Juneau police need better manager

Letter to the editor

Posted: Friday, July 08, 2005

The exodus of officers from the Juneau Police Department should be a huge wake-up call to the City and Borough of Juneau officials.

Juneau has impressively trained, skilled and dedicated officers. This collection of highly competent men and women didn't just happen by chance. We have benefited from years of commitment on the part of officers and management to make mutually agreeable decisions that promoted the best interests of JPD's mission.

Chief Gummow's top-down management is demonstrably ineffective and possibly the most destructive means to manage competent adults.

Effective managers know the best decisions about getting work done effectively and efficiently are made by those closest to the impact of the decision.

The officers and different management agreed to a contract with 12-hour shifts and (this is big) without overtime pay on those shifts. In a career where you put your life on the line and spend most of your working hours interacting with people "in crisis," it is very important to have time to recharge emotionally and socially.

There is a benefit to the officer and his/her family, and a benefit to the community.

First, officers have usable time to be involved in family lives and other soul-nourishing activities. Second, we citizens of Juneau have truly healthy men and women making our community a safer place.

Chief Gummow must have missed the House hearings when the Legislature voted in the new retirement system. Representatives from every city with a municipal force explained that it was already hard to recruit and retain qualified candidates.

Since the new retirement model offered absolutely no incentive for long-term service, with Alaska's already low wages relative to the Lower 48, the norm for service would be three to five years. Departments will hire new recruits, train them and build their resumes, and then start again.

While Chief Gummow is very cavalier about losing one in five well-trained officers, as a member of the community that depends on our officers for protection, I am appalled. If the chief left tomorrow, it wouldn't affect my safety one bit, but as the one in five leaving creeps to one in four or more, that affects everyone in Juneau.

Remember, the real assets of JPD are its trained officers. If your business has a manager that is squandering your company's assets, it is time to change the manager.

Deedie Sorensen


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