After Jim McDonnell’s first year as sheriff, I had a conversation with him about morale. I told him based on the conversations I have had with both active and retired employees of the Sheriff’s Department, I believed morale was lower today than ever before. He was stunned. He believed morale was high and that employees were happy with the direction he was taking the department. Unfortunately, the people he was listening to were the executives and staff that surrounded him. A classic example of “The Emperor Has No Clothes” syndrome.
In order to truly determine if morale was better or worse, PPOA mailed a morale survey to union members. We calculated the data and the results indicated morale was low and that it was something that needed to be addressed by Sheriff McDonnell. I read every single comment made in those surveys and produced 23 recommendations based on those comments and the data from the survey.
I presented the results of the survey, along with our recommendations, to Sheriff McDonnell and his Chief-of-Staff, Warren Asmus. They were shocked and expressed concern about the morale within the department. We reviewed the recommendations together and the sheriff agreed with many of them. But agreeing to make changes doesn’t improve morale – making changes does.
Sheriff McDonnell agreed to spend an afternoon at PPOA for a video interview regarding morale as part of our PPOA On Point interview series.
In addition, Sheriff McDonnell provided written responses to our recommendations.
Click here to read PPOA’s 23 recommendations and the sheriff’s responses.
You can also read all recommendations and responses in the May 2017 issue of Star & Shield magazine. The sheriff has made some steps in the right direction, but we are a long way from fixing the morale problem. For example, one of the biggest complaints was the hiring problem and the department’s ineffectiveness at addressing this problem. The shortage of personnel impacts other areas such as CARPing and forced overtime which negatively impact morale. Another huge area of concern was an unfair promotion process that was based on favoritism and nepotism instead of experience and skill. There were many areas of concern that all pointed to one problem – management did not appear to place morale and the well-being of the employees high on their list of priorities.
We are hopeful that the sheriff has a new perspective of morale despite what the sycophants around him choose to tell him. I don’t mind being the naysayer while others tell him how wonderful life is. He needs to know the truth so he can make appropriate changes. I hope the sheriff will take our recommendations and begin immediately to implement some of them to get us moving in the right direction.
Please take a moment to read the recommendations (and the sheriff’s responses) to get a clearer perspective on the morale problem as seen by the members of PPOA and the sheriff’s intent on addressing the issue.