Much has been reported on just what exactly Louis R. Anemone (Anemone Consulting, Inc.) said in the report that was used by County Executive Ed Day in his proposed budget to cut 37 officers from the Sheriff’s patrol. If you would like to download the eighteen page report you may do so at this link.
The overall impression one takes away from reading the Anemone Report (Operational Analysis of the Police Division of the Rockland County Sheriff – A Blueprint for Progress) is that Sheriff Falco does not appear to be properly managing the resources that he has available, monitoring of his department’s functions appears to be flawed, and he has permitted ‘mission creep’ and staffing imbalances to occur that suggest his organization needs an efficiency overhaul.
Given Sheriff Falco’s blanket defense in recent weeks of every program and staffing decision he has made, one wonders if he has the necessary management skills that are basic to any senior manager in a private organization with an equivalent size of staff and budget to lead effective radical change?
What exactly is the organization that Sheriff Falco has been elected to lead?
Let us begin by noting that there are four divisions namely: 1) Police, 2) Communications 3) Corrections, and 4) Civil. The latter two divisions (Corrections and Civil) are required constitutional functions while the first two (Communications and Police) were created, according to the Anemone Report, to address “perceived needs“. It is the Police Division that has become central to the present budget dispute between Sheriff Falco and County Executive Day.
The Anemone Report states that data in the 2013 Annual Report shows the Police Division is staffed by 1 Chief, 1 Captain, 4 Lieutenants, 10 Sergeants, 21 Detectives and 29 full time officers. It also utilizes 61 part time officers in various units. The single Captain reports to a single Chief who reports to a single Undersheriff and the Undersheriff in turn reports to Sheriff Falco. One can immediately see from these single digit numbers that there is a top heavy management structure (brass) that would never be permitted in a private organization – one Captain, reporting to one Chief, reporting to one Undersheriff, reporting to one Sheriff.
Anemone says that the position of Captain should be eliminated given that modern management theories recommend flatter organizations. The problem with the present ‘steeple at the top’ structure is that there is a loss of clarity between what those at the pinnacle are thinking and those at the base are doing. Anemone also states that the position of lieutenant should be reduced by one through attrition stating that the future complement of lieutenants should be three (3), one (1) for Patrol, one (1) for Detectives and one (1) for Administrative. Anemone states: “Four (4) lieutenants in an agency the size of Falco’s cannot be justified when supervising ten (10) sergeants”.
Anemone is very clear that the ratio of supervisors ‘managing’ the work and the officers ‘doing’ the work is totally unacceptable. Clearly, some of this unnecessary brass should be encouraged to leave thus freeing up monetary resources that would be more properly spent on those who are actually doing useful work for the County. Generals, Politicians, and Business Managers who lead their staff from behind the front line generally never take a bullet for their men and women. Sadly, the ethical need for the brass in the Sheriff’s Department to self-sacrifice may go unrecognized. Indeed Falco appears to be hiding behind an implied threat that within the civil service regulations one can play the save ‘do-nothing jobs’ by bumping lower paid and lower time-of-service officers who have the ‘do-something jobs’. Nevertheless, Anemone has thrown the gauntlet down where the brass can see it. Regrettably, Falco has pretended not to have noticed this challenge and instead has galloped off to decry reality to the legislature, the press, and to the listeners of the Steve and Meredyth WRCR Morning radio program.
Underneath the layers of Falconian brass are patrol units; Vehicular takes care of Rockland County Facilities, enforces traffic laws, etc; the Mounted unit does specialized patrols; the Marine unit patrols the Hudson River. Anemone believes that the patrol force is the one that cannot be easily replaced without additional expense at the Town or Village level but he says that inexplicably there has been ‘mission creep’ and an attempt to do everything for everybody. Thus the most effective crime and prevention force, the patrol on the beat, suffers from understaffing while the more glamorous investigative specialist units are over staffed and don’t get enough work to keep their skills honed.
Currently, there are five sergeants and nineteen full-time officers providing the motorized patrols. Four people are in the Mounted Patrol (one sergeant and three full-time officers). About this patrol Anemone is quite specific: “A limited need for mounted patrols has been exhibited despite anecdotal evidence of the quality performance of these officers on ad hoc occasions. This is an expensive form of patrol when all costs are considered”. He recommends that the mounted patrol be discontinued for cost savings and as a risk reduction technique to avoid officer injuries and potential lawsuits. Anemone suggests these officers could be returned to the other patrols (vehicular or marine) and also be used to cut overtime.
Three people (one sergeant and two full-time officers) are in the Marine Patrol. This unit is considered to be costly though essential based on counter-terrorism concerns and hazards on the Hudson River. The patrol is partially paid for with State funds. Given its cost and its importance this unit should be retained but Anemone suggests that it improves productivity as measured by the fact that for the whole of 2013 on a monthly average less than 3 tickets were issued, 2 warnings were given and less that 6 vessels were inspected.
According to Anemone the main problem in the Sheriff’s Department lies with the productivity of the detectives and supervisors who are performing administrative, clerical and investigative duties. In 2014 in the Police Division there were 34 officers, detectives and supervisors performing these functions while 33 officers and sergeants were on patrol in the County including those assigned to the mounted and marine units. However, the criminal case load that was being handled by the 34 individuals not involved in a patrol function was the lowest that Anemone or any other consultant has seen in over 50 years of law enforcement consulting which according to Anemone “begs the question” as to how these detectives and supervisors are being gainfully employed and how many of them are needed.
Here are the statistics for crimes involving murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft for 2013. In that year there were 3,792 such crimes in Rockland County of which the Sheriff’s Police Division was involved in 23 or 0.6%. This astonishingly, some might say vanishingly, small number was not much better in 2011 and 2012 where the corresponding numbers were 4,567, 47 (1.0%) and 4,324, 49 (1.1%).
Given that 11% (65) of the full-time officers in Rockland County (619) are working for Sheriff Falco and are handling a case load of one-tenth that of the officers not associated with the Sheriff’s department one can see why some changes involving productivity, staff reductions and departmental efficiencies are urgently required.
There are the brass, there are the horses, and then there is the helicopter.
About the latter Anemone writes: “The helicopter and its chief pilot who is a full-time duty detective sergeant are another example of mission creep. Although this is a nice service to provide, the costs and liability issues involved mitigate against continuation of this service. The helicopter should be sold as arrangements with other law enforcement agencies in the region can be easily arranged on an emergency basis for helicopter services when absolutely necessary.”
The question that Anemone left for County Executive Ed Day and the legislators to answer is how to best redeploy the force of detectives and supervisors since there is not enough work to justify the number of employees in the Police Division. Anemone pointed out that patrol is the first priority of a police division i.e. officers out on the beat being highly visible to the public and thereby discouraging crime. “Patrol wags the specialist unit tail, not the other way around”, he states.
Anemone recommends in essence that if the Sheriff’s budget is to remain as it is that the majority of specialists and supervisors be reassigned to the patrol units so that the taxpayers will receive some value for the millions of dollars that are being disbursed. County Executive Day’s position is that the Sheriff’s department is, according to the Anemone report, overstaffed for its work load and given the County’s fiscal priorities it is the key place to look for significant cuts.
Does this report justify the elimination of 37 positions from the Police Division? Read the report and come to your own conclusions. In our view it would appear that a 10% reduction in the Sheriff’s’ Budget from $60 million to $54 million is a start in the right direction.
Sheriff Falco has a rough road in front of him. He has no experience outside of the Rockland County Sheriff’s Office and so has never experienced the tough decisions that are necessary to build and maintain an efficient business organization. Hopefully he can rise to the challenge and implement needed changes.
He should start by retiring the brass, selling the horses and auctioning off the helicopter. You see Rockland County can no longer afford them.
[This summary of the Anemone Report was co-authored with Jim Flynn who resides in Nanuet. Flynn has written numerous articles on budgetary matters in the Town of Clarkstown.]