News Grand Jury Response to Ticket Quota
Since taking command of the Patrol Division in 2015, I have told the deputies verbally and in written form that there is no ticket quota, which I want to thank the Grand Jury for getting to the bottom of this matter and confirming that was not true. I also appreciate the fact the Grand Jury had to deal with some very tough matters in this session and had to deal with a multitude of information coming at them. My response to their findings is not an attack on them and I am just setting the record straight.
- The Pay for Performance program (PMP) is not my program. It has been in the Douglas County Policy for over 20 years.
- In the last 20 years, both employee software systems (PMP) and now our current Neo Gov evaluation software system selected by the Board of County Commissioners, are “Pay for Performance.” Each performance category is weighted and determines the merit increase. The “Pay for Performance” practice is encoded in our labor bargaining contracts, county policy and BOCC objectives. I did not invent this system and I follow it because it is our adopted policy.
- All I have asked of the deputies is that each day, they show some measurable form of work (I.e. field Interviews, traffic enforcement, calls for service, arrests, reports written, business checks, etc.), which is all tracked by our Spillman software system. Traffic enforcement and issuing citations are just another part of the law enforcement job we do and something that is totally discretionary for the deputies. This information helps justify correct and earned ratings during evaluation time, and helps to take personalities out in giving fair and accurate ratings. It is also used as a tool when selecting an officer for a special assignment or removal from a special assignment as it collects data throughout the deputy’s year of work being done or lack of it.
- Regarding pay and benefits: As a Captain, I have no say or control over the deputies pay scale and benefits package they receive. That is a matter that is taken up between the collective bargaining units and Douglas County.
- I never used a derogatory word to speak of a deputy being overweight. Another Captain who is in charge of our training division told the deputy who is overweight, he did not want him teaching at the POST academy because he was a poor representative to brand new recruits who we expect to be in top physical condition as they would soon be responsible for protecting our public. We want only our best representatives teaching at the POST Academy as they set the example. I also believe the public expects our officers to be in good physical condition.
I understand the tremendous workload the Grand Jury undertook, however, only 5 patrol deputies were interviewed. I have a total of 52 law enforcement officers who work under my command, and the vast majority of them do an outstanding job for the citizens of Douglas County every day. Every law enforcement agency and private company has a small percentage of employees who are under-performers or who are disgruntled. I hold all those under my command accountable and expect that they conduct good police work every day. The spread sheet I use contains an average across the board on all shifts and deputies. This is a common tool used throughout the country for law enforcement agencies as a way of measuring work performance.
Under my command as Captain, I do not accept deputies who drive around throughout their shift, with nothing to show for it. I expect the deputies to be proactive and prevent criminal activity. Yes, we do have days where things are quiet and peaceful, however when deputies work performance shows no or very low activity for several months in a row, they are held accountable for that. I have caught officers sitting at coffee for over 45 minutes and manipulating the computer software to say they were out conducting traffic enforcement. When I find this type of poor work performance, I put a stop to that behavior. Undersheriff Howell has also had County Commissioners complain to him that they have witnessed officers sitting for too long at coffee businesses when they should be out conducting patrol.
Our traffic related incidents continue to be our number one call for service according to our Comp Stat system. Our vehicle related fatality rate in Douglas County has risen 120% from 2016 to 2017. I expect the patrol deputies to be out on our roads, both highways and residential neighborhoods, enforcing traffic laws when they encounter a violation. These enforcement stops could potentially stop the next fatality from occurring. It is up to the individual deputy based on their discretionary power, of whether they issue a citation or not. But not doing anything at all has no impact whatsoever.
There is a direct correlation between self-initiated police activity and crime. In communities where there is a drop off in self-initiated activity by law enforcement officers, crime rises. In communities like ours, where proactive policing is encouraged, crime goes down. The FBI statistics of our crime rates support this.
My message to the patrol division of my expectations of work performance was unfortunately misrepresented by several unhappy employees within this agency and spread to some parts of the community that I had ordered a ticket quota. Again, this was found to be not true. These are disgruntled and or poorly performing employees who do not want to be held accountable.
Regarding the Grand Jury’s recommendations:
- Deputies are currently evaluated on their individual performance and not solely on the spread sheet. The spread sheet is just a tool used to help validate work performance. For example, extra duties and assignments that would prevent them from meeting monthly average numbers are taken into account.
- All management here at the Sheriff’s Office currently does receive training on staff management. There are no ethics violations, however, all law enforcement officers in this agency are trained in ethics. Most of the command staff at Sheriff’s Office are graduates of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, VA.
- I sent the monthly spreadsheet to the sergeants who at my direction, did post the spreadsheet of Deputy work performance in our Sergeants Office This was a practice that was done this way for many years. I thought it would work positively as a tool to promote good police work and create a healthy competitive atmosphere between officers. Unfortunately, this did not work as I had planned and so it was taken down over a year ago.
- I have no place to reassign the “chronic underperforming” deputies the Grand Jury references in their report. The re-training of these deputies already occurs. My only option is to ensure that the deputy’s underperformance statistics and behaviors are accurately documented in their yearly evaluations and that they receive progressive discipline for not meeting the performance standard, which I already do.
As can be seen by this summary, I am a proactive leader and hold people accountable. We are servants of the public and we owe them our highest level of service and I will not settle for mediocrity.