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A whiter shade of male

Sheriffing is a man’s job, ladies. I’m sure you understand that.

Ron Hickman

One month into his job as Harris County sheriff, Ron Hickman has filled his roster of top commanders, a new hierarchy marked by one omission: There are no women.

Hickman picked 19 men and also scrapped the role of a liaison for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender inmates and residents, part of a broad-reaching civil rights initiative established by his Democratic predecessor.

When Hickman, a Republican, assumed the helm, he said, “Diversity for diversity’s sake is not always effective.” In a recent statement, Hickman defended his final team for its vast education, experience and devotion to police work.

The lack of women in leadership roles is worth noting because representation in the top ranks promotes a message about equity, provides role models and boosts morale, said Danielle Flanagan, an instructor of criminal justice at West Texas A&M University who studied women in policing in the Texas panhandle.


At that point, J.M. “Smokie” Phillips Jr., the president of the Afro-American Sheriff’s Deputy League, said his members were concerned about returning to a previous period of racism and disparity in treatment. Johnny Mata, the presiding officer for the Greater Houston Coalition for Justice, said diversity in law enforcement command in an area as diverse as Harris County demonstrates the sensitivity of the officeholder to serve the community as a whole.

The complete command lineup Hickman unveiled Friday comprises three black men, two Hispanic men and 14 white men – two of whom were brought back from retirement.

The Houston Police Department command, by comparison, has two black females, two black males, two Asian-American males, one Hispanic female, two Hispanic males, one white female and eight white males, said department spokesman Victor Senties.

The sheriff emphasized that his administration collectively possesses 620 years of law enforcement experience, 13 post-graduate degrees, six diplomas from the FBI National Academy, 87 professional certifications, 46 memberships to professional law enforcement and community associations. He noted in a press statement that expertise, qualifications, passion and experience were his top priorities in selecting commanders.

See here and here for some background. Another way of looking at 620 years of experience among 19 people is to note that their average age must therefore be in the mid-fifties. Clearly, diversity in age range isn’t much of a priority, either. Be all that as it may, I’d like to thank Sheriff Hickman for so effectively clarifying what the 2016 election will be about. Do you want the same old thing being done by the same old people as it always has been done, or do you want to live in the 21st century? The choice will be yours. Campos has more.

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One Comment

  1. Steven Houston says:

    I was told he was “instructed” to select at least two black males and one of the Hispanics otherwise his command staff would have been even less diverse, the initial article worrying a couple on Commissioner’s Court about Hickman’s chances in 2016. Had the primary focus of the article been on women, he would have been “instructed” to pick a few of those too.

    But seeing as how the sheriff’s focused response was based largely in numbers, keep in mind that the FBI program is mostly a vacation for Lt’s and Captain’s, there are all sorts of “professional certifications” & “associations” that are merely groups you send a check to and you become listed as a member (as long as you keep your dues paid), and post graduate degrees are a dime a dozen these days at many online diploma mills or “executive” programs where everyone who pays will pass, little academic rigor applied.

    In terms of the “620 years of law enforcement experience”, it has been pointed out to me that a great many in the field have 1 or 2 years experience repeated 10 or 15 times, collective data meaningless given the wealth of fields one may gain knowledge of. Those who work in corporate America or manufacturing know exactly what I mean as there are many people around that pull the same lever to finish a cog and do so week in and week out for decades or those who can only function when nothing out of the norm takes place.

    So when the new guy appoints someone with virtually no patrol experience to be in charge of patrol, someone with no jail experience to be in charge of the jail, someone whose only experience in flying being his vacations put in charge of aviation, a guy in charge of investigations that nobody thinks is qualified given his record, and so on, you begin to wonder if this is just the first shuffle of the deck or what is going on.