If you were given the opportunity to be the Sheriff of Los Angeles County for the day, what would you prioritize? What would you place at the top of your list? Gang violence in the community? Personnel shortages? Jail violence? Department budget issues? Homeless problems? Mental health problems? Community outreach groups? Employee morale? Promotional process? Immigration issues? Employee training? Employee discipline?
How about all of the above and a lot more? During the first year of his term, our new Sheriff, Alex Villanueva, has tackled all of these issues and more. He has redirected resources and placed personnel in key positions to help resolve many of these problems. Though our union and some of our members have not completely agreed with all of the Sheriff’s decisions, many of us are committed to continuing to work with him and his staff (as PPOA has always done with any Sheriff) to assist in solving some of the toughest issues facing our Department and the community we serve.
I have written about the importance of being an active member of our union on numerous occasions. Though we have a Sheriff who is proving to be very supportive of line staff Department members, now it’s just as important as in years past. I will once again ask all members to participate with PPOA to help find solutions to many of the age-old problems that other sheriffs created or allowed to proliferate. We owe it to our communities, our families, our friends and ourselves to support the Sheriff who has vowed to support us in keeping peace in our neighborhoods.
Together, the Department and employee unions have the ability to set the record straight and maintain a safe working environment where sworn and professional staff will be able to perform without fear of making a minor mistake and being tossed away or overdisciplined — a community and workplace where you will not be punished unfairly for a mistake of the mind and as opposed to a mistake of the heart.
In August, September and October, you had the opportunity to participate with PPOA as we hosted our Pre-Labor Day Barbecue/general membership meeting and PPOA Board elections. I hope you attended the barbecue/meeting and made sure to vote in the election. This is only the beginning of becoming and remaining an active member.
As time passes, many of us will be handing the torch to younger members in the Department. Train your successors well and teach them the past so we don’t repeat mistakes of yesteryear. Most of all, instill in them (if they don’t already have it) the enthusiasm and vigor you remember feeling on the first day you were given the opportunity to serve your fellow citizens.
I hope you and your families had a safe and memorable holiday season, and the new year brings you many more blessings. Until next time, stay safe.