Allow me to introduce myself, being that this is my first article in Star & Shield magazine. I’m “the new guy” (as I’m affectionately referred to by other Board members). I’ve been employed by LASD for 20 years and was actually in Sheriff’s Security Officer Class #1 along with my predecessor, Jody Clounch. I began my career at the Community College Bureau and worked at L.A. City College, East Los Angeles College and Los Angeles Trade Tech College. I then transferred to Court Services and worked at the County Courthouse (CCH, Stanley Mosk Court). Currently, I am assigned at Parks Bureau East and have been there for the past 10 years. Throughout the years, I have also worked overtime at other units of assignment, including Custody Division (Towers Visiting) and County Services Bureau, as well as a few other courthouses.
I am no stranger to PPOA. I have been a delegate for over 15 years and was an active participant in a few dozen meetings and events PPOA organized. When the opportunity and vacancy arose to interview for the director position for Unit 621 SSOs and SSAs, I was honored to go through the process and was enthusiastically sworn in on November 10, 2020.
Fast-forward to a month later … talk about baptism by fire! I was thrust into a whole lot of discussions and negotiations regarding curtailments of Parks Bureau and Community College Bureau. I am happy to report, both bureaus are safe! We will continue to work hard to keep the contracts in place for a long time.
During these meetings with the Department, I was able to see firsthand how PPOA works for its members. During this time of COVID, there were many teleconferences and Zoom meetings I participated in, and it was then that I realized how passionate our union Board and staff are about protecting members and their careers. These curtailments would have impacted hundreds of our members, not to mention potential layoffs, and would have thrown fuel on the fire of an already unpredictable 2020 and its constant gloom. Our members can now rest easy, knowing that PPOA and I will continue to monitor potential dissolution of contracts and any upcoming issues.
Now, let’s talk about the new year ahead. I’m optimistic we will soon be on the road to recovery from this COVID-19 pandemic, and as the vaccine is being distributed, we will soon get back to normal. This brings me to the subject of our current contract, which is set to expire this year. As in past years, we will monitor the progress of other unions negotiating contracts and strategize on what road we will take. I think with the economic situation the way it is and the fact that the County is not receiving its revenue as in past years, it will impact our ability to negotiate raises and other add-ons. Stay tuned for more information after New Year’s.
Several of our professional staff members have applied for and successfully received their concealed weapons permit with our Department. This is great news, and I would encourage more members to apply for the permit. Remember, you should first apply for the permit with the jurisdictional agency in which you live. Then, if denied, you can apply for the permit with our Department, since a majority of your time is spent in L.A. County as an employee. If you have any problems with the process, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I am the type of person who, if I don’t have an answer to a question, will try my hardest to find the right answer.
Many of our SSOs and SSAs have asked me about the status of our potential uniform color change. It is still in the works and the only hurdle we have is that, due to COVID, there have not been any Uniform and Equipment Committee meetings lately. Earlier in 2020, you should have received a ballot in the mail asking if you were in favor of a uniform color change, and the overwhelming response was “Yes.” Now, my plan is to get uniforms in the proposed colors with our patches sewn on so that you can actually see a practical model in order to vote for your final selection. Look for another ballot in the mail early this year.
In closing, I want to thank each of you for all the hard work you do, day in and day out (especially under these circumstances). Who would have thought that we would experience this in our lifetime? Please do not get “COVID fatigue,” and please continue to use your PPE to protect yourselves, your partners and the public. The virus is still here and the interactions we have with the public make us more likely to get exposed. Ask me how I know.
I wish you all a wonderful new year. Be safe, and take care of yourselves and each other.