Sheriff Parkinson takes charge

January 3, 2011

Ian Parkinson was sworn in Monday as the new San Luis Obispo County Sheriff. The former police captain, elected last November, took the oath of office in front of a packed audience in the county supervisors chamber.

Later in the day, officials released a copy of the memo Parkinson sent to his new staff today to mark the beginning of his tenure. Here is the statement, called Unite and Restore the Pride:

“I wanted to take some time before I officially take office to offer all employees some insight into my leadership philosophy and my expectations.

“First, let me begin by telling you how excited I am about becoming your next Sheriff.  Over the past 26 years, I’ve been very fortunate to have worked side-by-side with many of you.  During this time, I’ve always felt that the possibilities for the sheriff’s office are limitless.  I believe that today more than ever. I am eager to get to work, and I will be very proud to wear the Sheriff’s star, the tan and green, and to serve as your leader.

“One of my most urgent goals is to promote my vision of effective leadership.  As law enforcement officers, we are all responsible to be problem solvers and a big part of that starts with recognizing that we all have different strengths and weaknesses. It is our job to discover the strengths that each person brings to the job and to assist each person in improving upon their weaknesses.

“I firmly believe that no individual is more important than the Sheriff’s Office as a whole.  Just like a sports team, every position is as important as the next and to be successful we must value each other and work together toward our common goal by capitalizing on each person’s unique strengths.  This means that, regardless of your specific role within the Department, you are of equal value in my eyes to the team, and you deserve to be treated that way by every other employee.

“Over the next few months, I will spend a considerable amount of time getting to know each unit of the Department.  I will solicit your ideas and involve employees whenever possible.  I will carefully consider this information to make many important decisions for the betterment of the Sheriff’s Office; in other words, decisions that will benefit the entire agency.

“Some people will adapt to these changes easily but, predictably, others will have a more difficult time adjusting.  If we communicate with each other candidly and respectfully, the process will be smoother for everyone.

“I’ve always believed that promotion is simply a means to effectuate change in an organization.  I do not believe that promotion is for everybody, nor do I believe that promotion is always a measure of success. Some of our best leaders are not in supervisory positions.  I do not believe that the key to promotion is to try and please me.

“Instead, the way to promote is to gain the credibility and respect of the people you work with by being honest and fair, and working for the betterment of the team, not just yourself.  So, when I consider promoting anyone, the first question I’ll ask will be: Does the employee have the credibility and respect of the other people in the agency?

“My law enforcement philosophy is simple and straightforward. I believe that we should be tough on crime and protect the people we serve.  Every employee should treat the people we deal with in the same way we’d like to see our own family members treated. As long as we keep this in mind, The Sheriff’s Office will gain and maintain the respect of our community.

“If you remember one thing from this brief introduction, remember this: with our commitment to the Sheriff’s Office and to the community we serve, we will be the law enforcement leader in this county and a Sheriff’s Office we can all be proud of. Thank you for your attention.”

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His experience had been with a relatively peaceful town, a small agency in the earlier years that was easy to manage and ran efficiently, despite all the normal internal problems with all agencies small or big.

Lots of long established residence voted for him because of their faith in when and where you are from, the younger set voted on his charm and nice smile, all not fully comprehending what he and your attorney friend sleazily and unethical engaged in.

The Esprit-De-Corp he boost is essential for cohesive team work but how will he publicly deal with LE if they engage in a similar lucrative extra-circular activities in the way he and his attorney buddy did.


His weakness is confronting the public, not giving them anything to go on and letting people rely on the community faith and assumption that LE can do no wrong to get over.

Now that he’s in the big “elected” league, just remember one truth, he will NEVER be successful without the support of the population but he as well have to be unfortunately supervised until faith is restored by the few of us in the know. A self-fulfilling prophecy LE agency that boosts and advertises themselves as the best when they are pseudo only sickens people. The one most important missing piece in his spiel (whether he authored it himself or not) was the importance of support of the community.

SLO community should consider learning how to prepare “recall initiative” ready to launch when and if LE members screw up and he fails to come forth responsibly. His attorney friend may help in court problems but his BS won’t help him in a recall!

I am hopeful he goes forward, not backwards.

If he have what it takes, he should detach himself from the hooks of the sleazy and not the community.

If he cannot understand this he needs more education and public experience.

If he cannot comprehend this, then any other good manager is more trustworthy in his position!

If he cannot see this, then his arrogance will precedes his failure

Some typo errors

Like it or not (I don’t) Parkinson is the new Sheriff in town. I think we should step back now and allow allow him the opportunity to keep his campaign promises. I’m sure we will all be there to reminder him of these down the road. He knows (probably more than any of us) what the problems are in his department and I sincerely hope he has the will to do better than Hedges. We should all be celebrating that Hedges is gone forever and let’s see what Parkinson is going to do before we start condemning his.

Fine, lets just make certain that he isn’t responsible for anymore video and audio equipment all simultaneously failing the next time his boys beat up another innocent citizen and we all have to pay out the $$$ for it like what happened in SLO last year.

What Parkinson “promises” are you talking about? I don’t remember any worthwhile promises, just a lot of vague, campaign rhetoric that always stopped short of being substantive.

Let’s start with the wrongful arrest on those involved in the medical marijuana bust a few days ago. How he handles this will speak volumes.

I think he did have a hand in writing this. The grammar and sentence construction is rather simple and there are several poor grammar choices, most notably:

“I do not believe that the key to promotion is to try and please me.” — An educated writer would know that “try and please me” is redundant and “try to please me” is the correct way to say this.

I also find that “One of my most urgent goals is to promote my vision of effective leadership.” is troubling. With all the problems in the sheriff’s department, his most urgent goal is promoting some vision of his?

I found this sentence amusing:

“I will carefully consider this information to make many important decisions for the betterment of the Sheriff’s Office; in other words, decisions that will benefit the entire agency.”

Wow, thanks for explaining what “betterment of the Sheriff’s Office” means, Ian!

Also, is anyone else concerned that his main question when promoting someone is “Does the employee have the credibility and respect of the other people in the agency?” rather than questions about merit or performance?

Overall, this memo contains a bunch of obvious statements with no real substance or specific vision:

* I’m excited about having this job.

* Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, we should use people’s strengths and help them improve their weaknesses.

* We need to work together as a team.

* We are all equals.

* I am going to make some changes to make the sheriff’s dept better.

* Change is difficult, so we need to communicate.


Let us all hope that his leadership skills are better than his writing skills!

Perhaps I was a little too quick to say that what Sheriff Parkinson wrote was well done; you certainly do make some very valid grammatical points. Regardless, I hope he has all the success in turning around a department that seems very disconnected from what most in our society thinks is the appropriate use of force in dealing with suspects. Let’s all remember that anyone who is “suspected” of committing a crime is not necessarily a criminal, and that law enforcement certainly has the obligation to protect themselves when they are arresting or confronting “suspects”, but they also need to remember that those same suspects are still citizens and have all the rights that everyone else has. The very disturbing reports of the Drug Task Force arrests of the fifteen people “suspected” of violating California state law certainly shows that not all officers of the law value the rights of those suspected of committing crimes. Perhaps Sheriff Parkinson will address the arrests that were made in this bust and deal with those within his department in a way to show us citizens that he is supposed to serve that he will not tolerate behavior like this from his officers in the future. Somehow I doubt he will though.

Agreed. Anyone who attended one of the several forums can recall the difference in language between the candidates. Parkinson’s was consistently “soft” and led off with qualifiers such as “I want to”. . . “it is my desire”. . .etc. Never definitive. Always wiggle room built in.

First off, my bet is that he didn’t write any of this. But more importantly, before Parkinson is even on the job officially, he’s started filling his behind the scenes campaign promises with the promotion of Basti to Under-Sheriff. Next will come the loyal to Parkinson SLOPD officers that will begin double dipping when they retire fro SLOPD and become deputies. This is going to be an interesting 4-years.

“… interesting 4-years”? I don’t think so. Now that he’s been elected and will be the incumbent in future elections, this guy will be SLO county sheriff for the next 20-years – all the while working on “his” mail-order college degree.

And his message to the voters?

His sincerity is lacking, his words are canned, and he is going to meet tough scrutiny from the voting public…as well he should.

What does Parkinson mean or intend when he says he wants the Sheriff’s Department to be the “law enforcement leader in this county”? Does that mean he intends for his department to boss around the various city police forces in this county?

Maybe before Parkinson starts trying to lead what he HAS NOT been elected to lead, he should get his own house in order, because it’s clearly a mess as it is, and we can expect the department to continue paying more out-of-court settlements in the future to make the complaints go away.

A Citizen’s Review Board is long overdue, and there’s no way the Sheriff should be allowed to be the coroner as well as sheriff.

What is to “dislike” about this post? It seems right-on to me. Does someone reading this actually enjoy having poorly trained, undisciplined sheriff deputies and watching our county pay MORE out-of-court settlements? No wonder the department is so troubled and Pat Hedges went into hiding long ago and the department continues to cover up essential and troubling facts about the department.

“Aggressive marijuana busts prompt protests”…. What are you going to do with it? Show time…

I agree with you, Bob. It is doubtful that Ian Parkinson could write anything that long, especially since his brother finished that police test for him way back when. Does Ian Parkinson even know what a semi-colon is?

Yes, let’s wish the man well. But while we’re at it, we better wish ourselves well, too. We’re going to need it!

Wow. That was very well written; I wish our new Sheriff all the luck in the world in turning around our beleaguered Sheriff’s Department. I really do hope that he will be very effective at his new job, and that he can earn the respect of all (or at least most) of San Luis Obispo county. (and of course, since I am such a jerk, did Parkinson write that all by himself?)