COLUMN: How the ECSO organizational structure facilitates communication

Submitted photo.
Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown.

Communication in an organization and the flow of information within it are key — and your Sheriff’s Office is no different.

Our organizational chart is designed to facilitate communication within its different levels and across its areas: information has to move from top to bottom and from bottom to top. Our chart encompasses the sheriff’s office and the jail, and both operate on a ranking structure and chain of command that provide 24/7 supervision for more than 200 employees. It’s a model traditional to law enforcement and you’ll see it used in other organizations like fire departments.

As the sheriff, I have the overall responsibility for your Sheriff’s Office and the jail, and I have a chief deputy as my second in command. Reporting directly to the chief deputy are our operations captain, an administrative captain, the jail captain and the lieutenant over our narcotics unit.

Our operations captain’s span of control includes our patrol, criminal investigation and civil/warrants divisions, which are each led by a lieutenant. Our patrol lieutenant oversees four patrol sergeants, a training sergeant and our license and weight unit. Each patrol sergeant has a corporal as a second-in-command to facilitate the supervision of a shift of patrol deputies. The operations captain also has responsibility for the evidence room.

The CID lieutenant is responsible for maintaining a broad view of what crimes are occurring and any patterns that may be developing; he coordinates information with the patrol lieutenant and also secures whatever resources are needed to facilitate that work. He is assisted by a sergeant, whose responsibility is the day-to-day supervision of our investigators and crime scene technician.

Our civil/warrants lieutenant oversees not only our agency’s civil and warrants operations, but also court security, transport and animal control. He is assisted by a sergeant in ensuring all of those areas are running smoothly.

Our administrative captain oversees our communications/dispatch, the auto shop/mechanics, personnel/hiring, our reserve deputies and our clerks. A day dispatch supervisor and a night dispatch supervisor report directly to him; in turn, they oversee the dispatch shift supervisors. The reserve lieutenant who handles the day-to-day reserve activities reports directly to the administrative captain, whose other responsibilities include internal affairs, budgeting, grant management and also oversight of the Explorers program, which has a lead advisor/deputy.

Our jail captain has five lieutenants that report to him: four of those are shift lieutenants, with the fifth responsible for jail transport duties. Reporting to the lieutenants are shift sergeants and corporals with responsibilities for the direct supervision of detention officers.

With a ranking structure and chain of command, questions are answered at the direct supervisory level; the structure also provides a mechanism by which questions can be directed up the chain when they need to be. The dissemination of information is facilitated through the chain; it is a two-way process that flows both ways. Our staff meetings include everyone from the lieutenant level up so we can coordinate among the different divisions and areas and to prevent any silo pitfalls.

I also want to point out another benefit to having this organizational structure – and that is, it promotes accountability. Everyone’s responsibilities and areas of oversight are defined and known. Your Sheriff’s Office is accountable to you, the community we serve, and because I’m the name at the top of that chart, I’m the one ultimately responsible to you as to how your Sheriff’s Office runs and operates.

Please, everyone, let’s keep our military and service personnel in our thoughts and prayers. We enjoy our rights and freedoms because of their service and safekeeping of our great nation. Y’all have a Blessed Week.

Johnny Brown has served as Sheriff of Ellis County since Jan. 1, 2009, and is a graduate of the National Sheriff’s Institute. He has been in law enforcement for more than 20 years and holds a Master’s Peace Officer’s Certificate with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education.