From the President

March 28, 2014

I would like to thank the following associations for hosting our March meeting in Sacramento: Sacramento County Probation Association, San Joaquin County Probation Officers Association, Solano Probation Peace Officers Association and the Yolo County Probation Association! The jointly hosted meeting was a success. Our first day was our annual legislative day, where we were able to visit a number of state legislators and explain to them the issues currently facing probation. We also had a chance to talk about our four bills for this year. The second day was our regular Board meeting, which included the presentation of State Assemblymember and State Senator of the Year awards. This year’s recipients were Assemblymember Isadore Hall III and Senator Kevin de León respectively. Finally, we welcomed new member Stanislaus County Deputy Probation Officers Association to SCOPO, welcome aboard SCDPOA!

As I mentioned earlier, we had an opportunity to talk to state legislators about our four bills. Our first bill, AB 1708, 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. Currently in law there are similar exemptions to jury duty for various peace officer classifications. These exemptions save the courts and counties significant costs by reducing the number of jury summons required to be sent to law enforcement officers who almost never end up serving on juries. Additionally, when the officer is required to serve jury duty, the local (probation department) or state (CDCR) agency is required to pay another officer to fill the vacant post, usually at overtime rates, which unnecessarily drives up state and local costs. AB 1708 is a cosponsored bill with the Chief Probation Officers of California (CPOC).

Our second bill, AB 2314, would require that probation officers assigned “high risk” offenders for supervision be trained and armed so that they may better perform their public safety duties. As it is currently written, the bill would include the supervision of “high risk” probationers and AB 109ers (PRCS and 1170(h) offenders). This is our third attempt at getting this bill through the legislature. The first attempt landed the bill on the governor’s desk, but was vetoed in the final hours of the 2012 legislative session. Our second attempt stalled in 2013, but we are pushing ahead with a renewed effort this time around. Since the introduction of our arming bill in 2012, our efforts have not gone unnoticed. We have had a tremendous impact on getting several previously unarmed probation departments armed or are in the process of being armed – Calaveras, Contra Costa, Napa, and Solano. Additionally, there are several departments that are now expanding their arming program after having only one or a few officers armed over the years – Los Angeles and Shasta to name two.

Our third bill, AB 2373, would require counties to fully fund probation mandates or explain their inability to provide adequate funding for services. In order to ensure that probation departments throughout California have the resources necessary to properly carry out their duties, and more importantly in order to insure the safety of the public, AB 2373 would simply require each County Executive Officer, upon written notice from his/her Chief Probation Officer (CPO) pursuant to Penal Section 1203.74, to either fully fund probation mandates, or to justify the County’s failure to do so.

Our final bill, AB 2526, would aid in the success of Realignment by adding the voice of rank-and-file probations officers, who deliver the bulk of services, and a rank-and-file deputy sheriff or police officer to the membership of each county’s Community Corrections Partnership (CCP) board. The current makeup of the CCP includes the CPO, Sheriff and heads of community social services programs. Rank-and-file probation officers and a rank-and-file deputy sheriff or police officer have been excluded from the Executive Committees of the CCPs. As a result there is currently no rank-and-file representation and no effective voice for the individuals who actually deliver the bulk of services required for successful implementation of realignment.

Since my last update, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed’s ballot initiative has been defeated for this year. After filing suit against the Attorney General of California over her issuance of title and summary for the initiative, on March 12th a judge rejected Mayor Reed’s lawsuit. If he had won his lawsuit, Mayor Reed would have had a much easier road to get his initiative on the ballot for the November 2014 election. Even though Mayor Reed’s effort was dealt a crippling blow, don’t be surprised to see a similar effort again in 2016. Moreover, be on the lookout for local initiatives where you live. Just because Reed’s statewide effort failed, doesn’t mean that local city councils or board of supervisors won’t try and do the same or similar thing at the local level. Be on your guard.

Stay alert, stay safe, and stand committed.

Paul Brennan
SCOPO President