Saturday, March 13, 2010

Catching Up

Catching up, I swear, it seems like all I ever do anymore. I had a paperwork SNAFU a few weeks ago. To be honest, something I should've stayed on top of, but I let it slip by me, and it bit me right where you'd think. When you stop and look at it, in the grand scheme of things, it was a relatively minor screw-up. No one got hurt by it, physically, mentally, financially, or any other -ally that you could think of. Don't tell that to the brass though, cause holy crap what a storm it brought down on my stupid arse.

There's a lot of paperwork in this job, probably at least 65% of what we do involves paperwork and tracking things like who's getting out when, how much money they owe a victim, how much longer we'll supervise them, and if /when they complete any of a myriad of little time wasters a judge might tick off for them to do, from substance abuse counseling, to acquiring a GED , attending any one of a number of classes from victim awareness, to MADD, to anger management. The list is, apparently, endless, and if you forget to check off something before that expiration date comes and goes, your butt goes in the wringer. At least, mine does :p

Anyway, I get dinged for a slippage on the paperwork side, not for any fieldwork, arrests, or any actual interactions with the people I ride herd on, but for not paying close enough attention to an expiration date, and checking off a tick mark. Whatever. I'm a man, admit my mistakes, and get ready to take my lumps. Only thing is, the boss doesn't come out with the clue bat, like one might expect, but with a damned pink slip! Talk about over-reacting. Says this slip-up is a sign that my job performance is sub-standard, and if I can't get it up to scratch in 90 days, I'm gonna have to hit the pavement. Wowzers! Once again, I'm a man, I can own up to my own mistakes, and do whatever it takes to make it right.

Enter my direct supervisor, who I always knew was a bit detail oriented, and my new, weekly checklist of paperwork that must be done. I swear, I've gone from doing a moderate amount of paperwork each week, and having a pretty good handle on what my people were up to, to doing 4 times the paperwork I used to do each month, on a weekly basis, and not even recognizing all the names on my caseload. Once again, it's going to get done, and at the end of 90 days, everything will be just so, and I'll be off the hook, for a month or two anyway, and there's the rub.

I could see the striving for perfection and exact paperwork compliance among 100% of field agents, with axes falling for minor infractions, if we were busting. If the economy was good, our agency was fully funded, and we had field agents swinging from the rafters. However, that is most definitely, not the case. The last time we hired a group of field agents, was like December of 2007, and they've all been let go already, over a year ago in fact. RIFed a few days before their one year probationary period would have expired. They found out a few days before Christmas in 2008 (heck of a holiday present to take home to your pregnant wife eh?). Our agency is supposed to have about 540 certified officers state wide, if a recall correctly. Currently, our roster of certified officers hovers just above 300 or so. Don't believe me? Read all about it here. That's actually a fairly decent article, as newspapers go. It's from down in the Low Country, and they interviewed a local PD Chief. Seems the legislature is talking about cutting our agency's funding to the point that about 100 officers would have to be let go across the state. I like the Chief's take on things, though I've never met him personally, he sounds like someone I'd rather have making these kinds of decisions, than some of the chuckleheads we have in the capitol currently.

Anyway, the crux of it all is this. I've got a pink-slip hanging over my head if I don't do my job correctly. Easily accepted, if you can't cut it, you need to find a new line of work. Only problem is, I've got another pink slip hanging over my head, because the legislature is more concerned with funding unemployment benefits, and subsidized housing, than it is about keeping decent people safe from criminals. That's the one that torques me off, because I know I'm going to ace the performance aspect, but I can't do anything about a bureaucrat with less sense than rock.

Legislature is supposed to be working on the budget this coming week, so in a week or so, I should know whether or not I'm going to have to hit up old contacts in local agencies for a road patrol job. If I do, at least it will probably make for an increase in the number of stories for blog fodder :p

Hope everyone is doing good out there, and stay safe.



Crucis said...

Good to hear from you again. I got the left boot from my employer in December. I've some severance pay yet, but my next decision is whether to retire. So far no bites on my resume and phone calls are being ignored. Just about the norm around here.

Get back into their good graces. If/When cuts come, they'll look at everything.

Casey said...

Wow man, sorry to hear you got cut loose. Thank goodness for the severance package. If the cuts come our way, there won't be any severance packages :/

As for getting in their good graces, I'm already there. I'm actually one of the go-to guys for field work. You need a body for an arrest, a transport to jail, a last minute call for extradition in Backwater, someone that knows guns and people for a warrant service where the suspect is believed to be armed, I'm one of the first guys they call for. That's one of the reasons the response to the paperwork lapse was such a shocker.

Of course, if the cuts do come, no matter how much they like you, or how big of an asset you might be, we're a state agency, so when RIFs come, it's last hired, first fired. Puts me about 3rd or 4th on the list in our office, and probably 25-30ish state wide. There were a couple of hiring cycles after me, but then they just locked it down.

No real worries though. Something will come along, and I've already got feelers out here and there seeing what I might parley into something if needed.

Good luck with your own search, I definitely know how you feel.