Police management should listen to officers

Letter to the editor

Posted: Monday, December 20, 2004

In his Dec. 17 guest column, Juneau Police Department Chief Gummow states, "We value and support all JPD employees. In this case, however, we believe the department has a greater obligation to provide the public with the most efficient delivery of police services possible."

First off, this statement only proves to me that although the department might say it values and supports its employees, it knows that the shift change runs contrary to that sentiment and simply disregards morale.

Second, I would like to point out that without the JPD employees this decision affects, there would not be any JPD. As with any sort of management, the balance between happiness and efficiency is a very fine line. If the balance sways too far in either direction you only end up doing more harm than good. I think the 12-hour shift was that fine line. The shift change is only serving to sway the balance too far towards the goal of efficiency at the cost of employee happiness.

It is well known that officers often meet with attorneys and testify in court on their days off. I don't see how anyone would call that lack of flexibility. That's loyalty to one's duties and I believe there is going to be a decay of that in response to this top-down managerial decision that has no popularity among the employees.

I doubt the disaffection would be so strong if the management were to make the same sacrifices that the employees are being asked to make. Perhaps management could go a year or two without taking a Saturday or Sunday off, without a vacation, as a show of good faith? I didn't think so.

The answer, as in most situations, is compromise. Had the employees been given a lot more input leading up to this decision and had their input taken into consideration with genuine attention paid to it, I think this situation could have turned out much less abrasive. As it is, it might be time to take a step back and re-evaluate whether this move towards flexibility and efficiency is really worth it. Our patrol officers are already asked to do a lot of thankless work. It's time the management takes a step towards fixing that.

Jason Soza


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