things about me. Excuse me while I puke.

My party is to rejoice and share happy memories with friends and colleagues. It is not a forum for a chief officer to say a bunch of empty crap everyone in attendance knows is crap so he or she feels good. I'm too old and to disgruntled to sit idle while one of them goes on and on about how I will be missed and how I made this a better place and how my experience and knowledge made them all better people. I'm about to up-chuck again.

I gave a few captains and four chiefs a bottle of beer for Christmas. The label on the beer was appropriately labeled, "Kiss Ass" ale. My case of "Ass Clown" beer did not arrive in time for the chief to get his beer and a couple of captains. I heard one of the recipients on the seventh floor wondered why he was included, saying he thought he always got along with me. If lying to me and doing everything in your power to screw me every chance you got was getting along... Well now you know I know.

My flier was on the desk officers desk as you enter the chiefs office. The officer was unaware of the exclusion of the Chief's. Someone removed the flier from the desk where retirement fliers are placed, any guesses who? It really does not matter to me. It shows the attitude and thinking of the persons on that floor. God help anyone who may associate themselves with me.

Respect is earned. A leader has ethics. Rank is acknowledged. Rank does not earn respect and a leader tells the truth and acts ethically even if the words and actions have an adverse consequence to him or herself. Killing the messenger does not make the message mute. I may be gone but I am not dead.

I hope to see friends, colleagues and partners at my party, Friday, January 13th, at the range. I have invited the Captains I respect and the lieutenants were told the no brass comment does not apply to them. To save any embarrassment, chiefs and those captains not offered an invite should stay away.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

I Made It Out Alive

Today is my first official day as a retired cop. Thirty two years and eight months as a San Diego police officer. I had some fun times, met some wonderful people, lost too many friends and co-workers to untimely and sometimes horrific incidents. I saw more stupidity and violence than imaginable. Met some characters you really had to see to believe.

All in all the job was a blast. The politics of the job was the number one factor for bad memories. I will save the bad for another time. I made it out alive and in one piece. I have my health and am looking forward to a long retirement. I have a number of items on my bucket list of things to do before i die and don't plan on laying around.

I plan on writing more often and speaking out as just that old retired guy who maybe has some insight others may not possess. Until then, have a safe and happy new year.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail 2012

After 32+ years I will be retiring from the San Diego Police Department on December 30, 2011. I will be 55 years of age and in OK shape with the exception of being a bit overweight (OK, so I carry around a pony keg and not a six pack). I often get asked what my plans are after I retire. I tell people my first adventure will be to hike the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and I get this look of; what?

The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,663.5 mile hiking trail that runs from the Mexican border at Campo to Manning Park which is located 8 miles into Canada from Washington State. The PCT is a national scenic trail that traverses three states (California, Oregon, and Washington). I will climb 60 some mountain passes; descend into 19 major canyons; pass more than 1000 lakes; 3 national monuments; 7 national parks (Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Yosemite, Lassen Volcanic, Crater Lake, Mt. Rainier and North Cascades National Park), 24 national forests; and 37 federally mandated wilderness areas.

The PCT starts out in a desert like area that is hot, dry and rugged. It passes through mountains that are tall, steep and snowy (Forrester Pass 13,153 feet). The trail will require crossing creeks, streams and rivers; climbing over rocks, logs and bridges. In the course of hiking the trail I will climb over 314,711 feet of up and down climbing of hills and mountains and then into valleys, canyons and meadows. The lowest point of the trail is the Cascade Locks of Oregon, at 140 feet above sea level. The highest point along the trail is Forester Pass, California, at 13,153 feet. I will hike 1,698.8 miles in California, 456.8 miles in Oregon and 499.8 miles in Washington. (More people have climbed Mt. Everest than have completed a thru hike of the PCT.)

Most hikers attempting to thru-hike the PCT will begin their journey in mid to late April. There is a kick off for hikers the last weekend of April called the “Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kick Off” (ADZPCTKO) which is held at Lake Morena, near Campo. The idea is to begin the southern portion of the hike early enough to avoid the extreme high temperatures of the desert and arrive at the southern portion of the Sierra Nevada Mountains (Kennedy Meadows) when the snow pack has had time to melt (June 10-15). Once a hiker makes it to Kennedy Meadows the goal is to make Canada before the snow begins to fall in Washington (Late September – Early October). The hike should take roughly five months to complete.

I will encounter snakes, spiders, mosquitoes, bears and poison oak. I will carry everything I need on my back in a pack that will weigh in at about 20 pounds, less food and water. I will use a tent (Big Agnes Fly Creek / 2 pounds) and cook at least one hot meal a day. Granted the food will be freeze-dried or dehydrated, but hopefully good enough to eat every day for five months.

There is a saying among hikers “Hike your own hike.” The premise is to hike according to one’s own dreams, goals, expectations, and not have your hike determined by someone else’s expectations or goals. I intend to hike continuously from the southern terminus at the Mexican Border to Manning Park in Canada. I plan on hiking at my own pace and enjoying the solitude and solace of being alone in thought as I walk the trail. I hope to purge the negative thoughts of a lifetime in law enforcement. I hope to also reflect on the fun times and accomplishments of a 32+ year career. I will take side trips to hike Whitney, Half Dome, Crater Lake and others as they present themselves. I will take hundreds of pictures, lots of videos and write daily of my experiences. I will share the good and bad in hopes those who wish to follow my adventure get a flavor of what I am experiencing.

The two most often asked questions I get; “Who are you going with?” and “Why?” The answer to the first question is, “No one. I will be heading off alone.” I will be considered a “solo” hiker. I won’t be alone on the trail. There are hundreds that begin the hike every year. So along the way I will come across people who are attempting a similar feat.

The answer to “why” is a little more complex. I began to dream of hiking the PCT several years ago. I have always enjoyed hiking, camping and exploring the great outdoors. My favorite place to unwind and explore is the Eastern Sierra’s. I read journals of those who have attempted or completed a thru hike of the PCT and began to contemplate following in their footsteps.

So why am I going to attempt to thru hike the PCT? I guess because I became fascinated with the challenge. I also was looking for something to help purge the negative effects of 32+ years in law enforcement. The more I read about and learned about the trail, the more I thought about doing it myself. There are two other trails people thru hike (Appalachian Trail and Continental Divide Trail) annually. I decided if I were going to make an attempt at thru hiking it would be the PCT and not one of the other two. I think hiking the PCT is very doable for me and a challenge I seek in retirement.

In my readings of other thru hikers journals and BLOGS, I came across a man named Jonathan Ley. He has hiked the PCT and Continental Divide Trail and written about the experiences. Ley writes of an encounter with a Border Patrol Agent a few miles from the border after starting his PCT adventure. The agent said, “You know, I’ve seen other people doing this walk. I just don’t get it… I mean, what do you get out of it?” Ley said it was the first direct, “why?”

Ley went on to write a list of why he thru hiked. Many of his reasons mirror mine;
  • Life is made of experiences and I hope to have as many as possible. 
  • Unfulfilled dreams become regrets and I intend to have as few as possible. 
  • To share in something unique, that few have known or will ever know. 
  • To learn about my limitations. 
  • To learn about the world and to better understand my place in the natural order of things. 
  • To avoid living a life that has already been played out by countless others. 
  • To think, dream, imagine and to reflect, unencumbered by the distractions of life. 
  • To endure mental and physical hardships and perhaps become stronger as a result. 
  • To learn what is truly important in life.
Ley closed with the thought most on my mind. Maybe it isn’t what I am about to undertake, rather who I am that is important. I am not hiking to do something but more to become something… to become someone. I don’t know if the person I have become is good or bad, but I am going to attempt to find out.

I am heading into this adventure with eyes wide open. I am aware of the obstacles to completing a thru hike of 2663.5 miles. I am retiring six months ahead of when I had planned so I can begin the hike this year rather than wait another year. I began preparation a little over six months ago by buying a package of material from a hiker who had hiked the trail years ago and put together planning and hiking tips for those interested in attempting a similar feat.

I will detail my planning in future posts and re-tool this site to allow for those with interest to follow my hike when I start. I plan on beginning my hike sometime after April 15, 2012. In closing, I will use a quote I have seen on various journals and blogs;

“Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well-preserved body but rather to skid sideways, totally worn out with a Yuengling in your hand and shouting “Holy Shit… what a ride!!!”

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

It's Time to Party

I secured the "Rock House" at the range today for my retirement party. With my last days ticking off and retirement 36 days away (16 work days) I agreed to an old fashioned, range, retirement party. Since I am leaving at the end of next month (December 30, 2011) I decided to hold my party after the holidays. I selected Friday, January 13, 2012.

Friday the 13th.

A flier will be out shortly. Mark the date and join me in saying "Farewell". Bring your ball ammo, practice rounds, hollow points, tracer rounds and wad cutters... but leave the brass at home... there is nothing more frustrating than having to deal with the brass after a great day lobbing rounds down range... we can all throw some shots back and tell a few tales and reminisce about what was...

I  have enjoyed (for the most part) my 32 1/2+ years of service. Times have changed and I am looking forward to the next chapter in life. Mark the date and let's have some fun.