Saturday, May 16, 2009

Where is the mayor?

On Friday it was revealed SDCERS was not going to follow the mayor's illegal attempt to change, reduce, or eliminate DROP; a vested benefit. The question for many is, "Where is the mayor?" Since this revelation there has not been one word from the mayor or his office. Word on the streets is the mayor was told some time ago by the City Attorney his attempts at changing, reducing or eliminating DROP would be a violation of the City's Charter. The mayor hired the firm "Burke, Williams & Sorenson" to provide legal services and lead negotiations with the five labor groups in the City. Attorneys William Kay and Timothy Davis of"Burke, Williams & Sorenson" lead separate teams for the City during the negotiations with the five labor groups.

Timothy Davis led the City's charge against the SDPOA. Hell bent on eliminating DROP, Davis and company threw as much mud onto the walls during negotiations as they could muster in hopes something would stick. The SDPOA Board of Directors held firm and refused to discuss this vested benefit. The law did not allow them to "negotiate" changes, reductions or elimination of this vested benefit (Why did they know this and the attorney for the City did not). Davis was getting no-where and knew it. His only alternative was a law suit. So, in the middle of negotiations the mayor gives the go ahead and the SDPOA is served notice of the City's intent to sue the SDPOA for their refusal to negotiate this vested benefit. Does anyone think this had a chilling effect on the remainder of negotiations? Does anyone wonder why the mayor chose the SDPOA for this law suit? It would not have anything to do with PERB or MMBA, would it? Why is "Burke, Williams & Sorenson" handling negotiations and this law suit? Why is the City Attorney NOT handling these two issues? Could it be Jan Goldsmith told the mayor he could not do what he set out to do?

The silence is deafening from the mayor. Might be he is holed up at home in Kensington nursing a black eye? Maybe trying to spit the blood from a swollen, split lip and not capable of talking? Oh, rest assured, his statement when he does break his silence will berate SDCERS; extol his solid legal footing in making the changes he did; plead his case for taking the issues to court for a legal ruling; and assure taxpayers he is only looking out for them and not the employees of this city. Care to venture a guess how much the taxpayers are paying for the outside firm of "Burke, Williams & Sorensen" to handle negotiations and the law suit regarding DROP? The mayor attempts to plead his case for; cutting wages; reducing and cutting benefits; holding onto services; raising revenue by increasing fees; not raising taxes and then turns around and hires an outside firm to do the City Attorney's job?

The mayor had the pleasure of playing with San Diego's American Idol; Adam Lambert last week. If you missed it, a young lady took her shirt off (still wearing a green bathing suit top) and ran onto the field and stage. The mayor cracked he would not take his shirt off (Thank God). Someone needs to let the mayor know; he is not wearing ANY clothes. He shed them long ago.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Law Prevails? In San Diego?

If you have not heard; SDCERS has told the mayor they are not going to follow his lead and break the law when it comes to imposing the past contract on City Employees. In the Voice of San Diego, Rani Gupta wrote; "Rebecca Wilson, chief of staff of the San Diego City Employees' Retirement System, said the city charter makes clear that all current employees must sign off on several changes to DROP that were part of the contracts imposed on the police, blue-collar workers and city management employees not represented by a union. All changes were to take effect July 1."

It is clear the contracts that were imposed on police officers as well as employees working for Local 127 and managers (Chiefs and Captains) making unilateral changes to DROP must be approved by the employees. That means it is our turn to tell the mayor what he can do with his changes to DROP. The entry age, elimination of the annuity option and the complete elimination of DROP from managers CANNOT be implemented as the mayor demanded. Let's hope someone recognizes the capping of Retiree Medical Payments is similarly flawed and re-instate this promised benefit.

Finally someone is following the law and refusing to blindly follow the mayor's wishes.

The Numbers as we Know Them

It has been a cat and mouse game of who's going and who's staying. Some are holding the cards close to the chest. Those who have declared their intent to leave have been added to a list in order to capture the extent of the loss. Below is a breakdown of the number of each rank and the years of service lost. The names are irrelevant; it's the people who matter. The loss is going to be devastating in terms of human loss and the organizations ability to provide excellent public safety.


...........Quantity...... Years

Chief's....... 1 ..............33



Det. Sgts......13..........396






(These numbers are as of 5-13-2009)

These people will ALL be leaving by the 30th of June. We will go on and there is no closing of the doors. We cannot fold as an organization; that is not an option. What we need to do is get the word out to the citizens of San Diego that they should be worried. There will come a time officers will not be able to respond in a timely manner to their call for help because the mayor and city council have refused to acknowledge the dire situation created by the types of cuts they imposed on members of the police department.

To those reading this; pass this information to family and friends. Send it to groups and organizations thinking of coming to San Diego for business or vacation. You owe it to yourself, family and friends to take the initiative and do your part in getting this message out.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Getting the Word Out

How do you inform a public, who's only real source for news is a failing news paper that has shown a decade long bent on destroying anything labor? The local TV and radio stations simply read the writings of San Diego's only news paper, re-enforcing the slant provided by this so called news organization.

I have attached four (4) clips from YouTube. Three are news clips related to the exodus of Police Officers from the San Diego Police Department. Pay close attention to the numbers provided in each of these clips (I will povide accurate numbers when available). The last clip is one made by Officer John Graham, titled; "Happy Happens in San Diego".

News Clip One

News Clip Two

News Clip Three

Happy Happens in San Diego

The topic is fresh and relevant TODAY. We need to keep the pressure on and continue to focus on the public's safety. Put a face to the experience that is leaving. Educate the public with the realities of this exodus and how they stand to be affected; fewer police officers in the street; slower response time to ALL calls; inability to respond or handle "Quality of Life" issues; inability to adequately investigate misdemeanor crimes and property crimes such as residential and commercial burglaries and grand thefts; the potential for citizens to perceive excessive force when officers are faced with a combative subject and no cover, doing what is necessary to protect him/her self and the public and ensuring the arrest of the subject; officers who will burn out from being stretched to the limit, working long hours with fewer days off and no ability to take time off for the lack of adequate manpower; officer mistakes in judgment due to stress and fatigue. All of these issues are faced by soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan or any other war zone. I am in no way saying what we are facing is anything like what our military continues to face on a daily basis in the middle east.

The POA needs to take the lead in this campaign. The membership needs to get involved. Sitting back and complaining about the lack of action is as much the member's responsibility as it is the Director's of the POA. Who is going to step up and LEAD? Who among you is willing to put your brother and sister officer's needs above your own?

We have not seen the worst of what is to come. This summer is going to be extremely difficult and will require a commitment never before seen from everyone; POI's; POII's; Detectives; Sergeants; Lieutenants and Captains, if we are to survive the heat of this summer. Taking care of one another first; ensuring each other's safety at all times. Help is a long way off when you get yourself in over your head by answering that Domestic Violence call; that fight in the park; the check the welfare; burglary alarm all without cover available. DON'T DO IT!!! Trying to help people, save people and make things better is what we are all about. But you can't do any of that if you are hurt, maimed or killed by violating your training and going against everything you know to be right.

Tell your friends, family and anyone that will listen, the crisis facing law enforcement in the City of San Diego. Share with them the realities of staffing and your inability to respond in a timely manner to any and all calls for service. Educate yourself about the numbers and the effect the exodus of experienced officers has had on protecting the public and fighting crime. Then take responsibility and educate the public. You owe it to yourself and your brothers and sisters in blue.

My last thought is about the Chief Officer's. I often hear anger, frustration and condemnation for the Chief and Assistant Chief's for the perceived lack of support or leadership. When the Chief appears on TV telling the public things are under control and the department has a plan he is doing his job and supporting his officers. The Chief's job is to balance the politics of the job and his commitment to his men and women. That is a difficult job in good times and impossible in times such as these. The mayor is pulling the strings and writing the script for the Chief's words and actions. The Chief could go rogue and say all the things we all want him to say and would pack his office within the next hour. The Chief has said openly the job of representing the officer's interests and needs is the POA. He is correct!!! Do not think for a second the Chief does not care or fight behind the scenes. (Holy-smokes; I sound like a suck ass; sorry) Let us take a step back and focus our energy where it will do the most good. That would be educating the public and getting the word out and most of all watching out for each other!!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pick your song!!!

I found a few videos on YouTube I felt appropriate for what is going on around us. First is; Should I Stay or Should I Go? Many people struggle with the decision of leaving to preserve benefits taken by the mayor. The second video sums up the feelings of many in this; Health Insurance video. This last video is being played for the mayor by over 100 of our finest officers who are leaving a job they love. I hope the mayor likes Johnny Paycheck; he is going to be hearing a lot of him over the next 50 days.

The satirical humor is getting brutal around Headquarters. There is a group retiring who have begun calling themselves, "Gerry's Unenthusiastic Kid's" ; then there is a group who have taken on, "Kicked to the Curb Club" ; or the group calling themselves, "Gerry's Other Casualties" . There were others but I will stick to my pledge to keep the profanity out of my writings. The numbers are growing daily. I predict when the dust settles and the summer begins in full swing (July 1) the San Diego Police Department will have lost 140 of our most experienced, dedicated, professional; managers, supervisors, investigators, and officers.

I found it interesting today to see one of the City Council members pontificating on about "all those retiring are getting 'bonuses' from the City" when they sell or convert their annual leave upon retirement. I could not control my initial thoughts. This guy is a true idiot!!! Selling back earned annual leave is a "BONUS" to this maroon. My guess is the mayor's minions did not factor in (or did not share with council) the amount of money the city would be required to shell out when the most senior of employees left city service. Think of the numbers for a minute. Let's assume the average person with 30 year's service is holding 500 hours of annual leave. Multiply the 500 by the salary of the employee; let's use a Sergeant's base of $43.00 an hour (I'm picking a number for argument sake); the city is shelling out $21,500 for this ONE employee. Now for the San Diego Police Department we are looking at 140 sworn members leaving and taking an average of this $21,500 for a grand total of $3,010,000. That's right folks, three million dollars.

(Click on red link for youtube link)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Hiring Disaster Ahead?

The San Diego Police Department is facing a man made crisis of epic proportion. In the late seventies and early eighties the department went through an exodus of officers, when surrounding agencies were offering substantially more money and a better working climate. The officers leaving the department had five (5) to twelve (12) years experience and were going to agencies that valued their experience and were providing more money. The average experience of the 100+ senior officers, detectives, supervisors and managers leaving the department in the next 50 days, is 27+ years. In 1978, 1979, 1980 academy classes contained 75 to 100 recruits in each class. Currently the classes range from 25 to 50 recruits per class.

The latest contract imposed on members of the San Diego Police Department by the mayor and endorsed by the city council has created the exodus of the most experienced and senior officers. A mayor who is more concerned with politics and the Republican agenda and how he looks and sounds to the public, created this crisis; a crisis that DID NOT have to be. Broken promises and vindictive, posturing by the mayor created an environment where those of retirement age were forced to choose between the careers they love or preserving a life after their dedicated service to the citizens of San Diego is complete.

The mayor espouses the ease of hiring replacements for those leaving. He gloats as he discusses replacing experience with enthusiasm. The mayor is banking on a large pool of candidates to draw from to fill the vacancies he has created. WAKE UP people!!! The San Diego Police Department is on a precarious ledge as they move to hire large numbers of officers from a LIMITED field of QUALIFIED candidates. The mayor will paint a bright picture; large numbers of candidates because of un-employment and layoffs all around the nation. I have a wake-up call for the mayor. One only need to look at Los Angeles, New York or Miami and the results of failing to hire or retain qualified police officers. We are in an "emergency" RIGHT NOW; our ability to hire and retain qualified police officers is going to be a struggle and will not occur over night. This emergency will ultimately result in hiring practices that significantly reduce the quality of candidate the department is able to hire. I won't begin to discuss the ability to "RETAIN" those who make it through training.

The ability of the San Diego Police Department to provide excellent customer service to our citizens has greatly been undermined by the mayor and city council's actions. The safety of the public is no longer guaranteed and should not be assumed. I will say it again; come July 1, 2009, there will be less than 1700, ABLE BODIED police officers, to police America's 7th largest city; at a time when crime is rising and the public's expectation exceeds our abilities.

One last thought; let's not forget the mayor's plan calls for a large number of the vacancies he created to REMAIN VACANT. The mayor is banking on the inability of the Police Department to hire replacements for those leaving. When positions remain vacant, he can place, rather than accept responsibility for this disaster.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Enthusiasm over Experience?

When I read the mayor explain to the public he is exchanging experience with enthusiasm in the police department, I had to read it again to make sure that is what I read. I'm not sure why I was surprised at this political satire, but I was. He is after all a politician whose daily mantra is, "It's Political." What I find extremely offensive is the manner in which he ignores the importance of the amount of experience he is forcing into retirement with the latest imposed contract, before many are ready or wanting. There seems to be a pattern here. (See post, "It's the little lies mayor" May 1, 2009)

Think for a minute what it is exactly the mayor is espousing. He is OK with a young officer, with little experience, taking the place of an experienced, dedicated, energetic police officer with 25+ years of learning the craft of law enforcement? Who is going to mentor this young officer when he/she enthusiastically races to a call; speeding through your community; failing to stop at stop signs; racing through intersections; enthusiastically trying to be first on the scene of a fight of 5-10 people? The young, enthusiastic officer promoted to detective; at the same time his young, enthusiastic supervisor is moved into Investigations; with no prior investigative experience; the two of them arrive on the scene of a stabbing and begin their investigation. The two enthusiastically gather evidence and take witness statements. Their investigation leads them to a suspect. In their zeal to close the case, the two violate Search and Seizure laws and the Constitutional Rights of the suspect. It is your son, brother, father who was stabbed and the suspect is walking free.

We all had to learn at some point in our career. Most of us learned from watching those around us with experience doing the job. We had an experienced officer tug on our ear and slow us down; point out the pitfalls of our enthusiasm and eagerness to run when we should be walking; tell us to put our gun back in the holster and use our mouth or hands; explain why a warning was just as good or sometimes better than a citation; point out the subtle human traits that if missed will result in injury or death. We learned to walk before we ran; we learned to talk rather than fight; we learned that driving safe and sane allowed you to arrive at a scene instead of racing recklessly through intersections and causing a traffic collision and not arriving at all.

Enthusiasm without experience and guidance is a danger in law enforcement. The guidance of a young, enthusiastic officer by another young, enthusiastic officer is a recipe for disaster. Throw in to this mix; first time, young, enthusiastic officers promoted to supervisor who are learning themselves how to do the job. The blind can lead the blind; so long as one of them has been blind for a period of time; learning how to navigate without sight. Two newly blind people run the risk of walking into traffic or off a cliff.

Over 100, experienced, dedicated, enthusiastic managers, supervisors, detectives and officers are leaving the San Diego Police Department between now and June 30. The average years experience each of these professional officers has is 28 years. These 100 officers are in addition to over 125 officers who have left service since July of 2008, totaling 225 (OVER 10% of the department). Law enforcement is not a job conducive to "Trial and error" or "Learning as you go." The most enthusiastic, young officer, who lacks experience is also the most dangerous when he/she does not have an experienced mentor, trainer to guide and channel that enthusiasm for law enforcement.

There is no replacement for experience in law enforcement. Those enthusiastic officers (44) the mayor is so gleefully touting as replacements for the experienced 100 he has forced to leave will not even begin to police the streets of San Diego for six months. The San Diego Police Department will field less than 1700 active, able bodied police officers on July 1, 2009, to police a city of 1.7 million people. All the enthusiasm in the world will not prevent crime from escalating if you do not know what you are doing; what you are looking for; or what you are looking at. Law enforcement is an art that is learned from experience. Lacking experience, the art is lost and crime goes unchecked. When unchecked; crime increases and people suffer.

Are you willing to accept the consequences of enthusiasm over experience?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Membership and SDPOA Information

I have been away from the SDPOA for over 2 ½ years now and I still get daily questions and calls from members wanting to know what is going on and asking what the POA is doing. It amazes me when I explain I am no longer on the Board and have as much information as they do; the incredulous looks or comments I get. The follow up is always; "Yes, but you still have the inside information." When I stop laughing the answer is always the same, "Nope; I'm not in those loops any longer."

There are glass enclosed bulletin boards in every station; two at Headquarters (Watch Commander's Office and Outside Cafeteria) and one outside the front door of the POA. With the exception of the enclosure at the POA, the information in these enclosures is at best spotty. I make it a point whenever I am in a station to check out the POA Bulletin Boards. It is no wonder there is constant complaining regarding the lack of information coming out of the POA. Let's take the bulletin board I pass every day at the entry to the cafeteria in Headquarters. The latest information inside the enclosure was over a year old. (When pointed out to Marvel, he removed everything inside) Today the bulletin board is a piece of cork with nothing attached to it and has been in this state for almost two months now. The bulletin board at the Watch Commanders office is at times a clutter of copied blog postings and a miss-mash of news articles posted by pissed off people (many taped to the outside of the enclosure).

I completely understand the frustration and difficulty of getting information out. I sat in that hot seat and struggled to find ways to force feed members information during my tenure. I was involved in the starting of the POA Blog as a tool to convey information and exchange ideas. Brian Marvil and Jeff Jordan do a good job of putting information out and answering rumors and questions. The rants of Woodie Dubois are just that and do not have the intended affect I am sure he is trying to convey. I learned over the years and it was re-enforced when I started this Blog; keeping it professional and eliminating the swearing allows readers to take you serious and view your information in a better light. Woodie would serve the membership to find creative ways to put forth his message without the use of profanity and rants that reflect poorly on himself and the people he was elected to represent. Conveying anger and frustration can be done without the use of profanity. I have to remind myself of this as I rant here; so I get it.

The BLOG is a great tool for getting information out. It requires constant vigilance and input. A BLOG can be a double edged sword. Too much information when trying to negotiate a deal with the City allows the other side to counter proposals and prepare defenses for items placed on the table. Lack of information creates a sense of nothing being done and an aura of secrecy. The balance is like walking on a tight rope at 100 feet of the ground. The other problem is who reads the BLOG. While many members of the POA are enrolled and capable of accessing the BLOG; how many are accessing it on a regular basis? It appears from looking at the BLOG, a handful of members use the BLOG on a regular basis. That should be an indication to the Board the BLOG cannot be the only avenue of information delivery.

Finding a balance of delivery tools and mediums is difficult. Members of the POA want current, accurate, up to date information. The rub comes in how to meet this desire. I said earlier I found it difficult to "force feed" information to the members. This task is made harder when members start rumors or spin information they heard by adding or taking away some of the information either consciously or not. Obviously I did not do a good enough job when I was there and the result was being voted out of office. So obviously, I don't have all the answers. What I do know is the Board today is failing in their delivery of current, accurate and up to date information.

The membership needs to step to the plate and accept some of this responsibility. When only a handful of members attend membership meetings; participate in the Blog, attend monthly Board meetings, as well as demand a more rapid reply to daily events; nothing will change. Being complacent and waiting for information to come to you only adds to the problem. Seek out and ask for the information you need or want. You owe it to yourself to be informed. Just because it's always been like this; does not mean it is the way it should be. Seek, ask, digest, provide information and then get involved. We will all be better for it.