In my opinion, the best candidate for sheriff is Todd S. Rogers, M.A. and here’s why.
I had to complete a thesis project for my first Master’s Degree from CSULB in 2005, Key Performance Indicators for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in the City of Compton. I needed a committee member in addition to three Occupational Studies Department academics. I wanted it to be someone on the sheriff’s department. I wanted a department member for several reasons since my task was to measure the receptiveness of Compton Sheriff personnel to the idea of community-oriented policing of which I’m a strong advocate. I needed access to station personnel and I didn’t want to blindside the department since I could have chosen someone from another agency, active or retired. It would be difficult enough for me as a civilian to navigate this through the department, and it was [civilian is what we were called then but the new adjective is professional staff]. I wanted someone with some sensitivity and understanding of community-oriented policing and I wanted someone with high enough rank that would garner internal respect. I wanted someone comfortable with research and academia.
I searched the literature high and wide and came across a paper done by Todd Rogers, A blueprint for community policing: Reinventing the wheel not necessary (in Law and Order: The Magazine for Police Management, 43, 116-121, March 1995). He was captain of Carson Station and the only department member I could find that had explored community policing beyond the money grab that President Bill Clinton initiated when he was in office. I continued to dialog with Captain Rogers after he agreed to serve as my committee member and in a 2005 personal email communication to me he wrote:
It has been my experience that if COP [community-oriented policing] is only embraced by the “special units,” negative ramifications will include:
1. Animosity between the special COP units and patrol
2. Non-COP personnel will “learn” that COP is not their job and, therefore, not operate from a community-minded orientation. This can, in effect, undo all of the good work done by COP deputies.
3. Members of the community will “learn” that the COP deputies are the good deputies and the non-COP deputies are the bad, or not nice, deputies.
I do not believe it is appropriate that a culture be established wherein deputies are allowed to “chase the box” without any accountability relative to at least being supportive of COP concepts. [See page 36 of Key Performance Indicators]
Rogers went on to say that “programs come and go. . . . COP itself is an overriding philosophy and a way of doing business that should permeate every level of the organization”
That was nine years ago and Rogers may have changed but I doubt it. It’s been as long for me but I’m more in favor of customer centered, community-oriented policing than ever. Some would have you believe that this service model has become passé, old, and focus has shifted in some ways backward since 911 but I suggest COP was never tested in urban L.A. County. Sure, Bill Bratton engaged and involved community members but left the job incomplete. It can’t work if never implemented. Where some small aspects of community-oriented policing were tried, naysayer disinformation, or fear, resulted in one writer suggesting it was “over policing.” What is over policing? A cop on every corner? We don’t have that. Does it include the ubiquitous surveillance cameras now in public parks, intersections, and everywhere else? We do have that.
Over policing is dumb policing and community-oriented policing is smart, efficient, and effective at building trust and increasing feelings of safety. When someone talks about community policing (the term of choice for many law enforcement and other officials), ask them to define it before you let them ramble on too long. If the answer is about saturation patrols, crime rate statistics (E.g number of prostitute arrests), Town Hall meetings, block clubs (“eyes and ears”), and Crime Stoppers, hit the reject button. If you are not a part of defining it, it’s not community-oriented policing.
If I’m wrong, oh well. But if I’m right this is exactly the kind of progressive thinking not emanating from Board of Supervisor offices now, ever. The needed reforms will only come from within and will not be imposed from the outside of LASD no matter how many Inspector Generals are installed or commissions created. In other words, reform must permeate every level of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
The questions for candidates is simple: What is your vision for the sheriff’s department? How will you gain the trust of law abiding residents of Compton, Watts/Willowbrook, South L.A., Lancaster, and East L.A. and on and on?
There was one other thesis project completed on the sheriff’s department by J.M Neblett while at Cal Poly Pomona that evaluated the level of satisfaction for law enforcement services for Industry station. For such a learned organization, LASD does not study itself. I did: twice. OMG.
Todd S. Rogers for Los Angeles County Sheriff.