I Know About Bad Bosses

So the chief of police, Thomas Streicher Jr., has come under fire for not spending around $2 million or so of money city council gave him for the explicit purpose of providing high-visibility walking patrols to high-crime neighborhoods in the city. There are two issues here that interest me.

One, the conservative in me has always had a real problem with budget-based organizations, such as government and most non-profits. The primary motivation for businesses, make money or close, is not there. Operating income for non-profits will always be there, every year, mostly regardless of performance, as long as flaws are not egregious, and/or they stay on top of their grant-writing. It's just different. And just like in the movie Falling Down, I believe that there are cases where departments find ways to spend their budgets just so that their budgets are not reduced the following time around.

So when the chief of police saves $2 million dollars and offers to return it, something has gone haywire. Is this incredibly awesome, showing that budget-based groups can save money? Or is this wrong, showing that the public has not received services it has paid for? In this case, when the money was specifically allocated for walking patrols, and there was none (which is different from having walking patrols, but they were cheaper than first thought), I lean towards the latter.

Two, the chief of police has come under fire in the media time and time again. While the media is not gospel, something is fishy. He has browbeat federal monitors, resisted federal rulings, and yelled and thrown tirades at civilians in an office setting. That's just the off the top of my head. These do no good for the image of our city's safety and community relations, which is what I'm most concerned with. Then I read the CityBeat article which quoted from the expert study:

"Among its findings, the study stated the police department is “overwhelmed and defensive,” while its operating culture was described as a “systematically defensive posture hamstringing operations and affecting all basic systems.”

Perhaps more important, it stated that rank-and-file officers felt ignored and treated unfairly by department leadership. It found that there was major mistrust of supervisors by officers, with only 28.1 percent believing that discipline within the department was fair and uniform and that most police officers — 64 percent — said their supervisors are more concerned with being obeyed than understood."

I've been in that environment before, and such an environment is poison. When leadership is neither respected nor trusted, a group will waste money, time, and health and not quickly achieve any purpose which provides reason for that group to exist.

No matter how the $2 million should have been used, if that report is true, it is damning.

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