Letters to the Editor for May 11, 2018
Huge red flag on Duffy
For the first time in many years, we have a highly competitive race for Douglas County Sheriff. Unfortunately, I am deeply concerned about one of them: Capt. Joe Duffy.
Duffy comes across like a cop’s cop. He’s burly, tough-talking and even a bit swashbuckling. He started out in the Los Angeles Police Department, back when it was famous for cracking heads first and asking questions later.
Duffy is running against Capt. Dan Coverley, who’s been endorsed by retiring Sheriff Joe Pierini; Dave Brady, a former Douglas County Commissioner; and Dean Paris, a retired Marine.
I’m not endorsing a candidate, but here’s my problem with Duffy: he’s wildly unpopular in his own department, and for good reason.
Just two months ago, the Douglas County Grand Jury issued a report that included a stinging criticism of Duffy’s move to impose thinly-disguised quotas on deputies for writing citations and making arrests.
Several deputies told the grand jury that Duffy set a “performance standard” of at least 16 citations and four arrests per month. To ratchet up the heat, Duffy posted a spreadsheet every month, for every deputy to see, that showed each person’s “metrics.” People with above-average numbers had their results highlighted in green. Those with below-average numbers were highlighted in red.
Duffy says this was never a “quota,” and he stopped displaying the spreadsheets after a torrent of outrage from deputies. You’d have to be a fool, though, to think you weren’t still being bullied to rack up higher numbers.
This is wrong in all kinds of ways. First, it’s a rigid and arbitrary system – different assignments and shifts lead to different numbers of citations. Second, it’s demoralizing. Third, it’s terrible for the public because it pressures deputies write tickets or arrest people for the wrong reasons. This is the opposite of community policing, because it erodes trust in law enforcement. Duffy’s response has been almost as disturbing as his original policy. Time after time, he has complained about deputies who are “lazy” and “malcontents.” At a recent forum for the sheriff candidates, I heard him complain no fewer than three times about deputies who were lazy or shirkers or sleeping in the squad cars. This isn’t the language of a leader. It’s the language and mindset of a bully. It should be a huge red flag about character and temperament. Here’s an even bigger red flag: 78 percent of the deputies, as well as current Sheriff Pierini, have endorsed Capt. Dan Coverley for sheriff. Think about that: 78 percent of the deputies do not support Joe Duffy.
Being sheriff is a big job. It requires deep experience in law enforcement, but it also requires serious skills in leadership. The sheriff has to earn the trust and respect of both his deputies and of the community.
Let’s make a good decision.
Edmund L. Andrews
Commissioners not told about Tiregate
Kudos to Jim Hartman’s May 2 guest opinion about Douglas County’s failed local governance regarding “Tiregate” and “Sodgate.” Hartman’s letter was the first attempt to document the timeline of the Tiregate coverup. Nancy McDermid revealed to the public that the commissioners were told at their secret meeting in March 2017 not to say anything about what they were told, but Nancy’s comments were not accurate. The commissioners were not told anything about the Tiregate scandal in March. They were only told that there was a rumor that an employee may have stolen some county tires, and if anybody asks them about this, tell them that it is being looked into. The commissioners were not told anything else until their Sept. 5, 2017, secret meeting. This day represents two days before they voted to extend County Manager Larry Werner’s contract. They were not given time to consider the implications of being kept in the dark from March until September when they extended Werner’s contract. They were misled when they promoted Vickie Moore to chief financial officer, and they were denied the opportunity to consider the scandal while making the many other significant interconnected decisions that came before them during this period. On the other hand, the district attorney’s office, the county manager, and the chief financial officer had the advantage and benefit of orchestrating the cover-up without any public or commissioner interference.
Hartman is right on target to point out the need to drain our local swamp because of the continued lackadaisical attitude of our commissioners and other officials toward the enormity of this specific scam and their standard practice to keep both the public and commissioners uninformed.
DARE program too graphic?
I recently attended the DARE program with my child and while I appreciate and applaud the effort to bring awareness to the dangers of drug use, respecting your body and learning to say “no,” I find it disturbing that material and information used can be quite exaggerated. Statements in the program stereotype drug users as murderers, criminals and the like. Statements that all police are killed by drug users is not true and in fact many recreational drug users lead productive lives and are good people, parents, children, spouses, employers, employees, etc., and have never harmed anyone. The embellishment of facts has created the need for me to explain to my child that not all of the facts they have been introduced to are real. It is a shame that the fake news of today’s society has been adopted by DARE to scare kids straight. The DARE program could state only facts, not exaggerations to prove a point. It should not stereotype many people into a group that they are not part of. DARE should be more diligent to not profile and could change its content to provide the facts, dangers and consequences of drug use, while not by defaulting including individuals that are not scum, murderers or terrible people. Maybe consider as well that it would be beneficial to teach the children about the dangers of prescription drugs such as painkillers, anxiety meds, sleeping pills, etc.