Sheriff’s candidates hear it from the troops
On Friday, May 14, I received a call from a member of the Mono County Sheriff’s Dept. informing me of a candidates’ forum that would take place the following Monday. The forum was going to be sponsored by the officers’ associations of the Mammoth Lakes Police, Mono County Sheriff’s Dept. and California Highway Patrol, and I was told I should attend because morale within the Sheriff’s Dept. was “incredibly low.”
So when I got to the forum, I expected fireworks. What I got? A bag of snaps.
In regard to the morale issue, current Sheriff Rick Scholl took it head-on. “There’s poor morale in every single organization on Earth … a lot of deputies have outstanding morale. Some may be very disappointed at going to work every day.”
Scholl acknowledged that if you’re a young officer looking for “action,” Mono County may not be the ideal fit for you.
In his younger days, Scholl said that when he got antsy about not being active enough, he moved away to a place where he could do ‘cop stuff.’
“I made more arrests in my first 30 days than I made in 4.5 years in Mono County.”
Scholl said the County’s geography also poses a challenge. It’s not like Mammoth with its confined four square miles, which affords ample opportunity for police officers to interact and build camaraderie.
Scholl said efforts are made to bring deputies together via organized fishing trips, training, barbecues, et. al., but ultimately, a deputy needs to “look within” to find his/her motivation.
Challenger Doug Northington said that there is “obviously a morale problem” and it’s “more than one or two guys.” Northington said some of it could be attributed to a lack of activity, and some to what is perceived as a “good old boy” culture that lands Scholl’s favorites better assignments.
“If you treat people equally and well, a lot of the morale problems go away,” Northington opined.
Scholl fiercely denied the charge of cronyism. “Bring forward some examples,” he said. Scholl said decisions were made in his department based upon a whole slew of quantifiable parameters.
Other charges were also dubious. One person questioned Scholl’s residency status within the County, as if renting a home somehow doesn’t make him a local. Northington levied another charge which implied that Scholl is out of touch and using tactics from the 70s (as opposed to the tactics from the 80s when Northington started).
Editor’s note: It’s like saying Three’s Company became more cutting edge when Norman Fell was replaced by Don Knotts as the landlord. Northington is not that much younger.
Scholl’s strongest argument came when he polled the seven deputies in the room as to how many had been on a training assignment in the previous six months. Six raised their hands. One can assume that Barney Fife/Mr. Roper was not their training officer.
The Sheriff’s candidate profiles promised for this week will appear next week.