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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Sheriff Franklin and the Gift of Gab

Sheriff Franklin does have the gift of gab.

We agree with the fact that the Sheriff's office has the largest fleet in the county government and will probably be involved in more accidents.  We also agree there is not much you can do if you were stopped at a traffic light and your vehicle is hit from behind.  What bothers us is some of the excuses the Sheriff is using for the other accidents.  The sheriff states that no deputies or administrators were formally disciplined for the accidents.  So let's address those comments.

Patrol deputy Frank Anderson who was involved in two accidents in four months was reassigned to the Morgan County Jail for 30 to 45 days.  If that is not a disciplinary action, what is?  In an office where the Sheriff is always complaining that she does not have enough patrol deputies, she just reassigns him to the jail.  It had nothing to do with the two accidents.  Come on, Sheriff! Our sources from the S.O. advise that in deputy Anderson's last accident he was responding to a 911 call with a previous history of "extensive" domestic violence history.  On the other call for service, it was a "911 hang up" call which means who ever called hung up the phone.  On a previous call, the female at the residence had to be placed in the hospital because of her injuries.

Deputy Anderson (according to our sources) was told that he should not have been doing 73 mph for "just a 911 hang up call."   The Sheriff and the administrator involved in the review were not interested in the call history at the residence.  Once again, domestic violence is not a priority with the Sheriff.  It is just lip service.

We are not saying that discipline should not have been handed down in some form or another for two accidents.  The sheriff makes it clear that placing Anderson in the jail was meant to be a demeaning punishment.  What does that say about how the sheriff feels about the corrections officers?  The message being sent does not correct the problem and is demeaning for the deputies and the corrections officers.  

Maybe vehicle safety/emergency training for ALL sheriff officer personnel, vendors who drive sheriff's office vehicles, chaplains who drive sheriff's office vehicles, and non APOST certified posse/reserve deputies who drive sheriff's office vehicles should attend the training.  The training should be mandatory for Berzett and Franklin since they habitually drive at a high rate of speed to the strangest places.   

Franklin said traveling at high speeds during a chase or answering a 911 call heightens the chances of being in a wreck, but a slower response time by driving the speed limit could result in not catching an offender or a worse outcome for a victim

This is a quote from the Sheriff, wasn't deputy Anderson doing exactly what she said in the very last line of her quote?  Granted he had a previous accident, but disciplinary action came only after the second accident responding to a 911 call.

BTW.  Didn't I just see Sheriff Franklin traveling at a high rate of speed on Highway 31 South between Hartselle and Falkville?  
  
Franklin said there are several factors to consider regarding the number of wrecks involving deputies — 911 call responses increased from 21,000 in 2011 to more than 39,000 for the first 11 months of this year; more traffic on the road; and driving at night and in unfavorable weather conditions
  
Is Sheriff Franklin contending that if there are more 911 calls, there will be more accidents?   Actually in this quote, these are driving conditions that officers across the country face each and every day across the nation.  This is not a reasonable excuse for more traffic accidents.  This excuse from the sheriff shows her inexperience in law enforcement and having never served as a uniformed patrol officer in her career.  Officers have to adapt to driving conditions each and every day and night, regardless of weather or of traffic volume.  Even though her office goes through skid car training, based on the current department accident ratio, maybe the sheriff should consider additional emergency vehicle driving training for her office instead of weak excuses.

But to do that, the sheriff has to see there is a problem, and based on her excuses we doubt that will happen.  The sheriff also mentions high speed chases.  What are the MCSO policies and procedures on pursuits?  Is there a MCSO policy on pursuits? Does the sheriff even have a policy?  Is there a policy on emergency vehicle operation?  Did you notice that the words MORGAN COUNTY SHERIFF’s OFFICE POLICY is never mentioned in the article?  The fact that the sheriff does not mention a manual is very troubling.

The one rule of thumb in law enforcement that Sheriff Franklin seems to overlook in her excuses is that; IF THE OFFICER RESPONDING TO AN INCIDENT OR ACCIDENT WRECKS, THE OFFICER CAN'T HELP THE PERSON IN NEED

Sheriff Franklin is blessed with some very professional patrol deputies, and we are not knocking them.  We are however criticizing the possible lack of policies, training, and the lame excuses from the Sheriff.  The sheriff should recognize a problem and take corrective action before it becomes a major liability.  Has that been done?  You decide.