Saturday, April 10, 2010

Organization, Visibility and Transparency

There were several factors that influenced my decision to seek the job of Sheriff. The main factor was no opposition against the current Sheriff . I solicited many qualified persons to run for the office, but everyone declined citing no one would be able to beat the incumbent and the election was rigged and there were too many issues including the jail issues to have to deal with. Also, most of these people, like myself were retired and just didn't want to be bothered with this monumental task. Given the last minutes of the last day for qualifying I decided to seek the job of Sheriff.

Over the past several years I have identified many serious incidents involving gross negligence, malfeasance and misfeasance and unlawful criminal conduct with the current administration. I have worked very closely with law enforcement agencies across the country and it is beyond belief the disregard for lawful conduct, and professionalism this administration has displayed. There have been many incidents of waste and abuse of taxpayer money. A convicted felon, knowingly  hired and given a supervisory position in a supposedly  secure jail facility. Several murders, including a suspicious suicide involving the police agencies that has involved collusion and intrigue and in my opinion, absolute cover-up for  botched police action. Rapes of inmates, jail suicides by hanging, complaints of disease and unsanitary conditions at the jail, constant investigations regarding conduct by the Sheriff and his staff are just too numerous for the efficiency of any agency and especially the Sheriff administration.

I am somewhat familiar with the current administration's structure. While I do not have an idea of what the operating budget of the Sheriff's office is, the budget looks relatively fat. There is definitely reorganization and change needed in the department for maximum efficiency and control of the department. I have heard many times that the incumbent has been running the Sheriff department for 30 years working for 3 different sheriffs as a chief deputy. While one can applaud him for his efforts, it is also noted that new ideas and tactics are achieved with new leaders. Efficiency and growth is stifled with the same ole, same ole. New leadership means new growth and different attitudes. In the  incumbent's mind, I am sure he thinks he is doing a great job. I compare this with asking a mother if her baby is ugly.
When I am elected sheriff, a complete audit of the Sheriff Department expenditures will be conducted and all monies spent will be scrutinized and posted for the public to see. While audits are apparently conducted regularly, it only accounts for money spent but no one beyond the managment knows just what was bought with taxpayer money. Figures show an accurate expenditure, but what is the expenditure. A felon convicted of embezzlement of hundreds of thousands of dollars and given purchase authority and hired in the capacity of a law enforcement supervisor raises red flags all around as to just how much taxpayer money was wasted or stolen. This act is beyond any intelligent person's comprehension and is gross negligence, if not criminal negligence. In order to qualify for a law enforcement position, one has to be certified by the Tennessee Police Standards Commission.  That requires fingerprints and a criminal history background check before one can even enroll in the training course. It also requires a psychological evaluation. Taxpayer money was also spent to place this felon in the certification course. How many other employees are in positions of trust that have compromised backgrounds no one knows about?

There appears to be no standard for competitive hiring within the current administration. Job performance, evaluation, and  merit protection is minimal or non existent. It appears employees of the Sheriff department are hired only by a standard of family, relative or friends of someone who is a political supporter and not through a competitive process.  The only way to evaluate one's performance for incentives, awards or promotions is by establishing performance standards and position descriptions to identify one's job responsibilities. Personnel responsibilities begin with a Human Resource Director or Officer. The cities within Sevier County all identify Human Resource offices on their respective websites. Sevier County only identifies the mayor and gives no information as to any employment in Sevier County jobs.

As Sheriff I will attempt to establish a Human Resource Department and review all positions, training and performance accomplishments and qualifications. Fair and competitive hiring practices will be established and a merit system within the Sheriff  Department with a formal EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) program established for the protection of all employees for job security. Human Resource Directors should be instituted at the Executive level of Sevier County and cover all departments within the Sevier County Government. With the current executive administration, I think we all know what they think of this.

Performance Standards sound serious and regimented and may seem restrictive as well as demanding.  This is especially recognized by the "Good Ole Boys" who do what they like and want to do. I have worked with many officers in this county and there are some very good officers that go beyond the call in these remote areas of  the Great Smoky Mountains. Then there are others that are very apprehensive in making any decisions or responses because they are not sure what they are to do. With these standards, there will be a clear outline of responsibilities and procedures to do their job without interference focusing on Officer Safety and Performance. Performance Standards are guidelines for modern day jobs whether it is a police officer or a secretary and will not be anything like the good ole boy programs that are now in existence.

I have never been a Sheriff but I have worked with numerous law enforcement and emergency service agencies across the country for over 30 years.  There are better, different and efficient ways to do business without politics. I am no politician, I have no political agenda, I have no relatives living anywhere near here and I owe no one any special favors and I will not participate in any political agenda. I see this job as a business to be conducted as such.

All Sheriff department expenditures will be available at all times for anyone's inspection and comments and complaints will be addressed promptly. Complete transparency and visibility within the Sheriff department will be of utmost concern. Based on my observations, but lacking the facts and numbers concerning the Sheriff Department budget, I think redefining the sheriff department's mission with some reorganization, there could be extra money available for deputy pay raises or incentives. Deputy pay will be one of my main concerns and I will strive to make sure every officer can be paid the most fiscally possible. There will also be an open door to the Sheriff to address complaints and comments. As Sheriff, absolute professionalism and efficiency with our taxpaying money is the ultimate goal.

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