San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore occasionally has to sue to keep fired deputies from returning to the job. In some cases, even that doesn’t work.
In June, Gore filed a lawsuit against the county’s Civil Service Commission – an independent review board to which county employees can appeal disciplinary actions – alleging the commission had abused its discretion by reinstating Jeffrey Hornacek, a deputy fired earlier this year because Gore decided he was incompetent and unfit for public service.
The case provides a rare look at officer discipline proceedings in a state that keeps such information under lock and key. Though Sheriff’s Department data from the past nine years shows it’s relatively rare for fired deputies to be reinstated, it does happen.
After about 18 months on the job, during which he was assigned to jails and courthouses, Hornacek moved over to patrol and began the three phases of field training he was required to complete.
According to details included the lawsuit filed in San Diego County Superior Court, Hornacek struggled from the very beginning.
Six different times in the first week of his training, Hornacek failed to properly search individuals he questioned or detained. He once used multiple sets of handcuffs on the same person – but somehow still failed to secure the person’s hands. Sent by his supervisor to inspect a suspicious vehicle, Hornacek overlooked hypodermic needles and drug paraphernalia sitting in plain sight. After one woman refused to leave a business, Hornacek tried to falsely arrest her for public drunkenness, even though there was no evidence she’d been actually drinking.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
The Civil Service Commission seems like it exists to save employees at all costs.
A useful employee representitive group, like a union, should police it's own members. Public sector unions are looked down upon because they do not protect their "brand". Every bad deputy sheriff, bad teacher, bad city or county employee reflects poorly on it's union. Untill labor leaders learn that, in this social media age, their unions will be judged on the worst of their memebers they will continue to lose the PR battle for why they exist.
This specific situation shows that the Civil Service Commission and the unions are also failing at their jobs.
So, in less than six months, he:
- Failed to properly search detainees;
- Failed to property secure arrestees;
- Failed to notice contraband in plain sight;
- Once attempted to arrest someone when no crime had been committed.
But the Commission puts him back on the job because he takes criticism well???
Unfortunately, supervision and management all too often fail to properly document issues with problem employees. Maybe he should be fired, but management also has a responsibility to properly document why. That's not unreasonable.
A small change in the law could fix the problem of the county’s Civil Service Commission over riding the Sheriff's decisions. Simply put, law would state anytime the Sheriff recommends a deputy be fired due to their being unfit for service and the county’s Civil Service Commission says no. The county’s Civil Service Commission members would now be legally liable for anything the deputy does.
As in if the deputy assaults someone for no reason, shoots and kills an innocent person, a lawsuit is filed, the county’s Civil Service Commission members would personally be on the hook for legal and penalty fees. Sheriff's office would not be part of the lawsuit as they tried to take him out of the job.
Once legal liability falls directly on the county’s Civil Service Commission, watch them start agreeing with the sheriff on firing incompetent deputies. All about accountability.
Sad to say the county’s Civil Service Commission willfully fails to under stand not everyone is qualified to be a member of law enforcement.
@Al Allen Great suggestion.
Since we all can acknowledge its virtually impossible to fire unionized workers (teachers, cops, guard, baseball umps) can we agree unions are detrimental to society?
@Michael Robertson false, it is not "virtually impossible" to fire a teacher. Teachers are only guaranteed due process. It is up to the administrator to do his due diligence to document poor performance from a teacher. Not being able to fire a underperforming teacher is an administrative issue not a union issue.
@Alan Underwood @Michael Robertson I agree it's theoretically possible to fire a teacher, but since it virtually never happens and can cost more than 1 million dollars, I think it's reasonable to say they can't be fired. I'm reminded of the teacher in LA who took his own semen and was spreading it on cookies and feeding it to students. Remember that guy? He got prosecuted for crimes but could NOT be fired. They had to pay him a huge sum to resign.
The average profession sees 5-10% turnover a year. CA has about 300,000 teachers which should mean 15,000-30,000 teachers should leave each year with a large percentage being fired. There are years in CA where ZERO teachers are fired. Other years we might see 1-3. For anyone looking at objectively, teachers are immune from firing.
That is a study that states that 8% of teachers do not come back to the profession the next year in the year 2011-2012. That fits well within your 5-10%.
Where is your evidence that it takes 1 million dollars to fire a teacher? Can you site studies that point to that as a normal occurrence?
According to the Daily Mail "Berndt was fired and the LAUSD paid then paid him $40,000 to drop his appeal, which officials said was the most immediate way to ensure he wouldn't be a threat to other children."
Lastly, if you did any research on the topic, you would know that CA has already started to address the issues with lengthy terminations for teachers accused/convicted of misconduct:
So, I say again...It is not impossible, does not cost 1 million dollars, and teachers leave the profession at the same rates as you claim people should leave/be fired from the average profession. Unions are not the problem. Ineffective administration is the problem when it comes to monitoring teaching outcomes and the dismissal process.
@Alan Underwood @Michael Robertson It seems like we're making progress. You now agree there is a problem?
Why would the teacher who fed semen to his students be a threat to other children if he could be fired? Because he can't of course!
Yes, I'm using the anecdotal evidence because it's SO EGREGIOUS AND APPALLING that it distubingly illustrates the problem. It shows to readers of VOSD that people like you would rather protect the system instead of the kids.
Back to the data. 19 teachers over 10 years in CA were fired due to bad performance. Not 19,000, 19. Don't use grand data from DC. Use CA data.
If you search Google you'll find many many articles about how bad teachers are too expensive to be fired so they just go to rubber rooms and do crosswords all day. SD has them too. It's because people like you defend the system no matter what. You defend paying a guy $40,000 who abused kids. It's reprehensible and shows how sick the system is and how twisted it's defenders are.
I reject your effort to co-opt the term due process. Due process applies to when the government goes after citizens.
What we're talking about is employer/employee relationship. That should be at will with either party free to make a change at anytime.
Government unions are monopolies. They have no corporation to battle against so the worst abuse happens there.
You can't seem to decide if we have an issue or not. You seem inconsistent.
@Michael Robertson " . . . can we agree unions are detrimental to society?"
Absolutely not! What we can agree on, and almost anyone who follows public sector union issues would agree, is that the public unions have moved well beyond their classic role of ensuring competence and into a protective role where there is clear incompetence.
There is a huge grey area between these unions and no unions. You don't even have to look hard to find it.