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Friday, December 4, 2015

The Myth and the Deception


Much has been reported and defended as to the Sheriff’s very expensive truck and those of her command staff.  The defense is “so what? They are on call 24/7” there is a bit of “myth” there.  They are on call.  But they are not “FIRST RESPONDERS.”   Let’s be very blunt.  The sheriff’s one and only hobby is horse riding, purchasing 60,000+ horse trailer, posse fun and games.  She needed a big ¾ ton truck to pull her (or maybe it’s the county’s) horse trailer on her weekend horse trips.  Case in point the sheriff hasn’t been to work again this week yet she can come in after duty hours to the posse/reserve meetings.  This behavior is a clear reflection of what her priorities are.  The sheriff cannot dispute the fact that she uses sheriff’s office vehicles, equipment, camper trailers, travel to and from the Amanda Lambert concert, etc., for her personal use.  Countless people have seen and reported this information.  It is clear that Big Luther has no desire to take action against the sheriff’s behavior.  The question is WHY?  The sheriff’s excuse is “I am on call.”  So let’s break this down.  If there is a situation bad, enough that the sheriff has to respond her command staff is already there in most cases.  The deputies are already on scene and have the scene stabilized.  This gives the Sheriff ample time to go home in a personal vehicle, retrieve the county vehicle, and respond to the scene.   So the excuse of “on call” is true, but is also to a degree a “myth” because the Sheriff is not a first responder.  We agree that this is not always the case but there is no reason the sheriff can’t respond in her personal owned vehicle (POV) should the need arise.

It is well known in the S.O. that the “expensive trucks” including the Sheriffs that have been purchased are used as much off duty as they are on duty.  They are four door crew cabs, easy for family use.  Tinted windows, non-government license plates which means they “blend in” with the public.   So using the excuse of being “on call” although true they can take their vehicles anywhere anytime at our expense, and they do.  This is so true when you see the chief deputy driving his unmarked truck to cattle sales in Cullman County almost every Thursday morning while on duty.  Now, the Chief Deputy have been allowed to do this before Franklin took office, but Franklin has not halted the activity.  The reason is she can’t because she is guilty of the same behavior.  In this case, you can blame the Chief, he is a leader, and he is taking advantage of his position, and blame the Sheriff for not halting the activity.  Let’s be honest, the sheriff position is in a highly sensitive leadership position and is held at a higher standard that the average person.  Many people have called the Governor’s office with complaints and were referred to the State Attorney General’s office.  We have one word for actions taken by Big Luther.  NOTHING.  The sheriff has never taken responsibility for her actions as sheriff, nor has she been required to be held accountable.  So, I will go ahead and say it.  If one of the sheriff’s male counterparts had conducted himself in a quarter of the actions Sheriff Franklin has he would have been held accountable for his actions. 

Let’s be fair, even the Army has come around to the belief that the female troops are eligible to sign up for the same jobs as their male counterparts.  What that means to the military is that each and every woman who signs up for positions previously held by men only will be required to pull the same load as their male counterpart.   If the female soldier does not meet the requirements demanded of all troops, she will face the consequences.   

Now that being said, back to the vehicles.  It is not uncommon to see these type of vehicles being driven in Sheriff’s departments, but they are rarely purchased.  They are confiscated.  The Sheriff CHOSE to purchase her truck and two years later the other trucks before she purchased desperately needed ballistic vests for her uniformed deputies.   Luxury over necessity, fleecing of the taxpayers.  As have been reported before, if these trucks were cars, they would be luxury cars.  The Sheriff contends that a ¾ ton truck the sheriff’s office owned broke down and was beyond repair which required the purchase of her Ford F-250 Crew cab for the department.  However, this purchase was of a luxury model with all the bells and whistles including a sun roof…yes Sheriff your excuse for the purchase is…..well do you have some swamp land for sale also?

THE ILLUSION

Recently a number of Sheriff’s vehicles were observed at a local restaurant in Hartselle.  Prompting a passing motorist to call and ask us “who is on patrol?”   We made some calls to sources and learned that a meeting was being held with the county jail supervisors.  We informed our caller of what we found out.  They replied “no, that can’t be right they were in uniform, had guns and are in marked cars and trucks” but there is the illusion.   The county jail supervisors (and jailers) wear the same uniform as does the patrol deputies, and they (the jail supervisors) all have marked patrol cars and trucks complete with dash lights or overhead blue lights.   They are CIVILIAN employees and have no police academy training.  They cannot arrest, they cannot function as a law enforcement officer.   See a problem, people?  They look like, drive cars like, wear guns like, patrol deputies but they are not deputies.  It is an illusion.  Why does the Sheriff do this?  Why is she placing the CIVILIAN employees in danger? Why is she placing the county in a huge LIABILITY situation?  It doesn’t stop there, a civilian employee serves civil papers and has a fully equipped marked car, wears a patrol deputies uniform and gun and gun belt.  Why?  This is troubling, it is wrong, and it needs to be stopped. 

The corrections officers are great people who are understaffed and under paid, they have great obstacles to overcome in their positions.  You do not even have enough corrections officers to meet your 24X7 staffing requirements.  Placing these folks in patrol cars fully equipped for APOST certified deputies for the appearance of a show of force as if they were patrol deputies is a dangerous precedence to set and could pose a serious liability to the county.  Give the corrections officers their deserved raises which will place them above the poverty level.  Give the road deputies their deserved raises and promotions.  Stop the unfair hiring practices, and reward the people who are doing the job you were hired to do Sheriff Franklin.  If we are not mistaken the Southern Poverty Law Group must give you a number of hours prior to visiting your facility.  That may give you ample time to get people in place for a show of force but you can’t deceive your employees.  They know the truth.  If an appropriate organization had ever conducted an unannounced inspection you would have been busted.

And that is not all…..More to Come