Sheriff’s Poor Leadership Continues to Destroy BCSO
(TX) – From the moment he was elected, Sheriff Javier Salazar, with the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, showed his lack of ability to handle the position he had won. Recently the Deputy Sheriffs Association of Bexar County (DSABC) distributed a questionnaire to their members. Thought this was not an official vote of no confidence, the results showed that the deputies working at the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office have no confidence in Sheriff Salazar. This is further exemplified by the current fight that DSABC is having with the Sheriff over the new contract.
Citizen Review Board Issues Causing Gridlock
How often do you hear a law enforcement union wanting a citizen review board to have MORE authority than the sheriff of the agency wants it to have? That’s exactly what DSABC is fighting for and it should tell you how much they feel is wrong with the current administration at the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office. The union wants the review board to be able to take a wide view of an incident. How was the investigation done? Who was interviewed? Is the person being treated the same as others who have committed the same offense? Is the policy written clearly and concisely? These are things that are in line with national best practices.
The Sheriff’s Office, who is represented by the District Attorney’s Office (that’s the way the system is set up), wants the Citizen Review Board to only get the handpicked information they want to give them. In other words, they want to be able to lead the review board by the nose and only pretend it’s an independent group. There was already contention over Salazar’s ability to pick people for the review board. “The union didn’t want the board to include ‘all the sheriff’s friends.'” In an unbelievable comment, noted in the Express News.com, “Denton, the county’s lead negotiator, said the San Antonio Police Department model has worked for over 20 years.” Anyone living in San Antonio knows better than that which is probably why the Express News also included the following,
“It found that the San Antonio Police Department’s board was the least transparent of the five and has no public outreach role. Members are not allowed to gather evidence when reviewing disciplinary cases, interview additional witnesses or suggest policy changes to the chief.”
Salazar’s Incompetence Decimating the Sheriff’s Office
The union’s job is to protect the officers. They are absolutely in the right in trying to get a fair process. The constant turnover of staff is making it almost impossible to run the agency efficiently. Morale is at an all-time low. Officers are being forced to work as many as 19 hours a day. They are being ordered to work overtime as much as three times a week. Jeremy Payne, president of the DSABC, referred to the BCSO as a “sweatshop.” Not only are officers exhausted, but they are further demoralized by being disciplined for every minor infraction, including being back a few minutes late from their 10 minute break. During Salazar’s first term (2017 – 2020) there were 510 suspensions, and 80 dismissals. That doesn’t include people who received a written reprimand.
And that’s not even the whole story. Also during Salazar’s first term there have been 158 retirements and 441 resignations. What those numbers don’t tell you is how many of those individuals were senior officers with many years of experience. There has been a huge loss in the brain trust that helped the Sheriff’s Office, particularly the Detention side, run smoothly.
Deputies Beginning to Crack Under the Strain of Poor Management
Deputies, particularly those working the Bexar County Jail, are under an extreme amount of stress. It’s well-known that stress increases alcohol abuse and family violence. But it doesn’t stop there. Shown in the below KENS5 news video, Jeremy Payne states that there have been “at least five emergency detentions in the past three months.” An emergency detention is when someone has been taken to a mental health facility. Officers are literally being pushed into mental health crises.
Though the amount of overtime deputies are required to work is a major problem, it is by far not the only problem. The report showed high dissatisfaction in the response to the statement, “I feel valued by my supervisors at BCSO.” Not surprisingly, women are being treated even worse than the men. Misogyny has been a major problem under Sheriff Salazar from the beginning and it appears that it has only gotten worse. One pregnant officer is listed in the report as having been told, “Oh, you’re pregnant? Women were meant for making kids, staying home and being in the kitchen. Not working in law enforcement.”
Salazar Callously Dismisses Complaints
In response to the complaint about it being like a sweatshop, Salazar responds, “Well you show me a sweatshop where people are making 168,000 dollars a year.” First off, I doubt there are even a handfull making that amount. Aside from that, his comment shows his complete lack of concern for the health and safety of his officers. Salazar is only measuring things in dollars. Dollars come and go. Dollars don’t make up for being forced to miss your kid’s graduation, your mother’s birthday, time with your family. Dollars don’t alleviate the stress of knowing that you will be hammered for a mistake, no matter how minor, and regardless of the fact that you are so exhausted you can barely think straight.
But it’s not really surprising that Salazar and his administrators only focus on the money. They aren’t subject to the non-monetary deprivation. After all, they aren’t the ones being worked to death. They get to go home to spend time with their family’s. They get to take vacations. No one is writing them up for being late. They can’t relate to anything other than money because they are not experiencing any hardships, much less experiencing them under duress.
Salazar ends with the comment, “There is only so much I can do to make it a pleasant work environment for you. We try. But at a certain point it becomes putting lipstick on a pig.” This is another of his deflections. No one is asking for overstuffed lounge chairs and 2-hour lunches. Salazar could easily help the situation by using a ‘leadership through mentoring’ approach rather than their current ‘beat them into submission’ practices. He’s trying to pretend that it’s the physical environment that deputies are unreasonably complaining about when the reality is that it’s the poor quality of leadership that they are rightly angry about.
Salazar got very lucky on November 3. The other party had someone at the top of the ticket who was hated and Salazar’s opponent was poorly qualified. Four years from now could be a very different story.