Editorial: Sheriff’s Office-many agendas

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The value of any media outlet providing illumination to the internal workings of government is the ability to shed light on the good, the bad and the ugly. If the only government objective in providing the results of any sought-after information is ‘to get past the news cycle,’ managers within CCSO may think they served this purpose by providing the summary of the “Buddy Grant Investigation.” Of course, the larger goal has to be appeasing a concerned public by infusing confidence that issues as initially reported are being mitigated. The Standard intends to assist the Sheriff to instill such public confidence.  This largely depends on the improving leadership, management, and supervision at every level. The CEO of every organization needs to provide vision and clarity. Accountability and standards for sworn and non sworn personnel of every stripe should be a given.

A review of the Grant Summary serves as a menu to ask more questions. There are so many connected ancillary topics. This gives way to realize it is a daunting task for a newly elected sheriff to take the helm of an organization so fermented in past practice. Add to the mix he is perceived as the ‘outsider’ doing his best to find a righteous path only elevates anxiety. There’s so much unintended physical and mental energy consumed. An experienced mind advises: what you think the day before you are the boss is decidedly different than what is discerned in the days and weeks after taking the helm.

Mike Prendergast has been in office a year. It should be quite expected to improve a heretofore sliding organizational culture, no matter the variables can take more than one–many in fact. The current state of affairs didn’t happen overnight.  Normally, during the first year, the flaws reveal themselves. I describe this phenomenon as listening to the noise.  Eyes open; antennae up!  Look and listen for the self-serving agendas; seems as though they are beginning to spill over. Take the rumor, speculation, conjecture, and gossip and know there can be tidbits of truth. It doesn’t guide one but neither should they be completely ignored.

Having served my time in the Army before becoming a career cop I know there is a large difference between the military model first guiding me and the so-called ‘quasi-military’ role so many still associate with law enforcement agencies. Modern law enforcement management has evolved into an almost corporate environment—but still with the trappings of a quasi-military structure. Professional police CEOs are not fooled into thinking there has to be one and not the other. It is a hybrid. Being assigned or reassigned within an organization, be it the military or a police department or a sheriff’s office, is not the same as becoming ‘the number one.’ Having been in mid-management within one police department and then becoming the chief of another gave me a fuller appreciation of what I never understood the head of an agency confronts both internally and externally.  Someone I knew and trusted advised I was a smart guy the day before I became chief.  The inference: the day after not so much. It was the kind of exchange you can have with a confidant. The meaning was clear.

I was savvy enough to understand I knew what I knew, the staff I inherited knew what they knew but we needed to come together to begin a new understanding of what we all needed to collectively know. It was the bright line of before and after. We were smarter together. Everyone’s agenda was important; nothing was more important than the primary. It came down to vision and leadership. Mine and theirs–not always in that order.

The Standard will be peeling back the onion of past practice while presenting to the public adjustments in the works. We will call it as we see it and will seek clarification along the way. We are not here to damage the CCSO. To the contrary, we want to help the Sheriff, his deputies and the oft-overlooked civilian support force become an agency wherein people inside and outside are most proud.

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