San Bernardino County Sheriff

Sunday, June 7, 2015 – 11:30 a.m.

Managers vs. Leaders?

Merriam Webster defines “Management” as: 1: the act or art of managing : the conducting or supervising of something (as a business), 2: judicious use of means to accomplish an end 3: the collective body of those who manage or direct an enterprise.

“Leadership” is defined as: 1: the office or position of a leader, 2: capacity to lead, 3: the act or an instance of leading

It’s a question that depicts the sad state of affairs, within the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, the agency that continues to be under the gun from a plethora of federal investigations and civil rights lawsuits. I can’t remember the exact number. But it’s way too high, and will likely cost county taxpayers a pretty penny, when the cash register starts to ring.

Let’s also not forget the forthcoming County Grand Jury Report, due out in three weeks, that will likely deal a serious blow to the department on several fronts.

Nevertheless, it’s all symptomatic of an agency in crisis. An agency full of so-called “managers” within the ranks, not “leaders’. All but a handful fall into this description.

By “leader”, I mean people with the ability to competently make decisions based on knowledge and experience. More importantly, it’s the ability to say “no” and then hold people accountable.

I finally decided to start asking former employees from all ranks, deputy and above, their thoughts about the situation. Most described it has heartbreaking. They express deep concern and regard for the organization has a whole. They feel the agency is being torn down from within, reputation destroyed.

They blame this tragedy on what has transpired since Former Sheriff Gary Penrod retired. From conversations, there’s no doubt Penrod clearly has the heart of the retirees that know him.

Here’s the general take on past sheriff’s:

Floyd Tidwell: You knew he was in charge.

Dick Williams: Tried to modernize department. Eventually was disengaged. Had other interests, usually women.

Gary Penrod: Cared deeply about the department, and, more importantly, the rank and file.

Rod Hoops: More interested in money and partying. Let’s not forget all that time on the Golf Course. (I’m reminded of the panties being found in the Rancho Cucamonga Mobile Command Post incident)

John McMahon: Showed promise and is likeable. But followed in the footsteps of Hoops. Compromised by his “underlings”. (Sorry. I really, really, like that word usage.)

It’s something to think about!

The agency continues to spiral, with more internal incidents occurring on an almost weekly basis. (Reference the aforementioned lack of accountability.) The tactic of trying to sweep it all under the rug still continues to reign.

The problem: The rug is the size of a football field.

There’s no other way to put it. The lack of discipline within the chain of command has pulled the Sheriff’s Department into the gutter. The years-long pattern of driving out the leaders and decision-makers will continue to cost the agency for years to come.

The administration is either oblivious or doesn’t give a shit.

The bigger question is will federal investigations into the department drive the election of a sheriff from outside of the department, just as it did in Los Angeles County?

Most members of the department, sworn and non-sworn alike, perform their duty in an exceptional, sincere and honest manner.

The whole situation is tragic to say the least.