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September 5, 2023 47 mins

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The CopDoc Podcast - Season 6 - Episode 110
Prepare to be enlightened by Sylvia Moir, the Under Sheriff of Marin County, California, who carries with her a wealth of knowledge from her 35-year policing career. Sylvia's philosophy of leadership is characterized by an intense focus on listening and understanding, acknowledging that her role encompasses more than just her — it is about the organization, the community, and the profession. 

As Sylvia unravels her experiences, she opens up about her unique approach to professional development, demonstrating how strategic delegation and a commitment to diverse perspectives can empower a team and enrich decision-making processes. She also explores the evolution of the policing profession, underlining the rise in intellectual standards and underscoring the importance of accountability, certification, and pride within the force. 

In the latter part of our discussion, Sylvia highlights the vital role of collaboration and humanity in policing. She also delves into the concept of regionalization and customer service in law enforcement, drawing the line between civil rights and human rights. Wrapping up with a captivating tale about a DEA agent's approach to conflict, this episode promises a riveting journey into the mind of a seasoned law enforcement leader. Prepare to be inspired, challenged, and enlightened.

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If you'd like to arrange for facilitated training, or consulting, or talk about steps you might take to improve your leadership and help in your quest for promotion, contact Steve at

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Intro Outro (00:02):
Welcome to The Cop Doc Podcast.
This podcast explores policeleadership issues and innovative
The Cop Doc shares thoughts andideas as he talks with leaders
in policing communities,academia and other government
And now please join Dr.

Steve Morrealel nd industrythought leaders as they share
their insights and experience onThe Cop Doc Podcast.

Steve Morreale (00:32):
Well, hello everybody.
This is Steve Morealei, comingto you from Boston.
Again, welcome to the Cop DocPodcast.
We are on a bicoastaldiscussion with California.
I am talking to Moir and Marin,the under sheriff of Marin
Sylvia Moir, how are you?

Sylvia Moir (00:49):
I'm fantastic.
Thanks for that.
Looking forward to today in thebicoastal.
It's delicious.

Steve Morreale (00:57):
It does.
So thank you very much.
We have talked, we have met.
I have had the benefit ofinterviewing you for some
research I did on decisionmaking, and I see that you just
continue to work.
I guess you're not going toretire.
What the hell is wrong with you?
Do you go from place to placeto place?

Sylvia Moir (01:13):
Right, I have energy, I have insight, I
genuinely is this an explicitrating?

Steve Morreale (01:19):
You could do whatever you want to say.

Sylvia Moir (01:21):
I give a shit, I can't help it.
Yeah, I give a shit.
So it's this when we're at theright place at the right time,
the only thing that stops us isfear.
So I've retired a few times andthen was not seeking a darn
thing, but tapped on theshoulder and said why not?
So I came right out to Marinafter a why not Conversation.

Steve Morreale (01:40):
Well, I think it's terrific and what you've
gone through.
You started in Sacramento, youhave been in Arizona, you have
been in California, a couple ofplaces you just told me you're
One of the places you're livingis in Northern Arizona and I
want to talk about.
You started in Sacramento and Ijust read that you were in Napa
, like really, really in winecountry!

Sylvia Moir (02:00):
Yes, I know there's nowhere that I've gone.
That sucks, so I go into someincredible places in this
country, mostly West Coast, butI've been really fortunate.

Steve Morreale (02:10):
So you started in policing in 1990?

Sylvia Moir (02:12):
I'm going to tell you something I started 35 years
ago today, so 35 years agotoday Happy anniversary baby.
Thank you.
Thank you, it's just a lovelycoincidence that we're talking
on this day.
So 35 years ago today.
I was just a little punk kid,Really wanted to contribute in
It was my first day in uniform.
It was crazy making.
And here we are.

Steve Morreale (02:32):
Yeah, crazy, I'm looking.
Obviously I have to do somebackground to work with you and
to figure you out, but you werea commander at Menlo Park.
I just talked to the currentchief.
He's in Boston, actually atHarvard.

Sylvia Moir (02:42):
At Smith no.

Steve Morreale (02:43):
Harvard, the Kennedy School, smith's going on
You were the chief of police inEl Cerrito.
You were the police chief inTempe.
You are now the under sheriff,basically the operational boss
up in Marin County, and so can Itake you back before we get
into that, can I?
Ask you to think about thefirst day you walked into a job
as a chief.
What were you thinking?

What were your trepidations?
How did you handle the newstars?

Sylvia Moir (03:09):
Wow, that's a complex question and your
listeners will probably thiswill resonate with them.
One of the gifts that I had onmy first day July 12th, actually
2010, I was a new chief and Ihad come from the Sacramento
Police Department, which offeredme an opportunity to pack up my
stuff, go to a differentcommand, land in that command
and then having the sharedvalues, the shared principles

and the character traits ofbeing a leader in Sacramento
from one command to another.
You land there, you unpack andyou get to know the climate and
some of the cultural nuances inthat different command.
So in that big structure of theSacramento Police Department, I
was able to pack up my stuff,go to a new substation, a new
command, unpack and get to knowpeople.
The reason that's important isit informed the way that I

showed up as a chief, and Ishowed up as a chief.
Two things really instructed howI showed up.
One was that flexibility andthe agility of going from one
command to another.
It wasn't something thatcreated great equilibrium for me
, steve.
The other thing is that Ireally solidly understood that
the higher you go, the less thejob is about you.

So this is what I was facedwith I arrive, I unpack.
I then knew that nothing that Idid from that day forward was
about me, my comfort, myindividual decision making, the
policies, the strategies, theculture, the climate.
That was about the organization, about the community and about
the profession of policing.
So I've often said that thatwas the one thing that really

distinguished how I landed and Iwas confident.
But I was also humble enough toknow I was going to learn a lot
And my approach was really tosit down with each individual
person and ask them thatquestion you and I talked about
Okay, hey, tell me about you,tell me what we do really well,
tell me where we suck.
And if you were chief for a day, what would you do right now?

And so I sat with them and Imined them for their perspective
, their feel, their collectiveindividual and then collective
understanding of how we showedup as a police department.
So I think that gives a senseof kind of how I walked into
that job on that first day.

Steve Morreale (05:13):
Wow, as your colleague Kristen would say, let
me unpack that she has a way oftrying to unpack stuff.

Intro Outro (05:20):
I've never used that term.

Steve Morreale (05:21):
I know I've never used that term until she
used it on me, but there were acouple of things that you said
that I think that are great.
And, by the way, we're talkingto Sylvia Moyer and she is now
the under sheriff in MarinCounty, california, you know, I
think you talked about humility,which I love, and you also
talked about realizing and I'mbeginning to do an awful lot of
work on leadership.
It's all on you, but it's notabout you, and that's exactly

what you said, and you don'tknow what you don't know, and
it's much like me and theability there and the
opportunity I have to be able totalk to people from all over
the world and simply have a chatand ask questions.
So when you're asking questionsof people and I love that what
you said and the way I use it intraining is if you were king or
queen for the day and couldmake one change, one in the

department, what would it be?
Now you've got 30, 50, 70people.
You're talking.
You potentially have 40 or 50ideas, not yours, so go ahead,
talk about that.

Sylvia Moir (06:15):
Right, and then what do you do with that?
And folks not only want to beheard, steve, they want you to
do something about it.
So my approach in El Cerritoand a small organization was
very similar and really the samewhen I landed in Tempe.
So what I did in El Cerrito,what I replicated in Tempe, was
then I created a chart, a list,a table that said okay, without

direct attribution to theindividuals, unless they wanted
it, of course.
I would say you know?
Steve said that the one thinghe'd change is that we would
have a bar scanner for evidencewhen he's booking property and
He said it's laborious and ittakes too much time.
There's the tracking stinks orwhatever.
So item number one in thisexample would be examine or

explore, analyze how toinstitute new technology in
property and evidence.
So that would be the task, orthe insight.
The second thing would be doesthis make sense to do, yes or no
If yes, then who's going to bethe lead?
Now that's the really cool part, steve, that I'll get to in a
Who's going to be the lead ofthat project?
And then feedback has it beencompleted?
What are some dates, somemilestones, and we create an

accountability chart.
Now to the point who's going tobe the lead.
Therein lies one of thosefundamental sergeant tasks that
I learned, and that is wedelegate to develop people.
We never abdicate authority.
And so the delegation that Idid was really prescriptive,
because it wasn't just delegatebecause I don't have time or,
you know, I didn't have thecapacity to do it.

It was delegate, steve, tostrengthen the individual.
So if there was a lieutenantthat hadn't handled a project,
didn't understand the researchelement, the budget, how we
would examine technology or allthe components that go into a
project like that, I would sitwith that lieutenant and in this
example I did and said, hey,here's a project, this is what
we're going to explore, here arethe parameters, here's some

kind of smart practices, here'sthe time in which we're going to
do it, here's your scope andpermissions.
And then say, go do it Now.
Then I would say here's theprinciple of it and the
preference in how you get thereis solely you.
And then sit beside them at keypoints to develop, to nudge, to
re-bore the development of thatemployee, to respect the item

that came up, and then there'swhole feedback mechanism, and so
that's really kind of how Iapproached that Plus, it
cascaded the communication.
It was transparent, people wereheard, they saw change taking
place and, steve, it was changedfrom where they sit.

Steve Morreale (08:38):
Yeah, not you coming in from the outside and
say this is what I say, this iswhat gets people in trouble.
Well, the way we did thissomewhere else at some point in
time too, is, from now on, stoptalking about where you were.
You're here Because I think itrankles people.
But I love what you're sayingand it seems to me that if you
were to collect this informationand create sort of a list,
bring it back to your commandstaff and say listen, I've been
listening to the people which,by the way, is teaching them

that they need to do the samething Sometimes they don't but
also to say here are 25 thingsthat I heard that could be done.
Why don't we put together alist of potential priorities,
think about the factors of costand time and all of those kinds
of things, and let's chip awayat two or three at a time and
push these projects out to otherpeople, because you can get

more done through others.
And again, what you said and Ilove it, it is about developing

Sylvia Moir (09:27):
Right, because if we're just delegating to get
things done, are they reallydeveloping any increased
And if we're really precise,from the leadership position in
which we rest, which we sit,then we would say, look, these
are the folks, here are thedevelopment spaces where they
need to grow, and we look foropportunities that fit that
space and then we don't leavethem out there hanging.

And, like I said, it's aboutthe principle of it.
The preference is kind of howyou get there.
The principle is thatunyielding truth or standard.
And it also then what we didwas we really elevated the
importance of a collectivecommitment to diving into this
Then, kind of process wise,steve, we would take that chart
and the command staff meetingweekly, we'd say, okay, let's
pull up where we at right.

How we doing and everybody wouldreport in and say you know what
, I didn't do anything on that.
Okay, let's make a note.
And then, what are theresources might you need?
And it was a reallycollaborative piece and folks
started seeing things gettingdone and I could say one of the
funny ones in El Cerrito was youknow what?
The bench in the lobby has atear in it and we've put it
together with duct tape for like15 years.

Okay well, what an impressionwhen you walk in right, all
right so how might we just get abid and get that thing
Okay, so I mean it's from thesimple mundane to something
increasingly more significantthat might take a team to
actually appreciate and tocomplete.
Something about that is andhere's a really cool thing

inviting diverse inputs to solvethese problems.
So let's just say, a midmanager, a lieutenant, was in
charge of the project that Idescribed a second ago and I
would say who are you going tohave on this team to enrich your
And typically cops have cops.
I said, well, what if we invitedour professional staff from
this place and this place andthe analyst from over here and

someone from the city that mightbe equally the city attorney's
office or something, to invitethose diverse inputs?
What we found was that theinput was diverse.
It made the decision makingmore rich, it expanded, people
felt included and it gave themvoice across the organization.
So it's a whole bunch ofeffects.
I don't know where it came from.

I think it's kind of asprinkling of a whole bunch of
different learnings that I'vehad, but I found that the real
strength was doing that in theorganization and then recreating
that as I went forward.

Steve Morreale (11:46):
It's interesting that you say that, because I
think, if we look back on thepeople who have influenced us
because one of the questions Ialways ask is, we did you learn
how to lead?
And I think in some cases welearn both from the bad and the
good, what not to do and what toemulate, and then create sort
of a customized approach thatworks for us and for the
organization and think aboutthat.
I think if you said at thebeginning and you did that it's

no longer about me, it's aboutthe rest of them and how I leave
that organization, what is mylegacy?
My legacy is not that I was agreat chief as much.
I was a person who worked tohelp others realize their

Sylvia Moir (12:22):
You're smiling, you're smirking, you're smirking
I am smiling and smirking, nodoubt I think when we increase
the capacity of folks fordisappointment, for the rigors
of the work, to elevate theirthinking, then we are really
doing a service for communitiesand for the profession of
I really wholly believe in that, that we are elevating the

readiness of individuals to leadfrom wherever they sit.

Steve Morreale (12:49):
A couple of times you have said I'm
listening to you, I'm watchingyou and I'm thinking, wow, I
scored a great thought leader.
I think every you may not seeyourself as that, but I do from
the outside, and I think thathonesty, maybe that humility too
, is extremely valuable.
But you said a couple of thingsand one word you're using a lot
is profession.

I challenged a number of peoplewho have said this, including
Bill Bratton with his book andthe profession.
But help me understand, helpthe listeners understand I'm
playing devil's advocate why youfeel we are in a profession.

Sylvia Moir (13:23):
Oh, steve, I think it's clear We've gone from a
trade to a profession and anumber of things.
There are plenty of metrics outthere, but I'll speak wholly as
an observer and as aparticipant.
We have increased theintellectual standard that's
necessary to be in the biz wereally have.
The profession of policing haschanged in that we arguably have

less crime.
We're more sophisticated in theway that we analyze crime.
It used to be crime is here,put cops on dots, search
resources, and that was the onlything that we did.
We now look at things like thestratified model for addressing
We look at temporal approaches,we look at problems differently
, we examine dilemmas and webring an array of resources to

policing and the service ofpolicing.
That really does define it as aprofession.
To add to that, steve, we haveaccountability measures.
We have after action review.
We learn from not only theSentinel events and have
Sentinel event reviews, but weare starting to look at near
misses, like other professions,like medicine and air.
There's an array of things thatdistinguish us as a profession

certification, decertificationand a array of things.
So, if I'm really to capture it, it is increasing our thinking,
increasing and enhancing andstrengthening the intellectual
approach, beside the technologyand the tactics, and the way
that we engage in the humanityand the service and we're also
So if we take the increasedintellectual capacity, the

influence of technology, theeducation, the learning
components, the certification,the accountability and all of
those measures, we can arguethat we are a profession.

Steve Morreale (15:06):
Nicely done.

Sylvia Moir (15:07):
Not sure it was nicely done, but it was real, it
was nicely done.

Steve Morreale (15:09):
No, no, no, no, no, no.
It's from the heart and Iunderstand it.
It's from your lived experience.
And all of the things thatyou're seeing and all policing
under fire, and yet you have togo out there and rally the
troops to say, look, there maybe some people who are naysayers
out there.
We have a job to do.
Go out and do that job, whichis important, it seems to me.
And, by the way, we're talkingto Sylvia Moyer.

She's in Marin County inCalifornia now the under sheriff
when you were talking aboutthat rip.
I wanna go back for a moment onthe couch in the front or the
bench in the front.
So many people and I'll askthis question, an awful lot in
So many people I'll ask Do youallow this is rhetorical to you?
Do you allow your people tohave an ownership stake or are

they simply renting?
And it seems to me, when youinsert pride in essence, pride
and ownership, when you seesomething wrong at the station
that does not give a good image,bring it forward to us to fix.
Don't simply say it's not myjob, so talk about that.

Sylvia Moir (16:07):
That's so funny.
You're talking about this, thesheriff and I interview every
applicant that wants to join ourteam and I consistently
describe for them, or ask themto describe for us, a time when
they took initiative, when yousaw something that was in need
of attention and you identifiedit and then you took it as in
furtherance of solving the issueor remedying that problem.

It could be that bench it'slike, hey, this needs to be
fixed, how do we do that?
And the basic level of inquiryand the permission to ask, and
then the path for folks to takethat initiative and then solve a
That comes from theorganizational climate.
That's how we act, how weinteract, the language we use.
It's more rapidly changing and Icould say that, let's face it,

we have professional staff andwe have sworn staff and some of
those approaches are a littlebit different, right, but we all
share the common thread ofpublic service.
We could say that policing is aunique profession with unique
coping mechanisms.
We have, steve, if we thinkabout this, we have two
government permissions that noother profession enjoys.

Number one is the right todeprive someone of their freedom
to take someone to Ducati.
Deprive them of their freedomthrough arrest and the other
authorities that we enjoy.
The other is the governmentauthority to use deadly force.
Both of those come withincredible consequences,
incredible pieces ofaccountability and incredible
necessities as human beings.
So we share this common desireto make a difference, to leave

scenes, leave places better whenwe leave them, when we found
them, and I think initiative andaffecting change is part of
that foundationally.
And if you strip it all away,this bench idea is and
conversation is something thatat its easiest, is not
consequential by just being abench, but it's consequential in
terms of what it means for theorganization, the messages we

The employee that brought thatforward, that took courage to
sit with the chief of police andsay starts with this bench.
That is a sign.
It's a signal about how we viewourselves, and so changing that
starts to build some momentumaround how we view ourselves

Steve Morreale (18:19):
There was a gap in your tenure from the time you
left Tempe and came here.
What were you doing?
What drew you back?

Sylvia Moir (18:27):
There's the big question, right.
So I retired, I wascoordinating the executive
development course withCalifornia peace officer
standards and training and thatis the highest certification
that an executive in Californiawould achieve.
It's a two week executivecourse.
So I was doing that and then Igot a call from the city manager
in Napa, california, and hesaid, hey, what are you doing?

I said I'm enjoying myself andI've flipped flops and whatever
in Northern California and hesaid, hey, we have a need.
Would you consider coming backand being our interim?
So we had a long conversationabout that the scope and
authority and the permissionsthat I would have and I said,
look, I don't know how to do itand just be you don't want to
babysit right.
So, steve, you know your, yourviewers are going to bristle at

this, but I said, look, there'stwo ways to approach this
interim thing I can be yourrebound chief or I can be your
foster chief.
A rebound is like a reboundrelationship you have a great
time but you make no commitmentand you don't really get to know
each other.
A foster chief is you know, youtake in the organization, you
love them big and you preparethem for being on their own and
really being bigger and betterthan they were with you present

and give them all the skills.
And so I was a foster chief.
I came into the organizationand I got to do some really
important stuff and challengethe thinking and really set some
good expectations and work withthe team.
And so I did that.
I retired again and I left thatservice and I found myself in a
real life kind of intersectionthis intersection of life that

we don't expect where mypersonal life changed on a dime
and I was really challengingmyself on how I would create
some greater independence andsome internal agency and,
paradoxically, I became sofiercely independent but closer
to my people through that time.
And then, on my last day inNapa actually, I met the then

under-sheriff of Marin County,jamie Skardina, and we had a
great conversation.
I found I was very fond of himand it was he who was elected
sheriff that said, hey, wouldyou come and serve as my number
And so what was to be afraid of?
There was nothing to be afraidof, and so I said, sure,
And I'll tell you, steve, beinga number two is a delicious,

amazing little piece.

Steve Morreale (20:40):
Yeah, before we move back, because I want to
talk about Marin and yourexperience of Marin and what
that's about and how big it isand all that kind of stuff.
But Sonoma Napa, sonoma Napathere's always that push and
pull between Sonoma Napa.
Which is the better?

Sylvia Moir (20:52):
Oh, I say Napa.
People say Sonoma makes wineand Napa makes auto parts.
I've heard that one.
But, they both have their richpieces and it's a beautiful part
of the world.
I love Napa because of theriver Sonoma.
You know the topography, theterrain, the climate is
wonderful and both have greatplaces to eat and good things to
So, but also have challenges interms of crime and community

policing and trust.
So it wasn't an easy gig, butit was really satisfying.
So I don't know.
I vote for Napa.

Steve Morreale (21:23):
Yeah, good, good , good.
Well, I suppose because youlived there and you ran the
department for a little while.
So I'm curious about a coupleof things.
Tell the listeners about themakeup of the county sheriff's

Sylvia Moir (21:34):
Well, I'll tell you what a start contrast to
being an appointed official andworking for municipality and
coming to the sheriff's officein Marin County and serving an
Really, the makeup is thesheriff is an elected official.
I serve at Will and I serve asthe number two running the
We have different divisions andso so cool.

We have the traditional patroland investigations.
Also adding to kind of thisbody of service is the Marine
We have corner and courts andcustody Super new to me.
So I was reading title 15 andtitle 24 trying to learn this
custody thing and reallyrealized that we have incredible

executives that run thosedivisions.
So then I serve them, theyserve people, and then we have a
whole bunch of ancillaryassignments.
We have an incredible searchand rescue team that develops
young people and has a robustarray of volunteers and an air
unit, and we have boats and diveteams and drone operators and

some folks that not only servetheir primary mission in serving
people in the primary work thatwe do in day to day policing in
a beautiful part of the world,but they also accept
responsibility to have ancillaryassignments, which is one of
the rich things about being thissize of an organization.
We have about 400 folks.
Okay, yeah, it's a smallercounty.

Steve Morreale (22:58):
It's not LA County, like Jim's right.

Sylvia Moir (23:03):
Boy, did he run a beast?
Right and now with Sheriff Lunabut we really get to know
people and understandneighborhoods and struggles and
things differently.

Steve Morreale (23:14):
How important is it in your county
responsibility to collaborateand relate with the locals?

Sylvia Moir (23:21):
Oh, it's absolutely essential, Just like
in other spots.
Regionalization is where it'sat.
We should never introduceourselves over crime scene tape,
I think there's a real call toaction for all of us to employ
this perspective ofregionalization when it comes to
leveraging, buying, purchasingand deployment.
Recently, we had a presidentialvisit and it calls on all of us

to step up and do our part.
I think that's one of theamazing things about police is
we collaborate really welltogether with a crisis.
You know we get a littlecrunchy when it comes to the
mundane day-to-day things, butit's absolutely essential that
we collaborate.

Steve Morreale (23:57):
Does Sylvia Moyer see policing as a customer
service organization?

Sylvia Moir (24:03):
Well, it depends on how you define customer

Steve Morreale (24:06):
Well, we're in the industry of responding to
calls, responding to issues,responding to problems.
Sure, my question is in termsof you sitting with people or
talking with people?
In terms of setting theexpectations about
professionalism, about treatmentof others.
I'm curious.
I don't mean to make youhesitate, but do you think that
a customer service approach issomething that's important for

people who wear the bat?
Wear the star.

Sylvia Moir (24:30):
I guess I put a finer point on that, Steve, and
I'd say human approach.
Customer service implies to methat we're going to satisfy

Steve Morreale (24:38):
Yeah, that's true.

Sylvia Moir (24:39):
However we deploy, however it feels and looks for
them, and I think that's settingpeople up for false expectation
If we insert humanity into theservice, we can't go wrong.

Steve Morreale (24:51):

Sylvia Moir (24:51):
And humanity on both sides really says look, I
might not always get this right,but here's my intent, here's
what I hope to achieve.
And then having an interactionwith people that is different,
and I'm not sure I kind ofwrinkle my nose a little bit
when we talk about customerservice.

Steve Morreale (25:08):
I think it's the humanity of yeah Well, you've
just corrected me very, verywell and helped me look at
things from a different no, no,no, no, no, no, no from a
different perspective, and Ireally do appreciate that.
It's that openness that weexpect from other people to say
listen and then react.
And I agree.
I mean I've been using that foran awful long time, but you
have modified my thought becauseI think you're right.
You know, the customer is notalways right by any means.

We know that in business.
That's what you tried to have,so I do like you injecting.
It's interesting.
You say humanity, becausespending time in the UK and in
Ireland, we talk about civilrights, they talk about human
rights, and that's completelydifferent.
Yes, go ahead, speak to that.

Sylvia Moir (25:44):
Completely different because civil rights
gained through the community,through typically laws that
describe, and written laws andstatutes that describe how we're
going to interact, and givesaccess Right, and so I find it
fascinating that human rightsthat's foundational.
We know what that looks likeand what it feels like, steve,

so I consistently appreciate theEuropean approach to speaking
about this.

Steve Morreale (26:11):
Gotcha, so I see in the back of you, I have the
benefit of seeing you on videowhile we're only doing audio.
There's something that sayssocks there, and I happen to
think that that says red socks,so tell us about that we talked
about that.

Sylvia Moir (26:25):
Okay, steve.
As a young girl, I was one ofthe first girls in Little League
in my little town in Davis,california, and my dad, taking
an academic approach, made meread a book about Lou Gehrig
Okay, how's that?
The red socks.
So, because I was going to playa team sport, I had to
understand the differencebetween hurt and being injured
and my commitment to the teamand I fell in love with Lou

Gehrig and everything he stoodfor.
And the number four has beencentral to my life.
But I told my dad, I said Ireally loved the red socks, I
love their uniforms, and he saidyou know, this could be a
problem for you as you get older.

Steve Morreale (26:57):

Sylvia Moir (26:57):
I'm a diehard red socks fan.
In fact, steve, my dog's nameis Fenway.

Steve Morreale (27:01):
No kidding, that's great, my wife is gonna
love you.

Sylvia Moir (27:05):
Well, your wife has really good taste.
He's got a red socks, bow ties,he's, he's the real deal.
He's a bit of a mass hole.
Every once in a, while.

Steve Morreale (27:15):
But no, no, a mass hole.
I'll tell you a story I'venever said on.
This is just a silly sign.

Sylvia Moir (27:20):
There we go, listeners.

Steve Morreale (27:21):
Well, so we're down in Nashville and we're at a
bar and there's some musicplaying and we're with another
couple and I belly up to the barto get a second round and this
kid has a Boston Bruins hat onand I say to him what's with the
Bruins hat in Nashville?
He says, well, I'm actuallyfrom Massachusetts.
I said, really.
So we talked for a little whilewhen should I go?
You've been here for a coupleyears.

He's telling me that when I'mdone, I sign the check and I
said thank you, it's been great.
Talking to another mass hole,and the guy to the left of me at
the bar says did you just callme an asshole?
And I'm thinking this is goingto go sideways.
Now I'm still a badge carryingDEA agent.
I'm thinking, holy shit, how isthis going to end up?
And so ultimately I said to himno, no, no, no, no, no.
I was saying to him we're bothfrom Massachusetts, we interact,

we use it, we?
No, we use the term mass holenicely.
And he said oh well, I thoughtyou were calling me an asshole,
because if you call me anasshole, I wanted to introduce
you to my friend because he's areal asshole.
And that's what happened.
They turned out to be twoCleveland firefighters, two
lieutenants and got, and we satand talked with them for hours.
So you never know, that couldhave gone sideways, but that's
the first time I've used masshole on this podcast.

Sylvia Moir (28:26):
Good to know listeners.
Here we are.
It happened.

Steve Morreale (28:29):
So you are a rep ?
Oh yeah, look at that and I'min.

Sylvia Moir (28:32):
Giants territory, giants country.
So you know, I really bring outthe, I really bring out the
So how did it go?
Who bought the drinks in thatNashville bar?
The fireman.

Steve Morreale (28:42):
The second one, they did, they did.
They did because they werealready tuned, you know you know
, okay, the hose draggers.

Sylvia Moir (28:49):
Good to hear you, yep.
So a couple of things.

Steve Morreale (28:52):
We're talking to Sylvia Moir and she is in Marin
County today.
She is the under sheriff.
I want to ask you a couple ofthings about leadership.
Obviously Okay, you've donewell.
Look at, you were running theexecutive sessions over for Cal

Sylvia Moir (29:05):
It's actually the executive development course.

Steve Morreale (29:07):
Okay, so ED, so EDC, ed we won't use.
It might be the same thing,maybe the same thing, Never know
But anyway you had theopportunity to look at it.
I presume you may have had theopportunity to refine things.
Got somebody for two weeks andyou're trying to say look, here
are the elements, here are thethings we want you to consider

to work on enhancing yourleadership ability, your
leadership of people, yourleadership of self and your
leadership of the organizationand your mind.
What are the important elementsof leadership?

Sylvia Moir (29:39):
The first is authenticity Be truly who you
are, even if your approach isdifferent.
The other is increasing ourcapacity People.
Even when we promote one andthere are eight others on the
list, they're going to be eightfolks that are disappointed.
I also believe the one that wedon't talk about is endurance
the intellectual, physical,emotional endurance that it

takes to lead people.
Particularly in today's day andage, when things are happening
so rapidly and people are soenergized and others are so
inspired about issues, we haveto have the endurance to stay in
the game.
We also have to have theintellectual endurance to go
from one subject to another, toanother, to another, throughout

a day.
It's really mind boggling.

Steve Morreale (30:23):
It's mentally fatiguing.

Sylvia Moir (30:24):
Yes, and we're saying, okay, we still need to
be innovative and we still needto be creative.
We need to stay present.
Of course, you know, steve, Ididn't even start with integrity
, but absolutely it is integrity, it's endurance, it's
authenticity, it's also thebearing and the tact to stay in
it, to stay present, to stay ina place where we can notice what

comes up for us.
I'm a big meditation as apathway to mindfulness, as a
pathway to resilience, toaddress the acute and chronic
and cumulative toxicity andsuffering and staggering
difficulty of this work.
To stay in it and consistentlyevaluate how we show up.
That's what it's about.
I think overlaid, if we take theoverarching, Steve, it's to

just give a shit.
And then how do we demonstratethat we give a shit?
How do we measure that we givea shit?
People want to be cared for bytheir leaders, challenged by
their leaders, held accountableby their leaders and given the
There's a great navy sayingthat says it is not the lofty
sail but the unseen wind thatpropels the ship.
Yes, the leader is the sale.

Everybody sees the leader.
So understanding that you'rebeing seen and evaluated is
important, but knowing it is thewind and the enthusiasm and
energy of our people that'sdriving us forward is really

Steve Morreale (31:40):
You know, there's so many things going
through my mind.
I've written so many thingsdown here and we're coming to
the end.
We've got a few minutes leftbut one of the things that's
One of the things no, we'll getyou back.
One of the things that I wonderis you walking into Marin
County Understanding that youwork for an elective sheriff and
that changes the dynamic?
I understand that the sheriffhas to, but has to do the job

that the citizens expect, orthere's going to be another
sheriff but you come in.
I'm curious to know whether youbelieve one of your roles, in
your best assets as a leader, isto ask probing questions, to
lead through questions, andsometimes when you ask that
question and you let it linger,it drives the conversation.
But I'm going to ask this.

It's compound.
I ask a lot of compoundquestions.
To that I apologize, but whenyou first started and you were
asking questions, were theresome people who were not used to
being asked questions for theirown opinion, for their point of
view, where you had to kind ofchange the culture?

Sylvia Moir (32:38):
Yeah, without a doubt, when I entered Marin
County I knew very clearly thatI was able to influence strategy
and policy and culture andclimate in my role and fallen a
grenade for my sheriff where hecouldn't perhaps do it if
necessary, haven't had to dothat.
Yet I understood my role toserve the sheriff and serve this
organization and it's been anhonor.

I will say that there were somepeople that were caught off
guard being asked a questionbecause they hadn't had voice
before, while others were notasked for their genuine opinion
and their genuine insights.
They thought they had toreframe it into what I wanted to
hear and really I wanted tohear their truth.
That takes time, it takespresence, it's giving them space

to express themselves.
It takes a certain bearing togive them that space and to
really, I think, circle back tothem with my understanding of
what they were offering, leadingwith questions.
Those are great.
Book by, I think his name'sMark.

Steve Morreale (33:36):
Yeah, you know it yeah it's fantastic.

Sylvia Moir (33:38):
So then I would ask questions something like so
what are the obstacles in place,from where you sit, for us to
achieve this goal right, or toachieve the conclusion of this
That puts people in a differentspace than saying why isn't
this done?
And then what it does is itelevates their thinking, it
changes their perspective.
They should have a clear lineof sight between where they sit
and what they want to achieve,and then we remove obstacles

So I think it's absolutelyessential, but there are some
people that still just kind oflook like why are you asking?
And so I think that takes somekind of nuance and some kind of
massaging of understanding inthat space.

Steve Morreale (34:14):
You know, it's interesting even in the
When you're asking studentsquestions or people who have
worked for me, and you ask themquestions, they look at you like
well, you're in charge, youmake the decision.
You're missing the point, right, I don't know the damn book.

Sylvia Moir (34:26):
You know, the best question I got in my undergrad
was, you know, when we had thelittle blue book.
You know you had to buy theblue book and bring a ton of
pencils, yeah, so we were toldto bring 10 of them.
Oh my gosh, I studied my assoff, steve, and we get there and
the professor said okay, youhave an hour and a half for your
The question is why.

Steve Morreale (34:43):
What WTF right?

Sylvia Moir (34:46):
Wait, what so?
What a fascinating explorationinto people, and that's the only
question based on this semesterlong curriculum, super cool.

Steve Morreale (34:56):
That's great.
So you're listening to theCoptok podcast and we're talking
to Sylvia Moore and she is atMarin County Sheriff's Office as
the under sheriff.
She is a podcast, or a fellowpodcaster with Kristen Zeman,
and I'd like you to talk aboutthat and, more importantly, how
you ended up connecting withKristen.

Sylvia Moir (35:12):
Oh my gosh, it's a great story.
So we met years ago when shejust emailed me out of the blue
asking me questions about theNaval Postgraduate School and in
a stroke of good luck I hadtime and I'd carved out the
space to answer her email and Igot into a lot of detail.
She tells the story and bust mychops pretty hard, steve, that
I use the word trousers.

She thought that was amusinginstead of pants.
I went into a whole bunch ofdetail about Naval Postgraduate
School, the academic rigor, theapplication process, what it
would show in terms of her rolesa local police executive in the
Homeland Security Enterprise.
Yeah, she picked out trousersas the most compelling piece of
that whole interaction.
That's pretty sexy, but webecame good pals and I found

she's delightful.
She's a total pro.
She's inspiring and inspired.
She's just the real deal.

Steve Morreale (36:03):
So you have her talking.
Well, now she's down in Naples,Florida, which is not a bad
place to be.
Have you been there?
I have Beautiful place, isn'tit?
It's a beautiful place.
It is a little sweaty for me,Well yeah, you Californians, you
know you could or the Arizonait's not sweating in Arizona,
well they're sweating, but it'sdry.

Sylvia Moir (36:19):
Oh, it's a dry sweat.
Oh, you're full of shit.

Steve Morreale (36:21):
Oh, so you've got the podcast.
Talk about it, the Hollow.

Sylvia Moir (36:25):
Yeah, so the Hollow Bunnyreally came out of Kristen and I
having a conversation aboutsomebody.
And what is a Hollow Bunny?
A Hollow Bunny.
We were talking about someonethat we didn't understand how
they kept getting thesepositions of prominence, and so
we were describing this person.
I said, kristen, it's a HollowBunny.
She said what do you mean?
I said you know, at Easter,there's on the shelf is the

beautiful package and the foiland inside it says a beautiful,
delicious chocolate bunny.
And so you open, you're totallyexcited, you open the package
and you take off the foil andthey got the little bow tie and
I snap off in the ear andthere's no solid chocolate is
So she said, oh well, I bite thebutt.
So then we had the conversationabout the Hollow Bunny.

But I think there are a lot offolks like that, Steve, that
have this shiny impression butthere's no substance, right.
And so what we decided to dowas explore this thing and talk
about leadership and say howmight we be able to invite some
really interesting people totalk about their leadership
journey and then to kind of fillsomeone's bunny.
And so you know, it's been fun,it's been intellectually

stimulating, it's beenemotionally entertaining.
I've just really enjoyed it.
And being beside Kristen Zemanis never, it never sucks.

Steve Morreale (37:36):
It's not a dull moment, I know, I know.
Well, there were other termsthat I come to mind when you say
that the empty suit.
We've had that with the emptysuit.
I just heard one that Jackassis a pool noodle.
That's the first I've everheard of that.
I look, it's buoyant but it'ssort of empty and it's light.
Same sort of thing right, allright.

Sylvia Moir (37:55):
I mean I've used man.
He's a lot of frosting and notmuch cake.

Steve Morreale (37:59):
I like that, I like it, I like it.
So I want to kind of wind downand ask you.
I had heard you talk about yourfascination with emergency
You explained that it's nolonger your primary
responsibility it's fire inMarin County but the idea of
NIMS or critical incidentmanagement and having a plan
talk about that, because I thinkthat's so unusual.

Sylvia Moir (38:21):
Well, in policing and law we were late adopters of
We looked at fire and said howdo they make sense of these
complex critical incidents andthese complex fires and
And they make sense of it andwhat they have is a framework.
What that did was I was reallythrust into it in Sacramento and

when I had the Metro opscommand.
We did this a lot throughplanned and unplanned events.
The beauty is we understandthere's an incident commander,
there's a logistic section,operation section, planning and
Intel and finance and admin.
We know those are the coreelements and then safety and PIO
The beauty is it's a framework.
It can expand and contract withthe complexity and the size of

the incident.
I became a believer because itwas proven, reliable, time after
time after time.
Then that really I believe thatthere are frameworks we can use
for everything.
In fact, steve, I use aframework for how to study for a
promotional exam on the writtenside and then how to use a
framework in an oralpresentation and promotional

exam and that just respects kindof what a framework promises.
It is proven.
Nims ICS is proven.
We're all mandated to reallyundergo the training but to use
it in the field repeatedly hasbeen magic in terms of how we
actually engage, how we scope anincident and then how we do the
demob and the after actionstuff.

It's really cool.

Steve Morreale (39:46):
Well, in the tabletop exercise is to prepare
you and to illuminate what'smissing.
I remember I won't say where,but up here was a state police
organization that was going todo something at the airport.
Everybody showed up and no oneshowed up with the radios.
I know, I know, but like, ohboy, but it pointed out it's
like an after action.
Okay, what would we do withthat?
I would dare say even theBoston Marathon bombing, that

that was such a cluster thatworked to the advantage of the
police, but there was nocommunication.
People were calling into thecommand center on cell phones.
They were going to the doorsthree times in a row because
they weren't connected yet itwas so quick.
So there's lessons to belearned.

Sylvia Moir (40:22):
Without a doubt, and that's why we have to be
learning organizations.
We're good at examiningsentinel events, these major
We're not so good at the nearmisses, and so National Policing
Institute is doing some stuffrelated to how we examine near
We've got to explore that.
The other thing is that,foundationally, human beings are
consumers, producers of waste.
We have to feed people and wegot to find a place for them to

go to the bathroom at its coreas a base, and then we need
basic things to perform.
And then I have to say firstnet, and the first net
envisioned by first respondersfor first responders, the
private public partnershipbetween the government and the
one responder to the call forthe work, at&t, to have
preemption and priority in cellservice, has been a game changer

for us in policing and I havethe great.
It's been a game changer.

Steve Morreale (41:12):
Yeah well, I had the experience of responding to
ground zero on 9-11 and I thinkit was Verizon this time same
sort of thing, but none of thephones would work.
We couldn't communicate, and soI remember walking into the
command center and saying here'syour phone, right, here's the
number, what do I do with itwhen I'm after?
It'll work for a long time.
Just here you go.
Just an amazing ability to beable to communicate under

extreme conditions and they wereextreme there.

Sylvia Moir (41:36):
So yeah, 10 years into this, the first net rollout
It's just been incredible interms of what it's shown in
terms of connectivity and reallygiving the tools and the
technology for first respondersto fulfill the mission and to
communicate, and priority andpreemption.
Who would have thought?
Incredible people thatenvisioned this and then the
government to actually fund itand then AT&T to be the one to

respond it to, then roll it out.
It's been incredible.
25,000 agencies are using firstnet and it's really been a game
changer with not only thepriority and preemption but the
rapid deployables that AT&T willroll out of SAT truck and some
other deployables so that firstresponders can communicate and
have connectivity and folksbroadly get some cell service in

a disaster or anotherincredible incident.
It changes the lives of people.
So I have mad respect for thefolks that envisioned it and
then those that actually made ithappen.
Really incredible.

Steve Morreale (42:32):
Well, there are good things happening out there,
for sure, and things we have toconsider to identify problems
and then work on some solutions.
So we're winding down.
There'll be a couple ofquestions I'm going to ask you.
The first is if you had theopportunity to talk to somebody,
was it either famous or made animpact in the world, dead or
Who would that be?
Who would you want to chat?
Whose brain would you want topick?

Sylvia Moir (42:53):
Well, I'd like to say so, crates, because that's
how they said it in Ted andBill's.
Adventure but I think I'd pickVictor Frankel.
I'd really want to dive in andsay came to this place where you
were in a concentration campand you saw so much suffering
and so much death and Man'sSearch for Meaning was a book
that changed my life as a humanbeing.
And then there's the first bookwe read in the Supervisory

Leadership Institute inCalifornia.
Wow, it changed my life.
I'd want to really dive in withhim and say what distinguishes
one human being from another interms of how you approach
suffering and toxicity andtrauma.
And then what is it?
What are the distinguishingcharacteristics?
And he was a young man thatthen identified all of this and

then offered it to the worldthrough sufferings.
He says to be suffering when ithas meaning, and he took his
suffering and it had incrediblemeaning.
I'd want to talk to VictorFrankel Terrific.

Steve Morreale (43:44):
As you continue to give to this industry and the
people in it.
What recommendations would youmake to somebody who is sitting
on the sidelines saying it isnot worth stepping up and being
a boss in this organizationbecause of everything that's
going around?
You're shaking your head, I see.
What do you think?
What do you say to people totry to encourage them to raise

their hand and step up?

Sylvia Moir (44:07):
Steve, I'm a baseball person and when the
game was on the line, we're upby one run and we're I was
playing middle infield.
There's a runner on third twoouts.
The game is on the line.
There are people that say don'thit it to me, don't hit it to
me, don't hit it to me.
And there are people to say, goahead, hit it right here.
I know what I'm going to do.
I'm going to field it.
Everything I've done isprepared me for this as a member

of this team.
You hit it to me, I'll throwyou out.
Game on Red Sox wins right.
And I would say don't give in tothe false and narrative, false
and negative narrative aboutpolicing.
Leading people is one of themost gratifying things that we
can do, and to give yourselffully to the profession of
policing, to make a differencein the lives of people, is

gratifying, it's important, it'smeaningful and it's worth it.
It is worth it because we arethe people that run toward
You hit the ball to me.
Okay, I may juggle it, but Iwill throw you out.
I will run to the issue and weare.
It's this really incrediblething.
As police executives, we arenot only responsible for

safeguarding the people that arein our care, but we are
responsible for sending theminto harm's way.
And it's not for everybody, butit's for the few of us that
want to step up and make adifference.
And it's okay to stumble, butwe don't throw our sucker in the
dirt and stomp off theplayground.
We stay there firmly and we dothe work.
I would say just believe inyourself and lead the way that

is right and authentic for youand you can't go wrong.

Steve Morreale (45:34):
I love.
That Is on Sills bucket list.

Sylvia Moir (45:39):
Bucket list.
I got a few things.
First of all, I want to meetthe rock someday.
Someday I'm going to meet therock, I'm going to arm wrestle
that chunk.
So I won't, please, don't,please, don't invite him for
But really I think there are anumber of places that I want to
I had the great experience ofgoing to Vietnam, in Japan, this
year and got to experience someincredible things, and by

myself and traveling solo inJapan was really incredible.
I got to experience the culturethere and I engage in some
Buddhist ceremonies.
I would say that and I want tocontinue being a person that
adds value, that consistentlylearns, and also I want to laugh
to like cry my face off, youknow, and continue to be around
my tribe that I love and theylove me, and you know, get to

laugh my face off for real.

Steve Morreale (46:24):
That's great.
It has been an absolutepleasure to chat with you.

Sylvia Moir (46:27):
I have to say we've been talking to Sylvia

Steve Morreale (46:30):
We've been talking to Sylvia Moir,
undersheriff at Marin CountySheriff in California.
I want to thank you so much.
You have the last word.

Sylvia Moir (46:41):
Steve, the profession of policing needs you
I appreciate that you invitesuch an array of folks to dive
into these issues and we canjust be real and have a
conversation, so folks that arelistening to be on their
treadmill or on their bike orout walking or wherever they are
commuting and learn a littlebit about policing and the
perspective of others and theway that you do it is really,

really important.
So thank you, Steve.

Steve Morreale (47:03):
I think so much.
Well, that's it.
Another episode of The CopD ocPodcast is in the can.
Stay tuned for more episodes.
We'll be talking to you verysoon.
Please continue to do your work.
Remember how important policingis.
You do things running towardsdanger when other people run the
other way, so stay safe.
Keep up the good work.
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