I took some time to review the Morgan County Commission's Minutes of the Meetings to review the personnel turnover and new hires of each of the county agencies. I was not surprised to see that the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office had a much larger turnover than any of the other agencies within the county.
What happens to deputies, corrections officers, and staff of the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office when leadership is failing? Resources are diverted to pet projects, big fancy trucks, and financial compilation reports, sheriff ledgers, and state audits show inconsistencies into hundreds of thousands? What happens to the MCSO's most valuable assets (employees)?
The low morale within the MCSO includes salary, worker satisfaction, responsibilities, supervisory contributions, overall working conditions, status, and a great deal more. I would say that in most cases that poor morale is rarely limited to a single person. In this case I believe that the work conditions of the MCSO can be narrowed down to one individual. The Morgan County Sheriff. She is the ONLY one within the county responsible for all aspects of her operation. There is no higher authority within the county to manage or oversee the sheriff’s operation than the sheriff.
The signs of poor employee morale should have been noted sooner. Unfortunately there has been nobody there minding the store. The sheriff cannot be an effective manager when her absences from the MCSO are evident week after week. As an example, in the past three weeks I believe the sheriff has been absent from work all but three work days. This type absence is systemic with this sheriff month after month, year after year.
Generally absenteeism occurs in employees with low morale with such symptoms as frequent absences, increases in the number of errors, decreased productivity, decreased quality of work, frequent tardiness, apathy, sulking and moping, backstabbing, and increases in accidents or injuries. If your leadership is suffering from these conditions, it stands to reason the employees will follow suit.
What happens to deputies, corrections officers, and staff, when resources are diverted from the sheriff's office to pet projects?
The low morale for the deputies can most likely be attributed to the hiring of unqualified deputies into positions while ignoring loyal trained personnel, or promotions when there were other, more qualified candidates for the position who were overlooked. Good examples could be the hiring of Livingston and Berzett.
How can the employees of the sheriff’s department feel anything but being overworked, unappreciated, or under appreciated for their work?
I believe that just the little bit of budget we have shown you from the independent compilation report, sheriff's general ledger, and the State examiners report that financial resources are not being used in the manner that the compilation report and the state auditor believed.
I am most concerned about the road deputies and the corrections officers who put themselves in danger every day. Corrections officer complain of inadequate jail staffing, inadequate resources such as personnel, monies, cleaning supplies, and oversite of the day-to-day operations.
The sheriff has not ensured that all roving patrols have dash cams and that the deputies are equipped with lapel cameras to protect them as well as the citizens from the inconsistency in facts of arrests which is a nationwide issue. Monetary resources have not been forthcoming to purchase much needed protective vests for the deputies, awards, incentives, and promotions from within have been few and far between.
Many of you probably believe that the sheriff is working on a shoestring budget. We have shown you a small sampling of the sheriff’s budget. The sheriff has 19 separate accounts which reflect that from December 1, 2011 – May 31, 2014 there has been total receipts of $6,456,383.69. The sheriff’s total disbursements from December 1, 2011 – May 31, 2014 was $6,270571.82. We had access to three of these accounts and the inconsistencies reflect troubling questions about how the money in the MCSO is being used.