Golden boys tarnish the badge

Washoe County resident Janice Blue is a retired Washoe County Sheriff’s Office captain and a former police chief. If Darin Balaam wishes to respond, we will provide space for his reply next week.

When I began my law enforcement career at age 21, women had to wear skirts and token females were placed on each shift in patrol.

I won a promotional exam only to have test results nullified because several male deputies cheated. The cure proved worse than the disease. Subsequent executive staff manipulation forced female candidates to the bottom of the advancement list.

When Sheriff Dick Kirkland was elected, he ensured a fair and transparent process, providing equal opportunity. This allowed me to become a lieutenant, then captain. During my career, I became this region’s first female narcotics officer.

When Dennis Balaam succeeded Kirkland, the department returned to the dark ages. Sexual harassment, favoritism and nepotism were rampant. When Darin Balaam, Dennis Balaam’s son, failed the patrol training program, his father intervened and forced staff to “audit” the program. Darin then passed.

Sheriff Balaam continued the practice of blocking women from leading in patrol and subjected me to screaming matches when I dared to challenge the culture. I filed a complaint and won.

The next administration wasn’t any better. When Darin worked under me as a lieutenant, it was party time. He took two-hour breakfasts with my boss, two-hour lunches with staffers and missed meetings to visit with his wife across town. To my knowledge, Mrs. Balaam was the only deputy allowed to work from home while pregnant. All others had to take sick leave or work at the office.

When I questioned this behavior, my life was over. I became a target. I was sabotaged by Darin and his cronies.

Previously suffering from cancer, I ended my career early due to the rampant hostility, nepotism and unhealthy environment started under the Balaam regime that was allowed to continue into the next.

I question Darin’s judgment. He wanted to experiment with K9 dogs deploying from the department’s helicopter, which led to expensive damage that took the helicopter out of action (Reno Gazette-Journal May 1, 2008).

As his superior, I had denied his request. Training should come after fire season. He went over my head. There was no news coverage that Darin Balaam pushed for the excursion at a cost approaching $170,000. People lost their homes without the helicopter’s firefighting capacity. I was there, kicking in doors, evacuating people and animals.

Later, following a wildfire that burned six homes in Reno, Fire division chief Marty Scheuerman told the county commission, “I wish I would have had it [the helicopter] yesterday” (Reno Gazette-Journal Oct. 20, 2008).

This behavior will not change if Darin Balaam is elected to his dad’s old job. It will be all about his buddies and what he can do for them.

Change is needed, and you won’t get that by voting for an entitled golden boy.