Saturday, July 11, 2009

The rube is at it Again

At the July 8, 2009, Budget and Finance Meeting of the City Council, the little rube jumped up on a soap box and demanded SDCERS provide "Raw Data" (Go to 6:30 of Video) so he can determine if DROP is cost neutral. His ranting lasts for about 2 minutes and then Marti Emerald fires back challenging the little rube's assertion SDCERS has refused to provide data as requested. It appears this issue was discussed in closed session and the others on the committee were reluctant to discuss this in the open. This even got the attention of the Reader where you can find an article titled; "DROP It Like It's Hot". The little rube is under some assumption he has subpoena powers now. Lord; help us all!!!!

This is becoming somewhat of a theme with the little rube. He has been caught spinning, twisting and falsely stating facts since he hit town. A little research tells a lot about a person who believes his importance is more than reality. To bolster his importance in the world of politics he likes to tell people he has advised the likes of George W. Bush, President of the United States and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of California in the area of finance and government spending. When pressed about his connections to the White House and President Bush, the little rube back peddles and said he was on a "White House Advisory Panel." Dig deeper and you will learn he was one of a couple hundred government contractors who participated in panels to discuss budgets and government contracts. His actual participation is suspect. An extensive search of the documents prepared from these meetings, do not show his name anywhere.

The little rube touts his "Performance Institute" and the great work he has done with Law Enforcement. He proclaims expertise in so many areas it is almost laughable. But, I did some detailed investigation of my own to see just how much this little rube knows about law enforcement. Come to find out he knows nothing; does that surprise any of you? He, like his buddy the mayor, have surrounded themselves with people who know (in most cases think they know) what they are talking about. The little rube told the SDPOA he was going to make the San Diego Police Department into a "World Class Police Department." OK, so what are we now?

One of the little rube's mantras are to reduce wages and benefits that he believes are excessive and out of line with "Industry Standards." I guess he does not read the material his own company puts out. In a 2008, quarterly journal for law enforcement and first responders; Answering the Call, presented by the Performance Institute and the Police Policy Studies Council; there is an article on "Recruitment and Retention" of police officers. The first two paragraphs of the article say it all; Recruitment and retention in the law enforcement field has becoming increasingly difficult in the past few years. The "baby boomer" generation is now retiring or utilizing social security benefits at a rapid rate. With this group making up nearly 30% of the adult population, the job force is feeling pressure to fill these vacancies and establish solid succession plans. The need for quality personnel has continued to rise while the applicant pool has shown a steady decline in quality potential candidates.

Traditional populations of applicants have become more difficult to attract because of increasing societal changes. More than ever before private industry and security firms are luring qualified applicants with large paychecks and signing bonuses. Many agencies are also losing some of their best employees to other positions or jobs that offer a more attractive benefits package. The young adults of Generation X and Y are infiltrating the workforce at high volumes, while they typically have strayed away from the structural environment law enforcement jobs provide.

The article details the many methods of attracting new recruits and talks of the need to provide wages and benefits; Benefits are a great way to attract law enforcement professionals to your department. Advertisements, marketing literature or recruitment website should clearly state sick/personal holidays, paid holidays and vacation, tuition reimbursement, training programs and competitive base salaries with potential bonuses to reward performance. As everyone knows, benefits are expensive.

So maybe the little rube needs to read his own material; put out as a way to hire and retain police officers. Maybe he does not know his own research institute is telling communities and government what it takes to attract and keep qualified police officers? He has ranted about excessive vacation days being provided to employees in San Diego; never acknowledging the fact we have a combined bank of sick and vacation time and in most cases have fewer days than other cities. He rants about having excessive paid Holidays; yet we have the same or in some cases fewer holidays than other cities. Salaries; don't get me started with the idiocy I have heard from this rube about our "Excessive" wages. What is his plan for "Potential bonuses to reward performance?" I almost wet myself laughing at this one. The article even acknowledges what we all know; benefits are expensive. Maybe the little rube missed this edition of "Answering the Call?"

In the Winter 2008 issue of the "Answering the Call" there is a letter from the editor talking about the economic crisis in the United States. Apparently the little rube missed this one too. The editor, Stephanie Donaldson, VP of Education Services for the Law Enforcement Development Center of The Performance Institute wrote; "Over the past few months, the US and global financial crisis has worsened, dramatically affecting many state and local municipalities. In an economic downturn, too often agencies make reactive decisions to satisfy an immediate need or to balance the budget, only to compromise public safety in the long-term. With the large percentage of budget cuts around the country, departments are wondering how they will maintain public safety with less money and are looking for innovative ideas to ride out these economic hardships." Someone tell the little rube, the cuts he is demanding from the SDPOA and its members, IS COMPROMISING PUBLIC SAFETY IN THE LONG TERM!!!!

When you see the little rube and have an opportunity to ask him a question, use these analyses from his OWN "Think Tank" or "Government Efficiency" institute. Take these articles with you and share them with those in attendance at whatever gathering he is preaching to. People believe this rube and think he is all knowing and the answer to the economic problems facing San Diego. He is a blow bag and full of hot air. He espouses theory and rhetoric as fact and cannot back up with substance anything he preaches.

Friday, July 10, 2009

mayor goes to Hollywood

Today the mayor and Kevin Faulconer went to Hollywood today to drum up business for San Diego. The story went something like this; "The mayor traveled to Los Angeles Friday to meet with entertainment industry executives in an attempt to lure more film and television productions to San Diego. The mayor was scheduled to meet with representatives from DreamWorks, Walt Disney Pictures, Universal Pictures and 20th Century Fox Television, according to the mayor's office. According to San Diego Film Commission statistics provided by the mayor's office, the entertainment industry supports 5,000 jobs in San Diego and had a $42 million economic impact on the region's economy last year."

No one can argue the need for jobs and revenue for San Diego. Questions need to be answered before the mayor signs on to entice the film and television productions to San Diego; who is paying for the back scene support? The police department is called upon to provide security for these ventures. In years past the city was reimbursed at a paltry rate for these police services and yet the city charged the police department for the cost of providing this security. When is the city going to start charging private business for the services they receive such as this? The Padres, Chargers, Rock 'n' Roll Marathon, Pride Parade, Street Scene and the many other private groups who put on events in this city pay a small portion of the costs for city services necessary to hold the event. The cost of overtime to police these events is charged to the Police Department at full cost. Who is footing the bill for this? You the taxpayer!!!

Tell the mayor you are not interested in paying for these events. Tell him to demand from these groups they pay the costs to put on their events or go somewhere else. If he is unwilling to require private industry to pay for the services they receive then we must demand the city council act as a council and demand it.

On another note; the little rube, city council member for district 5, is bouncing from district to district holding meetings and yet has not found it necessary to hold meetings within his own district for some time. Well, appears someone got his attention and he has scheduled his "State of District 5" meeting in Scripps Ranch. The announcement went something like this:

Join Councilmember DeMaio as he reports to his constituents on the "State of District 5" and updates the entire city on efforts to reform city government. The program will provide San Diegans with a compelling road map for making government work again in our communities.

July 21st - 7:00 p.m.
Thurgood Marshall Middle School
9700 Avenue of Nations
San Diego, CA 92131
Space is limited, RSVP is suggested
Phone (619) 236-6655
A small reception will be held at the conclusion of the program

www.CleanUpCityHall.com

If you want to know the thinking of the little rube, check out his web site above "CleanUpCityHall." This was supposed to be a site for him and Donna Frye, but the little rube just can't share the spot light. The information on this site will surely give cause for concern.

These are the types of public events we need to involve ourselves in and ask questions of these elected officials. The little rube told the SDPOA he wanted to ensure San Diego had a "World Class Police Department" and yet is hell bent on cutting wages and benefits and eliminating the DROP. Is he speaking with a forked tongue or just picking words to make him appear more palatable to the unknowing voter? Professionally challenging him in front of voters with hard questions is the beginning of vetting who and what the rube is really all about so the voter gets a more realistic view of who he is. I plan on attending and would encourage others to do the same.

The last few retirement parties are being held as we move into a new era for the San Diego Police Department. Last night the "Three Amigos" called it a career. Detectives Linda Tibbets and Ernie Encinas and Detective Pete Morales enjoyed laughs, drink, food and music at the old rock house at the San Diego Police Pistol Range. Hundreds came to say good-bye and thank them for their combined 90 years of service. Tonight Detective John Minto is celebrating his retirement at the SDPOA Meeting Hall and Detective Jim McGhee is doing the same at the old rock house. All of these dedicated members of the department will be missed. They gave the best part of their lives to the citizens of San Diego and can now enjoy a relaxing and healthy life of leisure. Good luck and be well…..

Lastly an old retired guy asked me about starting a site for hikers. There are a number of active and retired members who enjoy hiking the local trails and mountains in and around San Diego as well as faraway places. We will be talking about this over the weekend. If there is anyone out there interested and has a suggestion of how and what to highlight; drop me a note. We will see where this goes.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the beautiful San Diego weather. Over the Line is beginning tomorrow for those looking for a reason to leave east-county and head to the beach. Don't forget the sun screen…

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Transparency in City Government?

Surely you jest? In San Diego; with this mayor? I have to laugh every time I read an article from a political reporter, pundit or editor lauding the mayor for his lack of "Transparency." If you have kept up with the fight the Voice of San Diego has had for the last three and one half months with the mayor's office over a "Public Records Request" (PRR) it has been somewhat amusing. The VOSD was seeking information on a plan to cut water use employed by an orange county city. The Director of the City's Water Department had made some statements shown to be false (I wouldn't lie to you) and the VOSD was looking for information as to why he lied and what was being hidden about this plan that the mayor's office did not want to see the light of day.

The mayor's office is also, at the same time, in a struggle with the Union Tribune (Like anyone cares) over similar issues. In an editorial today, the Union Tribune complains of the tactics of the mayor in refusing PRR's. The editorial said in part; "It often appears when requested documents are more likely to embarrass the mayor, the tougher it is to get them. Explanations of why certain information is withheld is inconsistent – sometimes draft e-mails are mysteriously held to be privileged communication, sometimes not. Reporter's messages requesting access to public records are sometimes simply ignored." Why this comes as a surprise is a mystery to me. I can only assume, the Union Tribune thought, by endorsing the mayor, they somehow are owed better treatment from the mayor. Gosh, how could that be? I was always under the assumption the Union Tribune despised politicians who plied favor to supporters or those who supported politicians from receiving some perceived favor? I must have been mistaken or maybe it just applies to unions, city employees or lobbyists'; not the Union Tribune.

I have to laugh at the absurd ranting of the Union Tribune about the mayor's lack of "Transparency." Where have these people been during his reign as chief or head of the Red Cross or United Way? The Union Tribune is wrong on this account. The mayor IS as "Transparent" as they come. If you can't see through him, you are either blind or looking in the wrong direction.

In the coming months we will see a vote put forth by the mayor asking SDCERS members to vote to change the entry age for DROP. How he is going to pull this one off is going to be one hell of a show. He has contracts with Fire, MEA and City Attorney's. They agreed to leave the age entry alone for this period of time. This will be a fun show to watch as the mayor and city attorney spin this move. When this fails; the mayor will ask for an initiative to have taxpayers (voters) to remove the part of Charter Section 143.1 that requires a vote of the members of SDCERS to make these types of changes. The mayor is hell bent on eliminating DROP and reducing benefits as much as possible. He will not stop until this is done. This roller coaster is not finished; it has many more runs left.

While the mayor continues his assault on employee wages and benefits, he is planning and plotting the expansion of the Convention Center to the tune of ONE BILLION DOLLARS. He is not stopping there; he is planning and plotting a new "Taj Mahal City Hall" that will cost another ONE
BILLION DOLLARS. Then there is the Downtown Library or "Schoolbrary" that the city council and mayor are trying to pass off as a joint venture with the San Diego City School District. Where is this money coming from? I thought the city was broke?

The mayor is as transparent as a window missing its glass. If it makes him look good find a way to do it no matter what it takes (Break the law? Sure). On the other hand if it makes him look bad; hide it; lie about it; stonewall; or deny, deny, deny. Then there is the "Ignore" buttons on the phones in the mayor's office. If the reporter, labor leader, citizen, taxpayer or whomever is seeking answers to questions; if it might cause the mayor to look bad; put them on hold and go out for coffee. "Transparency in Government" is alive and well in the mayor's office. It is just the mayor who is transparent.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Where are the Leaders, Coaches and Mentors?

We are facing a critical time on the San Diego Police Department. With the exodus of some of the most talented, experienced and senior leaders of the department comes a loss of leadership, knowledge, skills and experience. Some of you can think back to a time in our department's history when we faced similar circumstance. I am hopeful history does not repeat itself and we can learn from our past. To ensure this does not happen, it will require strong leadership from our senior officers, detectives and supervisors. It will require each of us to hold the other accountable and to adhere to the safety practices we have all been trained to use.

The other night in Mid-City there was an incident where a Sergeant in patrol called for cover when he came under attack. He was being pelted with rocks and asked for cover. A short distance from this incident was a group of officers participating in a 10-17 (Meeting to sign reports). It has been reported these officers did not break to cover the Sergeant who was asking for help. This incident has been reported and discussed on the SDPOA Forum at length and the Sergeant who asked for the cover has confirmed the incident and acknowledged the rapid response by members of the Gang Suppression Team. This is not acceptable in any realm of thinking and we must take responsibility for each other's safety and well being. We cannot allow outside influences to dictate how we treat and protect one another.

A clear example of the leadership I am talking about was shown by the Field Lieutenant that night and members of the uniformed Gang Suppression Team who responded in a rapid and coordinated manner to this sergeants call for help. Lieutenant David Nisleit immediately addressed the lack of response by those at the 10-17. The GST members took the initiative to immediately help a fellow officer. Lieutenant Nisleit showed the courage and leadership to confront a behavior that was not appropriate and should not and cannot be tolerated or accepted. The GST members responded quickly, decisively and professionally to a critical incident that could have turned out much different if they had hesitated to perform their duties in an appropriate manner.

It is incumbent upon all of us to step up and provide leadership, mentoring and coaching of our young, energetic and enthusiastic officers. When we came on we had that old guy who took us under wing and guided us through our learning. We were allowed to stumble and bumble and make our fair share of mistakes; but our mentors had our backs and kept us safe. You did not dare make a traffic stop when responding to a cover call; you threw your paper in the passenger floorboard to respond to assist an officer simply making a traffic or pedestrian stop; you pitched that new cup of coffee out the window and drove like a bat out of hell to cover that officer whose voice did not sound right when he asked for a cover unit; you did not think twice of dropping your code-7 when an officer went out on a traffic stop in an area we all knew was not the most cop friendly of areas; many citizens got off with a "verbal" warning as you dropped a citation to cover an officer who needed help; when at a 10-17 and an officer requested cover it was managed chaos as the cars fled the lot to cover a fellow officer, sergeant, detective or an officer of an allied agency. All of this was drummed into you by that senior officer who led by example and refused to accept anything less.

Sergeants were the calm in any situation. When a Sergeant spoke you better be listening and you better heed his/her word. They were the "Quarterback" of any situation. They called all the shots and gave direction to coordinate scenes and critical incidents. You looked up to and in some cases feared them; but always respected them. They commanded respect through their competent and decisive decisions. Good Sergeants always made decisions when needed and then stood by their decisions. They took care of their people and did not allow others to interfere. How did they do this? They mentored and coached; if you were tired from working all night and being in court all day, would make sure you worked with another officer; if you needed a training class to move to a different or preferred assignment, they pulled strings to make it happen; they helped coordinate the exchange of days off to meet every ones needs (BUT you better not be that person who took advantage); they bought the first beer for everyone at shift change; they held BBQ's for their squads to build a cohesive team; they pointed out when you messed up and praised you when you did good; they demanded a hard day's work and that you be on time for work and not leave early; they paid attention to your journals, but also knew who was working and who was not; they knew more about your beat than you did and expected you to address those quality of life problems as well as the dope dealer, car thief, burglar, trouble maker who refused to go along with societies rules.

Lieutenants were feared and respected. They gave the marching orders to Sergeants who carried this message to the troops. Lieutenants seldom minced words and if you were in their office it was usually not for something good. Lieutenants were the "Head Coach" of the team. If you screwed up and needed more than a verbal lashing or written warning the Lieutenants were the one you had to sit before. They had for the most part all been there before and knew what and how you were feeling and without minimizing the behavior they did it in a humane manner that allowed you to accept the hit and move on. The good Lieutenants always had a smile for the troops. They would peek into line-up but seldom participate. They would show up at the most critical of scenes and ensure things were being handled appropriately. They seldom took charge of a scene but were always "In-Charge" by their mere presence. When they offered suggestions for getting something done you listened and followed his guidance. They knew the job and always shared that knowledge.

Today we have young officers looking for leaders and mentors to help guide them through these times. We have young, inexperienced Sergeants looking to the senior, more experienced Sergeants and Lieutenants for guidance and leadership. We will soon have a brand new group of trainees coming out of phase training; a new group of recruits hitting the field for phase training; and a brand new group of Lieutenants, "Baby" Sergeants, Detectives; and summer in full swing. It is time for those of us who have been around for a while to step up to the plate and lead, coach and mentor. It is time we get out of our comfort zones and take on some of the less glamorous jobs to mentor, coach and teach our younger counterparts. Our senior, experienced Field Sergeants are the leaders we need to rely on to set the tone for patrol. Starting at line-ups; keeping the focus and attention on the job at hand; not allowing the outside distractions of politics to control or dictate behaviors and actions; keeping a positive outlook for the future that seems bleak but is sure to turn around; supporting your squad members and their families; giving officers time off to refresh and recharge; share your experiences and knowledge; be a leader, mentor, coach and most of all be their strongest and loudest cheerleader. If you smile in the face of despair, the pain and anguish is less likely to become contagious. If you keep a positive attitude when all else around is crumbling; those around you will begin to follow your lead. Be involved with your people; but do not do their jobs. Allow them to learn and make mistakes; but watch their backs and keep them safe. Remember two blind men walking along a cliff are more likely to fall than one; lead by a person with sight. Two young, energetic, enthusiastic officers with little experience in the same car are more likely to get hurt or hurt someone else than they would if paired with a more senior, experienced officer who can provide that mentoring, coaching and guidance.

We owe it to ourselves, each other and the organization to keep each other safe and out of trouble. We owe it to our families and friends and the taxpayer to remain safe and do our jobs in a fair and professional manner. This means covering each other; following your training and not responding to priority calls alone; broadcasting your stops, day and night; listening up for squad members making stops and start that way even if there is no request for cover (you are already on the way and in the area if something goes wrong); take time off to refresh your mind and body; confront unsafe actions; and above all else remember why you became a police officer.

The City Council today refused to discuss or make changes to the latest contract imposed upon us six days ago. It is time to think to the future and put this chapter behind us. Allow others to fight the political fights; you need only focus on police work. Concern yourself with safety and doing what is right. Be professional and be proud. Hundreds of people take the test to become a police officer every month and few make it through the process to enter the academy. The few who enter the academy; it is the exceptional man and woman who complete the training and become Police Officers. You are one of the few and you earned it. Do not allow politics to take that from you. Most of all do not allow the politics of San Diego to become the reason to become lax; not follow your training and allow one of us to be seriously hurt or killed. Be safe!!!

Monday, July 6, 2009

City Employee Cancels Union Tribune Subscription

A recently retired City Employee sent the below letter to the Union Tribune and Ms. Winner, Editor. It is one of the best commentaries on reality and the state of our battle with the lies, misstatements and half truths pummeled upon the unknowing reader/taxpayer of San Diego by the Union Tribune. I waited until I had her permission before putting it on here. I secured that today.

CITY LIBRARY EMPLOYEE CANCELS U-T SUBSCRIPTION!!!!!
June 30, 2009


Ms. Winner,

I just canceled my 15+ year subscription to the Union-Tribune. I asked to speak to a supervisor who would convey my reason for doing so to the appropriate individuals within the company.  The reason I gave to Hector was the U-T's recent decision to publish all City employee names and salary information on signonsandiego.com. 

I would like to amplify the reason for that decision with you, the editor who ultimately exercised that choice.  And let there be no question about my motivations-my decision is based upon 26 years of service as a City employee at the Central Library.

The U-T has presented a special three part Watchdog Report about the City's payroll obligation.  I have spent close to three decades in my public service position answering questions and informing the public.  If someone were to ask me how to find information on this topic I would refer that individual to annual budgets, IBA reports, and labor agreements on line or in our document section.  I would also provide context for that search- that the City operates on a fiscal year beginning July 1; there is a general fund budget which includes departments that undergo annual public review and city council approval; there are quasi-independent authorities and  recovery departments that are not subject to the same policies, restrictions and review as the general fund departments; there are unclassified and represented employees; and there are four unions with different negotiated contracts.  In short, I would inform the individual that a thorough understanding of the topic would take into account these general distinctions.  Unlike the U-T, we respect and do not underestimate the intelligence of our customers.

What I wouldn't do, and again, I am speaking strictly as a professional, is refer that individual to your "Watchdog" series on the very ground that it did not provide necessary context, despite your claims otherwise, nor data consistent with the City's fiscal year reporting process.  Therefore your information was inaccurate and as a source you are unreliable.  Ms. Winner, the U-T does not achieve the most basic library information standard of accuracy and reliability.  If you also consider yourself a professional you should be very concerned about that.  I would appreciate a response to this, as one professional to another.

Despite its abysmal failings, the Watchdog Report was not the reason I canceled my subscription.  The bias against unions and the City workforce is pretty much quotidian.  Your decision to publish City employee names and salary information however is beyond the journalistic pale.

Ms. Winner, how much time did you REALLY spend weighing the public's right to information against individual privacy concerns?  And how much thought did you REALLY give to the fact that "Individual pay for each year can be affected by promotions, partial years of employment, leave taken, vacation payouts and other issues that can cause wide fluctuations."?  Or to the fact that the 2008 surge was a one time occurrence due to multiple factors?   It is evident that the answer is "Not much."

I talked with co-workers at the library this morning about your choice.  They were appalled.  Concerned.  Fearful.  Angry.  Every one of us felt that salary information by job classification, with low, high, median and average salaries would serve the public's right to information.  We felt that making that information available by department served the public's right to information.  But by name? The women among us felt violated.  Think about that Karin.  We are not elected officials.  Even our name badges don't provide our last names if we don't feel comfortable revealing that information. Whom and what purpose are you serving, Ms. Winner?  And please, we are not stupid.  We know you can legally provide this information.  The question is why should you provide this information?

Your note about the wide fluctuations of salaries was reason enough to choose not to reveal specific names.  You did not make that choice.  Here's my very personal response to your phenomenally bad judgment, to your utterly unprofessional judgment.  I owe you absolutely nothing, but the truth should always be served.

This is five years worth of my salary history, although why it is shown by calendar year is absolutely mystifying.  The City operates on a July-June fiscal year.

*    Please note the pay levels in 2006 and 2007.  Was there a whopping "pay increase" from $23 to $28k?  How about if I told you that I took leave without pay in 2006 to be with my baby sister in Tampa while she died a slow terrible death?  I didn't qualify for Family Medical Leave as a part time employee.  Nor did I get the bereavement pay that was passed more recently.  What do you have to say about that "fluctuation" Ms. Winner and what has the public truly gained from seeing the disparity between those two years?

*    As a general note, I have worked additional hours to bolster my leave fund.  I received straight compensatory time on Saturdays and Sundays. The Library continues to struggle to staff public service desks during open hours.

*    I have received tuition reimbursement for Spanish classes at UCSD.  I have been taking Spanish classes for ten years.  My private classes are not reimbursable and constitute a couple thousand dollars of out of pocket expenses.  I have absorbed that cost because I want to be as professional in Spanish as I am in English with the population that I serve. 

*    Tuition reimbursements and comp time are included in a number of these years.  These are not particularly foreign concepts in the public or private sector.

*    The jump between 2007 and 2008 reflects the settlement to labor disputes that resulted in the City returning money to employees that they contributed to the City in previous years.     I don't intend to do your homework on this one Ms. Winner.

2003    ANNA G DANIELS   LIBRARY ASSISTANT
$26,133.01
2004    ANNA G DANIELS   LIBRARY ASSISTANT
$27,283.47
2005    ANNA G DANIELS   LIBRARY ASSISTANT
$26,797.49
2006    ANNA G DANIELS   LIBRARY ASSISTANT
$23,811.62
2007    ANNA G DANIELS   LIBRARY ASSISTANT
$28,757.39
2008    ANNA G DANIELS   LIBRARY ASSISTANT
$31,365.92

I have worked in the Information sector for many years and understand the wrenching changes occurring within the print media.  How the print media will serve the public, remain relevant and sell the news is very much the story of the hour. 

Shame on you Karin.  Shame on you Ms. Winner.  Shame on you "Editor."  In your decision to sell the news you sold out.

 And you certainly did not sell the news to me.

Anna Daniels

Cc: San Diego City Council
       Mayor of San Diego

This is a letter you are sure NEVER to see in print as the Union Tribune would never allow this type of dressing down to appear in their paper. It is a shame this letter could not be front and center for EVERY citizen / taxpayer to read. I am proud to post it here for people to see.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The “DEMISE” of Law Enforcement in America’s “CHEAPEST” City – San Diego

"Never have so few given so much, for so little" is an appropriate history for our police department. Continually understaffed, inadequately equipped, grossly underpaid; we still continue to do an outstanding job. Year after year, we have asked, demanded, pleaded and even begged with City Hall for relief; only to be told "We can't afford it." The two questions might well be asked; how have we endured as long as we have; and how much longer can we hope to survive?

The reason we have endured to this point has been due almost entirely to the individual dedication of our personnel and our own qualified police administration. But there is a limit, or breaking point, in every organization and, when it is reached, avoiding chaos and disaster is a monumental task. A government is only as good as the employees who provide service to the people the government serves. Government has a genuine need to first satisfy its own employees if it expects to adequately serve its constituents.

How does the government of California's 2nd largest city treat its employees – particularly police officers?

  • They ignore all factual data on comparable police salaries and fringe benefits paid by progressive police agencies in the state.
  • They fail to provide a workable employee-employer relations police and grievance procedure with third party arbitration.
  • They spend in excess of $20,000 in dues to the League of California Cities to lobby against ALL police related and PORAC sponsored legislation.
  • They use the outstanding record of the Police Department to further their own political ambitions, while totally ignoring our record in terms of fair compensation.
  • They change the rules and procedures at will to satisfy their goals and fortify their own position.

And all this they do in the name of good government by maintaining one of the lowest tax rates and per capita costs of any major city in the state! What have WE been doing for our city? Taking it where it hurts!!!

  • We have taken one-man car operations as a way of life so that the city can show more officers on the street – the safety of the officer is a remote consideration when more police officers cost money.
  • We have built a Police Reserve force to fill in the gaps in service at little or no cost to the city.
  • We have continually improved the level of education within our department through P.O.S.T. financial assistance to the city.
  • We continue to work many hours of overtime, due to inadequate staffing, to answer all the demands placed upon is.
  • We maintain one of the highest crime cancellation rates in the nation due to the individual efforts of our officers – not because the city provides sufficient manpower or incentive.
  • We provide a considerable number of services that other cities have long since dropped, such as investigating minor traffic accidents; a benefit to our citizens which, coupled with good traffic enforcement, has helped to keep insurance rates well below that of other major cities.
  • We have provided store front offices; school task force officers; school safety patrol; and the list goes on and on; and the city government says, "We have a fine police department."

"A fine police department" grossly understates the facts; but apparently only we can fully appreciate our worth. The city certainly does not. There is an old saying. "When you're second, you try harder," and it's true in San Diego for an entirely different reasons; we try harder because there are less of us to do the job, and maybe that's where we have been making our biggest mistake.

If the city continues its present posture toward police, the time is rapidly approaching; if it is not here already; when they will get only the quality and service they pay for, and it will be far less than it is today. We will not attract or retain the high quality of officer we have and need; now will we have the quality and desire to maintain our present high level of service.

If high quality law enforcement ever dies in America's "Cheapest City," it will not be the fault of our present dedicated employees; but the total responsibility will be with the non-responsive group called "City Government."

I wish I could say I wrote the above words. Some of you older readers may have read this before. In June 1973, John R. Lewis, a Director of the San Diego Police Officer's Association, wrote this for the "Fall In" the official publication of the SDPOA. Thirty-six years of the same old story. Seems tradition; good or bad is hard to change. Carried in the same edition of the "Fall In" is an editorial (BELOW) that again hits home, even today (Author unknown).


GIVE A DAMN ? ? ?

For many years, the San Diego Police Department has been forced to operate with the fewest number of officers of any major city in the nation. It has consistently remained at or near the top of the list in effectiveness and efficiency. This outstanding record can be traced to one source; the men and women of the department. Although continually hampered by inadequate manpower and equipment, the San Diego Police Department has been successful, due only to the selfless dedication to duty adhered to by its members. Their initiative and tireless devotion to duty have been the lone resources by which the rising tide of crime in this city has been slowed over the years. But now the saturation point has been reached. The City Administration has consistently failed to provide additional manpower and equipment as requested by the Police Department, and while crime nationally decreased 3%, it rose 10% in San Diego last year.

Though continuing to work at a frantic pace, and reducing some services previously provided, the Police Department is no longer able to keep pace with the demands made upon it; hence, the crime rate is increasing.

What is the City Government doing to correct this trend? The answer is NOTHING. Again, the Police Department budget requests have been trimmed to the bone; equipment and manpower increases are next to non-existent. In addition, the "City Fathers" have taken action to destroy the only positive tool the Police Department posses; the dedication of its employees. The action to which I refer is the recent establishment of a new salary policy for city employees. Historically, San Diego Police Officers have received pay and benefits far below other major departments in the state, although the city's own salary police dictated; "…they be paid among the best in the state." In recent years, the equity gap has widened even more, while the city has carried on a charade of negotiations through "meet-and-confer" sessions with the SDPOA. Historically, disputes and impasses have been submitted to the Civil Service Commission for fact finding and recommendation, a procedure which the present city administration has seen fit to eliminate. In addition, a new salary setting policy has been adopted, which deletes the words, "among the best paid in the state" as it refers to city employee salaries. The city administration by this action has gone on record as being totally unconcerned with the needs of the city employee, and no longer intends to promote a fa├žade of reflecting fairness in its dealings with the employees. The city administration obviously does not care that the salaries and benefits given to its police officers and other employees are not comparative even to that of San Diego County employees, let alone those throughout the state.

If the City doesn't care, how can it expect its police officers to care? When a Sheriff's Deputy, with pay and benefits makes more than a San Diego Police Officer, while performing the same work, how can the city expect to retain the dedication and concern of its employees? The answer, of course, is that it cannot!!!

These consequences are what can be expected;

  • Increased turnover in experienced personnel
  • Increased sick leave and injury leave
  • Decreased work performance
  • Decreased efficiency
  • Decreased effectiveness in recruiting qualified personnel
  • Increased cannibalizing of our personnel by other agencies giving better pay and benefits.

Mr. Mayor and Council:
IF YOU DON'T GIVE A DAMN, THEN WE DON'T EITHER!!!

Within a few years of these articles, the San Diego Police Department began losing officers to other agencies and then a series of tragedies where 12 officers were killed in the line of duty. The homicide rate in San Diego climbed to record levels. We are at that place again today with the loss of over 250 senior, experienced officers and lack of qualified candidates seeking to fill the 300+ vacant positions. We have a mayor and council who's first priority is NOT Public Safety. We have a city government who steadfastly refuses to acknowledge the crisis they have created in the ranks of the San Diego Police Department.

If history repeats itself and it is surely to do so given the circumstances we face today; crime will grow exponentially and we will soon see officers killed in the line of duty. This circumstance we find ourselves in, again, is preventable and avoidable. The mayor will blame the economy, state government and the employees and their benefits; he will refuse to accept any responsibility. The real cause is failed leadership and the refusal to stand above it all and do the right thing. Shame on you mayor; city council and taxpayer. Each of you shares responsibility in the demise of a once proud and experienced police department; which is now a struggling, young department teetering on the edge of disaster.