Monday, November 16, 2009

Message from Anonymous

The tenor of the comments to my latest BLOG posts seems to have taken on a much different tone of late. Frustration, anger, disgust and a bit of fear have begun to dominate. The focus of these words seems to be the chief officers occupying the 7th floor. I have deliberately stayed away from bashing or joining in the discussions when it moves in that direction. I walk a fine line as I write at times between the protections afforded under the First Amendment to the Constitution and violating department policy. Taking on the department brass in a public forum has proven to be an unprotected right and has in the past subjected individuals to discipline.

I have had several discussions with various members of the 7th Floor (for non members of the San Diego Police Department the 7th floor is where the offices of the Chief's are situated) and have observed visible anger as they would discuss a particular BLOG post and the "Anonymous" poster. The common theme among them is their view of those persons who post comments as "Anonymous" they are "cowards; trouble makers; idiots; not to be taken serious; and meaningless" and they (chief officers) reject out of hand what is posted by those using this label.

To some degree I agree with this view; and again I said to some degree. I would prefer people select a user name when posting comments and stick with it. This accomplishes several things in my mind; allows for dialogue back and forth with me and others; provides a name, albeit a pseudo name for others to identify with; and brings the writer of the comments more respect. BUT, I completely understand why people chose to remain "Anonymous" and not provide any hint or glimmer of their identity. I will hold myself up as the poster child for why it is better at times to remain anonymous when writing things that are not politically correct or may offend the target of the rant.

This BLOG started out "Anonymous" and my intention was to keep it that way. I had not thought through the name I assigned to the BLOG and a couple of people called me out. They did this innocently and not with any malice to injure or create problems. After about 2 weeks I came out from behind the monitor and identified myself and took ownership of the contents of this BLOG. It was not long after I became known as the author I started hearing certain people (management) were upset with me. I was careful not to rant about the department or its members and stayed clear of the dialogue about the perceptions many people voiced about the members of the 7th floor.

I have on several occasions been challenged for the content of my posts to this BLOG by members of management. These same individuals have expressed the perception my comments about the mayor, council and others in some way creates a climate that somehow makes their job more difficult. I was asked by three of those on the 7th floor how the chief could promote me to lieutenant with my BLOG being so negative toward the mayor and council. I believed then and still believe my BLOG and the content of my posts should have had no part of the discussion relative to my abilities and qualification for promotion. I am also not so naive as to believe my BLOG would not become a topic during these discussions.

Back to my initial topic; "Message from Anonymous" and the implications of being identified or worse, ignored. Sometimes we reject out of hand a message from someone we do not like; have a low opinion of; or have a poor relationship with. We take the position, "consider the source" and close our minds to what it is this person may say or write. We all do this, some of us more often than others and some of us are not even discreet about the manner we take when rejecting the information. The problem is we miss important information by doing this.

I am aware the people on the 7th floor are regular readers of this BLOG. I am also aware these same people take issue with the comments posted by "Anonymous." I believe the messages being put out by "Anonymous" are being missed and not being taken serious. The frustration with a perceived lack of support from the chief officers is a common theme among posters. The frustration is growing by the day and incidents mounting giving cause to the frustration turning to anger and disgust. Officers, detectives, sergeants and others grumble openly about their perception no one is willing to stand up and support them. They watch with anger and frustration press conferences where the public is told crime is down and all is well in San Diego with the police officers and the department. They see interviews where the lack of staffing is downplayed and the mayor discusses further reductions to wages, benefits and personnel. They speak out at the perception no one is standing up for them. They point north to Los Angeles PD and the chief standing on the steps of city hall challenging the council to provide additional personnel. They grumble about the perceived lack of communication from management and have grown weary of hearing bad news in the press when the belief is the information should be provided from within. Many feel they are being lied to and would prefer open, honest discussion from management about the budget and other issues facing them.

The frustration, anger, disgust and fear coming through the comments on my BLOG cannot be ignored or discounted because the person posting them wishes to remain anonymous. The messages need, at the least, to be viewed and discussed by the management of the police department. Individuals who may be the focus of the comments must take the comments in and determine if there is a cornel of truth and act accordingly. "Anonymous" has a message that must be taken seriously. Discount if you must the messenger, but take heed of the message and make this a better place tomorrow than it is today.


Identity Crisis said...

You are the man!
A+ on your recent posting.
You hit the nail on the head.
Keep up the outstanding work.

Which Chief Officer attended the funeral for the guy killed on the bicycle?

Just Wondering said...

Human nature ain’t it a wonderful thing. Everyone and I mean everyone who reads and comments on this blog understands the Police Department is as much a democracy as Cuba is a free society. While the 1st Amendment may protect your rights to express opinion, it certainly does not protect you from human nature. Those who use the anonymous persona do so to protect themselves from the retribution those in power will use against them. We’ve all seen it happen before, we all know it can happen again, it’s human nature.

Regarding those who have made their way to the 7th floor. Like it or not they are the ones in power today. To gain this power they agreed to give up civil service protections and become “at will” employees. Some have cited LAPD Chief Bratton and his willingness to stand up to politicians in LA. A closer examination shows us before he resigned early this year Bratton was working on his second a 5-year contract. My friends, an employment contract is a completely different situation than those working under “at will” status. And, if I might be so bold, those working for a Mayor who already knows the ins and out of their jobs on the 7th floor AND has a vindictive streak a mile wide.

I do not offer this as an excuse for their behavior I’m merely point out the facts.

Is Sparky correct about the message being missed, probably. Before retiring in July I had several of those “conversations” with one of those individual on the 7th floor. The conversation was civil but the reality is they have jobs and families they need to support too. Some are the sole support and they’re not about to ruin their retirements. While you’re denying it, I suspect you would do the same. And, if there is nothing else to consider, remember all them, except one, started where you once were many year ago too.

I believe human nature, in this case resentment, festers and is doing nothing good for anyone. Resentment from those who do not have power and believe those who do are protecting themselves. And resentment from those who have power but are being disrespected and undermined. Well in my opinion everyone needs to grow some thicker skin and understand the underlying messages from both sides.

Pissed of Cop said...

I agree 100% with Sparky. I want the 7th floor to acknowledge what we are going through, what we are up against and how bad it is. I am tired of hearing how wonderful it is we have a job and should feel lucky. I want a chief who will support me in my efforts to do this job by telling the truth to the public and all of us. "I guarantee there will be no cuts" is the biggest lie since "I tested last week and have no STD'S"

Anonymous said...

Perhaps if those in power on the 7th floor were willing to take the criticism without being vindictive, more of us would publicly state what is being said here. Unfortunately that is never going to happen. As you stated, ignore the messenger but heed the message. When Chief Lansdowne appears in ROT and says there will be no layoffs of police officers and no units will be eliminated, it is obvious he does not have the authority to make those decisions. He loses all credibility with the troops.

Ann T. said...

Dear Sparky and Co,
I would post anonymously too, if I were an officer in this department, because i would want to keep my job. Why present your butt for the kicking?

But I would also have a persona, so that people could track my consistency and respond. The word anonymous has little credibility.

What's the difference to brass between an anonymous comment and the results of an anonymous survey?
1. The blog isn't manipulated like a survey is, by the tone of the questions. Or, worse,
2. The survey isn't actually anonymous at all.

In short, I think 1. discussion could be more constructive between a bunch of aliases, and 2. other LEO's and their brass have an unprecedented and lucky break--to know what the morale and issues are in a department.

Just my opinion. Good luck to you all, anonymous every one, but especially those that make the forum and drive the discussion.

Ann T.

Anonymous said...

Interesting tidbits from the Voice of San Diego today (11/17):

"We're going to start referring to the budget deficit as $200 million until further notice. In Tirandazi's (Director of Financial Mgt.) conversation with Frye today, he mentioned that revenues were off about $10 million since the last projection. That puts the working deficit at $190 million, he told me afterwards. Since the Office of the Independent Budget Analyst has already projected the deficit to be $200 million, and the Mayor's Office close is now close, we figured that's the best number to use for now. Previously, we've been going with $179 million, the mayor's estimate in October.

Wonder now that the City is admitting a deficit of $200M if this lets Lansdowne off the hook?

The other comment:

To provide some closure on my coverage of city vacant positions last week, I also spoke with Tirandazi about the mayor's comments that eliminating 800 positions would result in a $20 million savings. Tirandazi estimated cutting all those positions would free up $30 million toward this year's budget gap. He emphasized that although cutting 800 positions would wipe out the city's current stock of vacancies, more will come as the city doesn't hire replacements for workers who leave. His $30 million estimate takes that fact into account.

Looks like no new hiring anytime soon...of course, this doesn't count the Mayor's staff....

No Name Fibber McGee said...

Identity Crisis asked which chief attended the funeral for the bicyclist? Kanaski was shown on TV at the service, not sure if the actual funeral or the viewing. This was a tragic accident and we all feel for the family but what is going on? Did we do something wrong? I wish the same level of concern was shown toward officers from the 7th floor.

Anonymous said...

Come on ... that last one is really petty...Kanaski is one of the folks there I respect. Ya know, for a shorter guy, he's a giant of a man when it comes to ethics, honesty and openness. But that's my opinion, nothing more.

Anonymous said...

He’s the one who got sued by a detective for retaliation and discrimination. The jury awarded the detective a million dollars and the verdict and judgment was upheld by the court of appeal. You wonder why people choose to remain anonymous on this blog.

Anonymous said...

What did Just Wondering say?????????? :)

And, "At Will" or not, they need to show leadership as well as step up and defend the troops.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Steve. I know you are walking on eggshells sometimes, especially where you work, but what you say is the absolute truth.

SWAT COP said...

I still remember Kanaski's nickname......."Little Hitler."