From the President

May 21, 2014

We had a great meeting in Huntington Beach last week. Thanks to the Orange County Employees Association (OCEA) for hosting! Among our guests at the meeting were State Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva and Orange County Assistant Sheriff Steve Kea. Assemblymember Quirk-Silva gave us a personal perspective on the impact of probation in her community and in her life, and Assistant Sheriff Kea provided a grounded view of realignment in the post-AB 109 world. During the meeting we also discussed the status of our 2013 bills in the legislature.

Our jointly sponsored bill, AB 1708 would have exempted peace officers covered under section 830.5 of the Penal Code from voir dire in criminal proceedings. This would have included probation officers, and any employee having custodial responsibilities in an institution operated by a probation department (i.e. juvenile correctional officers). Unfortunately, without adequate support the bill was pulled by the author for this legislative year. We want to thank Assemblymember Alejo for his work on carrying the bill for us.

Our two carry-over bills from the last two years, AB 2314 (arming of probation officers) and AB 2526 (CCP membership), have both cleared the Assembly and are in the Senate. Thank you to Assemblymembers Hall and Gonzalez respectively for their work on the aforementioned bills. Our fourth and final bill for this year, 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, it would simply require each County Executive Officer, upon written notice from their 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. This bill is currently on suspense (on hold) in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. We would also like to thank Assemblymember Hernandez for carrying this bill for us.

We are also in full support of AB 2052 (Gonzalez), sponsored by PORAC, which would provide expanded worker’s compensation coverage on presumptions (i.e. cancer, hernias) to the remainder of the 830 PC series; including probation peace officers. If passed, the bill would not only correct years’ old oversight in legislation addressing presumptions, but it would also make the lives of officers facing these afflictions much easier knowing that their job related injuries will now be covered as an added presumption. 

Once again we find ourselves in an election year, both with the upcoming June primary and then this November’s general election. Whichever way you vote, know that your vote has consequences. As an organization with its primary purpose of advocating for California’s probation peace officers, we know all too well what can happen when someone who we don’t want to see in office gets voted in, or the impact of a harmful bill that gets through the legislature and signed into law. These are just two reasons why all of us need to remain engaged in politics, locally and at the state level. The reality of the world we live in is that if we don’t participate in the political process, we won’t have a voice in making a difference on issues that impact our lives. We must also do our part to educate legislators and the public about the work we do, and the importance of the issues that matter so much to us. It’s not only important for us to give our best effort at work each day, but 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.  And above all else, VOTE!

Best wishes for a relaxing and fun summer!

Stay alert, stay safe, and stand committed.

Paul Brennan
SCOPO President