First, let me say that I hope you and your family were well and blessed this holiday season. We all look forward to having some semblance of normalcy sometime in 2021.
As the challenges of our line of work during a pandemic are numerous, we assure you that the safety and well-being of PPOA members are always prioritized as we hold weekly teleconferences to discuss the impact of COVID-19. An example of that is Cal/OSHA conducting an investigation into the COVID protocols at Men’s Central Jail (MCJ). Although the route that led to OSHA’s involvement was unconventional, PPOA welcomed the opportunity to have an impartial third-party review to ensure that the Sheriff’s Department was keeping the working environment as safe as possible under the circumstances. The MCJ Operations staff was cordial and accommodating during this process, as all parties had the opportunity to learn from this and every COVID-related experience. This makes our union more knowledgeable, informative and effective in addressing and dealing with coronavirus-related incidents.
The CCW process continues with fewer hiccups than when it initially began. There is more clarity on filling out the application, and the unit has done an exceptional job in getting those applications processed. They have also been accessible and supportive in answering questions to help expedite the process and quickly getting our people to the range portion of it.
As for the range, as of this writing, the options for where to conduct that course and qualifications were recently reduced from many to just three. More locations have been added, increasing your options to nine. Meanwhile, several vendors are submitting their paperwork and curriculum to the Sheriff’s Department for approval and inclusion in the list of available training options for candidates going through the process.
ECONOMIC IMPACTS AND EMPLOYEE RIGHTS
We are still not sure of the overall financial effects that the virus and Measure J will have on C/As. For now, we have avoided the closures of South Facility and Parks Bureau and gained a reprieve for the College Bureau, with the latter facing some staffing reductions.
While addressing these situations and negotiating with the Department, PPOA made sure to keep the focus on the fair treatment and rights of employees, following policies and past practices, and avoiding layoffs. I will also acknowledge the Department’s willingness to retain employees during the process coming out of the holidays. It is appreciated by our organization and the potentially affected employees.
These decisions may carry through to the end of the fiscal year, to see where we truly stand economically. Our work is not complete, yet we are appreciative of the time and efforts of all parties involved that have brought us to this point.
MOVING THE C/A CLASSIFICATION FORWARD
We will continue to work on the Custody Assistant classification, to improve its footing and include what we perceive as basics to the position, from the Academy on into custody, stations and courts.
We will work with the Department through our review report, including the foundation set by the California Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC), which is the base for our Academy curriculum. That curriculum issues the certificates that identify each of us as a Correctional Officer.
Other sources, such as the Citizen’s Commission on Jail Violence (CCJV) report, also contributed pertinent information regarding our duties. One section reads: “Yet witnesses confirmed that Custody Assistants are capable of performing most of the tasks performed by a custody deputy, particularly since there are no firearms in the jails,” and “Moreover, Custody Assistants are specifically trained for work in custody.”
There is more on the agenda to be shared confidently and to potentially be accomplished. I ask that you do not dwell on the past perceived organizational inefficiencies, and inquire with me personally if your PPOA delegate is unavailable.
I realize that not everyone reads the articles or emails. Rumors and misinformation have been a detriment to our classification for a long time. The negative narrative is often incorrect. That’s why I encourage those of you who do receive the information to reach out and share the material, and help lend clarity regarding inaccurate information.
I am accessible through my PPOA email and the PPOA office at (323) 261-3010. Several of you have contacted me directly to ask questions, present ideas or separate fact from fiction. We are stronger when unified, thinking the same and striving to revamp our work surroundings.
Thank you for your time, ideas and the opportunity to continue representing you for the betterment of our classification.
Take care. Stay safe.