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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
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July 15, 2009     Feather River Bulletin
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July 15, 2009
 

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12A Wednesday, July 15, 2009 HAGWOOD, from page 1A "I think we're going to be bringing about some changes in specific services, but I think we're going to be bring- ing around some changes in terms of the general attitude and the approach that I believe the community will respond very favorably to." Mindset Hagwood said he recog- nized that law enforcement was a different kind of field than most professions and required the cultivation of a specific type of mindset for employees to be able to balance life and work. "Law enforcement is a very different culture and the people in law enforcement, by and large, don't look at it as a job. "It becomes almost an all-encompassing aspect of their life, and to the extent that we have people dedicat- ing their lives to this, I think we need to cultivate them and develop them and allow them to realize their poten- tial, because we have a lot of men and women at the agency who have tremendous potential and are incredibly dedicated and very, very talented, and it's really enjoy- able for me to have an oppor- tunity to help that potential be realized. "I also am looking to take on these added responsibili- ties, because I think there's been an attitude and a mind- set that hasn't been as service-oriented +historically as I think the community would like. "In this day and age the management styles that typi- cally ruled law enforcement in the '70s and into the '80s aren't nearly as effective as I think a different approach can be." Cooperation and patience Hagwood went on to discuss his hopes for more collaboration and communi- cation between the sheriff's office, other agencies and the public. Acting Undersheriff Greg Hagwood He also talked about how those relationships could be improved. "I think calm, reasoned, well thought-out approaches with input from the people that are affected develops much more effective working relationships--be it in neigh- borhoods or with businesses or with other government offices, be it the district attor- ney's office, probation, the courts. "We cannot be an island anymore, and we can't take an isolationist approach to what we do. "We need to, I think, to open ourselves up to the public. I think we need to understand our roles in a community and not overstep our authorities." Keeping it in context The acting undersheriff also expressed a need for the sheriff's office to remind itself of what power it has attained and why authority has been given to the agency. He also said it would be important for employees to be re-instilled with a sense of the impact their actions have on people in the community. "You know as a law enforcement officer or when you're in corrections, you have, you are granted, incredible authority; and you have an immeasurable ability to impact people's lives. As we go through our careers and we do it day in and day out, sometimes it's'easy to lose sight of that or lose the appreciation for that. "What we may do on a daily basis, and we've talked about it before, where an officer makes a car stop, he might make two or three, and you know that evening it's not even on his mind, but that one car stop for that one individual could be the most significant event in their life for weeks or months. How you manage that authority, and how you manage yourself has a huge, huge impact on people's lives." Conversely, he added, "Sometimes you have to exercise your authorities to the full extent." What we're here for To explain what he be- lieved helps officers make good decisions about how much muscle to flex in a given situation.'he said, "It goes back to my basic premise, that we're public servants and we're problem- solvers. "The public is not there for our entertainment. We are there for them, to help them with their problems, and sometimes solving a problem involves taking people to jail. "Sometimes it doesn't have to, and if we can foster a mindset within our agency that is: 'We approach prob- lems with the idea of solving them, we don't invent prob- lems that don't exist or create problems that aren't there.' "When you find yourself in a situation and you're dealing with people, usually in anxious situations or stressful situations, you need to address it calmly and fairly and as gently as you can to the extent you can. "There are those situations where you have to exercise your authorities to the full measure, but maintain- ing a constant sense of that authority and what I think our officers roles ought to be in our communities is something that I would like the opportunity to bring about." Staying grounded Hagwood focused on a need to approach police work with a philosophical mindset that recognizes the reasons be- hind police work instead of romanticizing guns, bullets, cars and handcuffs. "I think our communities have changed and I think it's time that our attitude and our approaches keep step with that. While we can't al- ways give special interests exactly what they want, we need to do everything we can to just provide the service. "It's very easy to lose sight of that after you've done this work for years and years. "You know you have your set, you have your mindset, Iill + hrge, and mn gccommo&te a nice sized front and back garden andAr hwn arm. 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"There are very, very few professions that you have the ability to do what we can do. It's, you know, the ability to take away people's freedoms, the ability to ultimately take somebody's life. "You need to have a rever- ence for that authority and those abilities, and if you lose sight of that, then you're not going to be serving the people. I think that is what really needs to be brought 'back to our agency is a stronger sense of that." Learning from predecessors The acting undersheriff said being a long4erm PCSO employee has given him a chance to watch multiple sheriffs and their different strategies in runningthe department. He said the lessons learned from that experience woflld be a big factor in his decision-making, if elected. "I've had the opportunity to work with a lot of great people and all of the different administrations have had different styles. While there will be occasions where I don't always know what to do, as I look back on the last 20 years, I've certainly learned what not todo. "Every administration has had some successes and every administration has had some difficulties, and that's not a judgment about those administrations; it's a fact of life. "I think we have the ability to develop some trans- parency and a much better .working relationship with the public that we serve. It doesn't work the other way. The public is not there to serve us and the public isn't there for our entertainment." "We serve them and when you develop an appreciation for that whole concept, I think it has a,natural effect on your performance and the approach that you take when you go to work." Day-to-day mentality Hagwood also explained how he would want PCSO employees to think about their job in the future. "Our officers, when they get dressed and get ready for work, I don't want them thinking about how many tickets they're going to write or how many people they're going to put in jail. "I want them thinking about the person around the corner who had a burglary and 'how can I help them get their property back?' "I want them thinking about a youngster that may be having some difficulties in his family or with substance abuse and 'can I stop by and visit with him and is there a way to make a positive impact on people's lives today' as opposed to 'how many people I can arrest.' "When you adopt this idea t.hat you're going to go to work and you're going to lock people up, then I think you're skating on thin ice. I think you're losing sight of why you're there, and especially in small communities the need to provide that service is even greater." Small-town officers The acting undersheriff also addressed the specific psychological and social effects of being a small-town law enforcement officer and the need for management to be aware of those differences. "In large metropolitan departments, in largb cities, as a law enforcement officer, you're a law enforcement officer and that's what people see you as. In small commu- nities you're a law enforce- ment officer but you're also so-and-so's brother or sister or that deputy's son plays on my son's baseball team. "There's no anonymity. You can't expect to enjoy any level of anonymity when you hold a position within the sheriff's department in a small community. When you go to work and you interact with somebody under some stressful circumstances, you need to realize that person's children may be in your children's class and you may be going on field trips with these people. So when you understand that and appreciate it, I think you need to tarthe service that you provide in keeping with that. "It's very, very different and it makes being a law enforcement officer in a small community that much more challenging, because I grew up in Quincy. "There's people still in Quincy that I went to elementary school with; that I went to high school with; and I graduated with them; I've known them all my life, and there's been occasions where I've had to take them into custody or make an arrest, and it makes it that much more challenging. "Being a law enforcement officer, be it dispatch or corrections, working for the sheriff's department in a small community is much, much more taxing in terms of doing a good job than in a large metropolitan area,. because yot! arrest somebody for something one night, the next week they may be cooking your meals at a restaurant that you go to. "You can do your job and be effective and still maintain a measure of re- spect and dignity within your community. "It's when you lose sight of some of the ideals that we've talked about, that living in a small community and being a law enforcement officer becomes more difficult. "If you're going to be successful you have to treat people fairly, reasonably,, and if there's a situation where you have to take them into custody, and you've done your job reasonably and fairly, chances are they're go- ing to understand that." Conclusion As the interview came to a close Hagwood said, "It's a great agency, we've got great people. We live in wonderful communities, and I look at it as just a tremendous opportunity to move our department forward to that next level that I think the Public will appreciate." Invest in PLUMAS COUNTY Driveway Slurry Sealing Hot Melted Crack Filling LEWIS P. 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