Over 32 years later, I can still hear my Academy ramrod drilling into my head, “Attention to detail, mister!” While it is recognized that man makes plans and God laughs, there is so much truth to those words echoing in my subconscious. “Attention to detail!”
These words are so important to remember during these times of the COVID-19 pandemic surge here at the beginning of 2021. Everyone is experiencing COVID burnout! Now is not the time for complacency, but instead, the time to tighten up and continue to practice compliance with public health orders and protocols.
On January 1, 2021, Assembly Bill 685 took effect, amending sections of the California Labor Code to require employers to notice employee representatives (i.e., PPOA) of COVID-19 exposures. In just the one week period of January 8–14, over 124 LASD employees were notified of potential COVID-19 exposures in the workplace. PPOA continues to utilize all our efforts to ensure your safety through continued discussions and demands to mitigate the spread of this disease among our members.
For this reason, do not be an unnecessary victim. Please hold yourselves accountable as well. All too often, complacency is the cause of bad outcomes. Wear a mask! Consider it just another part of your uniform to be accountable for. Wash your hands! Practice good social distancing when possible. Get vaccinated! While none of these habits are guaranteed to prevent a COVID infection, all of them improve your odds of staying healthy during the pandemic.
Danger, Will Robinson, danger! Last year saw political activism not seen in this country in many years. A series of tragic deaths, perceived to be caused by law enforcement insensitivity, mixed with unemployment, no school and polarizing election candidates and issues, have left this country raw with emotion.
Protect yourselves. Wise words in this world of instant communication in social media. The discipline cases involving members and posting “feelings” or activities discovered on the internet are out of control.
As an active member of law enforcement, you have many restrictions. You cannot use marijuana. You must work when and where needed, no matter the effects on your personal life. Understand that while you wear the uniform, you are a public servant, not a celebrity or TikTok influencer. Don’t fall into the trap with friends, family, retired members or strangers engaging in controversial topics online. Society is watching and listening. There will be consequences.
Please do not think those of us at PPOA are immune to the heightened sensitivity of the times. There are many days when the politics, harsh words and sometimes, utter stupidity are overwhelming. Often, members utilize PPOA as a sounding board for their feelings (read — “What the hell are you guys going to do about xxxx?”). That is OK also. We are here to hear our members, and most of the time, are able to provide a logical, moderate and professional explanation for the official PPOA perspective. Sometimes not. In those times that we cannot, we keep our comments within the “family.”
By the way, if the “Will Robinson” reference is lost on you, feel free to search the internet in a productive manner for further explanation.
BLUE LIVES SUPPORT DRAWS IRE
Speaking of political extremism, on January 21, it was reported by news sources that the Santa Rosa police chief, Ray Navarro, said that a Facebook post had been removed from the department’s website. The post in question showed two Santa Rosa police officers holding a banner depicting a black and white American flag with one blue stripe across the middle and the words “Heroes Work Here.”
The banner had been gifted to the department anonymously by local residents. “While the post was intended to thank the community members who made the banner and for the community at large for their continued support, it offended some who viewed it. For this, I sincerely apologize,” wrote Chief Navarro.
Again, political polarization within our society took a supportive and kind gesture to extremes. I have to believe the community at large is in favor of supporting law enforcement in their mission of public safety. I sure as heck hope so, or society is even farther gone than I thought.
However, Rubin Scott, president of the Sonoma County chapter of the NAACP, said, “It’s one of those markers, for certain people in our community, that means stay in your place, and if you don’t, there will be retaliation for it.” The Santa Rosa Police Department also received phone calls from community leaders, with Chief Navarro stating, “It became apparent that some Santa Rosa residents equate the thin blue line flag with right-wing extremist groups. Those are difficult things, when you see (flags) that represent something good, are co-opted by extremist groups like that.”
My question is, were they co-opted, or has the world become so polarized that anything can become a symbol of intense feelings? In these times of forceful emotions, as I said before, keep your feelings in check. Open discussion and moderation are the keys to any sustainable success and future contentment in American society.
As always, I urge you to get involved. PPOA derives strength from unity, and our benefits today are a result of our solidarity. Come participate. Become a delegate. Our next virtual delegate meeting is on February 23 at 5 p.m. See what we see — the value of an organization that does everything in its power to protect you, not as union members, but as family members. Thank you for your support, and thank you for being a PPOA member!