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Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Police Audit

Penny pinching bureaucrats not withstanding -- I think Barnwell and Blum's proposal to do an audit makes sense. It takes the politics out of the equation -- or does it? McGrew shouldn't be resorting to calling Armstrong a penny pincher at this point in the process -- where does that get the POA?

15 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sara--au contrair! Barnwell's call for an "audit" is in itself a political salvo---it hardly "takes the politics" out of the equation. An audit of what? That's why we have a Chief. and if the Council has lost faith in the Chief, then deal with that directly. But don't waste more taxpayer money on "consultants" who will just drag out interminable 'studies' to conclude what------yes, we have high turnover, yes morale is bad, ---let H.R. do a salary study and comparison and move forward. "Audits" are nothiing but euphemisms for elected officials to avoid taking responsibility for personnel or policies.

6/25/2006 2:33 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

I almost, okay I did, groan at another audit. Can we say Sheriff's Council political shenanigans here? Did the City Council get their idea about an audit because they saw how easily the results can be manipulated to each party's taste? This tactic is more like a delay technique than true concern for the taxpayers safety.

And how in the world do you "audit" morale?

Instead of paying someone lots of $$$, I'd suggest that Mayor Blum and Councilmember Barnwell spend a few weekend nights (til 3-4 am) riding along with our finest and then maybe they can appreciate what morale and staffing problems exist.

6/25/2006 3:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2:33

Couldn't agree more. The Mayor is doing what she does, delay until she can find someone to blame. The truth is the deterioration of the PD has happened on her watch. It's about more than waving a wand in a parade, being Mayor is about leadership.

6/25/2006 5:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Audits are like anything else. They can be good or bad. They are not necessarily a waste of money and an abdication of responsibility. Having the city's HR department do an audit would not satisfy the Police if they didn't like the results, And,yes, I agree that an audit is for things that are quantifiable--not for morale.

That doesn't drive me to the conclusion, however, that bad morale (if it exists) would be improved by paying the cops more money. I thought Randy Alcorn's column today was harsh, but accurate, in calling the Police demands a shakedown. The representatives of the Police quoted in the paper today all don't want an outside audit, but someone there has come up with a 10% raise figure. They seem to have done their own audit.

And finally, it's hard to argue that the staff is depleted because of retirements when long-term officers can retire at 50 with nearly full salary. Am I supposed to feel sorry for the PD that cops are retiring early, or am I supposed to be envious that they negotiated an excessive retirement package? I don't think the cops can play both sides of that argument.

6/25/2006 6:39 PM  
Anonymous Valerio said...

Of course, with a city council member riding along on a police shift, the police personnel would behave exactly the same whether or not a City Council member were present.

6/25/2006 8:09 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

for 6:39 - Police work hours that you or I would refuse to do. Whenever we pick up the phone and dial 911, we expect someone to be there to "handle it", no matter the time of day or night, or how trivial or critical the incident is. Their stress level due to their work is enormous - they go from a barking dog complaint to a freaked-out meth addict threatening them with a knift - to a lost wallet. Police must maintain their composure and professionalism at all times. Statistically, police die within 10 years of retirement - because of job related stress illnesses and injuries.

Ask yourself this - would you be willing to be a policeman for 20 to 30 years, dealing constantly with the homeless problem, drunks, sex crimes, crimes against children, murder, domestic violence, taunts, law suits, burglary, and so on, day in and day out? Their clients are people that you and I wouldn't even give the time of day to. Police deal with the dregs of humanity most of the time and see and hear things that would apall and repel most citizens. I dare say the answer would be no.

Their job is necessary to maintain peace and order in society. IMHO an early retirement is a very small price to pay to those who keep us safe and out of harms way. dd

6/25/2006 9:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To ananymous 9:30--

"Police work hours that you or I would refuse to do". Aren't you mixing up the illegal immegration sound bites with the Police issues?

One issue here is paying the Police a fair and reasonable wage for the job. It's hard to believe that money is the source of problems when the Police get a good basic salary, significant overtime pay, and very, very early retirement.

What is wrong with comparing their benefits to those of other police departments outside of this community? Why jump on the Mayor or the City Council because they are asking for some objective data? What bothers me is the same thing that bothered me last year. Anyone who questions the demands of certain police representatives is painted as an enemy or someone who doesn't understand. What I understand is that an issue that would benefit from objective analysis is again being turned into an emotional drama.

6/26/2006 6:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For clarification: PD retirement is a formula called 3% @50. It means you get 3% of your slary for every year of service. For example, if you start at 25 years old by the time you are 50, with 25 years in, you can retire on 75% of base salary, no overtime, no benefits, etc. To retire at 90% at 50 you would have had to start at age 20. Once again no benefits upon retirement. Doesn't happen, shouldn't happen. There was indeed a retirement bubble a few years ago but the current problem is officers in the 10 to 15 year experience range leaving. So not only are they running short on numbers, they are running very short on experience when they do replace the officers leaving for other jurisdictions. City Hall is setting up Sanchez to take the fall but the administrators office set the tone for all the cuts and Council fell in behind. Whatever else you want to say about Mc Grew, by calling Armstrong out he took a tremedous professional risk. Let's see if anyone on Council can stand up and do the right thing.

6/26/2006 8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim Armstrong is going to regret this ploy. When it becomes public how unhappy the police in the community are and how at risk we are - now it is public record not just the union whining - he will either have to fix it or leave.

Armstrong wants to break the power of the police union and will sacrifice the entire city to win this battle. He is being a fool and taking us all down with him. Trust me this is about Jim Armstrong and his ego trip more than any other thing.

6/26/2006 10:30 PM  
Blogger john san roque said...

Okay, anonymous, I'll trust you implicitly. You've always been honest and above-board before.

6/27/2006 12:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Work hours that you or I would refuse to do...expected to be there, no matter the time of the day or night...the stress level is enormous...they go from freaked out meth addicts...to sex crimes...to the homeless...to drunks...to crimes against children...now.... layer in exposure to communicable disease... and you have described your basic NURSE, as well as many other service oriented professions(not just the PD. Nurses do not get to retire at an early age with a bloated pension, truly work for low to low moderate wages and have no hope of owning a home in this community. Check it out folks, SBCH is staffed to a significant degree by 'traveler nurses' who come here from different locations and leave when their tour is done - no investment in or ties to or committment to the health care status of this community. Public health issues are every bit as important as public safety - but the community is not tuned in and just expect a nurse will always just 'be there'.... maybe time for a nursing union to leverage power in the same fashion as the PD, complete with threats concerning the health and safety of Santa Barbara.

7/01/2006 10:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, Anon 10:27, you're absolutely right nurses are under paid and absolutely critical to our community, and so are many other professions. Let's not mix apples and oranges.

BUT, to invite that comparsion: nurses don't get shot just for being there doing their job (As recently with Oxnard PD and not too long ago SBSO). Cops are expected to kill someone with only a split second to make that decision, not nurses. Nurses don't risk Federal prison for doing their job to the best of their ability, being second guessed by an army of greedy lawyers with nothing but time on their hands dissecting that decision. Nurses don't go into crack houses to do their job. Nurses don't get exposed to every disease known and unknown to man WITHOUT any safety equipment, and NO ONE cares. Most everyone seems to like and respect nurses, but few like cops unless you really need one. Nurses are trained and do basically one job, medicine (and God bless them for it): cops on the other hand have to do many different jobs from mental health counselor, lawyer, judge, EMT, marriage counselor, mediator, etc. and are expected to be proficient and well versed in all these fields. And, if not proficient and well versed, refer back to my comment about an army of lawyers.

Oh, and, the those lavish pensions are mostly paid by those officers themselves through investments in their own pension plan, which every government employed kook tries to steal with the excuse of budget shortfalls and alike. Not to mention; check the insurance industry and government actuarial tables and see the average life expectance of nurses vs. cops. IE: if a police officer retires at age 55, quite early by most standards, he lives an average of 2 years after retirement. However, if that cop retires at age 50, even earlier, he lives, on average, to age 70. Still way below the average American male, but better. So, if you're dead less than 20 years after retirement and your widow has to live on less than half that salary, after you just spent 30 years investing your own money in that plan. So, is it really all that generous?

Plus, don't confuse what a line officer earns vs. a staff officer who pushes pencils all day, because there is a huge difference between the two.

Now having said all that; I don't mean to hand every cop in Santa Barbara County a blank check, but I do think people have to look a little more critically at the dark side of our community and those that hold back the forces of darkness.

From an anonymous cop (and no, not SBPD)

7/02/2006 5:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To 5:29
While your comments are thoughtful and intelligent, you are wrong on several fronts;
- Frequently nurses do not know what diseases they are faced with -the diseases are diagnosed after the ER nurses and others are spattered with blood and other bodily fluids while standing there in a scrub uniform (not exactly protective in any fashion). You might also check out the bullet proof glass required in the Cottage ER, for very obvious reasons. Nurses also deal with an "army of lawyers" more than you might consider, as they are named in medical malpractice and nursing negligence lawsuits routinely. Nurses also receive intense training in and must deal also with the mentally ill, developmentally disabled and multiply substance addicted population - where might those folks go when physically ill - no where but to the hospital, with no special sitters or precautions or arrangements. Many nurses also work in chemical dependency units, psych units and the like. To say nurses are trained in one thing is a woeful underestimate of the training one undergoes for years to attain an RN. Speaking as a nurse of over 25 years duration, I know empirically of what I state. You have a point that we should not compare apples and oranges - but I disagree with that statement, as it is all about public health and safety, in one form or another. After all, where do you think those individuals go after the cops drop them off in the ER?

7/03/2006 2:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well 5:29 I agree with what you're saying, but I stand by my comments and will further refine them; by saying that when I said nurses are trained in "one thing" and that being "medicine", that includes all the different subfields and branches. My comment does not demean this training; in fact, nurses receive high levels of training in these fields. I fully understand and appreciate the hard work that goes into this training.

However, cops have to learn these skills on the fly through experience, because our medical training is almost non-existent. And, we have to deal with so many issues that are not "part of the job description" and receive minimal training. We have to be a "jack of all trades and master of none". (For example: most cops receive less than 8 hours total of formal training in dealing with the mentally ill.)

As to the lawyers, again, I agree with you, but only sort of. Nurses mostly only face civil litigation, as you mention. Cops on the other hand routinely face civil AND criminal litigation. And not just civil and criminal, but both on the State court level and the Federal court level, sometimes at the same time. Those happening in nursing in only the most rare of circumstances, not routine job peril.

And in closing, I also stand by my comment about disease exposure. Yes, nurses are exposed to horrible pathogens before proper care can be taken. Yet, cops are exposed to those same pathogens in the street, in the field and in homes without any equipment and no one cares. The no one cares is the damning part, because from our own administrators, to the mayor, to citizenry, to public health officals, no one cares: period. The sad part is that teachers share this same burden too, so by no means are cops alone in this issue.

In my opinion public health and public safety does have some commonality, but are essentially "apples and oranges". I would never demean anyone in the public health sector, because I DO know how vital it is to all of us. I have nothing but the utmost respect for you and them, but this discussion was originally about pay raises for police, not nursing.

7/04/2006 12:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A final word then - just some things to consider. I realize this is about police, but I still see strong analogies when one considers the related health, safety, and severe shortages of RNs in this community - the Cottage web site reveals approx.70-100 positions open on any given day. You simply must consider that working conditions are far less than ideal to cause this situation to exist. Please remember, there are NO pensions, NO early retirements (they will let you work til you drop), expensive benefits, horrible hours, and tough working conditions. While you may feel you and your brethren are poorly thought of by the public, I can tell you nurses today are still horribly treated and disrespected by most physiicians. Thier attitude is demeaning and demoralizing. There are solid reasons why there is such an alarming dearth of nurses - I just wanted you and others to have some modicum of understanding that the cops are not alone, but at least have a voice through the union and an audience at City Hall - no one truly cares about nurses, except other nurses - who are equally disenfranchised and powerless. I have left the profession and will never look back - a shame, as I should be grooming those that come after me - but, not a chance. Enough of the working conditions that exist in nursing today. I need a survival level of income and my sanity.

7/05/2006 6:14 AM  

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