From the President

May 12, 2012

As I compose this President’s Message, it is Memorial Day weekend in the U.S. Please take a moment to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend this nation while serving in the armed forces, and for those who have done the same while protecting their communities as peace officers. On May 18th, we lost one of our own. While performing a pre-release supervision check at a home on Maple Drive in Midwest City, Oklahoma, Probation/Parole Officer Jeffrey McCoy of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections was shot and killed. Please keep his family, friends and co-workers in your thoughts and prayers.

Officer safety remains a priority for us, and as such our bill AB 1968 (Wieckowski), attempts to address one aspect of officer safety – arming probation officers who supervise high-risk offenders. Some counties already perform armed supervision of high-risk offenders; while others do not or do so on a limited basis. What we’re trying to accomplish with this bill is to: 1) arm the last six plus 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 last September would have been supervised by armed parole agents. At this point, the bill has gotten out of both the Assembly Committee on Public Safety and the Assembly Committee on Appropriations. The next step is for the bill to hit the Assembly floor for a vote. If it gets out of the Assembly, it’ll then go to the Senate where the process begins all over again. Our second bill, AB 2031 (Fuentes), is pending a hearing in the Senate Committee on Public Safety on June 12th. If it is later signed into law, this bill 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. 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.

Looming on the horizon, are two significantly important and far reaching issues for us to consider. The defeat of the Stop SpecialInterest Money Now Act (aka: Paycheck Deception, or Corporate Power Grab) and passage of the Governor’s tax initiative, both are items scheduled to go before the voters this November 6th. If the Stop Special Interest Money Now Act were to pass, it would prohibit unions from doing the following: make direct monetary contributions to state and local candidates using member dues, contribute to ballot measure committees if the funds are collected via payroll deduction, and make 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. If the Governor’s tax initiative is not passed, we would likely be facing trigger cuts that would not only impact jobs and the way we do business for years to come, but would also negatively impact the safety of our communities; not to mention the blow it would have on the state’s education system. Make every effort to educate your friends, family and co-workers about the importance of defeating the Stop Special Interest Money Now Act and to pass the Governor’s tax initiative.

I know many folks are leery of politicians and skeptical of the political process. I don’t find fault with those that do, but the reality of the world we live in is that if we don’t participate in the process for our interests who will? Who will speak on our behalf? Those that are trying to overturn the gains that we have made over the last several decades, or those trying to turn us into public enemy number one in making us out to be some sort of criminal for valuing our retirement systems? I highly doubt it. In my relatively short time meeting with and educating politicians about who we are and what we do as a profession, I’m finding that their understanding of our job is lacking. That is why we must do our part by educating them and the public, along with taking the initiative to speak up about our issues. It’s not only important for us to do our jobs at a high level of competency and effectiveness, but it is critical for us to take the lead in creating our own roadmap for success. Become part of the solution. 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 participant when probation and related labor issues are being discussed.

Stay alert, stay safe, and stand committed.

Paul Brennan
SCOPO President