Friday, September 28, 2012
The Report kicks off with a message from the President of the SMPA, Ed Delcoure. Ed, who is pictured above, was featured on a John Harabedian for City Council postcard in uniform, and with his SMPD patches provocatively removed. This matter has been the subject of an ongoing investigation by the City for quite some time now. Police Officers appearing in uniform on campaign material, and as such an inferred city funded departmental endorsement of a candidate, is an egregious violation of applicable California state law.
Or at least it is our assumption that an investigation is ongoing since the City has yet to issue any reports about this matter. The City of Sierra Madre most famously never discusses any of its findings until after its investigations have been completed. And since we very rarely hear the results of any of these investigations, it must be assumed that the folks at City Hall are still quite busy with a whole flotilla of them. After all, truly transparent government always recognizes the peoples' right to know.
But I digress. Here is a passage from Officer Ed's "Message from the President:"
On the front of your newsletter you should have seen information about Crime Stoppers with their motto "Make the Call...Stay Anonymous." Crime Stoppers is a non-profit organization that plays a vital part in our ability to solve crimes. Anonymous web, test, and phone tips are all possible through this organization.
It would seem to me that an important part of police work would be knowing the difference between the front and back of something. And the Crime Stoppers blurb that Officer Ed Delcoure speaks of here is actually found on the back of this newsletter. Officer Ed's smiling picture is on the front. A picture taken on City Hall property, I might add. Speaking of inferred endorsements.
That said, there is also the stated assumption that crimes are being solved here in Sierra Madre. I have yet to hear much about any solved crimes. Have you? I know that the investigation into the robbery of my home two years ago is still ongoing because I have yet to see a report about it. Of course, even getting the SMPD to return a phone call can be tough.
One thing we always do hear about is whether the crime victim had left a door or window unsecured. That being the one part of the investigation that is always shared with the public right away since it helps to establish the notion that the SMPD was not at fault. In Sierra Madre the paramount need is to assure us that any problems that may occur are the responsibility of the residents. Government can't do everything, you know. No matter how hard they may claim to try.
City Councilman John Harabedian is the subject of fulsome praise throughout The Report. So much so that I have to wonder if he even knew about this in advance. Frankly I would think that he'd find this both embarrassing and somewhat inappropriate. Here is one of the many passages describing the soaring virtues of the Councilman:
Councilmember John Harabedian is representative of the fine Sierra Madre natives who continue to have a positive influence in our community by serving others, ensuring our safety and leading our city.
I have to ask here, is it appropriate to refer to Councilman Harabedian as a "native?" The use of that term does have colonialist connotations that historically are deemed patronizing and pejorative. Unless, of course, the word is being used to describe drought resistant plants. There is also the insinuation that "natives" are a kind of recognized elite in town, and only those who are Sierra Madre born and bred can be seen as possessing superior virtues.
The law firm that supplies the intellectual muscle behind the 120 or so police organizations in our portion of California (including this town) is Lackie, Dammeier & McGill. The partners at this law firm are all former police officers themselves, and it is an organization known for its militant and at times extreme tactics. The constant lawsuits that we face from the SMPA being one of those tactics. In addition to enriching the law firm itself, they serve as a way of exerting fiscally punishing pressure upon this city government to fork over the pay raises and pension benefits that are a constant goal of this bunch.
Until recently Lackie Dammeier & McGill had prominently displayed on its website something they called the "POA Playbook." Recent controversies involving the use of the kinds of tactics described there have caused LD&M to pull this noisome list from its website. Fortunately this document has been preserved in an article posted to the Friends Of Fullerton's Future website called "The Cop Playbook: Public Safety Has Nothing To Do With It." It can be accessed by clicking here. This truly is a frightening little piece of work. Here is one passage from it:
Public Message: Always keep this in mind. The public could care less about your pay, medical coverage and pension plan. All they want to know is "what's in it for them." Any public positions or statements by the association should always keep that focus. The message should always be public safety first. You do not want wage increases for yourself, but simply to attract better qualified candidates and to keep more experienced officers from leaving.
Two issues of burning local importance are raised in The Report. The first is the topic of traffic tickets, something everyone in town seems to be aware of. The claim in The Report is that the large increase in traffic tickets issued here in Sierra Madre is not part of a drive to increase revenues at a City Hall that has spent itself into a fiscal crisis, but rather to prevent traffic accidents and keep the public safe. In a town where the traffic limit tops out at 30 mph and there are no traffic lights, I am not sure Sierra Madre has ever been known for having too much trouble with these kinds of problems.
Of course, and as I am certain you know, the focus on public safety is right out of the POA Playbook.
The other issue is also right out of the POA Playbook. You remember that bit about retaining "better qualified candidates and keeping more experienced officers from leaving," right? Something very similar to that can be found in Officer Ed's "The Report."
Under the rubric "Understanding Your Sierra Madre Police Officers," here is how this is put:
Many experts agree that today's law enforcement officer is one of the most complex and demanding occupations there is. Even in our small town of Sierra Madre we face an ever sophisticated criminal element that requires constant training updates for our officers ... Many other departments seek out our officers because of the many tasks our officers perform. We feel that losing an officer to another agency is detrimental to our long-term success and ends up costing the taxpayers money.
The message here is clear. Unless you give the SMPA the cash raises it is demanding from the City, officers from the SMPD will leave for the many other departments that crave people having their skills and training. And that should we fail to up their pay scale we will find ourselves unprotected from a crime wave that will then consume the town. All of which is patently absurd. Nobody wants our cops. And besides, at 53% of Sierra Madre's General Fund, exactly how much more can we be expected to spend on a police force whose only real talent appears to be issuing traffic citations?
One last point before I wrap this up. "The Report" is hardly a unique document. Rather it is the work of a company called FPS Media. And if you go to their site (click here) you will find that the template used for the SMPA's colorful little flyer is actually quite generic and common to many other police departments as well. This apparently is a very cookie cutter public relations operation, and because of that puts into severe doubt the authenticity of much of what Officer Ed has (supposedly) written here.
And wouldn't you know it, listed first among the endorsers of FPS Media is none other than Dieter Dammeier, the Managing Partner of Lackie, Dammeier & McGill. Here is his advice:
"Now more than ever, I recommend positive public relations outreach to all of my clients and FPS Media is where I refer them."
Quite obviously Officer Ed Delcoure and his SMPA know how to take orders, and who they should take them from.
Posted by The Moderator at 6:00 AM