The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

December 28, 2010
Inspector general abruptly cuts short term in office

David Shaw.jpgInspector General David Shaw, whose office has come under scrutiny for assigning sworn peace officer status to its lawyers and auditors, on Monday told the department's staff that he is retiring.

Acting Chief Deputy Inspector General Bruce Monfross will take over for the 54-year-old Shaw, whose last day on the job is Thursday, said Laura Hill, special adviser to the inspector general.

"He's retiring after many years of state service to move on to other opportunities," Hill told The State Worker.

The sudden announcement comes less than two years into Shaw's six-year term as the head of the Office of the Inspector General. The 150-employee, $26 million department investigates staff and management crimes, misconduct, waste, fraud and other abuses within the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

The scrutinizers became the scrutinized last month after a Senate report questioned whether its auditors and attorneys should be classified as peace officers. The designation covers two-thirds of the department and carried with it perks and benefits that include training, weapons, a take-home state vehicle and the chance to retire earlier than most state workers.

The highly critical report noted that no OIG peace officer had made an arrest or fired a gun in the line of duty in at least five years. About 70 percent of the miles put on the department's vehicles were home-to-work commutes, the report said.

Shaw justified the policy as a recruiting and retention tool: "It is hard to attract attorneys and auditors to work in a prison and around inmates and parolees without some significant incentives," he said in a letter responding to the Senate report.

The Legislature and the Department of Administration signed off on giving OIG auditors and attorneys peace officer status.

A few days before the report's publication, inspector general officials told The State Worker during a separate inquiry that the office was taking back the guns issued to auditors and was switching from take-home vehicles to a motor pool system.

The policy change didn't affect the peace officer status of those employees and, those officials said, the move was a response to the state's strained finances. They didn't mention the pending Senate report or that OIG attorneys also had peace officer status.

In a Dec. 2 e-mail sent to OIG staff and obtained by The State Worker shortly after the report was issued, Shaw wrote, "Clearly, the folks who wrote this had an agenda and have carried it out with a vengeance. Reporters have started calling our office for comment and I think we can expect plenty of media interest due to the salacious way the report is written."

The scrutiny has extended beyond the media.

Democrat Mark Leno, chairman of the Senate Public Safety Committee, said that the report exposed "what certainly appears to be an abuse" of the peace officer classification.

Leno may hold hearings or support budget legislation to make changes. He's been talking about the next move with Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento. Steinberg's Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes issued the report that rankled Shaw.

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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