What we do is not a “regular” career. It’s performed by a select group of people who have the character and internal strength that has allowed them to standout above the average individual to deal with and thrive under adverse conditions.
This was never more so on display than during the previous 16 months. While the noise generally revolves around our sworn partners, the grind that is the life of a Custody Assistant (C/A) goes relatively unnoticed. But on May 7, the spotlight shifted when a video released by the Department showed the public the potential violence we face at any given moment.
That incident underscores the potential risk we face on a daily basis. While cries from the outside call for less, it seems we have been working with less for some time: less pay, less equipment, less staffing, less acknowledgement and less understanding. But the expectations to react, respond, report and render aid are there, as well as the discipline if you’re found lacking in any of these areas.
This ideology facilitates the push for what I see as “basic” standards for those aforementioned expectations. Gas masks and Taser training are tools and skill sets that should be incorporated into the position. Discussions continue with the Department to come to a resolution.
Several of you have asked about movement. Several items have been frozen by the Department as a cost-cutting measure in preparation for Measure J. But the lack of staffing at stations is becoming increasingly evident. PPOA has been working with the Department not only in regards to jailer positions at the new Santa Clarita Valley Station, but to improve staffing and station jailer budgets overall.
The current staffing models and allocation of funds for the jailers are outdated, and we continue to discuss options to correct a broken model. Hiring deputies to work the jail or pulling from the field then hiring behind that item are common practices, yet not practical.
Improvements in this area will not only help our jailers but also the station operations. Having a jail close periodically because you cannot/will not hire overtime and passing those bookings onto another station jail that also cannot hire overtime to deal with the added traffic is also not acceptable.
We hope to finally be making headway in this long-standing practice that no longer makes operational or financial sense.
PPOA has sent a formal letter to the County CEO’s office requesting to open contract negotiations. As the County’s financial picture comes into shape along with Measure J funding looming, the negotiation schedule will look different than in years past.
I will update you further as details and plans become available, as well as through emails to members and meeting with your PPOA delegates. I hope to see you in the months to come. As always, your work ethic and professionalism are appreciated. Take care and stay safe.