Search This Blog

Monday, April 25, 2016

Sheriff Morgan: Boastful Bureaucratic Bungler

Anyone who has spent some time in the U.S. military, either enlisted or officer, knows that the military is very attentive to managing personnel.  After boot camp, you may assist the orderly room in preparing the Morning Report that eventually winds its way to the Pentagon in terms of the unit readiness report.

But, if you become an officer, you know that the military's management of its personnel is very fine grained.  Each service keeps track of how many enlisted and officers it has, their Military Occupation Specialty, their time in grade and time in service, how they are ranked compared to their peers, and whether or not the raters are too harsh or too easy over time.  Even an officer who does not work in Personnel knows how fine grained the military's understanding of its officer corps is.  It shows up on your own Fitness Report, at least it does with the Navy.

Sheriff Morgan states on his official biography that he proudly served in the U.S. Air Force from 1971 to 1994--a total of twenty-three years.  That is more than enough time for an officer to learn that personnel management is a key ingredient of the military.

And yet, if you ask the Escambia County Sheriff's Office a simple personnel question--you get a reply that is shocking and disturbing.

Here is the verbatim response I received from Ms. Medeiros, the public records officer, after she received a response from the Human Resources office:  "In response to the below request for, 'the number of sheriff deputies who have resigned from the ECSO between January 1, 2009 and March 3, 2016,' no such records exist in the Sheriff’s custody.

How do you manage a personnel system that cannot answer a basic inquiry?  How many ways can a deputy leave the ECSO?  They could die, they could retire, they could be fired, and they could resign.  I only wanted to know how many deputies had resigned.

If you do not track how many deputies resign and at what stage in their career progression at the Escambia County Sheriff's Office they resign, how do you know if something may be wrong within the system?  At what point in their careers are deputies resigning--is it after a few years or before they reach the time in grade/service requirements for advancement to sergeant?  Do they resign before the time in grade/service requirement to reach lieutenant?  Is there a problem?  Is there not a problem?  Is the ECSO experiencing an unhealthy churning of deputies or are its resignation numbers consistent with other sheriff offices in Florida?  Are deputies simply using their ECSO training and experience to leave for better paying jobs at the Pensacola Police Department or federal agencies or state agencies?  Nobody knows--least of all Sheriff Morgan.

What we do know is that when the Pensacola Police Department was given the same public records request, the response was simple and direct:  "41 Police Officers have resigned from January 1, 2009 to March 3, 2016."  So easy.  The Pensacola Police Department loses an average of six officers per year due to resignation.

I am not saying that number is high or low.  I am not saying these officers resigned for good or bad reasons.  I am not saying that the number of resignations reflects well or poorly on the leadership of the Pensacola Police Department.  But, at least the Pensacola Police Department knows that on average roughly six officers will resign every year for whatever reason.

Sheriff Morgan does not know diddley.

UPDATE 27 APRIL 2016 at 1609H:  On April 27, 2016, at 1346 hours I received additional data from Ms. Medereiros.  For whatever reason, and I will leave the speculation to others, the Human Resources division of the Escambia County Sheriff's Office stated that "167 Deputy Sheriff's [sic] have resigned.  This does not include retirements or terminations."  In other words, the Escambia County Sheriff's Office's rate of resignations is four times higher than the resignation rate for the Pensacola Police Department.  This may either be attributed to differentials in pay between the ECSO and other law enforcement agencies in Florida, or, the rumored culture of intimidation and abuse within the ECSO.  CJ's Street Report has been able to verify one rumor--a large number of resignations.  The second rumor may be a tougher nut to crack.

But, the rumors are that many deputies resign because there are better paying jobs in Northwest Florida in other agencies.  I do not know if that rumor is true.  But, a comparison of the pay structure between the Pensacola Police Department and the Escambia County Sheriff's Office suggests that a really sharp, squared-away deputy after gaining experience with the ECSO would at least inquire about a law enforcement position with the Pensacola Police Department because they do offer higher pay and a much more egalitarian pay structure.

It always difficult comparing pay structures between organizations.  They do have different ranks.  But, there are some points at which the PPD appears to pay more money for a comparable position.

PPD RANK          SALARY RANGE                 ECSO RANK*         SALARY RANGE

Police Officer       32,969--61,859                         Deputy Sheriff           34,898--52,347

Police Sergeant    64,985--73,652                         Sergeant                   44,483--66,724

Lieutenant             77,899--10% higher**             Lieutenant                 52,320--78,481

Police Capt           52,041--101,795                       Captain                     73,223--109,835

Asst Chief             52,041--101,795                       Chief Deputy            115,765--173,648

*  The corresponding Class Code for the ECSO positions are 6132, Deputy Sheriff; 6136, Sergeant; 6137, Lieutenant; 6138, Captain; 8002, Chief Deputy.
**The pay for PPD Lieutenant is 10% higher than the highest Sergeant with no maximum.

From an organizational view, the Pensacola Police Department is a much flatter organization in terms of pay than the Escambia County Sheriff's Office.

The ratio of the lowest pay in the PPD to the highest pay is roughly three to one.  In the ECSO that ratio is five to  one.  Given the lower degree of income inequality, there is probably more esprit de corps and worker solidarity within the PPD.

The other way of looking at the pay scale between the two organizations is to notice that sheriff deputies have every incentive to try to transfer to the PPD.

Between police officer and deputy sheriff, the pay is roughly comparable starting off.  There is only about $2,000 difference in the lowest starting pay, but a police officer would top out about $9,000 higher.  However, the ECSO has some intermediate positions between Deputy Sheriff and Sergeant.  A Deputy Sheriff First Class tops out at $54,965 (code 6133); and a Senior Deputy Sheriff tops out at $57,713 (code 6134).  A Master Deputy tops out at $60,599 (code 6135).  That still leaves the highest paid PPD police officer $1,000 per year better off than an apparently higher ranking ECSO deputy.

Of note, a Master Deputy is a rank achieved after 17 years of service and 600 cumulative hours of approved training.  A Senior Deputy requires 12 years of service and 400 cumulative hours of approved training.  For both ranks, an "officer may substitute up to 100 classroom hours of law enforcement college level classes for the 200 hours training required," according to the most recent Human Relations manual for the ECSO, the "Rules of the Escambia County Sheriff's Office."

However, at the first big jump in responsibility--to sergeant--the gap between the two organizations is a chasm.  A police sergeant starts at $20,000 more than the lowest ECSO sergeant.  He or she finishes at the top end of sergeant about $7,000 ahead per year.  There is a tremendous financial incentive for an ECSO deputy to leave for a job in the Pensacola Police Department or some other law enforcement agency that has higher pay.

If this is the case, then the taxpayers of Escambia County are essentially paying for all the training of sheriff deputies and becoming the feeder farm team for other law enforcement agencies.

The next big leap in terms of career progression is from sergeant to lieutenant.

The starting pay for a PPD lieutenant is $25,000 more than an ECSO lieutenant ($77,899 versus $52,320).  And, the lowest paid lieutenant in the Pensacola Police Department makes only $1,000 less than the highest paid lieutenant in the Escambia County Sheriff's Office.  There is also an interesting anomaly in the ECSO pay scale, that is probably an optical illusion.  But, the starting pay for the lowest lieutenant is $14,000 less than the highest paid sergeant within the ECSO.  It is probably an illusion because there must be some payroll adjustment to avoid a sergeant taking such a serious pay cut in order to advance in grade.

Thus, the data suggest ECSO sergeants and lieutenants have strong financial incentives to leave for the PPD or some other comparably paid law enforcement agency.  And if this in fact happens, then again the ECSO is the feeder farm team for other law enforcement agencies.

At the top end of the organizational structure, the starting pay for a PPD captain is $21,000 below the starting pay for an ECSO captain.  An ECSO captain also makes about $8,000 more at the top end.

And, at the number two position, the starting pay for the Assistant Police Chief in the PPD is roughly half the starting pay as the ECSO's Chief Deputy ($52,041 to $115,765).  Again, there must be adjustments in pay for the PPD in terms of starting pay.

But, at the level of high-end pay, the ECSO Chief Deputy tops out at $173,648, while the PPD Assistant Police Chief tops out at $101,795.  Why is there a $72,000 difference?  Why does the ECSO overpay its number two relative to the PPD, while simultaneously comparatively underpaying its deputies that actually do the real work of the department and who are out on the street?  Here is where the greater difference in income inequality could cause resentment and suggest to deputies that they should leave.

Of course, we do not know if deputy sheriffs, sergeants, and lieutenants are resigning from the Escambia County Sheriff's Office because Sheriff Morgan apparently does not keep track of that data.  We do not know if relatively inadequate pay for these lower ranks causes an undue number of resignations.  The pay structure data suggest that this could be the case.

The Escambia County Board of Commissioners and Escambia County taxpayers have a right to know if there is a correlation between resignations of deputies and pay structure.  They may have a right to know, but they will never know because Sheriff Morgan--who should know better from 23 years in the Air Force that personnel management is fundamental to a well-run military--does not bother to collect data on yearly resignations.  The fact that the ECSO cannot provide that data but the Pensacola Police Department can suggests that Sheriff Morgan does not want to collect any data that would call into question the illusion of a well-run Sheriff's Office.  And, the fact that ECSO deputies are paid relatively much lower than comparably ranked PPD officers, suggests that ECSO deputies, sergeants, and lieutenants have ample financial incentives either to seek jobs in the PPD or some other law enforcement agency.  We are thus left with repeatedly hearing rumors of resignations and the churning of deputies, but without proof--just as Sheriff Morgan would apparently prefer.


  1. The pay issue is one thing but that has always been an issue. The biggest problem isn't the pay. I think if the pay increased you'd still see the same numbers because the problem is morale. Psychologically, it is a negative place to work unless you are upper echelon. Yes pay is low but the issue is really how much would you have to pay to keep employees that feel targeted and marginalized in the eyes of the inner circle around Sir David?

  2. Not to mention putting up with the civilian perspective relating to the high crime numbers. How do they ease citizens minds when they are asked how the department is approaching that issue. Are they supposed to take pride in the "Lock your doors signs" vs. having more boots on the street? How do you justify your boss when your boss is fleecing the county? A good paying job is nice but having a job you can take pride in trumps good pay any day.