Whew! This place is busy! Who knew? Oh yeah, I was warned! Offers of congratulations were often tempered with condolences. Haha!
So the first month is behind me, and I have learned so much, knowing well in advance that there is more education to come. First and foremost on the learning curve is the art of relationships and collaboration. The first major challenge to the new PPOA administration was the potential loss of health care options to 775 PPOA members. While I had in my mind to be open and receptive to renewing former relationships and creating new ones, the looming July 31, 2019, deadline related to this potential disaster forced me to expedite my plans. As a result, introductions and meetings with County executives and other union leadership, as well as settling prior differences with ALADS, were all put on an accelerated timeline. Thankfully, as a result of tremendous efforts and collaboration on the part of all parties, PPOA was able to rejoin the Coalition of County Unions (CCU) and avert any harm coming to our members. Additionally, a big thank you to the leadership of ALADS for their help and guidance in our research and readmittance into the CCU. This represents a new collaborative relationship.
Communication and relationships are also being offered to the Sheriff’s Department management team. In my first six weeks, we have met with Employee Relations at least five times, had meetings with three assistant sheriffs and the Undersheriff and, most recently, had a sit-down with ALADS and Sheriff Alex Villanueva. Alex took the time to meet with us for just under an hour, during which he outlined his vision and discussed current issues and concerns. While both have minor and significant differences of perspective, PPOA will continue to move forward in a cautiously optimistic manner as we hold the Department accountable for its decision-making processes and continue our mission of protecting PPOA members and their rights.
One of the more significant issues of urgency is the pending Sergeant’s Examination, which the Sheriff’s Department would like to expedite. This particular concern is of tremendous importance to PPOA and Department members, as it represents the foundation upon which the entire promotional process for future ranks will be built. PPOA has been meeting with Department representatives weekly to discuss our concerns as they relate to new minimum qualifications for eligibility of candidates to participate in the examination process. We continue to voice our objections to minimum qualifications, which in our opinion are restrictive of the current employee candidate pool, either through experience or protected class. As the Department wishes to implement change, PPOA continues to argue that change must occur through not only a proper process, but also a timely one, suggesting effective dates in the future for these changes that would allow for employees to attain the minimum requirements proposed.
Additionally, even though PPOA continues to provide resources to Sheriff’s Department executives while maintaining a collaborative demeanor, there are many issues that have yet to be resolved or even addressed. While issues and concerns will always be fluid in priority, the lack of participation from the Department at this point is disheartening. When will custody lieutenants be able to get out from under the “five-year” sentence currently imposed? How can we get more station jailers out to the field to assist with the numerous responsibilities placed on them while still addressing officer safety? Will CCWs for appropriate professional staff ever be issued as promised during the campaign? These are only some of the many issues PPOA has yet to be able to obtain information on from the Department.
Getting Out There
While I am doing my best to return phone calls and emails in a timely manner, it has again been brought to my attention that time is fleeting. If I owe you a call or an email, my apologies, I am working on it. Hopefully, you may have bumped into myself and/or PPOA Board members and staff at a recent event, as we have been actively “out of the office.” If you follow our Week in Review (sent every Saturday morning if PPOA has your personal email), you will know that in the past month, PPOA Board members and I are as active as ever, participating in new employee orientations, graduations, group meetings/briefings at units of assignments and benefit fairs across the county. Our goal in “being out there” is to provide members with the opportunity to actively exchange their thoughts, concerns, ideas or suggestions with PPOA. If you have not seen us yet, keep an eye out, as it is our intention to make ourselves available to you, our membership.
As always, thank you for the opportunity to serve and represent you in this capacity as PPOA president.