How do you set priorities regarding which cases to take and which not?


Ozell Sutton


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
You mentioned your setting priorities for involvement or non-involvement, can you speak for a minute in general about how you set your priorities?

Answer:
Number one is it's very difficult, because you've got a lot of things that weigh upon you. But the ones that generate direct confrontation get the greatest priority, to be frank with you. Not unlike "the squeaking wheel gets all the oil", you can say what you want about that, but the squeaking wheel gets the oil if you don't have enough to oil all four wheels, then the one that's squeaking gets the oil. But mostly on the basis of the level of conflict being generated. Or to some extent, the amount of repression and suppression and brutality that people are facing. You sort of back up in your own corner of concern and commitment, and then you move on it. If a situation comes in that really depresses you and that you think you could do something, then you move to try to do it, although you don't have any authority or "cease and desist" power. Again, there are so many situations where, if I just show up, it forces a different kind of approach to the whole situation. You have people across the country, across your region, telling you that. "If you would just come."

Question:
Your presence, that's very helpful.

Answer:
But sometimes you get weary about that, because you can't be everywhere. Sometimes you feel like staying home and doing nothing, which I have not gotten the opportunity to do this summer. I said this more and more. I just want some time where I can get up when I get ready, go out and get the paper, make a pot of coffee, scramble me an egg, and just sit there and do nothing until noon. I keep waiting to get enough time to do that. Each year, this is so stupid, each year I lose 8 or 10 vacation days in the "use or lose" kind of category because I didn't take them. Now I know that part of it's my own stupid sense of needing to be there, but nevertheless. Every person ought to take vacation. I was going to when I went to the Alpha convention, I was going to take two weeks, spend five days at the Alpha convention, then another whole week on vacation. But it didn't happen because there were some things that I needed to do. The inadequateness of staff is a big, big part of that. You go because there's nobody else to be there.

Question:
And along with this idea of needing to be there, how do you prioritize when you personally need to be involved?

Answer:
Well you got two things, it's your own experience and body of knowledge about situations like that.

Question:
We're talking you as Regional Director?

Answer:
That's what I mean, your own body of knowledge about situations like that, and what you bring to the situation that staff cannot bring. It is not the ability to do a better job, it's simply rank. Rank counts so much in this country. When the Regional Director shows up, then it's different with the sheriff and the chief of police. It implies a high level of concern, so when I went down to Nubian case, one of the first things that the mayor said to Ensley was, "So, you went back and got the big gun?" Now I'm not a big gun, but that's what I mean.

Question:
What are the circumstances when you think that rank is important?

Answer:
The circumstances -- how crucial the situation is, how other agencies are treating it. If there's a situation where the director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation came in, then I would come too. We want to match that with our Regional Director coming in, you get what I mean? Ensley would say, "Boss, all of these high-level people are coming in." When the issue is a church burning, the instant Ensley would say, "the Governor is coming," and that "the Attorney General is coming," I would feel so much better that the Regional Director was here. So I would go to credential him, and to credential the agency in that situation, because if the big boys are there then the CRS ought to send a big boy.







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