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Sunday, February 7, 2010

What’s in a Name or Title

In the last few years there has been a change in titles of leadership positions within the department. Some have been at the local level, but many have been at the higher echelon of the department. Even the name of the department itself was changed (adding the “Rehabilitation”) to make it sound as if we, as a department, changed our thought pattern to a more socially just department. Anyone with ties to CDCr knows damn well there is no such thing as rehabilitation in the department.

Was this done to look and be more productive by consolidating positions and responsibilities, or is it just a facade to make it seem like changes and improvements are being made to correct a lot of problems within the department? How much money was wasted just to add ‘rehabilitation’ to our name? Here’s real food for thought…

As the Director of a department, like the ones of old, you were held responsible for the training, expectations and abilities of the staff which worked under your leadership. You also ensured that you maintained the staffing, equipment, training and understanding of what the job consisted of to remain professional, effective and reputable while maintaining cost effectiveness to stay at or under budget. You also understood that as the Director, the buck stopped at you. Unless ordered by a court of law, what transpired within the department began and ended with the signature of your pen. The legislature, governor or anyone who did not understand the mechanics of our business did not have the right or audacity to meddle with the day to day functions of our objectives. Those were the days of old.

Now we have a ‘Secretary’. Buy definition, the Secretary is responsible to take ‘dictation’ and implement the wants and needs of their boss. He is the mouth piece of the Governor. They have no authorization, except for what is instructed to by someone (in this instance) who has no information or educated guess to what we confront and attempt to accomplish within our duties. The Secretary does not attempt to understand what our mission is or how to accomplish that mission within the guidelines of our operational manual or court orders. The Secretary is only concerned in keeping his boss happy no matter how it affects the effectiveness, stability or morale of the line staff that literally put their lives on the line every day while they stay safe in their plush, heated offices away from any street crime but closes to the largest criminal in the state. What’s even worse, our Secretary does everything to degrade every officer that works for the department that he possibly can to ensure his own appointed position - except fetch coffee and shine the shoes of the Governator, at least as far as I know. Not one time has Secretary Cates ever come to the defense of the department as a whole or for any individual cause. What you do hear is a bunch of ‘yes, yes, yes’ to anything that the Governator says that depicts us in the most negative light possible.

Another thing I am trying to figure out is where they get the leadership from and why. Think about it for a minute. CHP, any County Sheriffs department, any local PD, lets face it – any law enforcement agency; where do they get their leadership from? Do they hire any Tom, Dick or Matthew who is willing to take on the title? Or do they hire the deserved one from within the ranks? One who has worked up the line from deputy or officer to become Chief or Sherriff. The Sheriffs are usually an undersheriff and then decides to run for sheriff. So why wouldn’t they do the same thing when it comes to the head of a department? Every law enforcement or peace officer entity in the state answers to the Inspector General, except Correctional Officers. We have a Secretary who is an ‘appointed’ Cabinet member that was once a lawyer, who liked to investigate and burn cops, and probably looking for a judge appointment next.

There is an enormous amount of bureaucracy that slows down the ability to find a more efficient and concise way to handle the problems that riddles the department like having too many heads of different sub-departments or divisions with their own agenda than the main goal of the department as a whole. Part of this problem stems from too many administrative leaders that does not know, or understand the goal of the department. The secretary and undersecretary have their own support staff. How much money does that cost? Anyone with a calculator and a high appointed family member can become a hired bean counter. What’s needed is leadership that understands the common goal and mission of CDCr and what is needed to carry out that mission. Too many chiefs, not enough Indians? No… Too many chiefs!

In part, the problem lies with how you can promote. Most high end promotions ask for a certain amount of college credits, which looks good on a resume, but may have nothing to do with the job hired for. We generally deal with criminals and the part of society heavily involved in criminal activity. Wouldn’t it be more effective that the administration had furthered their academics in criminal justice or criminal law? It’s kind of like having someone who has a background as a nurse, or better yet an MTA (whom the federal courts mandated that their positions were so misguided and screwed up that they abolished the position*) become an AW or Warden at an institution because they have the ‘academic achievements’ or knowledge of the prison setting. That doesn’t mean they understand how to run a program or prison. Just because you have a bachelors degree in architecture doesn’t mean you know how to run an auto shop.

To take it one step further, you would want a Department Secretary to have the knowledge and personal strength not just to fight for what’s right and needed within his department, but to also defend and point out the good work of the employees. I for one would want to focus on the improvements, professionalism and un-paralleled work that those in the department face on a daily basis. I wouldn’t want to be known as the Secretary to a bunch of drunk, unprofessional, non-educated, unethical, low-morale staff. I’ve said it before – those that work for and with me is an extension of me. So how they are looked upon must be how I am also ‘perceived’. It’s wrong for the media to paint us in that manner and it’s even double the insult when the department heads looks at us the same way and refuses to defend us when we enforce the laws that we were hired to implement. There are always some bad apples in any bunch, but more apples rot at the top of the tree than at the bottom.

So it’s more than obvious to me that it doesn’t matter how you name the position. The truth still remains. Those of us on the line have proven their ability to perform their jobs and have excelled at it. Others have bargained their way into positions and don’t have a clue how to lead in their position. You don’t remain a yes man to keep you position or your respect. No matter how you say it, a slice of excrement is still a piece of $#!+.
I’m just sayin…

* We all know that most of the MTA’s were hard working, intelligent employees. The federal Receiver came into power due to complaints of a number of MTA’s at one institution that probably didn’t deserve to keep their jobs anyway. Thanks Harris, for the added food for thought.

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