Thursday, December 06, 2007

Why Consolidate?

Personally, I am not for consolidation. I don't want my taxes to go any higher than they already are. However, at some point, there won't be much left that isn't incorporated into one of the cities of Shelby County and the SCSO will cease to patrol. I guess at that point, the shurf will be relegated to the courts and jail, leaving only fugitive to do anything resembling law enforcement. Then there will be a need for unified law enforcement. If and when that happens, the MPD will have to be the agency that handles it. A 300 man department can't consume one that has 2200.

I think commissioner, Mike Carpenter, has a good understanding of the problem with having a politician running the law enforcement agency. In one of the study group meetings, he said the following:

"But Carpenter said an elected law enforcement head is not without problems, as he emphasized he wasn't talking about Luttrell.

"I don't want to be at the mercy of an unqualified law enforcement officer who can play political games - who can go out and raise money - who can glad-hand folks," Carpenter said. "He can put together enough votes in a crowded field to get the job. Sure, there's some minimal qualifications ... but it doesn't mean you can actually do the job. And we're stuck for four years."

Mike may have emphasized he wasn't talking about Luttrell, but guess what, he was talking about Luttrell. The above scenario describes Mark to a tee, with the exception that the taxpayers will wind up suffering for eight years before he moves on. Mark Luttrell is a jailer, not a cop, and as such, he has no basis of understanding. This leads to him making stupid remarks like:

1. "what authority do we have to make arrests in Bartlett?" (compstats meeting 2004)
2. "We can't arrest our way out of crime" (television news report 2005)
3. "We don't have a big drug or gang problem in county schools" (news story 2005)
4. "Tasers are deadly weapons" (2007 WMC news story)

If the news media would stop legitimizing him as a law enforcement officer (he ain't), he would stop being a public embarrassment. I guess he would only be a private embarrassment then.

Luttrell raises money from convicts, then says he makes no apology for it, but stops taking "reported" contributions from convicts. He also uses his position to abuse and intimidate officers like the following few examples, which are just a few of many:

1. Inspector Judy Hughes was transferred from Fugitive to the report center after filing a county EEOC "hostile work environment" complaint. She supervised 8 clerks, with no captain, no lieutenants, no sergeants and no patrolmen under her authority. She is now retired.
2. Next up was Captain Bobby Simmons. He took Judy's place, and then the report center's clerks were reassigned, when the operation went paperless. Captain Simmons reported to work for about a year, with no-one to supervise. He had an office with a desk and chair, oh yeah and a phone.
3. There was this lieutenant who was transferred to the midnight shift of the Fugitive Bureau because he had said he was going to run for Sheriff.(yeah that would be me)

There are many other examples that could be cited, but that's an exercise in futility, because nobody seems to care. As for the intimidation factor, these things didn't intimidate me, but it certainly had a chilling effect on the other officers. Fortunately, I had enough time on the job that I could retire and get away from the asylum.

If you are one of those people who thinks Luttrell is so great, you might want to read about the federal lawsuit the deputies filed against him after he refused to negotiate with the Deputy Sheriff's Association. Additionally, the top three officers of the DSA have had time off (with pay) to conduct union business since the late '70s. Not anymore. Luttrell sent them all back to their bid positions - another intimidation move. He is refusing to negotiate with the deputies, because they decided they needed to be aligned with the teamsters. Since when can the Sheriff dictate who the officers can be affiliated with? I hope the deputies prevail in their lawsuit, and maybe even get awarded punitive, personal damages. We don't need a dictator at the SCSO.

As for me, I would rather keep things the way they are, except I think the shurf needs to deal with his area of expertise (jails) and leave the policing to those who know whereof they speak.


Anonymous said...

This is a big problem and I wish you the best of luck.

Unfortunately, the deputies will be viewed negatively by much of the public simply for filing a lawsuit, as the Republican party has done a masterful job over the past few years (if not decades) of portraying anyone who files a civil suit, as well as their lawyers, as "greedy."

George W. Bush, of Texas, was a leader in this movement to villify civil litigants. He used his "bully pulpit" as governor and president to criticize juries, judges, attorneys and plaintiffs in civil matters.

The huge irony is that, as critical he is of anyone who files a civil suit, he's the only person in the history of the United States to have sued his way into the White House.

In any event, please keep using your expertise and access to the public to educate the citizens of Shelby County about the shortcomings of our sheriff. Many people are ignorant (some, willingly) of this travesty.

Anonymous said...

John, enough already. We know what you think of Luttrell. I even agree with a lot of it...but take Luttrell out of the equation, and it makes more economic and legal sense for the SCSO to become the metro agency. No issues with jurisdiction. No changing state laws and all the time and expense that entails. All the MPD expertise and technology you cite would still be there. The fact is, today, right now, the citizens of Memphis might be persuaded to allow the SCSO to take over Memphis, but as long as Willie is in office, the county will never do it, nor will the municipalities.

I see all over this county the thugs don't repect MPD. They do still respect the SCSO officers on the street. Making everyone a SCSO deputy would boost the image of law enforcement in general in Shelby County.

Yes, the union issues would have to be solved, but Luttrell is not the whole SCSO nor will he be around forever.

I really want to get behind you on this but your personal issues with Luttrell, vaild or not, are affecting your judgement.

John Harvey said...

"I see all over this county the thugs don't repect MPD. They do still respect the SCSO officers on the street. Making everyone a SCSO deputy would boost the image of law enforcement in general in Shelby County. "

I don't remember the thugs being respectful of the SCSO, particularly in my last year when I had a 15 year old pull a .9mm on me, another guy said he wasn't going to jail and put his hand in his pocket. I pulled my pistol and said, yes you are, and he grabbed for my gun. He went to jail, but I don't think I got his respect until I earned it.

Thugs don't respect anyone, so that argument is specious.

I don't think consolidation is going to happen for a long time anyway, and I would not be for it, if it made my taxes go up. At some point, the city will have annexed most of the unincorporated areas that are left anyway, and it won't be an issue. Hopefully, that will be a lot of years away.

As for Luttrell, he is a fish out of water. It's not true that I absolutely hate him, I just know him to be the person he is, and I call him out when he makes stupid remarks like the ones I've delineated here.

As for the SCSO running all the law enforcement in Shelby County, I can't see it happening. While I worked with the SCSO, I thought that made sense (probably because I worked there). And you may be a deputy too, which would cloud your judgement. Now that I don't work there, and have seen the things the MPD does in the crime effort, I think the MPD must be the agency to drive this.

The Sheriff's office has had some innovation in the past, and I was a part of most of it, but I haven't seen any since I left. Now the MPD is being innovative, with Blue Crush, CrimeWatch and CyberWatch. Violent crime is down almost 6% this past year, and that will continue to fall as we get more things "out there". As far as the officers go, I haven't seen much difference. The deputies are just as capable as any other cop I've ever been around, from any jurisdiction.

I appreciate your input, but I'll have to disagree on Luttrell. Personally, I think a law should be passed that requires a shurf to have been a cop for at least 5 years. Maybe then, we wouldn't be subjected to the embarrasing things Mark has to say.

I will forgive Mark, when he apologizes to the patrolman and Sgt he suspended for visiting an inmate, and returns the money to them. Then he needs to pony up the money he took from a convicted cocaine dealer (and his family), and the numerous other convicted felons! Funny how he said he makes no apology for trying to work with these people, yet he hasn't been showing their names on his financial reports anymore. That's the same line A.C. Wharton used when I said something about him taking money from convicted felons. You think maybe they brainstormed their response?

I would hate to think that law enforcement in this county might be left to the mis-direction of Mark or even worse, his bean counter (Harvey Kennedy). In case you didn't know, Mark has already told the Republican Steering committee what a great guy Kennedy is, and how he would make a great shurf!

Yeah, that's right, a bean counter for shurf. I can't wait. Loose the hounds!

Anonymous said...

Well, I might be MPD, I might be SCSO, I might be have been both...but anyway, I have seen first hand for instance how the thugs will say to each other "There go the Sheriff. They ain't playin". A simple example, yes, but MPD officers simply don't get that respect.

However, I was thinking after I posted the first time it would be an EXCELLENT idea to have some sort of requirement that you must have been POST certified and on the job for some length of time in order to qualify to run for Sheriff. So I certainly agree with you there, as I agree Kennedy would be a disaster.

If I could pick from the current crop of folks, Oldham wouldn't be bad...or you.

Merry Christmas!

John Harvey said...

"I have seen first hand for instance how the thugs will say to each other "There go the Sheriff. They ain't playin". A simple example, yes, but MPD officers simply don't get that respect. "

Funny you should say that. I was down on Beale Street earlier this year when the new skywatch was being unveiled and I heard a couple of young lads say pretty much the same thing about the MPD. As I recall, it was something like, "that means they ain't puttin up with no BS tonight!"

So, I think by and large, the officers who do the day to day work in both agencies are about the same. We get respect from some, and disprespect from others. A lot of that is how you carry yourself. I know when I was a field commander in the Fugitive Squad, we made sure people knew we could NOT be intimidated, and if they threw out challenges, we would rise to meet them.

As for Shurf, I think maybe I will bring this matter to some of our legislators attention. We require the deputies to undergo rigorous traing and testing, background checks, etc. but the shurf can be anybody, with any background. I'd be willing to bet someone will introduce the legislation.

And thanks for the compliment! Have a safe - Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

What does the state constitution say about who can/can't be elected sheriff?

I doubt, absent a constitutional amendment, the legislature has the right to change the constitutional requirements for that office.

Luckily, in our rush to make sure gay people don't have equal protection under the law, we now see how quickly our constitution can be amended when there's an emergency (like gays getting married) at hand.

Surely having qualified law enforcement officers serve as sheriff is as important to the public as constitutionalizing discrimination so I'm sure you'll be able to get this amendment passed, if needed, very quickly.

Good Luck!

John Harvey said...

Yeah, I thought the Sheriff's job was secure because of the state constitution too. However, if you read the lawsuit and the court's findings, you might have a different opinion. It looks like the voters of Shelby County are going to get to make the final decision as to what a Sheriff should be like, if anything, in Shelby County. I do hope it comes to a vote and there is an opportunity for citizens to require that the Shurf be a cop!

Anonymous said...

Yes, I believe you are right. It appears the amendment to our constitution does allow the Legislature to "prescribe" the requirements for an elected sheriff.

From reading the suit, I'm not sure if the Legislature can delegate the authority it is given to the citizens of the county to prescribe the requirements for the office of sheriff.

I think, like you originally stated, the boys and girls in Nashville will have to pass a law stating the qualifications of sheriff.