August 6, 2020
From the Desk of the 2nd VP/ Chief Steward
by Jonathan Byrd
These days, I always want to begin by thanking our Members for the dedication you have shown during the most challenging times of our careers. Your exemplary work has stabilized our Department with minimal impacts on operations at a time when the seas have been their roughest.

As we continue to adjust to the ever-changing times, we must not forget the rights of the employee. Our Executive Board’s main goal is to ensure that every member has the opportunity for fair wages, good benefits, safe working conditions, and the preservation of employee rights through excellent representation. It is the latter that I wish to address.

The past several years, under the prior two administrations, have been very challenging for Local 685 members regarding discipline. We have seen excessive levels of discipline and discharges at higher rates than ever before. As your representatives, we know that this has taken a significant and harmful toll on each and every one of you.

Your Executive Board has responded to these challenges by increasing the availability of the executive board members, stewards, special representatives, consultants, and legal staff to the membership. To meet the increasing need for representation caused by the actions of the Department, we have stepped up all our representation activities.

The Executive Board wants to assure you that as a union member, you have access to experienced representation “AT NO CHARGE.”Some have initiated or repeated a rumor that members must pay out-of-pocket costs when being represented by our Union. We want to assure that this claim is false. 

Representation covers all areas of the MOU except where other applicable law provides for a different jurisdiction. For example, areas such as Workers’ Compensation (medical or injury); discrimination, harassment, or hostile work environment; and criminal charges are a few areas where we do not have jurisdiction under the MOU. However, your Union will give you basic advice and will assist and direct you to the applicable agency with jurisdiction or provide you with a referral.

Your Executive Board applauds Chief Leyva for his recent public declaration that he believes discipline should have a more objective and restorative approach and not be solely punitive based. We will continue to work in coordination with the Department to support this type of effort.

The Executive Board thanks Local 685 members for supporting one another during these most concerning times. Together, we have and continue to work in a professional manner and strive for a more healthy and safe working environment. Together, we continue our work of insuring that our families benefit from our careers in Probation.

In Solidarity,

Deployment Stories
by Cookie Lommel

Random members talked about their experience being deployed to work in the Camps and Halls under the COVID-19 umbrella. Being deployed from the Probation Area Offices to work with youth in the Camps and Halls was a very different experience for many of these officers who had not worked with juveniles in ten, twenty, or some even thirty years. 

What a challenge! The main issue for most of these officers was “training” as there are different skills needed to work in the Camps and Halls that you don’t come face to face with when you work in the field offices. If the Department is going to deploy staff, at least give them some training – the skills and tools needed are totally different!

Officer 1
“When I went to work at one of the Halls, there was a feeling of uneasiness because everyone wanted to avoid any infection; however, my attitude was that I was there, and I just wanted to help. Since I had worked in so many different departments in Probation I always wanted to learn as much as possible, so I had moved about every three years of my more than twenty years in the Probation Department, so it turned out to be fine because I was flexible. Generally, my experience was a very good one because the staff who were already, at the facility were “top notch,” helpful, and accommodating.”

Officer 2
“I was first deployed in April, sometimes to a Camp and sometimes to a Hall. The one thing I noticed that I did not understand is that each facility was overstaffed. If there were 35 kids, there would be 35 staff. Why? You don’t need one staff per juvenile, we were told that the people from the field offices were supposed to be back-up for the regular staff. Well, that could not have been the case because the first day I was at one of the Halls things were quiet and running well. But the second night there was a fight, lots of wildness. Even though that took place, my overall experience was a good one; however, the staff that was normally in the facility was a bit frustrated because there was a lack of communication with upper management. This is the major issue that needs to be dealt with.”

Officer 3 
“I have worked in this Department for over 20 years and I consistently work overtime, so this was not strange for me to work at the Camps or Halls. I like working with the juveniles – they respect me, and I respect them. I was fine because management kept their word with me. I was always in a back-up position, like they said, so the entire experience was good one for me.”

Officer 4
“I had not been in a Camp for 19 years, but I enjoy working with kids and I always look for a way to connect with them. Some of them like to play checkers or dominos so when you sit down and start to engage them in a conversation, they open up and it creates a real sense of communication, which I think is so important. There was a kid who had been in the compound for a while; I knew him very well. He was a smart kid and an amazing writer. My system of communicating with youngsters helped me to reach out to this young man and encourage him to continue to hone his writing skills and to help him grow as he was a very troubled juvenile.”

Officer 5
“I have always worked with juveniles, so this was a very pleasant experience for me. However, it had been eleven years since I consistently worked in the Halls. For the last 12 years, I had worked in the field, in investigations, calling parents, calling witnesses, interacting with victims, DA investigators, etc. When I was first deployed, I thought there would be some sort of training or introduction presentation to what we would be doing because the first thing I noticed was there had been a lot of changes, particularly with the juveniles. If I told a juvenile to pick up his wet towel, suddenly I had to negotiate with him concerning whether he was going to follow my instruction. This was not the way we generally work with juveniles; they were previously more respectful, perhaps I should have had training on ‘negotiating.’”

Officer 6
“I was first deployed in April, and when I got there, there was a rumor going around that a staff member may have been exposed to COVID-19, had taken the test, and was awaiting results. As this piece of information continued to float around, I was surprised there was no management response, presentation, or discussion about this. COVID-19 was in the news constantly and it was killing people; however, the staff realized that we were on our own, so we exchanged information. When the staff member received the positive results, staff who worked with her were sent home; however, there was still no organized communication from upper management. Certainly, we could not blame our supervisors as no one was telling them either, but the entire incident was handled in a very disappointing manner. As time went on, I was exposed myself. When I told my doctor he immediately had me come in for a test and told me to quarantine until I received the results. It took 5 days to get the results but luckily it was negative. However, a few days later I started feeling sick – coughing, body aches, and feeling tired – so I tested again, and it was positive. Imagine if my doctor had not had me stay home to be certain of the results, I could have infected others.”

What was your Deployment Experience? Please send me short story of what took place—Cookie Lommel,
During Probation Services Week Celebrations 
Central Adult Investigations Unit Celebration
This year’s theme for Probation Services Week was “Restoring Trust, Creating Hope.” The L.A. County Probation Department showcased the work we do throughout Los Angeles County highlighting how Probation employees – and Probation programs – are making a real difference in the lives of those we serve.
The work of the approximately 6,000 L.A. County Probation employees was lauded in a motion by Supervisor Kathryn Barger that was unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors July 7. 
“The Los Angeles County Probation Department community corrections professionals are a true force for positive change in our communities, providing services and referrals for clients working in partnership with community agencies and groups,” stated the motion. “Probation service enhances the safety of our communities and delivers essential therapeutic and reentry services for approximately 37,000 adults and 5,000 juvenile clients on any given day. We applaud Probation professionals and their support teams for their compassion and strength, dedication to the justice system, and their contributions to making a difference in many lives and providing public safety in our communities.” 
Throughout the week there were staff appreciation celebrations at several of the Probation offices. 
The CIA Unit practicing social distancing. Those masks they have on are very stylish!
General Membership & Stewards Meetings Canceled for August

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and orders from local, state, and federal officials, the Local 685 General Membership and Stewards Meetings are canceled for the month of August 2020. 

Please stay safe and healthy in these difficult times!
COVID-19 Resources

This page is a resource for Local 685 members to have access to official County/Department forms and memos from the County regarding COVID-19's impact on County operations and County employees. Please check here routinely for the latest update from the County and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).