From the President

March 25, 2012

We had a productive two day meeting in Sacramento, held March 13-14. The first day was our annual legislative day, where our member and allied organizations met with over 30 state legislators to discuss our issues, and to educate them about our two sponsored bills for this year. Both bills are also supported by AFSME local 685 – Los Angeles County Deputy Probation Officers Union, an allied probation organization. On the second day, we held our regular meeting to conduct business, and to take an opportunity to recognize the legislative accomplishments of our 2011 SCOPO Legislators of the Year: Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod and Assembly Member Susan Bonilla

Our first bill, AB 2031 (D-Fuentes), would add a rank-and-file deputy probation officer (1) and a deputy sheriff (1) seat to each county’s Community Corrections Partnership (CCP) executive committee. Currently, each CCP’s executive committee is comprised of: the chief probation officer of the county as chair, a chief of police, the sheriff, the District Attorney, the Public Defender, the presiding judge of the superior court, or his or her designee, and one department representative (head of the county’s social services, head of the county’s mental health, or head of the county’s alcohol and substance abuse programs) designated by the county board of supervisors. Giving rank-and-file a voice, and a vote, in the CCP meetings is critical to the long-term success of AB 109 implementation. Additionally, the bill would also add back-in four (4) rank-and-file representatives to the Board of State and Community Corrections (formerly the Corrections Standards Authority); which begins July 1, 2012. One of those four, a juvenile deputy probation officer, would be added back-in; while a requested adult deputy probation officer, would be a newly added seat with that title onto the Board..

Our second bill, AB 1968 (D- Wieckowski), would mandate that all officers supervising AB 109 offenders and “high-risk” offenders be armed. For years, officers have pushed to become armed and better trained in officer safety to deal with probationers and the dangers faced in their communities. The trend for the last decade has been that more and more departments’ have become armed, and introduced intermediate use of force options (i.e. impact weapons and tasers) for their officers’ safety. Now more than ever with the introduction of AB 109 offenders, on top of the probationers that are already under our supervision, the necessity for a uniformity of armed officers in the state of California is warranted. What we’re trying to accomplish with this bill is to: 1) arm the last six counties in the state that currently are not armed, 2) expand arming to those counties that are in some way currently limited in designated armed positions, and 3) better equip officers for their safety and those in the community; especially when dealing with an AB 109 offender population that just six months ago would have been supervised by armed parole agents.

Not directly related to AB 109, but some other things we discussed at our legislative day were: 1) the state doing away with accepting new commitments by the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) and phasing out of DJJ facilities in 2013, and 2) continuing funding for AB 109 – realignment in year 2 and beyond. Based on what we heard, and what’s been discussed in the time since then, it sounds as if counties will be off the hook for a little while longer in having to receive the remaining DJJ population. But, the question is for how much longer? The state is intent on shedding costs, and because of various lawsuits want to depopulate and/or eliminate their juvenile facilities; not to mention the long-term outlook for the adult facilities. As a result, we could see delayed implementation by a matter of months, but not much more than another year (early 2014?) I would imagine. The issue of continued funding continues to be a moving target, as no one is in a position to give any commitments after June 2012. Our biggest leap of faith seems to rest with the Governor’s tax initiative set for the November 2012 ballot. Time will tell how much the voters’ are willing to support his initiative, but one thing is for sure, if it doesn’t pass we’re gonna’ need more than a paddle to get up this creek.

Something we discussed on our second day of our two day meeting was the impact that the Stop Special Interest Money Now Act (i.e. Paycheck Deception, or Corporate Power Grab, by those of us who would be affected by passage of the initiative) would have on labor in California. Passage of the initiative by the voters would prohibit unions from doing the following: making direct monetary contributions to state and local candidates using member dues, contributing to ballot measure committees if the funds are collected via payroll deduction, and making independent expenditures in support of opposition to state and local candidates and ballot measures made from funds collected via payroll deduction. If this initiative is passed by the voters, the labor movement would be set back decades and likely would never fully recover

In the midst of realignment and an election year, you may ask yourself what you can do to increase probation’s chances for success with realignment and enhance our visibility on probation related issues. Become part of the solution. Get involved with SCOPO, become informed about relevant topics to the field of probation, then plan to meet and educate your local and state legislators about what you do and why it is important to adequately allocate funding to probation. We need to be at the forefront of the battle to preserve and expand funding to probation, and be an active part of the discussion when probation and related labor issues are being discussed. One person and one organization can’t do this alone, especially considering what’s at stake. Consider this a call for probation to rise to the challenge, and take the lead in California’s future. Your future.

Stay alert, stay safe, and stand committed.

Paul Brennan
SCOPO President