They say life goes by in a hurry when you’re having fun — which explains why my 20-year career as a sheriff’s security officer (SSO) has passed in the blink of an eye. I still have vivid memories of training at the Academy and graduating with the rest of SSO Class #1. At the time, I wondered whether this was truly the right job for me. Fast-forward two decades later and I can tell you with absolute certainty that this career has provided more unforgettable moments and lifelong friends than I could have ever expected. It has been an adventure I would not trade for the world.
Now, with plenty of mixed emotions, it is time to move on. My final day as a County employee was September 15. By the time you read this, my husband I and will have completed our move up north to start our next chapter in life.
Retiring from the Sheriff’s Department comes with feelings not unlike those from the early days with Class #1. It is equal parts excitement, nerves and pride. Back then, I was proud to be issued my first uniform representing the Department. Today, I am proud to say I have an extended family of brothers and sisters who mean the world to me. Together (emphasized for a reason!), we have been committed to serving the public, protecting each other and improving our classification. Together, we have experienced the highs and lows that come with life on the Department. From graduations to critical incidents to grieving the loss of partners (Gray, Burkhardt, Guan, Hopkins and Flores, to name a few), we’ve supported each other no matter the situation, because that is what a family does.
Security officers and security assistants continue to have plenty of challenges to overcome. As you plan to face those going forward, it’s important to take time to consider how far we’ve come. And remember that little to none of the progress would be possible without blood, sweat, tears and a union.
Promotions have been a sore spot. A number of our finest SSOs and SSAs who are primed to be promoted to deputy are often overlooked by the Sheriff’s Department. Naturally, most of those individuals leave the Department in order to serve proudly as sworn officers at nearby agencies. Each of those missed opportunities is a net loss for the Sheriff’s Department and a morale-crusher for LASD security personnel.
As many of you know, salary scales for SSOs and SSAs continue to be an issue. Has there been progress in the last decade? Yes. When you factor in uniform allowance increases, security officers and security assistants received the heftiest compensation increase of any classification represented by PPOA in the 2015–2018 salary contract. Those uniform allowances were absolutely dismal before we negotiated (fought, in all honesty) to more than triple the amount issued each year. But the challenges ahead are mounting with the pandemic, civil unrest, County budget cuts and more. As always, it will take a team effort and plenty of perseverance to keep moving our classifications forward.
On that note, I want to thank all SSOs and SSAs who have helped PPOA over the years. Whether you’ve served on the union Board, on a contract negotiating team, as a delegate or on a committee, please know your dedication is appreciated. They may seem like thankless jobs at times, but each of you has helped to lay the groundwork for the next generation. Progress is often slow and sometimes not very steady, but as you learned in the Academy, we have to work as a team and — most importantly — we never give up the fight.
Despite the endless challenges, this career has been a blessing for me, personally. Please know that each of you played a role in that. I consider it an honor that you gave me an opportunity to serve on the PPOA Board. I consider it an honor that you allowed me to help lead the fight. And I consider it an honor to have worked alongside all of you over the last 20 years.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you.