Self-harm takes many forms and should not be taken lightly. For emotional problems, mental health professionals are available privately, through your agency and even online. Those suffering from addiction concerns have numerous support groups, including Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and peer groups.
So, what assistance is available for those who politically self-harm? Although PPOA was hopeful for a new era of collaboration and cooperation, Sheriff Villanueva has repeatedly proven to be difficult to work with — as seen through his hiring of former Deputy Mandoyan, suing the County, not collaborating with the unions, attacking contracts, etc. This isolationist “self-harm” has been brought to his attention by numerous entities, including the Board of Supervisors, County Counsel, the Democratic Party and his own advisors, but the Sheriff has refused to hear it.
PPOA wants the Sheriff to be successful. His successes would also bring success to Department members through positive attention, accolades and resources. Unfortunately, his continued self-harm is bringing negative attention to the Department, is providing fodder to the political challengers for the office of the Sheriff and, most importantly, is now harming PPOA members.
Currently, there are numerous PPOA members either relieved of duty or terminated, unable to return to work or settling discipline cases due to the fallout from the Mandoyan rehiring debacle. Dual-track sergeants looking for a career path in their chosen vocation are being told to go to patrol even though their career and family decisions were based on a set of rules in place for the last six years.
The current promotional process continues to be problematic and has been the source of great frustration for Department members. The process has yet to be clearly defined by the new administration and has been communicated in such a vague manner that no one knows how to proceed. Even current executives, when asked for advice or direction, cannot provide definitive answers.
A college degree has been preached as being needed, but several new promotions include individuals who are “currently attending” or “currently completing” their degrees. Acting station captains have not qualified for an interview with their own station’s selection review board. Applicants with degrees and the reported required experience are sent “thank you for applying” emails, but are never given an interview or any feedback about where their applications fell short with regard to the administration’s requirements.
Something is definitely wrong. Unfortunately, the process is repeatedly being described to us at PPOA as favoritism and cronyism — the exact concerns originally condemned by this administration.
I recently received a phone call from a deputy (not represented by PPOA) working a patrol assignment. Now, I’ll say that again: I received a call from a deputy with concerns about the promotional process of the Department. This deputy stated that, as a Band Two candidate for sergeant, they were very critical (my kind paraphrase of the actual statement) of the Department’s intention to conduct a new Patrol Track-only sergeant examination. The same deputy said they were very much in favor of any efforts PPOA could make to protect their future promotion. They believed any effort by the Department to circumvent the current promotional process would be detrimental to not only themselves, but also to over 30 other promotional candidates in Band Two, not even including those in Band Three.
If the announced sergeant examination — currently scheduled for October 5 — is conducted, it will be over the strenuous objections of PPOA. Since late May, PPOA has been dedicated to regularly meeting with the Department in order to collaborate with them and discuss Sheriff Villanueva’s ideas for the future promotional process. Sadly, information requests by PPOA went unfulfilled and communications with PPOA by the Department abruptly ceased. Suddenly, the Department announced a “Patrol Only” examination, abandoning the existing contract language regarding “Dual-Track” practices and adding the new “Rating of Record” standard. This new addition to the process, “Rating of Record,” has yet to be defined and there are no details available about how it will be used or implemented. It is just one more item not discussed with PPOA.
Those of us involved in this attempted conversation with the Department have repeatedly objected to this examination.
Our concerns regarding the violations of our contract were communicated to Department executives, culminating in a personal discussion with the Sheriff. Let’s just say we left that discussion disagreeing. As a result, in order to protect our contract and our members and to prevent the potential harm to all Department members, PPOA will continue our efforts to postpone any sergeant examination that has not been properly negotiated and vetted. Our hope is that an objective test will be established with no underlying possibilities of discrimination to the current pool of candidates.
Now, transitions are tricky (as I am only in month three of my presidency). Hopefully you, the members, have seen positive strides forward in the direction of PPOA. While we all must be patient with any new administration, PPOA (and many others evidently) believes the transition period of the new administration is over and that Sheriff Villanueva and his hand-picked executives should now be held accountable for the direction of the Department. For this reason, PPOA respectfully must ask those who can advise the Sheriff of his current issues to please do so. Our members are being harmed.
Again, we want the Department and Sheriff Villanueva to be successful. Only by helping the Sheriff overcome this political self-harm can our issues get positively addressed and our members move forward with their careers and lives.
Sheriff Villanueva: We implore you to please consider your future actions and comments carefully. We wish to have a healthy partnership for the benefit of all. We want to help.