I want to congratulate PPOA Labor Representative Teresa O’Neil on her retirement after 26-plus years of distinguished service at PPOA. Teresa began her career in 1996 working as administrative staff. She quickly learned the ropes and was appointed to the Executive Administrative Assistant position, ultimately earning her way to becoming the Intake Representative and then the Labor Representative for the past 10 years. Teresa’s stellar work ethic made her a natural at supporting the various classifications PPOA represents. She was exceptional at being professional and providing members with the best customer service. She was always prepared to protect each member’s rights and careers and treated all situations fiercely with care and quality. Members trusted her and described her as dependable, reliable, trustworthy, dedicated, goal-oriented, committed and a self-starter. Teresa was a champion for labor and will be missed! We wish Teresa the best in the next chapter of her life, along with her husband, Ed, and daughter, Sienna.
Another dedicated law enforcement and labor leader I would like to congratulate on their retirement is ALADS President Jim “Bumper” Wheeler. Jim retired after almost 34 years serving on the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Jim has been a great friend and partner, always showing respect while serving his membership. I wish him the best of luck as he begins a new chapter of his life.
As of the time of this article, PPOA has met with the Sheriff’s Department regarding a California Public Records Act (PRA) request received from a media outlet. The media requested photographs and names of all sworn peace officers except those in undercover assignments. On April 27, PPOA met with Department executives and subject-matter experts to discuss and prevent a repeat of LAPD’s PRA photograph release incident. Rest assured that PPOA will continue its legal research and constant monitoring. Additionally, PPOA will exercise all options to provide the necessary legal protection to members. Your safety and that of your families will always be a top priority!
For some time, I’ve heard law enforcement leaders say that “the pendulum will swing back for law enforcement.” But sadly, I haven’t seen any changes. I’ve spoken to many members throughout the county, and the message/complaints are the same: overworked and burned out. Deputy recruitment and retention is arguably the largest problem facing criminal justice. In October 2022, the Department removed the requirement of an associate degree for deputy sheriff applicants, but still, with that change, it has not been able to fill in the vacancy gaps. I hope Sheriff Luna and his executive staff consider amending recruitment and hiring practices without lowering the standards for any Department employee to maintain a healthy, satisfied workforce.
In addition to being overworked and burned out, members want to feel supported by the Department. Excluding the very small minority who have tarnished the badge, members serve Los Angeles County residents with honor, professionalism and fairness, with not one blemish on their character. Yet, they do not make the news, nor are they thanked for their service. Well, I want to thank all of you who, day in and day out, sacrifice time away from your loved ones while remaining dedicated to the everyday challenges you face. You show up to work and get the job done, making hard decisions without being “flashy.”
I will end my article with this: There are many leadership styles. However, I’ve found that “quiet leaders” choose responsible, behind-the-scenes action over public heroism to resolve tough leadership challenges. Quiet leaders don’t fit the stereotype of bold and daring people and don’t want to. Instead, they want to do the “right thing” for their organization, co-workers and themselves, inconspicuously and without casualties. Leading quietly shows maturity, patience and how everyday efforts can add up to a better organization. Be safe and take care of one another.