Lack of Leadership and The Great Divide
If you have read pretty much any of my prior articles over the past few years you may have noticed that SFPD staffing is continuing to fall and I’ve been trying to ring alarm bells, to the deaf or ear muff covered ears of decision makers.
It’s gone far beyond what is sustainable and in my opinion the department is imploding. It will continue to do so until some form of large directed intervention occurs. We can debate the what the causes are, make up whiny excuses, or talk about potential fixes, of which I’ve proposed a few (SFPD is Dying Article). But talk is cheap and nothing will begin to improve until some major changes occur.
One cause, which I firmly believe is a major contributor to the problem, is the enormous divide or chasm between patrol and the command staff. I have alluded to this before, and I have plenty I can write about and examples to illustrate it.
The most notable and recent example is the abject failure that is the new DGO 5.01. Command level personnel and decision makers were repeatedly told the issues the new policy would cause. Those concerns fell on deaf ears, so nothing changed, and the policy was implemented.
Now just a few months later we have exploding use of force numbers. Worst of all, we saddled our already stretched thin and burned out cops, with useless administrative tasks. These issues were brought up by myself and others in meetings on implementation. But now just watch as it all goes down the memory hole and no one will seem to remember that part.
THE GREAT DIVIDE
The “Great Divide” is killing the department and until some great changes are made in either staff or attitudes, the divide will continue to grow, unabated.
The best visual example of the divide is pictures from the weekend’s Pride Parade. In the months approaching the parade, organizers stood firm in their opposition to SFPD members marching in uniform during the parade. This new policy was implemented a couple of years ago, but due to Covid parade cancellations, 2022 was the first year it was to be effective.
The policy made national news and the Mayor, a defund the police pusher who has now reversed course on that failed policy, shockingly rose up to stand up for the police. Eventually an agreement was struck and the SFPD members were allowed to march in uniform if on duty or detailed. However, if off duty, cops were forced to wear a newly created SFPD polo shirt.
Solidarity is defined as “unity or agreement of feeling or action, especially among individuals with a common interest; mutual support within a group.”
This was a major opportunity for command to bridge the gap. For command to stand with the ranks in a very visual example of solidarity. Either we all wear uniforms or we all wear polos. Instead the bright shiny brass and the esteem of the uniform was too much to pass up. Instead brass wore their uniforms while those off duty in the lower ranks were relegated to a branded polo shirt.
This missed opportunity is just another chance to build a bridge. Where a visionary leader firmly connected to the people in their charge, would recognize the issue, and the treatment of their subordinates. The visionary leader would instinctively choose to stand with the lower ranks, forego their uniform and be shoulder to shoulder in the same polo as the subordinates, standing as one, instead of using the uniforms gravitas to be above them. The visionary leader seeks to unite those in their charge for a common purpose. But the conscious choice was made to keep cutting that divide ever deeper and ever wider.
The sun shines bright on the command staff, it must be hard to see the problems below with all that shiny brass reflecting in your eyes. Meanwhile the blue polos aren’t reflective, and everyone else can see it.