It feels like every day Sheriff Javier Salazar shows us how over his head he is. When he first took over the Sheriff’s Office he appointed a man who had absolutely no detention knowledge whatsoever as the Chief over the Detention Center. But like so many of Salazar’s appointees, that man was a long time friend. Salazar then placed Laura Balditt in the position of Assistant Chief over the Detention Center.
When mistakes started happening Balditt was quickly pushed out and we were lead to believe that she had been the problem. The only thing is, the problems didn’t stop. Salazar hung on as long as he could but to save himself he eventually had to push out his buddy. Captain Vela was offered the Assistant Chief position but since there wasn’t a Chief he had to cover both positions.
No doubt both positions entail a lot of paperwork and meetings. I’m not sure how he was supposed to be hands on with the booking process to be able to determine what was going wrong there. Still, when things did go wrong Sheriff Salazar didn’t stick up for Chief Vela even though he was the one who had put him in the position of covering two very demanding jobs. Instead, he made Chief Vela the scapegoat for the problems that had been going on all along.
Chief Vela was suspended. Now here I have to admit to some curiosity. The chief positions are not civil service positions. As far as I know they don’t fall under the same disciplinary guidelines. If a chief is not performing then he or she is fired and replaced with someone else. In Chief Vela’s case he was supposedly suspended but that sure sounds to me like he got to stay home and collect a pay check. It may not have been as much of a negative situation for him as it sounds.
But back to Salazar’s mess. Chief Vela is being reinstated. In other words he is going to be allowed to work for the check he is receiving. But a captain is being placed over him. A captain is over a chief. Can you imagine how humiliating that must be for Chief Vela? And how well can a captain function, telling a chief what to do, when he knows that he will end up back under that chief once a Detention chief is found?
Sheriff Salazar obviously has no idea how to handle staffing, how to encourage morale, how to work with people to fix problems or even how to recognize talent in his people. Everyone at the Sheriff’s Office must live in fear of being the next person to be the sacrificial lamb. No wonder that place is such a mess.
Click here for the KSAT 12 article.