Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Message is Clear

I am a realist and know my reputation within the San Diego Police Department. Some of this reputation is well deserved and much is just plain fodder for which I can only laugh. Promotions are subjective and when you think you have done enough to make it, think again. Today turned out to be a very difficult day to say the least. Promotions were announced just before lunch. As I sat at my desk trying to keep busy and occupy my mind I was beckoned into the interview room at Internal Affairs by my Lieutenant. I did not have to be told what was to come. I have been down this path before. Many of you have no doubt shared this experience and I am sure the feelings mimicked mine. The sinking feeling of rejection makes it very difficult to put on a happy face and show support after being told you did not make the cut.

I want to congratulate those who made the cut and got the call telling them they had done enough to get promoted. To those who received the message I did; my condolences. No matter what someone tells you on a day like this, nothing they say can make you feel any better. The platitudes of keep doing what you are doing; you are right there; take the next test, you will make it for sure; you are young, you have lots of time; do not take the pain away of not making it. I am not going to put on a happy face and tell you I am not angry at being passed over for promotion to Lieutenant. But I will tell you the message is clear and I get it.

I did what has become expected of candidates and met with the Chiefs to do the proverbial sales job of why I am the best candidate and should be promoted. I'm still not sure how this process came to be, but I do know it is not a part of any of the processes authorized by Civil Service or City Human Relations. I'm no longer interested in challenging or arguing against such issues. Do you think for a second everyone was asked the same questions or given the same amount of time to present their argument? How many could not or did not even get the opportunity? I did it.

The topic of this BLOG came up during several of my discussions with the chiefs. I knew from the beginning the postings here had struck some nerves with a few of those on the seventh floor. I have gone to great lengths to be supportive of the department when I could and declined to take on some of those departmental issues many of you felt needed airing. I attempted in my own way to direct the blame and anger where it belonged and to give a venue for people to understand how and why certain things had happened and focus a bright light on those responsible for what was going on with the department.

I found myself having to defend my postings and learned quickly certain people did not appreciate this BLOG for what it is. The question was asked of me (more than once) "How can we promote Steve McMillan after all the things you have written on your BLOG?" I was asked pointedly if I were to be promoted would I cease posting to my BLOG. It was very clear this BLOG was in their minds. So today, when I got the notification of non-selection; I had to wonder. Did my critical and pointed blasting of a mayor who would not know the truth if it slapped him upside his head have an impact in my being considered for promotion? What role did this BLOG play?

The message is clear to me. There is no mistaking I am not promotable and not thought of as someone who can lead, mentor, coach or teach younger officers and sergeants on the San Diego Police Department. My reputation; coupled with a willingness to speak my mind; and defend against wrongdoings, have no doubt made me a liability. While I love this department, for which I have given the past 30 years of my life; I hate the politics and those puppet masters who manipulate the strings, hiding behind a cloak of darkness and anonymity.

I have two years and ten months remaining in the DROP. I opted to stay in hopes of making a difference and sharing my experience, knowledge, skills and passion for making the San Diego Police Department a better place to be. I'm not sure at this point if that is such a good idea. As I sit here typing this post; I am angry and tired. I have never been one to throw my sucker in the dirt and will continue to work hard and do my job, giving 110%. My BLOG will continue and I will address those issues of concern as they present themselves. I will maintain my professionalism and stick to facts as I rant about the hot topic of the day.

I am happy for Randy Jones, Bill Stetson, Dan Plien, Roy Moody and Natalie Stone; the five newly promoted Lieutenants. I would work for each of you without question. You have earned your bars and should be proud of your accomplishments. I wish each of you nothing but the best and good luck. If I can ever be of help; do not hesitate to ask. We are after all in this together.

Congratulations to all of those who got promoted today. To those who did not make the cut; my condolences. I also want to thank all of you who offered support and kind words. It is a pleasure and honor to work with all of you. I am confident we will all continue to work together and do what we can to make a difference. Remember family first and be safe.


A Patrol Officer said...

I know there is little that can be said to remove the pain and anger Steve. I applaud you for the leadership you have shown and the willingness to speak the truth about issues and people. The chiefs of this department are afraid of you and your intelligence. They are the cowards who like you said hide in the darkness. Keep your head high and know we get the message too. Just remember 34 months and a larger DROP account. Continue to tell the truth and let the others spend their days on their knees.

Secretsalmon said...

Sparky my feelings are with you. I faced similar rejection at various times in my career. Unfortunately I did throw my sucker in the dirt, and truthfully I only hurt myself more. Our country prides itself on allowing freedom of speech, but unfortunately our society doesn't. During the last eighteen years or so the impotent powers to be of the police department have taken this one step further. The managers who are incompetent and hide behind the cover of decisions by committee are truly frightened by a leader, a decision maker, a thinker, and a person who speaks their mind and tells the truth. When the opportunity presents itself they close ranks and try and hide and protect their incompetence. On the police department it's the practice of passing over the threats in promotions. In their past efforts to protect themselves they've promoted individuals with glaring character flaws in the areas of honesty, experience and work ethic. This has included individuals involved in, or on the periphery of criminal activity; major flaws in character, moral and ethical judgment. These individuals fit quite comfortably in to an organizational management team that misrepresents the truth, would rather cower before the City Council and Mayor than speak the truth and will willingly mislead the public as to the state of the organization than again tell the truth. So Sparky you should really take pride in the fact that you were not chosen. It's obvious they recognized that you're a person with strong principles in the areas of truth, honesty and moral character. You’ve been, and are, a Beacon of Truth in a sea of Liars and Cowards!

Joyce said...

And to quote a wise man:"there are always things in any situation that are still amusing, that you can still smile about..." It may take a few days, but you will find those things. Your resiliency will carry you forward.

I applaud your willingness to put words to the emotions associated with the day of rejection, to feel bad but still give 100% to the organization is commendable.

Fed Up Detective said...

What did you expect? Reading the list of who got promoted yesterday made me question just the integrity of every single one of those on the 7th floor. Zimmerman to chief? You have got to be kidding me! If this is the beat choice we are a fucked up lot. When looking at the lieutenant selections it is clear they want yes men and people who would not challenge or upset the apple cart. This place is fast going from bad to worse. Can't wait for the next wave of cuts and exodus of more officers. The only people left will be the sheep following with their noses stuck in the ass of the one in front. You deserved to get promoted Steve. You are what this fucked up place needs. Hang in there you have more supporters than any of those ass clowns on the 7th floor.

Investigations I Detective said...

Steve, I just want to say you had the vote of many of us who hoped experience, integrity and a willingness to tell the truth would matter. You have more experience than all of the chiefs and most of our captains. The clear message is for anyone who wants to get promoted is to never speak up or tell the truth.

Someone already made the comment about the new chief. I echo that comment. That is the best we have? WTF is going on around here? With all due respect for Shelly, she is not the most qualified and after having worked for her I find her to be afraid of her own shadow and all about appearance. Sound familiar? Boyd Long? The three dollar bill? We are in trouble and I have to agree with the person said we are going form bad to worse. This is the worst list of promotions in my 26 years on this department.

Hang tough Steve. Go back to your post of keeping a sense of humor. You have always been able to do that. I have always respected your work ethic and ability to get to the others around you to give their best. You are what this department needs in these tough times. Too bad the clowns in the Chiefs office refuse to acknowledge this.

Keep your head high and know you do ahve a lot of support out here. Thank you for standing up and saying what we all want to say. It has cost you greatly and for that I am sorry. Thank You.

Anonymous said...

The whole lot on the 7th floor needs to go. There is no leadership, just a bunch of phony, worthless individuals who lack ethics and morals. Anyone who has been around here for any length of time knows how phony they are and afraid of the mayor. If they had a spine and ethics they would stand up to the mayor and tell the public the truth about the safety and security of citizens. What a joke. Sorry Steve. You deserved to be promoted. You have more to offer than the joke that was promoted to chief. What a complete sham and joke. Do they really think we are all that stupid? I guess they do. The revolt is brewing and people are to the point of mutiny.

Keep your sense of humor and continue to write Steve. It allows us to cheer at times. Thank you.

30 yr plus said...

Steve, really? Did you honestly expect to be promoted after all the slamming you did to the mayor? After naming a councilman the “Little Rube?” (My favorite by the way). I think you painted the Chief in a corner and there was no way in hell you would be promoted.

Don’t get me wrong, you are a hero to the officers of this department and I respect you for having the brass balls to start this blog and put your name to it, own it and say exactly what you think. The vast majority of us would not do it and I include myself in that group.

I applaud your honesty, your writing skills and your willingness to put your career goals in jeopardy to be the voice of the people. You can hold your head high knowing there are many (I suspect a number of the chiefs included) who wish they could be has honest as you are and say the things you have said.

To those of you who are blasting the promotion to assistant chief, Shut Up. Shelley is honest, intelligent and one of the hardest working people I know. I think she was an excellent pick and will do everything that she can to lead this department.

Plus the whole 7th floor should not be condemned as a whole. There are some good people up there right now. Trust me, I have experienced a lot worse.

Secretsalmon said...

30 Years Plus said: "Steve, really? Did you honestly expect to be promoted after all the slamming you did to the mayor? After naming a councilman the “Little Rube?” (My favorite by the way). I think you painted the Chief in a corner and there was no way in hell you would be promoted."

30 Years Plus you hit the nail on the head with this observation. Steve's accurate and true political comments about the Council-Moron in his District, and an unscrupulous mayor, obviously did have an impact on Steve not getting promoted. His political observations should not have been given any thought or consideration for his ability to lead during these promotional selections. His BLOG in no way affected his ability to lead and promote the organization. Yet the cowardly 7th floor allowed it to. The "Best Qualified" was passed over again, only this time it was for exercising one of his constitutional rights and not performance or ability. Instead of promoting an intelligent, knowledgeable, extremely well qualified leader, they chose total incompetence in at lease one instance on this list. The 7th was well aware of this in competence, yet still promoted. Everyone knows. This only destroys the morale, weakens the management team even more (if that's possible). Oh well San Diego, as the saying goes: You reap what you sow.

Chief you're a disappointment! Maybe San Francisco (Northern CaliiifoRnia) is more your style of law enforcement. Drinking on duty, free meals, 1/2 off from beat merchants, lie to protect fellow criminal officers, etc. Now we've succumbed in Southern California. The "Sanderization" of law enforcement at its best. What a disgrace.

27 Plus Years said...

DWOW!!! So let me ask a question to "30 Plus" what happened to the first amendment to the constitution & what did Steve ever say in this blog that was negative toward the administration of the department? Steve does have brass balls and the ability to make the 7th floor squirm because he knows more than most of them and he is not afraid of them. This is plain and simple pay back. The leadership Steve brings to the table far exceeded what many of those promoted bring. He voiced here in eloquent fashion his frustration over a system that clearly allowed others to get promoted by considering something that by law should never have been discussed in the process. I have had the pleasure of working with Steve. When I first heard he was coming to the unit I was concerned about his reputation. I found a man who was honest, hard working, ALWAYS willing to help out or volunteer for the hit assignments, never bad mouth others and always had the answer to the many questions posed to him. The steady stream of people to his desk was amazing. I never saw him cross or angry and ALWAYS stopped what he was doing to help.

Steve would have in my opinion made an excellent lieutenant at a time this department needs strong loyal and honest leaders. I for one believe this BLOG has been the best thing for this department anf for it to be used against him is wrong and shows the coward like mentality leading this sinking ship that is already taking on water and now headed for the rocks.

12 Yr Detective said...

Sparky - after the dust settles and your feelings subside, did you honestly think you were going to be promoted? The mayor has turned the 7th floor into lapdogs. Shelly sold her soul to this dept for the last two years to get promoted.. I NEVER want to go through that.. She worked hard (and then some) - she deserves it. I used to think I wanted to be a Lt someday - but do you really know how bad it is now for Lt's under the chief? Every time something bad happens they run around like 5150's because the captain wants to hear from them whats going on.. I know of a Lt who gets text messages at all hours of the night about incidents and then has to relay them immediately to the captain. This never used to happen unless a catastrophic incident occurred. I understand your frustration - soldier on!! You have something worth much more than a pair of gold bars - our respect.

Anonymous said...

So how long you going to last in IA Steve? If you pissed them off before you no doubt torked some noses with this post. They will never admit why anyone was passed over. They will lie & make excuses but telling the truth won't work when the truth would show it had nothing to do with qualifications. Someone else said you don't need bars to have our respect. We appreciate your candor and willingness to put yourself out there. Come to homicide we have two openings.

Tim said...

All things aside life is not fair. If you were not pissed Steve I would question your commitment. Its done & nothing can undo the screwing you just got. I would suggest you get out of here. You just put a spotlight on the target you have on your back. They are going to take some shots at you now COUNT IN IT!!!

You are one of the few who can stand tall knowing you did not sell out just to get promoted. I want to say thanks for all that you have done for me and the membership over the last 25+ years. Remember the training at Quails Inn? Stamper & Johnson ? The good times. Keep a sense of humor my friend & follow your own advise.

Detective Sparky Supporter said...

30 + is right on Steve. Did you really think Long or Gonzales or Rameriz would ever let that happen? Get a grip Steve the "ass clowns (I had to use that) on the 7th floor are so afraid of City Hall there is no way you were going to get promoted. Hang in there & keep sticking it to them. You owe this sinking ship nothing. Its time to take what you earned. Screw tis place & screw them.

Just Wondering said...

Let's review some facts: 34 months left in DROP: chances of promotion - not good according to your own analysis, a guaranteed pension check and skilled in the art of communication. Finally in your early 50's so there is plenty of life left to enjoy at whatever you want to do.

Sounds like it's time to do what you want and stop worrying about what they'll do. It's obvious they would prefer you go away. This way they face little or no accountability.

Sure the lieutenant's higher pay and extra benefits would be nice bonus over the next 34 months. But when you gage it against what you are accomplishing here, money is not necessarily one of the best metric to measure one's life with.

A while ago you wrote about your father in-law and the closing days of his life. Never once did you mention the amount of his salary and only a word on position. No your words turned to adjectives and adverbs about his character and behaviors. You and others have mentioned Steve McMillian has a "history". Some good, some not so good, just like the rest of us.

Yet, as you wrote about Mr. Parker, after it's all said and we're done with this world, those adjectives and adverbs will be the words we're remember by.

Anonymous said...

Sparky I feel for you. You are the type of leader this agency needs. Not the ass kissers who march in parades, go to brown bag lunches, work in the Chief's Office for the all important "face time" and forever have their noses up some higher ranking official's ass.Your blog is a refreshing change and I fully encourage you to continue on.

I to looked at the names of who was promoted and had to shake my head. I won't disparage the ones who were selected because it's not their fault they were selected. They played the game and some down right deserved it! What I feel is more meaningful is to point out an obvious snub.

I want to make clear right up front this person is a friend of mine, but I believe this gives me a keen insight as to his qualifications. I have been a peer officer with him and have worked for him in a professional capacity. Here is a guy with 24 years of experience working various assignments in patrol, training, administrative, and investigations. He has been a sergeant for 11 1/2 years and an academy instructor for 15 years teaching various subjects to both recruits and seasoned officers. He tested for lieutenant on the last list and had the second highest score and his reward was to be passed over four times.

Now you may think this guy must have some skeleton in his closet, but let me tell you he has never even received a Note of Counseling let alone some of the serious discipline the other promoted candidates have received.

He wasn't even going to test again, but decided to give it one more try. He didn't throw his sucker in the dirt and worked even harder to prove he was deserving. This time the guy scores #1 overall. He's at the top of the list. I couldn't score that high even with the answers and he did it back to back! So most would think he would be a lock. With any other agency this would be true, but not with SDPD. He was passed over on each promotional wave.

So what does that say for our organization when the #1 lieutenants candidate is passed over three more times?

Why do we stand up and allow the administration to subjectively select who they want. Why does the City of San Diego spend thousands of dollars on an formal professional testing process when test scores and merit mean nothing. The process that counts is the informal ring kissing or as Steve states the proverbial sales job to the Chiefs. I also question how this is allowed to continue when it is not part of or authorized by the Civil Service process.

My friend doesn't know I'm writing this blog and he may not agree with me throwing his name around but everyone who tests should know what to expect. We have a screwed up promotional process that our POA needs to fix.

So who is this guy? Dan Cerar! Like him or not he earned the right based on merit and test scores to wear lieutenant bars three + years ago as he did this past week. I don't know if he'll test again, but one thing I know he shouldn't have too!

WTF said...

WTF?? Dan Cerar is company all the way!! What gives?? Oh - I can guess.. I know a retired Lt who was in a similiar situation. He made Lt on his 5th try (about 9 years of trying).. Not because he wasn't highly qualified the first four times but because a certain Asst Chief had it out for him over an IA investigation.. Now you're thinking hmmm.. What gives? He was working IA and got a case that the 7th floor told him how to handle (beforehand). He worked the case - came up with a different finding (umm the truth) and that didn't sit well with the chiefs. He had to wait for most of the chiefs to retire before he had a shot on his 5th try.

Like it or not thats the way it is. Dan must have something funky going on. I think he's a great leader. Soldier on Dan!!

SDPD said...

Was it disappointing that you did not get the promotion you deserve? Sure it was. Is it predictable that you would not get the promotion? Absolutely. With your institutional knowledge, both as a veteran employee as well as serving on the POA Board, you know the ins and outs.

I applaud you for not selling your soul to Lansclowne, Slanders or the City of San Diego. Be proud and hold your head high. You are not a lackey to the SDPD hierarchy. You are not part of the oligarchy.

Look at the CEC. These people are afraid of their own shadow and fear the almighty Lansclowne and Slanders. A decision, they cannot make. Leadership they do not display. The Chief made it clear that his loyalty is to Mayor Slanders and not the employees of the SDPD. His master is the Mayor. Any wonder why morale is as low as I’ve experienced in my 28 years with SDPD? How many times did we hear the same lies from our leadership? Staffing will soon be at 100%. Our pay will be better than that of San Jose and other departments? All bold face lies. None of this ever came to be. No we don’t want a Chief saying the sky is falling, but we want an honest Chief and not a bull shit artist like we have now. We want integrity. There is none with this administration.

Nope, you do not fit the mold. Your loyalty would be with the people, not the CEC. Hang in there. You can look upon yourself with pride. You did not whore yourself out.

Damn, I get indigestion every time I look at the promotion announcement. SDPD is ruled by insecure, timid Lemmings. I laughed at a previous post regarding the quest for knowledge via text messaging going on with SDPD management. Talk about micromanagement, insecurity and the use of information as a power play. This destructive behavior trickles down from the Chief himself. What a bunch of back stabbing SOB’s we have calling the shots for the SDPD. What was once a fine organization is now a dysfunctional agency. We are in a steady decline. The sinking ship. I’m calling it quits at 30.

Ever consider running for the POA Board again?

Beat And Release said...

I'm sorry to hear this news. It is an unfortunate fact that those who have the guts to speak out against injustice, cronyism and the screwing of the troops will ultimately end up paying the price for their candor. I have been in your shoes.

In twenty years of loyal service I have caught two suspensions for "insubordination" because I called out two of my "supervisors" for their stupidity. Both are now gone - I outlasted them. We had a lot of ranking members retire in June. The Chief has decided he doesn't want to fill those vacancies from the current promotion list that is valid through October. He is going to wait for the new batch of candidates after testing in September prior to making promotions. His "people" should be in place by then.

Even though we are an "accredited" agency, the promotion requirements are constantly changed so those with the political connections can advance. When I look at a roster of the ranks of Lt. and above, I see only two individuals that have been here longer than me. Hell, I have eight years seniority over one of our deputy chiefs.

I don't worry about it, though. I continue to support my troops and do my job. I have five years left and I don't intend to take their promotion test, having figured out a long time ago I don't "fit in" with their vision of what this department should be. I am now a dinosaur, a relic that still believes in the basics of old time policing, an inconvenience who believes that honesty is paramount and politics have no place in a police department.

I will serve out my remaining time as a street supervisor, with no worries about making Lt.

Anonymous said...

Sparky...Sorry you did not make it but can't say I am surprised. I too am a sergeant with 25 years of varied experience including patrol, admin, and investigative experience. I too have been through the lieutenant process 3 times only to see less qualified candidates make it over me. The first time I tried, I was told by a now retired lieutenant whom I repected that I would never make it above sergeant until I learned to kiss the asses of those in charge and stopped challenging the status quo no matter how absurd it may be. You want to get promoted be a yes man (or woman). I have decided to no longer put myself through the stress of a promotional process that so clearly does not work. I have no respect for the so called leadership on the 7th floor and I refuse to sell out just to pick up a little more money. I still have to look at myself in the mirror. Hang inthere SParky and keep fighting the good fight. Keep shining the light on the cockroaches that are systematically destroying this city and this department.

Anonymous said...

Steve I have enjoyed reading your post for a while. Your take on events is fresh, insightful and on point.

Whether it's the pension, health care, staffing and now promotions there is no end to how we can get screwed.

Lets talk promotions. I agree with WTF's view on Dan Cerar. What the hell are they looking for? Surely not experience and leadership.

Many years ago I came to Dan's squad with my head between my tail. I screwed-up and was booted out of investigations and was told I was lucky to have a job. There is no doubt I screwed-up but they wanted to bury me.

On my first day Dan pulled me into his office and we spoke. On first impression Dan appears to have a tough exterior and I wasn't quite sure what to expect. All I do know is I had a confidence problem and felt my career had pretty much ended.

To this day I still remember what Dan said to me. In his no nonsense style he said, "I don't care what you did to get booted onto my squad. You have a choice. You can bust your ass and show me what you are made of or you can keep your head buried up your ass and let the folks who put you here win. If you decide on the former then I will pound on as many doors as it takes to get you back in investigations where your talents can best be served."

I walked out of there believing maybe the world hasn't come to an end. Here is a guy who was going to give me a fair shake and was willing to help me.

Today I'm working in a very coveted investigative unit and I don't think I would be here if it it wasn't for the second chance Dan gave me. He was a man of his word who convinced our Captain to give me a shot starting at an Area Station.

Now I don't claim to know all the character traits it takes to be a good leader. The 7th floor sure seems to like ass kissers and yes men/women. How about experience, knowledge, intelligence, integrity and someone who gives a damm about the people they supervise.

Dan hold your head up high you have nothing to be ashamed of. This department needs leaders like you even if they won't put bars on your shirt. You made a difference in my life and I thank-you!

Steve, though I don't know you well, I wish you the best and support you and your never ending search for truth!

Anonymous said...

Hey Steve, my thoughts are with you. We've known each other pushing 30 years and you have always been a stand up guy. Unfortunately, with Lansdowne and the puppets in place, people like us are threats they can't use because we ask "Why?" The days of building high performing teams with people who can respectfully challenge each other to do better are long gone. Yes, I too, am saddened by the degradation of an incredibly fine organization to what we are now experiencing today. Just reading the Promotion Announcement and the BS he puts into the introduction is typical crap coming out of this old man's mouth. Step aside and let's get a true leader in place who can turn this place around. It's time for the egomaniac to retire and go pick avocados on the ranch...