As vaccines roll out, I want to thank and commend you all for getting to this point.
Some of you have suffered personal loss and/or endured difficult times related to your mental and physical health while working in environments and circumstances that are not conducive to a pandemic. It’s time to get back to the business of doing business.
As 2021 takes shape, we look toward doing business in a more “regular” capacity. That is not saying that COVID-19 is to be laid aside — it’s part of our lexicon. But it cannot be the reason things do not get done. There will be adjustments and parameters, and they are understood.
If anything, the pandemic has introduced questions related to our position and added layers on how to handle personnel and the Department and County’s responsibility in doing so.
I have had the privilege to speak with many of you personally, and you have expressed your thoughts on what should be done to improve our group and enhance our standing within the Department. Components like educational experience, years of service, ERT, additional station jailers and court positions, and a rank or tier structure have been a constant on my board, as well as our standing in the bargaining unit.
There is also the peeling back of layers from when this position was instituted to see what the Department’s initial intention was for our classification, the shift from those original ideas, the expansion of the role and application of additional responsibilities. It was likely recognizing the opportunity of getting more work out of a less expensive position.
Last year, a legislative measure was introduced covering correctional positions under a COVID-related bill. Upon review of the proposed legislation, PPOA reached out to our Sacramento connections to have Custody Assistants included in that bill. Unfortunately, due to other circumstances, the bill did not go through.
Nevertheless, PPOA was ready to be in full support of the measure and the inclusion of our classification. With the new California Senate and Assembly sworn in, we will be monitoring the legislative landscape for the opportunity to participate, support and include our members being represented in any legislation that benefits our classification.
In closing, I’d like to acknowledge the loss of one of our own. Custody Assistant Richard Bowles, a Santa Clarita jailer, passed away in January. He was a 23-year veteran of LASD, with 14 of those years at Santa Clarita Station. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his wife and family. Your dedication and professionalism are appreciated. Salute. Take care and stay safe.