DSABC President Addresses Commissioners, Begs for Help
(TX) – The president of the Desputy Sheriffs Association of Bexar County, Jeremy Payne, addressed Commissioners Court on Tuesday in a desperate plea for help. His statement to the commissioners comes after officers basically gave a defacto vote of no confidence in the sheriff in the form of answers to a commissioned report.
Last fiscal year Commissioners Court paid $10 million in overtime pay. Just overtime pay, people. That’s huge. And the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, which had been short 200 people, currently has 250 positions open that they can’t fill. People are leaving faster than they are coming in. To be fair, the overtime and open positions issues have been an ongoing concern for over 10 years, but the situation has gotten much worse under Salazar.
Union Offers Unprecedented Help and Concessions
The DSABC has done everything it can to help Salazar to have a successful administration, but you can’t help someone who is power hungry and who appears to view help as giving up power. According to the video below, in 2018 the union issued a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) requesting that the BCSO use lateral hiring. In 2019 the union volunteered to bring in people to help review applications to expedite the process. Neither offer has been taken up by Sheriff Salazar. The union said they are even willing to negotiate a policy that lets law enforcement officers volunteer to work at the jail for overtime pay, but at a cost neutral rate. What that means is that the L.E. officers who volunteer are willing to work at the detention officer rate, rather than their higher L.E. officer rate. This would allow the temporary jailers (designated as such because they have not been through the class and certified yet) to get their training so they can become certified jailers.
Majority of Issues at Jail are Salazar’s Fault
The main crisis is occurring in the Bexar County Jail (Bexar County Adult Detention Center). This is not surprising since Salazar and his sidekick, James Serrato, come from the San Antonio Police Department and have absolutely no knowledge in how to run a detention center. It would be one thing if they were willing to listen to the people who are knowledgeable, but instead they have surrounded themselves with yes men. In addition to their need to feel all-knowing, they also have an attitude of law enforcement being superior to detention. This lack of knowledge and respect, coupled with poor leadership abilities, are significant contributors to the jail floundering in its ability to function.
It’s bad enough that officers are being burnt out and then thrown away like so much garbage, but Sheriff Salazar’s inability to run a large organization is costing the taxpayers massive amounts of money. It’s not just in the overtime pay. It’s also in the cost of recruiting and training those new officers. Those officers are then treated so badly that they leave to go work somewhere else. Agencies all over are benefiting from the training Bexar County taxpayers are supplying and we are losing out because Salazar is in over his head.
Detention Officers Being Subjected to Massive Abuse
It’s hard to imagine what the detention officers are really having to go through. I know people have listened to these videos and don’t really believe an officer was left to defacate on himself because he could not get relief to go to the bathroom and could not leave his post. Yes, it did happen. Yes, officers barely get any time for a break, are being forced to work excessive hours and no matter how exhausted they are, if they make even the most inconsequential mistake, they are written up so the sheriff can brag about holding officers accountable.
The law enforcement side is not happy either, but they are not facing the severe problems that detention officers are. Currently there are three classifications of overtime. MOT stands for mandatory overtime. It’s when an officer is scheduled to work overtime as part of his regular work schedule due to the shortages. FMOT stands for forced mandatory overtime. This designation used to be unscheduled, but has become a scheduled event. In my opinion this one translates to, yes there is a scheduled day to work that we expect you to accept as part of the working conditions, but we are included scheduled days to work that we are just forcing you to do beyond acceptable working conditions. Then there is FNR which stands for forced no relief. This is when an officer’s shift is over and they are waiting to be relieved, but the shift commander has exhausted the lists of MOT and FMOT and there is no one left. Basically FNR is saying you’re shit out of luck and you have to stay even though your shift is over. Can you imagine working under these conditions?
Remember, refusing any of these, MOT, FMOT, and FNR, are grounds for dismissal. Is it any wonder why officers are exhausted, demoralized and leaving not long after being hired or before the date they planned to retire?
Commissioners Court Considers Action
Mr. Payne pointed out that Travis County does only one day of overtime a month for its officers and that both Hayes and El Paso Counties don’t have any overtime. This shows that the problem is fixable. Others have done it. Though the state constitution says the sheriff runs the jail, there are things that Commissioners Court can do since they hold the purse strings. And it appears that Commissioner Tommy Calvert is more than willing to see exactly how far they can go to help address the problem.
Commissioner Calvert’s scrutiny on the problem would definitely help. He is an extremely intelligent man who understands how to run a large organization. He is fully aware of how bad a job Sheriff Salazar is doing. However, I would like to add one note of caution to Jeremy Payne. In the video he says, “We work for you.” No, Jeremy. The employees at the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office work for the sheriff, not Commissioners Court, and that’s not something you want to mess with. You don’t want the jail under Commissioners Court. They are very focused on dollars. They would want to privatize. Let them use that money focus and the power of the purse to help you. All you need to do is get through these next four years. It’s very possible there will be a different sheriff next time.