The saying goes that progress is a slow process. And historically for Custody Assistants, it seemed that way, or that there was no progress at all.
I’ve sat in meetings and heard Lieutenants say, “Can’t they just refuse the assignment?” when talking gas masks and ERT deployment. Or, in regard to safety equipment, they reply, “You should negotiate for that.”
Our safety was not to be negotiated. Either provide the equipment or change the policy and assignment. More reasonable people came together to resolve those nonsensical statements.
Now that we have new leadership, there will be new conversations with the hopes that rational perspective will supersede an old-school way of operating.
I have met with Sheriff Luna and briefly discussed the staffing concerns of not only custody, but our station jails as well.
Over the past year-plus, we have seen an increasing number of Custody Assistants (and Security Officers) move onto the DST Academy. That is good for the individuals and the Department, as they have heeded our outcries of the perceived and often proven notion that an “off-the-streeter” was more preferred than a seasoned C/A.
Nevertheless, with that comes the continued need to replenish the classification. Class #108 is currently in the Academy and scheduled to graduate on March 10.
There was also talk of the documented outdated staffing model for station jails and the need to seek options and funding for additional items.
You cannot continue to heap mounds of work, policy changes and mandates on a line jailer and make him/her the fall guy behind a 902 or 902A. Especially now that zero bail is gone and the public and politicians are realizing, although not publicly stating, that the softened stance on crime only led to less time and more crime.
Custody is feeling the strain as well. With more inmates entering the system at a near pre-COVID rate, mandates still in place, items still being loaned out and basic Title 15 needs to be met, facilities are operating short-handed. And once you’ve become accustomed to that, it becomes the norm while CARP continues to be an answer, but not the answer.
With that, we are scheduled to resume our Labor Management Committee (LMC) meetings with the Assistant Sheriff of Custody. Here is where direct conversation on these matters will take place. These monthly meetings are scheduled to resume on February 1.
The Custody LMC has been a beneficial tool in exchanging information, confronting problems and resolving issues. We value this opportunity and hope the new regime takes in the value of having these discussions. Issues do not get resolved overnight, but ideas are exchanged, reasons for or against an idea are given and fact-finding leads to possible compromise and resolution.
The Sheriff has made the rounds and is open to understanding that there is a uniqueness about the C/As in how they are utilized in comparison to the classification’s origins and evolution.
I will continue to consult with legislative and legal resources going forward, knowing that you need to cite references when making a presentation.
Lastly, COVID mandates. The County still has the right to institute a mandate. All legal challenges thus far have failed. Governor Newsom is still scheduled to lift the COVID-19 state of emergency order on February 28. At that point, it is anticipated that many challenges to everything will take place.
Contrary to rumor, PPOA has been involved legally throughout, with the defense of membership always being the priority. Our attorney, Jim Cunningham, meets with the Department weekly and has been to court against the County and continues to be prepared for when the emergency order is lifted. Exemptions have been approved, and to this point no member has received discipline or termination.
Make time for family, look out for each other, be informed and be safe.