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September 27, 2017
Our AFSCME Sisters and Brothers in
Puerto Rico Need Our Help!

Maria was the strongest hurricane to strike Puerto Rico in almost a century. Residents of Puerto Rico have yet to take full stock of the devastation, b ut one thing is certain: 

The12,000 AFSCME members, and thousands of retirees, 
who call Puerto Rico home need our help.
 
AFSCME is encouraging members to help our Puerto Rico sisters and brothers by donating to our union's Fallen Heroes Fund. The fund provides relief and immediate assistance to those who fall victim to natural disasters and other tragedies. Please donate today!



Interested in getting $$$ to help pay for your commute to work?

Local 685, in partnership with the Coalition of County Unions, is designing a program to provide a subsidy to members who use qualified transportation benefits, such as transit passes, vanpooling, bicycling, and parking associated with these things. In order to best design the program, we need to hear from you about how you get to and from work. Please take a few minute to 
 
The deadline is Friday, October 6, so make your voice heard!


Representative Stacy Ford Asks:
"Can I vent?"  SAFETY OR NOT!
 
Officer safety? What the HELL is that?! There was a time when I came to work I felt safe. When lea ving ho 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 sford@afscme685.com and tell me how you feel about this story.
From Central Juvenile Hall to Morehouse College

Sometimes, as concerned Deputy Probation Officers, we wonder what happened to one kid or another who has been a ward of Los Angeles County Probation and directly under our supervision. 

Well, this is what happened to Alton Pitre, a young man
Senator Cory Booker, Democrat New Jersey and Alton Pitre
who had been detained at Central Juvenile Hall for eighteen months a few years ago. Alton is now a sociology major and a senior at Morehouse College! 

Alton has written a great deal about the struggles he faced along his path from a gang-ridden community in south Central Los Angeles to successful college student. 

At the age of 18, Alton was facing a potential life sentence for crimes he did not commit. After two years of fighting his case, he was finally exonerated. While he was at Central, he became part of InsideOut Writers-the non-profit that conducts creative writing classes in our facilities.

For Alton, writing became a tool to document his self-discovery. His 2014 op-ed in Juvenile Justice Information Exchange describes some of the stumbling blocks along his path. 

Here's an excerpt:

I found I didn't know how to communicate well with others. I would use language that I learned in jail. One time I asked my grandmother if I could take a 'sit down,' which refers to sitting down to use the toilet. She asked me what was I talking about and I explained. She laughed and told me I didn't have to ask her for permission to use the restroom.

Psychologically I was the same high school kid who was sent to juvenile hall, but I was a few years older and eligible to enter the adult criminal justice system. I was still labeled as a gang member and I was now responsible for going to school and keeping a job. My days were now consumed with classes, work. I had to man up fast, whether I liked it or not.

The biggest issue I faced was trying to stay off the radar of my peers and the police while still residing in the same community I got caught up in. I had not yet realized that it was a dangerous risk just walking down the street."

In an earlier article for Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, Alton described a visit back to Central Juvenile Hall when InsideOut asked him to speak at their annual writer's retreat:

At Central Juvenile Hall, I told the kids that I was in their position just a few years earlier and I shared how I coped with that experience. I told them about my acceptance to Morehouse College and I stressed that change can't begin the moment they are released. It must start now, while they are still incarcerated. They must first prepare mentally and educate themselves before they are thrown back out into the real world where they will be tested constantly. The tables can and will turn for the better but only if they put in the necessary work.

For many of us, seeing and hearing about this young man's journey defines the reason we come to work every day.  

From the Probation Department:
Department Issues Draft Armed on Request Form, Policy and Procedures -- FINALLY!

After two-and-half years of foot-dragging, the LA County Probation Department has issued draft documents that will-once finalized-enable DPOs to apply for the right to be armed-on-duty. Local 635 has been working hard to make this happen, and we will keep up the pressure to assure Officers working in dangerous work environments can carry firearms to protect themselves, their colleagues, and their charges.

Below is the correspondence received from the Probation Department:

Greetings Mr. Miller;

Attached for your review and consideration are draft documents regarding the Department's Armed on request Form; Armed on request Directive; and revised Special Services Bureau Arming policy and procedures.  

The Arm request form and attendant Directive are intended to meet the Department's obligation under Article 42 of the applicable MOU. The Formal Notification is forthcoming via U.S. mail. 

If the Union would like to meet to discuss these manual sections, please contact my office on or before close of business September 29, 2017, to schedule a meeting.

Please contact Jeffrey Hickman at (562) 658-0328 if you have any questions.

Regards,

Trillann Minor
LA County Probation Department

Read the draft documents here.

Please contact your Local 685 representative with your questions, suggestions, or concerns about this important issue.

Automatic Handguns Seized at Claremont Motel

CLAREMONT: A probation compliance check involving LA County Probation Department officers resulted in the seizure of fully automatic handguns with high capacity magazines and the  arrest of a 21-year-old Norco man. 

Read more here


In This Issue...
Calendar of Events

SEPTEMBER
Stewards Meeting 
Sept. 28, 7:30 PM

OCTOBER
General Membership     Meeting
Oct 12, 7:30 PM
       
S tewards Meeting: 
Oct. 26, 7:30 PM

 
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