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Thursday, June 28, 2012

NO JOY IN MUDVILLE (OR THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE)

- Is there harmony in the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office (PCSO)?
Pinellas County Sheriff deputies have not received a pay raise in quite some time (roughly five years), primarily due to budget cuts. When it was recently rumored a raise was in the works, they became optimistic, but their bubble was burst when they learned the money was to be used elsewhere instead. Not surprising, this news was not greeted with enthusiasm by personnel in the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office (PCSO) and makes fodder for discontent.

In the many political forums held around the county over the last few months, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who is seeking election, has been dogged by the question of declining morale in his department. He has tried to answer his critics by quoting a PCSO survey conducted in the Spring of this year, "PCSO Annual Employee Survey, Comparative Analysis 2010-2012" (click to DOWNLOAD copy; NOTE: survey obtained from the PCSO office). During the forums, the Sheriff claimed morale was as high as 83%. In reality, the survey clearly shows a favorable morale rate of just 63%, much less than what he was quoting. In addition, only 876 people participated in the survey, out of a department of approximately 2700 people (32% responding). Allegedly, the survey was not conducted anonymously either, meaning the administrators would know precisely how each person answered the questions which is somewhat intimidating. As an aside, only 30% felt the salary package was fair and competitive, a drop of 5% since 2010. All of this does not bode well for the Sheriff.

The declining morale rate was recently supported by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Pinellas Lodge #43 who last week endorsed the Sheriff's principal opponent, Everett Rice, 92% to 8%. Further, the Suncoast Police Benevolent Association (PBA) endorsed Rice over Gualtierri 67% to 24%. These associations consist of local law enforcement personnel, many of whom work in the PCSO and know what is going on internally.

One useful forum to monitor what is on the minds of sheriff deputies in the county is LEOaffairs, an impartial national message board and repository of current information for Law Enforcement Officers. In the section for Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, there is an unscientific poll regarding the department's "Morale." Here, PCSO received only an 18% favorable rating. And in another unscientific poll, regarding election preferences, Rice leads Gualtieri 64% to 24%. LEOaffairs may not be scientific, but it does give you an idea of the pulse of the department.

This latest news about pay raises will not help Sheriff Gualtieri to rebuild morale within his department. It will undoubtedly be met with the same enthusiasm as "Mighty Casey" of Mudville fame:

"Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in PCSO — the Sheriff has struck out."

(with apologies to Ernest Thayer)

Keep the Faith!

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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim's columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.