Retention and Hiring

The turnover rate in the department is high.  KCSO has been labeled the training ground for Spokane and Coeur d’ Alene.  The problem is not just wages; it almost never is.  People don’t leave good organizations, they leave bad managers.  Anyone that says the retention problem can be solved solely by raising wages (and taxes) is asking the county taxpayer to cover for their lack of leadership skills, or worse, they actually believe wages are the only problem.  Good leaders lead, great leaders inspire.  I have a 5 point plan to solve the hiring and retention problem:

  1. Employees need to be appreciated and valued. This comes from the top.  As the leader of the Sheriff’s office, I will personally get to know every employee, including their families.  This is the expectation I will set for the Undersheriff and my command staff.  I will maintain an open-door policy and every KCSO employee will have my cellphone number.
  2. 360-degree reviews. To eliminate even the appearance of favoritism, performance and advancement evaluations will include feedback from coworkers and subordinates. All reviews will evaluate performance, not the person, and include a follow-up plan. I will also put an end to the use of internal investigations as a disciplinary tool.
  3. Encourage and recognize employees, both non-sworn and sworn, who expand their training.  I believe the best employees are willing and able to assist the organization wherever needed.
  4. Hire more deputies; the current staff is simply spread too thin and we are fortunate to not have had a serious incident because of under-staffing.  Recruiting is a long term process and is affected by the economy and overall unemployment rate.  As we witnessed with staffing of the new jail, hiring good employees requires more innovation than hanging a help-wanted sign on the fence.  My approach will be multi-faceted:
    1. Re-examine the hiring process in its entirety, without lowering standards. I believe the current process discourages some excellent candidates.
    2. Actively recruit among the community.
    3. Bring back an explorer program for area youth. Click here for more details
    4. Rebuild the reserve deputy program. Reserves fill a valuable role by supporting full time deputies.  Because they are volunteers, they assist in maintaining a close connection with the community.  They allow better utilization of county owned resources; by placing 2 deputies in a car the need for backup can sometimes be eliminated.  Officer safety is greatly increased; having been part of a reserve program I have been on calls where late night backup is more than 45 minutes away.  Finally, the reserve program provides a pool of known and trained candidates to transition to full time. My goal is 50 reserves.
  5. Work with the county commissioners and the tax payers to allocate more money to hire more deputies and increase wages where needed, this includes both detention and patrol, non-sworn support and admin staff.

Please refer to the section on the budget.

Below is an email obtained through public records request.  This is what one deputy thinks is wrong with KCSO, he now works for CDA police.

John Grimm for Kootenai County Sheriff retaining good employees