EDITORIALS

MATRIX CALLING – Is Deputy Chief Shelley Hart There?

Yesterday's Call

Of all the things I thought I might find in the Matrix Consulting Group Operational Review of the WPS, vindication was not one of them.

I was surprised when I found a Matrix recommendation that took aim at the WPS transfer policy.

The WPS transfer policy is commonly called Deputy Chief Shelley Harts “baby” as she was the champion of the controversial document.

The recommendation suggests the Police Service, “Revise the transfer policy so that individuals transfer less frequently or develop a ‘hybrid’ system in which specialty units are comprised of rotational positions and non-rotational positions.”

The Matrix consultants made several interesting revelations about the WPS transfer policy and suggested “ineffective transfer or rotation policies can be a hindrance to an Organization.”

One of the primary reasons cited was, “Many specialty assignments require extensive specialized training and experience.”

The report acknowledged that, “While pre-qualificaitions and initial training may provide some of what is required to function at a particular level, some assignments may take years to obtain the desired expertise.”  The report also noted high employee turn over could be detrimental to a Units operational effectiveness.

The Matrix consultants ultimately came to the conclusion the WPS transferred its officers too frequently and as a result, worked against their ability to “establish or maintain unit identity of knowledge.”

In the spring of 2011 I was the target of an evil spirited blind side transfer after fighting upper management in my efforts to secure transfer policy exemptions for two (2) Homicide Detectives who had only worked two (2) years into their assignments in the high stakes Unit.  My argument to retain the officers was detailed, logical and consistent with the justifications cited in the Matrix report.  I also expressed concerns regarding the unacceptably high employee turnover ratios we were experiencing.

It mattered not, the axe fell and I was sent packing.

Later that year I won an overwhelming victory at a Labor Arbitration hearing after Arbitrator Arne Peltz saw through the smoke and mirrors presented by the people behind the treachery.  Peltz ruled the transfer was covert punishment for standing up to the inflexible power brokers who ran the show in the WPS.

It was during that hearing Deputy Hart provided testimony in support of shorter assignment periods.  Incredulously, she suggested the high solvency rates in the Homicide Unit could be directly attributed to shortened assignment periods as they ensured investigators remained “fresh.”  Hart formed her opinion despite the pleadings of Homicide Unit managers, Senior Crown Prosecutors, National and International industry standards and a FBI study that underlined the need for extended tenure in specialized units like Homicide.

Hart apparently knew better.

Regardless, I won the fight but lost the war, my career with the WPS was over.

WPS Specialty Unit Supervisors have fought a difficult battle for several years now trying to persuade the Executive of the Police Service to offer them more flexibility in the transfer policy to allow for the proper development of their investigative personnel.  Developing highly skilled investigators is unquestionably in the best interest of the individual units, the Police Service and the public they serve.

You simply don’t become a skilled investigator in Homicide, Major Crime, Organized Crime, Vice or any other specialty unit in a brief two or three year time period.  In fact, it’s widely recognized in the Police Universe that a minimum two (2) year learning curve period exists in most of these specialty units.  All facts the Matrix report recognizes.

Harts rigid adherence to one of the most limiting transfer policies in the Country has been extremely counterproductive and has hurt members of the Police Service who strive to gain experience and expertise in a specialty unit.  Her reluctance to recognize the needs of these units perplexes me and underscores the frailties of her leadership.

In February of 2014, Deputy Chief Hart will retire from the Police Service.

Once she’s gone, I have faith Chief Clunis will do the right thing.

2 Comments

  1. You certainly have the innate ability to break things down to the very lowest common denominator.

    Very well said.

    Appreciate our comments.

  2. You point out a common difficulty that organizations face when trying to implement organizational change…even if the change is relatively small, there is a huge amount of energy invested in resisting even the suggestion that any senior executive has ever made the slightest error, thereby limiting risks that any organizational change will be attributed to anyone other than an identified “leader”.

    An organization protects its leadership at the expense of its employees, the public, its mandate, and itself. All to maintain an illusion of infinite capacity and infallibility. A healthy, well-adjusted organization, like a healthy human being, demonstrates a little humility.

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