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Bloviating Zeppelin: Bags

Bloviating Zeppelin

(in-ep-toc'-ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Bags

As most of my readers already realize, my training job was eliminated at EVOC (our Emergency Vehicle Operations Course) due to budgetary cuts. My department has, due to fiscal mismanagement, taken the brunt of monetary hits in terms of law enforcement departments in the entire state of Fornicalia. In a department formerly consisting of 2,000+ officers, we were tasked with making up 40% of our county's deficit. Wholly unfair and egregious.

As a result, my department laid off 400 On-Call deputies and 200 full time deputies, effective tomorrow (as I write this), Saturday, August 1st.

Today I got a glimpse of what my department really thinks of its employees. And I was resoundingly disgusted on many levels.

I watched as, earlier, one opposite shift Sergeant "processed" his own laid-off troops out and was continually asking: "Did you leave your keys? What's your radio serial number?"

And that was it. Leave your stuff. Get the hell out.

I was embarrassed, pissed, even shocked to a degree.

Until I realized: that Sergeant was himself getting demoted, effective Saturday, to a line-level deputy.

I've been working with two Lieutenants who are getting demoted and three Sergeants who are getting demoted.

My final hours today, Friday (as I write this) were devoted to collecting equipment from laid-off deputies whose true final day was today and had clearly expressed that they were calling in sick on their "real" final day, Saturday.

There were bags already prepared for me by administration staff. These bags had a piece of paper stapled to the outside where I was to collect very specific pieces of their issued equipment.
I took the time to talk to each and every one -- though they didn't know me, I was the "new Sergeant on deck." And I processed their equipment, placed it into these bags, then helped them with their own personal bags as they cleaned out their lockers and hauled things to their cars.

No one else helped. None of the other Sergeants. None of the other Lieutenants. They were too busy taking each other to lunch.

And with each one I shook their hand and said, "On behalf of this department I would like to officially apologize for treating you in this fashion -- and I would like to thank you for your service to this facility and to the people of this county. They have no idea what sacrifices you have made."

Some were stalwart and resolute; they wore fixed glazes and simply stalked off. Some started to cry. Some wanted to talk to me about their brief careers. It took everything I had to not tear up and break my mien. But I believed it was my responsibility, my duty, to not only apologize for their despicable treatment but to commend them for their devotion and service.

I've just helped to kill my department's finest generational future.

It turns my stomach, it makes me sick, to think that so many of my peers have turned these hopeful and wonderful kids into nothing more than PIN numbers and big grocery bags.

Their bags line the admin office walls.

This was one of the most depressing days of my life this year.

BZ

12 Comments:

Blogger Always On Watch said...

BZ,
And that was it. Leave your stuff. Get the hell out.

I'm so sorry that you and the others laid off are being treated in such an abominable way.

When I quit the job from hell back in 1997, even those horrid bosses didn't treat me in such a fashion -- though I'm sure that they were glad to see me leaving.

You showed your sterling character by shaking each hand and thanking so many for their service.

Sat Aug 01, 05:43:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Rivka said...

BZ,
Man, I hate to hear you are going through this. You did the right thing. Believe me, what comes around goes around on all sides of this issue. Including to you who honored these men, you too will be honored. You did the right thing and deserve respect.

Sat Aug 01, 06:12:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Mustang said...

I’m not quite sure where to begin with this, BZ. I suppose an acknowledgment that at a critical juncture demanding true leadership, at a time when others were found wanting, you stepped forward and did the right thing —when no one was looking. And just with my concept of honesty, this is how I define a true leader. I salute you, sir … you have earned my respect.

More years ago than I care to remember, I approached the end of my first enlistment in the Marines. I began to weigh my options, whether to reenlist or seek career opportunities elsewhere. One of my carefully considered options was a police force in Eastern Virginia, so I did some checking around … I spoke to a few police officers at random, local citizens, one local lawyer, and a retired judge. They all had their perspective on a law enforcement career. What ended up causing me to line out law enforcement, however, was a sergeant who was on duty at a local precinct station when I dropped by … as a citizen … to talk. Let me say that by this time, I had already decided against other opportunities in financial management and asset protection; it was either going to be law enforcement or reenlistment in the Corps.

So I walked into the substation, there were several police officers there … all of them looking as sharp as a Virginia State Trooper (an agency I had always admired), and a sergeant was in the process of reading the riot act to these people. He was using language one might expect to find at Parris Island (in the days before the Corps outlawed cursing by drill instructors). He personally demeaned them (in my presence). For me, this was the icing on the cake. I had already learned that the term police fraternity is an oxymoron. I had already learned that police departments eat their young. I had already learned that many important law enforcement decisions are political. And there was no way I was going to leave the best outfit in the world to join a phony, petty, second rate organization that wouldn’t know esprit-de-corps or leadership if it bit them on the leg.

Not long ago, a local sheriff was tragically and accidently killed. The outpouring of public sympathy was overwhelming, because he was a popular politician … but one deputy told me, “It’s a shame that when a local officer was killed in the line of duty, he didn’t get one-tenth of this kind of marshaled support.” The double standard isn’t a local problem, BZ, nor is the absence of quality leadership within first-responder organizations. Perhaps in time, you’ll be in a position to change this —meanwhile, you did the right thing. And that’s what quality leaders do. No one promised you a rose garden, right?

Sat Aug 01, 07:47:00 AM PDT  
Blogger TexasFred said...

Once *The 'Hood* realizes, fully realizes what has happened to your Dept. the violence will reach a magnitude that they will need to call in the National Guard I am guessing..

And the finger pointing within the Dept., the name calling, the accusations, the C.Y.A., will only serve to make matters worse.

Best of luck BZ, you, and what's left of your Dept are going to need a lot of it...

Sat Aug 01, 10:35:00 AM PDT  
Blogger ASM826 said...

Texas Fred got there first with exactly what what I was thinking. 200 full time, 400 part time. How many are left?

Sat Aug 01, 02:54:00 PM PDT  
Blogger A Jacksonian said...

With demotions you get a number of individuals who now have rusty skills at the lower level... especially if they have been years away from it. Also with that comes poor habits of bureaucracy seen at higher levels of any organization, public or private. Thus the full-time to part-timers are a major reduction in force, and the demoted full-timers are going to be hard pressed to pick up slack and will be re-learning some skills.

By dropping from 600 full to 200 full and 400 part, you do not get 400 effective: spin-up and spin-down for the workday remains the same, so that time eats a bigger percentage out of part time than full time. Add in the inefficiencies of demoted staff and your effectives move into the 300-350 range with startling ease and will not rise above 350. And if morale drops 300 effectives is about what you actually get... or even less.

RIFs like that just do not get the expected effectiveness for the cost savings... better to have a smaller full time force dedicated to the job than to pick up inefficiencies of part time. That hurts far more at the start, but once demotees get their legs back under them and everyone understands that WYSIWYG rules, it can become a tight force with decent leadership. Of course you are losing some of that, too, as demotees feel slighted when moved out of such positions...

Building up is always easier than drawing down... because a drawdown can lead to a collapse in morale and then things go from worse to utterly horrific in no time at all. California now pays for its health care, lovely social services and all the other 'nice things' it took on. Time to pay the Danegeld... unless you are willing to get rid of the Dane.

Sat Aug 01, 05:17:00 PM PDT  
Blogger shoprat said...

You just did one of the hardest jobs there is. And you did it with class.

Sat Aug 01, 06:06:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Average American said...

BZ, you deserve a ton of respect for the way you handled yourself and many of the people you treated so well will come to realize that. As for the assholes with no hearts that didn't give a rats ass for anything but themselves, they will get their day, somewhere, somehow. God will get even with them.

Sat Aug 01, 10:52:00 PM PDT  
Blogger christian soldier said...

I am sad and angry that you and those fabulous young people -who are so willing to serve -are being treated this way...
CA will reap the whirl-wind for this---and other aspects of gross mis-management- at all levels...
C-CS

Sun Aug 02, 05:09:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

The thing that tore me up is that I saw NO ONE taking the time -- hell, just a few seconds -- to shake their hands, touch them briefly, apologize to them for Christ's sake, tell them they had VALUE, that their work was APPRECIATED.

The other thing is that, during the last few days, fewer of them "called in sick" than I thought. They can't take their sick leave with them; it means nothing when they're laid off. They don't get credit or cash for unused sick leave. Yet most of them continued to show up, these last two weeks.

This just sickens me. And the people of my county have no idea what their Board of Supervisors or their County Executive have done by laying OFF deputies and KEEPING the bulk of SOCIAL SERVICES.

THAT is why I apologized to those hard working kids.

And YES, I am going to have to re-learn many of those jobs the kids left behind. However, unlike many others, I'm so close to retirement that I can "pull the pin" if my working conditions become too onerous or unsafe. I live 75+ miles away from work in another entirely different county -- which is in good shape fiscally.

However, if I want to take advantage of my age and years of service in order to acquire a better retirement, I have to hang around at least another two years.

I'm not sure I can take that.

BZ

Sun Aug 02, 06:52:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Mustang: yes. No one promised me a rose garden.

I am on my set of "days off" for this week. When I return, after all those kids have left -- what kind of working force will I have LEFT with which to accomplish our daily tasks?

I truly do NOT know.

BZ

Sun Aug 02, 06:54:00 PM PDT  
Blogger cary said...

I agree with Mustang and the others here who have said you did a crap job with class and aplomb.

Good on ya, BZ.

Sorry to hear the whole thing had to happen, but without this you wouldn't have known how those others are going to be to work with, right?

Keep the faith and the course, BZ.

Mon Aug 03, 12:41:00 PM PDT  

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