Dear Brothers and Sisters,
For the past several weeks during the COVID-19 pandemic you have worked tirelessly and under enormous pressure to perform your responsibilities as peace officers and, for many of you, as first responders. Local 685 members are to be commended for:
- Working under emergency conditions to protect and care for the juveniles in the Halls and Camps;
- Monitoring adults, juveniles; and special populations assigned to Probation despite the risks;
- Your diligence in continuing critical pre-trial investigations; and
- Your commitment to protecting wayward children in DCFS.
As of the time of this writing, the Probation Department has not reported a single positive test for any juvenile. Your concerted work efforts as a Union is nothing less than remarkable.
17 of our Brothers and Sisters have reported a positive test for the novel coronavirus and have been quarantined. As far as we know, no bargaining unit member that has tested positive is in the hospital or on a ventilator, although we know of at least one spouse who is on a ventilator. We also understand from the Probation Department that the number of staff assigned to the Halls and Camps will be reduced during the upcoming week.
The Current Stats*
- 17 Probation staff have tested positive for COVID-19
- 63 Probation employees have been quarantined (self-imposed or ordered as of April 17)
- 911 Probation employees are on Telework (as of April 17)
- 382 Detention Services Bureau population
- 205 Residential Treatment Services Bureau population
- 0 juveniles in a Hall or Probation Camp have tested positive
*We are awaiting information from the Department of Children & Family Services.
As a Union, we have worked collaboratively in partnership with Interim Probation Chief Raymond Leyva and his executive management team to ensure the protection of Local 685 members. Thermometers will be delivered starting today at all facilities, and staff will be receiving training on how to use and read the thermometers.
Procurement and supply orders are underway for more surgical masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer. We have also begun positive discussions with the Department of Children and Family Serivces management to ensure the safety of our members assigned to DCFS.
In our joint-labor management conference calls with both departments, your Executive Board members continue to bring your concerns regarding overstaffing, reassignments, safety, personal protective equipment, and other operational changes.
At a time when others are calling for the release of high-risk juvenile offenders to the community, which is already under attack from COVID-19, we have enhanced our communication efforts and collaboration in working together to meet the challenges of maintaining Probation juvenile services in a safe environment. Clearly our efforts are working.
As reported in the news media, the Safe at Home orders, Public Health Department and CDC guidance, and the California Governor’s Safe at Home/Shelter in Place orders appear to slowing the spread of COVID-19 and flattening the curve so that we can be safe and return to some semblance of the new normal.
The “new normal” may not look the same for Probation – juvenile and adult – and DCFS operations. Much work lies ahead for each of us and for our Union. The safety and protection of each member of Local 685 remains our top priority. Our jobs are critical to the continued safety of juveniles in the institutions, adults and juveniles in the field, and children and families in DCFS, and I am proud to say that no one could do our jobs better than the dedicated and skilled members of AFSCME Local 685.
In the days and weeks to come, I am encouraging each of you to continue to perform your duties and responsibilities as the professionals you all have demonstrated yourselves to be in these unprecedented times.