In their own words
By Times staff reports
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 10, 2001
Last fall, the City Council hired a consultant to study morale in the Pinellas Park Police Department. Officers were encouraged to write comments as well as answer questions that ranked the department in different areas. When the overall results were published, the consultant and the city refused to release the handwritten comments, saying they could be used to identify individual police officers and open them to retaliation within the department. Last week, a judge ordered the city to release those comments. Some of them appear here.
Morale: "Feel like I'm being raped by this agency on a daily basis."
Lack of recognition: " "Good job' letters from supervisors should be written more often when officers do good investigations."
"Feedback is nil. You can do a great job all year and still get a bad evaluation."
Overwork/understaffing: "A city of 44,000 people requires more than five or six patrol units, especially between 1 p.m. to 4 p.m."
"Some days we're so busy we don't get time to take lunch or breaks."
"Workload results in poor work results, incomplete investigations and a weakening positive contact with the citizens."
"Patrol is badly understaffed. Some days are horrible and dangerous. No backup, etc."
New hires: "Someone just out of the academy cannot replace the experience lost of a seven-year officer."
"The administration is hiring people just to fill the voids."
Quality of equipment: "Tools and equipment provided are the bare necessities. Other equipment needed to do a satisfactory job has been purchased by myself."
"Most vehicles are rundown, plagued with problems. Frequently have radio problems."
"New employees are given used uniforms. I was given used boots. What the hell were they thinking about?"
Management by sergeants and their superiors, the department's lieutenants and captains: "I do not trust them. I have a diary of incidents with sergeants where I was betrayed."
"We have been promoting people widely known for backstabbing, brown-nosing and weaseling."
"With the exception of Chief (Dorene) Thomas and Lt. (John) Green, I do not have confidence in upper management."
"The captains have no idea how much they are hurting the agency."
"The sergeants have "secret' files on each officer."
"Supervisor shows consideration, listening skills, support, confidence in my performance and genuine respect for my ability to do job successfully and supports decisions made and gives guidance."
Retaliation: "Up until this survey began, officers were consistently being retaliated upon by the administration."
"I know I can walk into Capt. (Mike) Vetter's, Lt. (John) Green's, and the chief's office and have a sit-down personal conversation without fear of retaliation."
Chief Dorene Thomas: "The new chief is making positive changes."
"I feel Chief Thomas is doing a good job and listening to the officers' problems and concerns."
"A great plus for the department was the promotion of Lt. Thomas to chief. I feel she will do an excellent job, increase morale, which will have the officers feel needed and want to stay."
Training: "Training program needs to improve. Training opportunities are scarce. Specialized training is not available to most. Specialized training is also not well known or announced among employees."
"The department has good training officers and programs. ... The department does a good job of letting the officers know when and where training is taking place."
"Some people get school after school. Others get none."
Prospect for change: "Very little seems to have changed in past few weeks."
"I feel at this time it will get better. They chose a great person for the chief's position."
"I think it's a lost cause. It's "business as usual.' We won't move ahead until two captains and two to three sergeants are either gone or neutralized. ... As long as the two captains are in place, the new interim chief doesn't have a chance of succeeding."
On unequal treatment: "It is well known and documented that if you are a well-liked officer or above, you can do no wrong. Even domestic violence."
"Some are punished harsher than others."
"Seems like the rules change daily."
On the department's image: "We project a wonderful image to the community. But they don't know the truth and the facts."
"Agency has a "black eye' within the community."
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