Arnold: Promotional process within sheriff’s department needs changes



Some of the changes that I aim to make as sheriff within the department relate to the promotional process. While there are several components to the promotional process, my focus is merit board interviews and past performance evaluations. Both of these categories are subjective because they are based on opinion instead of an officer’s ability to do the job.

I believe that modifications need to be made regarding the internal merit board interviews. In my opinion, the questions asked are arbitrary and should have no function in the overall point system when a deputy has chosen to seek a promotion. Usually (but not always) a deputy has enough experience in their career to have made critical decisions while on duty. These actions would have been, or should have been, accounted for in their past performances by a supervisor. A deputy is entrusted with making split-second and often complicated decisions and will be recognized for their actions, good or bad, in their performance evaluation. The interviews conducted by the merit board include some questions that do not relate to an officer’s ability to perform the job and, in my opinion, should not be a factor in determining their future with the department. These interviews currently carry the weight of nearly one-third of the entire point system, second only to a written exam. It is my belief that this category should not carry as much weight as it does or it should be removed entirely.

In regards to past performance evaluations, it is always necessary and important to reflect on the past activities of a deputy/member of the department. This is how we stay on the correct path and continue to work to do better for ourselves, each other, the department and the community.  However, in my opinion, the past performance evaluation needs to be re-evaluated and updated.  The addition or subtraction of just one word in a category could mean the difference between gaining or losing two points. That one word could be a significant difference when the overall scores are calculated. There should be a more logical and streamlined evaluation system in place that is fair and practical.

Another concern I have relating to the promotional process is that whomever is appointed chief is allowed to test for positions that are below their rank. This becomes a problem due to the fact that the individual in that position often works in close proximity with the merit board regarding department business/functions. Depending where the chief would finish on the eligibility list, this could remove the chance for a deputy, sergeant or captain who is working up through the ranks to attain certain positions that would be held for someone who cannot physically occupy the role.  This was not always the case and it was changed under the previous administration. As sheriff, I would have my second in command sign a waiver stating that he/she will not test for positions below his/her rank until I am able to have made the proper amendments.

I feel the promotional process should occur every year, not every two years as it currently stands, to keep the interest alive within the department. I believe that updating and modernizing the current process would create a more level playing field for deputies who would be interested in seeking promotions and attract more candidates.

In closing, I recognize and appreciate that the merit board plays an important role within the sheriff’s office, however I do not believe they should have as much involvement with the promotional process.

Feel free to contact me with any questions, comments or concerns at

James D. Arnold

Democratic candidate for La Porte County Sheriff

2 Responses to “Arnold: Promotional process within sheriff’s department needs changes”

  1. You know it!

    Jul 21. 2021

    Awesome! This whole process needs to be reevaluated 👏🏻

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  2. Tim

    Aug 17. 2021

    While all that internal change may be needed. What are your plans to keep our streets safe? How are you going to address the drug issues? What improvements are you going to make on crime? Are you going to increase patrols in the county? You’re going to have to do more than improve internal issues to get my vote.

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