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O’Donnell: NCSO should do more to recognize officers

<p>Horace Langford Jr. / Pahrump Valley Times - Sheriff’s candidate Tom O’Donnell</p>

Horace Langford Jr. / Pahrump Valley Times - Sheriff’s candidate Tom O’Donnell

Changes to the Nye County Sheriff’s Office policies on employee supervision, promotion and recognition for outstanding service are among the top items one sheriff’s candidate says he would implement if elected to office.

Tom O’Donnell has been employed with the NCSO for 20 years. Prior to joining the department, he served 12 years with the Department of Energy security and four years as an officer with the U.S. Air Force security police.

O’Donnell says he has a number of ideas if elected on how to improve operations in the sheriff’s office and make it a better agency for both its employees and the people they serve.

O’Donnell says he feels it’s important to make sure the sheriff is out in the field on a regular basis, visible to both deputies and the public. If elected, he said he would make sure to make the rounds in both the county’s northern and southern areas, making a point to be available to speak with officers if they have questions or concerns.

“Everything is how you put your product on the street, it’s how you interact with the public,” he said. “There are some officers who learn from example, good and bad, so you need to be out there, you can’t just sit in the office. The other thing you can’t do is just sit in one substation. You’ve got to be able to go out there and let the officers see you. If I know what your concerns are I can address them. If I just sit in my office and say don’t rock my boat that doesn’t work.”

The sheriff’s candidate said he would also like to change how the sergeants are used in the department as well.

O’Donnell said he believes sergeants should be out in the field more, backing up deputies and making sure everything is handled correctly, instead of cooped up in the office filing paperwork.

“Sergeants are force multipliers. They’re field supervisors; they’re supposed to be out in the field, backing up their deputies on hot calls,” he said. “Right now they sit in the office and take care of reports that could be better handled by admin personnel. You don’t need to be paying a supervisor to be a secretary. You get them out in the field where they’re checking on their guys and making sure they’re doing what their supposed to be doing, they have the equipment they need, that they’re car is up to snuff. And these are ideas I’ve had from working in both the Air Force and DOE.”

O’Donnell said he would also like to change the way people are promoted as well.

The candidate said he would like to implement a testing system that officers at every level in the office, from entry level deputies to the assistant sheriff, would be required to take and provide a clearer, more defined path about the qualifications and skills needed to earn a promotion.

“What I want to see is standardized testing all the way through the ranks, all the way from patrol deputies through the assistant sheriff. Right now you test for sergeant, sometimes you do sometimes you don’t, they’ve given it away a couple of times, and that way people have something to look forward to, there’s upward mobility through testing as opposed to who you are in with,” he said.

He said he also believes it’s important for the department to recognize officers for going above and beyond the call of duty, to encourage and inspire them to continue doing so.

“People are more worried about what’s going to happen if they mess up than we are for recognizing them when they do well,” he said. “Recognizing the contributions of your employees is a morale builder. And you don’t work to get stuff, but if you do something that exemplifies what we’re supposed to represent in the field, you’re supposed to be recognized for that. You’re not supposed to take a bullet just to receive an award, otherwise they wouldn’t have any other awards than the bullet award. We have service awards, we have good conduct awards, and they’re not being given out.”

Although the candidate says he hasn’t had the chance to look at the NCSO budget, one way he believes he could save the department money is by switching to a different reporting system.

He said he has heard in the office that the cost of the current system, which requires officers to dictate their reports and then have them sent off to be transcribed, costs as much as annual salaries for three entry level deputies.

By switching to a different system where they wrote up their own reports, he believes it could allow them to save the county money.

“If you look at entry level employees that saves three officers jobs in this fiscal crisis we’re under. That’s three deputies that don’t have to worry about being laid off and all we have to do is go back to writing our own reports and handing it the sergeant for the sergeant to send it over to data processing,” he said.

As his campaign for the sheriff’s race continues, O’Donnell says he would also like people to know he is financing his own campaign. He doesn’t plan to ask for any donations or contributions, just the support of those who feel he is the right man for the job.

“The definition of insanity of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. If you elect someone into office that has been in management and expect a change in how the office runs, that won’t happen. They’ve been doing it that way and it’s been tradition. Obviously there needs to be a change or there wouldn’t be so many people running for this office,” he said.

For more information about O’Donnell’s campaign email him at tod4nyesheriff@hotmail.com or find him on Facebook at facebook.com/tom.odonnell.