ORPD Turnover Issues: My email to the city manager

The following email was sent on 1/25/2014 to the Oak Ridge City Manager, Mark Watson and copied to all of city council and the press:

Mark,

I commend you for swiftly responding to Officer Christopher Bayless’ January 14th “Grievance to Proposal of Disciplinary Action.” I have read this 48 page file and agree with your decision (outlined in your January 15th response letter) to overrule Chief Akagi’s disciplinary decisions.

I also want to thank  you for your January 22nd response to my request for a complete listing of departed police personnel since Chief Akagi arrived here 3 ½ years ago. I offer the following extrapolations of that file for your consideration:

  • In 3 ½ years, we’ve lost 30 members of our police force which, by my count, consists of 76 personnel.*
  • That equates to 11.7 per year or a 15% annual turnover rate for the department*
  • Last I checked with HR, the city wide turnover rate per year is about 5%
  • This also equals a 40% total loss of force since Akagi’s arrival
  • These 30 men and women held 335 years of experience between them
  • The average tenure of those who have departed is 11 years

While I’m sure that similar statistics may be found in other regions of the country, one must consider our largest and most direct competition to truly appreciate this data. According to this December 2014 article, KPD’s turnover rate is only 2.9%.

I’m sure you agree that having a turnover rate five times that of our neighbor demands further scrutiny. Given the seriousness of the allegations found in both Bayless’ packet and in the three emails council received from Mr. Bobby Hill (January 14 & 15th), I trust that you have not completed your internal investigation.

I want to share with you some perspectives that you would likely not be privy to otherwise. Over the last two years, I’ve talked with a number of our departed officers who have told me that their reasons for leaving were not completely reflected in their official resignation statements. Rather, most attribute their departures to feeling “forced out.” They also expressed concern for those who remain in the department. Nearly all of those with whom I spoke say that there are many more preparing to leave and are “just counting the days.”

As we’ve seen in national headlines as of late, the integrity of an entire police department can be called into question by the behaviors of a select few. I believe that our turnover issues are not a reflection on the character of the majority of our men and women in blue, rather they are attributable to leadership. I stand ready to assist you in your efforts to immediately address these problems and stabilize our police department.

Regards,

Trina Baughn

 

*I’ve mirrored your turnover data by omitting animal control staff and crossing guards from my calculations.

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11 thoughts on “ORPD Turnover Issues: My email to the city manager

  1. Tina,

    The turnover rate is alarming. Is the Chief trying to change the underlying culture of the department? Is he suppressing those who disagree with the new policies he has implemented? Is he moving toward a more professional, better trained force? What practices, policies, and management actions have served to pursuade so many officers to leave?

    All we (citizens) know is that experienced officers, some of whom have served for years, are exiting. As a retired person with 25 years as a law enforcement officer, I find this troubling. A fine young officer once lived in my neighborhood. He was a person of integrity, loved his job, and served the community well. Now he is gone, and I wonder why.

    Donald E. Forester

    ………………………………………..

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