From the President
May 15, 2015
We had a great meeting in Ventura County on May 8th, hosted by the Ventura County Professional Peace Officers Association (VCPPOA)! Our featured speaker was Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson and our guest speaker was Ventura County Chief Probation Officer Mark Varela. Senator Jackson spoke about issues that the State is dealing with, and discussed the impact of Proposition 47. Chief Varela, whom is also the current president of the Chief Probation Officers of California (CPOC), was complimentary towards SCOPO for our work together on legislation during this session of the state legislature.
Our jointly sponsored juvenile records bill, AB 989, made it out of the Assembly and is on its way to the Senate. If the bill gets to the governor’s desk and is ultimately signed by the governor, it would correct an unintentional oversight by the passage of last year’s SB 1038 (Leno). That bill amended section 782 WIC and added 786 WIC, which automatically seals a minor’s record upon successful completion of their probation. The problem for us is that a minor can be adjudicated at 13 or 14 years of age, satisfactorily complete their probation, and then be rearrested before they reach the age of 18. Current law would not allow us to pull our own records for dispositional reports; including making a recommendation pertaining to placement and/or rehabilitative placement. AB 989 would give us back access to information that is necessary to properly gain insight into a minor’s background and suitability for proper placement.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for our other jointly sponsored bill, SB 428. Our jury duty exemption bill did not get out of the Senate Judiciary Committee this last Tuesday, and as such is dead for this year. It is unfortunate that things went down the way they did. We had received indications going back to March that the chair and several members on the Committee were sympathetic to our concerns, especially about officer safety related issues. Based on what happened Tuesday, it appears that we were misled about their true intentions. SB 428 would have exempted probation peace officers from serving on criminal trials. For those of you who have served on juries, and more specifically criminal trials, you know the uncomfortable feeling during the voire dire process when personal questions are asked of potential jurors. The questions are invasive and revealing of a peace officer’s personal life, ultimately putting the safety of you and your family at risk. That’s not to mention the potential for conflict with the defendant.
In addition to our jointly sponsored bills, we are also monitoring several bills which could have an impact on us; either in the short run or looking long-term. SB 124 - juvenile solitary confinement, which would effectively ban the use of “solitary confinement” for juveniles, is at the top of our list. The traditional usage of solitary confinement as an isolated and oppressive means to lock down youth for extended periods of time is just not used any longer in California’s county facilities. There are times where juveniles are temporarily separated from the general population for their own safety, the safety of other juveniles, or the safety of staff. And, when those juveniles are separated from the general population their basic necessities are attended to, and are not suspended during their separation. Both their separation from the general population and the supervision of their basic needs are governed by Code of Regulations, Juvenile Title 15. Facilities have been run under Title 15 for many years, and every indication that I’ve received tells me that the current system works.
Some of the other bills we are monitoring include:
AB 66 (Weber) - Peace officers: cameras. Assemblymember Weber’s bill would impose specified requirements on a law enforcement agency that requires a peace officer employed by the agency to use a body-worn camera. Even though some amendments have been made to the bill, we still have some concerns over its implementation if passed. At this point, we believe the bill would only include non-probation peace officers, but looking long-term it could be expanded to include Probation. SCOPO is opposed to this bill.
AB 86 (McCarty) - Peace officers: independent review panel. Assemblymember McCarty’s bill would require the Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor to direct an independent investigation by the Department of Justice if a peace officer, in the performance of his or her duties, uses deadly physical force upon another person and that person dies as a result of the use of that deadly physical force. SCOPO is opposed to this bill.
AB 511 (Gipson) - Workers’ compensation. Assemblymember Gipson’s bill would expand the coverage of specified presumptions to probation peace officers, when the illness or condition develops or manifests itself during a period when the officer or employee is in service of his or her employer. SCOPO is in support of this bill.
We will continue to monitor these and other bills that are of importance to our profession. If you have a concern about a specific bill, please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, you can always refer to our Bill Information page for a list of bills that we are tracking with our position noted.
Stay alert, stay safe, and stand committed.
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