By Todd Johns
Plumas County Sheriff
I am drafting this response to a letter to the editor submitted yesterday by Supervisor Hagwood regarding many issues that he brought up concerning my last two years as the Plumas County Sheriff.
- Majority of staff is unhappy and contacted him over the last two years.
- As supervisor you have a duty to Plumas County and its citizens to put their best interest at heart and make decisions that improve county functions. I find it shocking that if you were contacted by as many Sheriff’s Office employees as you claim, that it “causes me great concern,” that you wouldn’t reach out to the department head (me) and try to address these issues, as they directly affect the citizens of Plumas County who elected you to be a supervisor. You could have taken an active role in trying to support the Sheriff’s Office without having to name names, while keeping things confidential. However, you chose not to.
- Questionable hiring and promotions:
- I have used the same hiring policy that you utilized during your 10 years as Sheriff. These hiring policies are well established by the Human Resources department and have remained in place.
- Promotions: Without knowing exactly what you are speaking about regarding promotions I will simply say this. The way I conducted promotions is more in line with what occurs across the state than what you did during your tenure as Sheriff. I am not implying the way you conducted promotions was in any way wrong. Sitting in a room, one on one with an employee and asking him or her questions is certainly one way to do it. I however brought in an out-of-county Sheriff, a Patrol Captain from another sheriff’s office, a CHP Lieutenant and a Jail Sergeant to be on the promotional panels. They brought their own questions and assisted me in the promotional process. This line of promotion is consistent in nearly every agency across the state. For the sergeant’s promotion board, I utilized three agency staff to conduct the interview. The two deputies that received the highest ratings were promoted to sergeant. This was done after I reviewed the scores, spoke to the raters, other administrators and sergeants within the department.
- Lack of communication:
- Communication within the Sheriff’s Office has not changed since you retired. What has changed is the fact that we had to deal with COVID and multiple fires in the last two years. To say we have been overwhelmed at times is an understatement. During the Dixie fire I started making and continue to make changes as to how we communicate and relay information within the office and to our area substation staff. As a former employee and county supervisor, I welcome additional suggestions as to how these improvements can be made. The new computer system, that I greatly appreciate the approval of, will help considerably, but is still several months out.
- I am unaware of double-standards within the department. I would be happy to address this issue if I knew what it was. I could only guess at this point.
- Draconian (harsh and severe) policy implementation:
- I have maintained the exact same policies and procedures that were in place during your tenure as sheriff. I know because I wrote them with the assistance of staff. The only exception to this would be changes that were required by changing laws or POST mandates. There were several guidelines that were brought forward during the COVID pandemic. Some of those rules still remain. I know you are very familiar with them as all county employees were subject to them. They were numerous and changed weekly if not daily. These guidelines were put in place to protect employees, the public and to prevent possible fines from OSHA as well as civil litigation from employees. I will also include that I worked closely with all staff during COVID to make these guidelines as unrestrictive as possible while still focusing on meeting requirements set forth by the county and the state.
- I am currently implementing policy to allow for beards, outer body vests and cowboy hats that are far from being harsh and severe. In reality it’s quite the opposite.
- You cite a lack of trust and confidence in the current administration and state that it likely cannot be restored.
- This is a blanket statement with no real support. During your term as Sheriff, you faced many uncertain times and situations that were out of your control. Certainly, you recall the large pay-cut employees were forced to take during your administration as well as lawsuits that were filed during your administration. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding these topics, which I will say were for the most part out of your control, many staff members within the department did feel unsupported by you. They felt you did not fight for them to get better wages and as such lost trust and confidence in you as their sheriff. I know because many of them were coming to me and voicing their concerns. When they did so, these issues were brought to you either in person or via the chain of command. As a result, you were given the opportunity to address the issues head-on and were in fact able to regain employee trust and confidence. I wish you and Mr. Cline would have afforded me this same opportunity.