COVID-19 evolved from an isolated disease in a region of China back in January 2020 to a global pandemic that fully gripped Los Angeles County on March 4. The pandemic brought countries and their citizenry to a standstill, threatened the operability and sustainability of health care systems, and caused the global economy to plunge into financial uncertainty.
Almost three months later, local protests began in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after the May 25 death of George Floyd and swiftly spread across the United States with at least 200 cities imposing curfews by early June. The protests have led to numerous legislative proposals and the call for defunding public safety budgets at the federal, state and local levels. For the first time since Black Lives Matter began protests in 2013, a significant majority of Americans, including high propensity voters in Los Angeles County, now support the movement.
So, with this ongoing dual backdrop, and at the date I’m writing this message not knowing the results of the November 3 election, here are some of the issues our membership will face as we look ahead to the New Year.
All of PPOA’s bargaining units will have their current memorandum of understandings (2018–2021 MOUs) expire in 2021. The MOU for sergeants and lieutenants at the Sheriff’s Department and District Attorney’s Office expires on January 31. PPOA’s remaining bargaining units’ MOUs for members at the Sheriff’s Department and the Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office expire on September 30. PPOA will also be at the fringe benefits bargaining table as a member of the Coalition of County Unions (CCU) to negotiate a new contract as that 2018–21 MOU expires on June 30. Although the complete economic fallout from COVID-19 is still not known and federal financial assistance to California counties and cities will likely be dependent on which party wins the White House, PPOA remains steadfast in ensuring that our members’ selfless sacrifices during the pandemic and civil unrest are not forgotten by the County as we strive to reach fair and equitable agreements.
2020 GENERAL ELECTION RESULTS
The results of the November 3 general election in Los Angeles County and California will be critically important for the safety of the public and public safety officers who courageously serve the communities they are sworn to protect.
In August, four out of five (Barger) of our County supervisors voted to place a charter amendment (Measure J) on the November ballot, which supporters have called “Reimagine L.A. County.” PPOA, ALADS, the CCU and the L.A. County Federation of Labor have all opposed this ill-conceived measure, which, if passed, will actually result in defunding the essential workers that L.A. County residents and their communities count on for their health and safety.
District Attorney Jackie Lacey has provided stellar leadership as the first woman and first African American to lead the largest local prosecutorial office in the nation. DA Lacey spent most of her professional life at the DA’s Office as a prosecutor, manager and executive. Lacey has been incredibly supportive of competitive pay and safe working conditions for employees at the DA’s Office. If there is true justice, Lacey’s superior qualifications, when compared to her opponent, will result in her being elected to a third term as L.A. County district attorney.
For the first time in 12 years, there will be a new Los Angeles County supervisor for the 2nd District. PPOA President Tab Rhodes has had the opportunity to address our union’s concerns for public safety and employee relations with former speaker of the California Assembly and L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson, who the PPOA Board endorsed in the 2020 primary and general elections, as well as his opponent, California State Senator Holly Mitchell.
PPOA joined with Assemblymember Jim Cooper, law enforcement and public safety associations across California in strongly supporting a Yes vote on Proposition 20. This statewide initiative would fix four specific flaws contained in recent criminal justice reforms: violent crime classification and serial theft, parole reform and DNA collection.
2021 POLICE REFORM LEGISLATION
PPOA’s Sacramento lobbyists Lang, Hansen, Giroux and Associates will no doubt have another incredibly busy legislative session in 2021 as new police practices legislation, new juvenile justice reform legislation and new criminal justice reform legislation are introduced by members of the California State Assembly and Senate. In 2020, over 18 pieces of “reform” legislation were sent to the governor’s desk. In addition to our lobbyists’ actions, PPOA will once again partner with our coalition organizations as well as our public safety professionals to defeat bad legislation (e.g., SB 731) that endangers our residents, our law enforcement profession and our families.
As we continue to face the pandemic in 2021, the endless onslaught of naysayers about our noble profession, political battles at the ballot box and emotional legislation from some who refuse to be educated with facts, don’t forget the words of Martin Luther King Jr.: “Never lose hope. Storms make people stronger and never last forever.” Thank you for your unbelievable dedication this past year and continued commitment to ensuring the PPOA membership prospers in 2021.