Officer safety? What the HELL is that?! There was a time when I came to work I felt safe. When lea
me for work I would kiss my wife and kids and say, "SEE YOU LATER," and leave knowing I would come back home the same way I left: in one piece. Now when I leave I kiss the wife and grand kids and say, "pray for me and my coworkers that we have a safe shift."
What happen to officer safety in the work place?! If I recall correctly we have a right to work in a safe working environment and be provided with the safety tools and equipment necessary to complete our job assignments. We also have a right NOT to be assaulted by minors who are out of control, defiant, and disrespectful at all levels. We have a right NOT to be abused--whether it is verbal, physical, emotional, sexual, etc.
However, somewhere in this NEW WORLD ORDER as it relates to the Probation Department, officer safety has been compromised. It appears, at least on the surface, that officer safety is not important. Now of course, those managers in Downey (and yes, I said Downey) as well as some Bureau Chiefs, Directors, some folks in H/R, performance management, internal affairs, and county council--not all, but most--will firmly disagree with my observation.
I can truly understand how and why they would disagree with my observation. They don't work where WE work. They don't deal with what we deal with. They are safe and secure in their offices and in their secured building: 9150. We, on the other hand, are in the halls, camps, and field. Our resources and safety tools are slowly being taking away.
There are a lot of outside groups, non-profits, and outsiders telling our leadership how we should deal with our population. They are telling our leadership that these minors are non-violent. You and I both know that is BS. Some of our minors are assaulting officers in the halls and camps on a regular basis. They say our minors are victims of circumstances, it's not their fault, they can't help themselves, and they have mental health issues. There is some truth to most of that, which is more reason to create policies and procedures that keep us safe.
Read Directive 1194 - CONTROLLED SITUATIONS. This policy tells how the department really feels about officer safety. It also sends a strong message of how the department feels about officers as people-as human beings. Check this out: a controlled situation is when a minor refuses to follow instructions resulting in a disturbance causes disruption to the camp, hall, cottage facility, and programming, and is not responsive to staff instructions, which seriously impacts the unit/camp/ cottage/facility (this is my favorite) throwing food at staff, minors, guests or camp support staff, but not being physically aggressive after the act, gassing, attempted gassing (spitting or throwing of bodily fluids) when they say bodily fluids they're talking about urine, semen and doo-doo, LOL.
Please, someone tell me how in the heck is this a controlled situation. If I do any of this on the streets I would probably get my AXX kicked and maybe be arrested. In fact, if I throw bodily fluids on a coworker I would be fired on the spot-sent home on administrative leave.
Let's talk about some more safety concerns that I want to point out. The minors are running their own program. They get up without permission, they wander around the dorm and out of bounds without permission. They walk out of the building when they feel like it. Staff is being verbally abused all day. Our women officers are called the "B" word as if it's their first name. It's out of control.
It's gotten really bad because minors have gotten BOLD. When the minors tell the supervisor and the director to "F" off and suck his "private part," and nothing is said or done, you know it's gotten bad. Some of these minors show no respect towards officers, and there seems to be no consequences for their actions. Supervisors are scared, and appease the minors to gain compliance. It's out of control.
In one of our camps (I won't say which one, but it's in the Antelope Valley) there is a huge problem with safety equipment. There is a major shortage of RADIOS. At this particular camp officers use radios to communicate. Some may argue that radios are not needed, but I will argue differently. Let me explain the environment in this camp. Most of the minors there are experiencing some type of mental health related issues. Some are violent and will assault an officer without a thought. Some are fighters who fight just because.
At this camp, officers are required to supervise classrooms during school hours. They cannot have any food, snacks, gum or water of any kind while on this post-per their director. Should they need water they have to contact the SL (School Liaison) and hope the SL is available to relieve them to attend to their needs. Some days they work a 16-hour shift without a break, per their director. On days that they are scheduled a break on a 16-hour shift, that break is canceled when there is a PIR.
Hmmm. This shows where the priority is, and it's sure not the officers. Every officer in this particular camp should have a working radio to communicate with security and fellow coworkers. They do not. There was a fight and attack on a DPO who was supervising a classroom. The officers in the classroom right next door and a few doors down had no idea that an officer was in a situation where he was pushed to the ground by a minor. That officer called for help but the officers in the nearby classrooms did not hear his cry for help because they did not have radios. However, one staff in the dorm and security staff heard his call for help and did respond.
My issue in this case is that the officers who were in close proximity could not respond because they had no radio. This could have been deadly for the officer and/or the minor. There has been no effort to get radios for this facility. How many radio audits do we need to have before we do something!
Minors have become comfortable assaulting officers. The minors know there are very few consequences for their actions. They are running amok in the camps and halls. In this camp on one shift there are ten DPO IIs.
Eight of the ten
are under investigation. Officer safety has been compromised!
New officers are leaving Probation as fast as they are hired. What a waste of money! The new hires will tell you they are leaving Probation because they don't feel safe. Not only that, but they don't feel supported by management, and sure don't feel supported by anyone in Downey-from the top to the bottom.
Safety is a huge problem that is an EASY FIX. If those people in charge (you know, the ones in Downey) would simply hold the minors accountable for their actions-like they hold officers accountable for their actions-wow! What a difference that would make.
Officers in the camps and halls have to take it back, slow down the program, and go back to the basics. Do one activity at a time. Don't move until you have full compliance. Be in control and in charge. Be professional and firm. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Stop surrendering and doing nothing. DO YOUR JOB! If you are consistent and show no fear you will gain control of the minors.
With this administration, eventually you will go under investigation. It's best to go under investigation for doing your job. The union can protect you. But if you go under investigation, for not doing your job, the union is limited in its ability to protect you.
The policies that are currently being enforced are career killers. They're morale killers. They empower the minors to run amok. New policies and procedures that are currently being written should be written with officer's and minor's safety in mind. At the end of our shift and the end of the day, we all want to be safe-including the minors.
Please email me at email@example.com and tell me how you feel about this story.