From the President
January 8, 2015
Happy New Year everyone! 2014 ended with the passage of Proposition 47 – which changed nonviolent drug possession and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, which in turn reduced penalties and made fewer offenders eligible for state prison. According to a December 14th Orange County Register article, “In less than four weeks, the number of inmates housed in both San Diego and Los Angeles counties dropped 9 percent…. In Orange County’s three jail facilities the population is down more than 1,000 inmates, a 15 percent plunge that has administrators thinking about shutting down housing units to save cash.” Besides the question of whether or not reducing felonies to& misdemeanors makes the community safer, a question for the near-term is whether or not the reduction in the jail/prison population equates to a decrease in the number of jobs. Already, projections estimated that around 10,000 state prison inmates would be eligible for early release based on the passage of Proposition 47, and while the adult population was impacted, portions of the in custody juvenile population were also directly affected. Could fewer subjects in custody lead to positions being cut? Sure. The same might be said for probation services supervision which could see a drop in supervised cases, that would mean a reduction in the number of officers needed to supervise said cases. There are likely other Proposition 47 related issues that will affect Probation over the course of the next several years; only time will tell what they will look like.
2015 will prove to be another challenging year. Based on the issues that are being floated around the legislature, we will see a move by some in the legislature to go on the offensive moving to increase accountability for peace officers throughout the state. Let’s be clear, I don’t have a problem holding officers accountable, but I hope that the legislature takes a reasonable approach to the work that officers are doing and not create legislation that is a knee-jerk reaction to events unfolding in certain jurisdictions. Good& legislation comes from research and discussion on how best to accomplish the stated goals. One aspect that will be discussed is the role of shooting review boards for officer involved shootings, as seen with the introduction of AB 86 by Assemblymember McCarty. Another facet of peace officer accountability will include discussion over the& use of body-cams and their use by on-duty peace officers in the community. No doubt, training will also be addressed. Both from within departments and imposed upon them from outside. Even though discussions are in the preliminary stages, these topics will be familiar to everyone in the not too distant future.
In 2015 SCOPO will again introduce a jury duty bill that would exempt peace officers covered under section 830.5 of the Penal Code from voir dire in civil and criminal proceedings. This would include probation officers, and any employee having custodial responsibilities in an institution operated by a probation department. Current law exempts jury duty for several peace officer classifications. We also plan to monitor funding bills for Probation. Additionally, there is legislation that needs to be cleaned up. As exampled by last year’s SB 1038, which amended section 782 WIC and added 786 WIC, the introduction of a cleanup bill would revise current law which automatically seals a minor’s record; unless the offense at the time of sentencing was a 707(b). Finally, we would support similar or same legislation as last year’s AB 2052; which would have provided expanded worker’s compensation coverage on presumptions (i.e. cancer, hernias) to the remainder of the 830 PC series; including probation peace officers.
We must continue to do our part to educate legislators and the public, and take the initiative to speak out on our issues. It’s not only important for us to do our jobs well on a day-to-day basis, it is critical for us to take the lead in creating our own blueprint for success. Become part of the solution. Become informed about issues that are important to your members and our profession, then meet and educate your local and state legislators about the job you do and why it is important to adequately fund the work of 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. If we aren't, then we’ll surely be on the outside looking in.
Stay alert, stay safe, and stand committed.
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