The California State Auditor's office released its review of state developmental centers and concluded significant changes must be made to better protect the developmentally disabled residents who are cared for there.
While the audit is critical of the Office of Protective Services (OPS) and its sworn peace officers and investigators, it makes several recommendations that the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) has been striving toward, including improvements to procedures, hiring, training, salaries and management.
In December 2012, retired police chief and former California Department of Justice (DOJ) consultant Thomas Simms made it clear, OPS officers and investigators were not to blame for the current or continuing problems within the Department of Developmental Services (DDS). Thomas Simms authored the 2002 audit of DDS, which was commissioned by the Office of the Attorney General.
"I don't blame your guys (OPS officers and investigators) at all. I blame top level management at DDS," said Thomas Simms. Simms told the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) which represents OPS officers and investigators, "No one is going to succeed in the current environment there. The proper management structure is not in place."
In fact, the current audit provided more analysis to the 28 recommendations made in the 2002 audit. DDS has maintained that it has successfully completed 20 of the 28 recommendations; however, the State Auditor determined that only 13 of the recommendations have been completed in the 11 years since Mr. Simms’ audit.
The current audit found:
- the lack of continuity in OPS leadership has contributed to the department's inability to address longstanding resident safety issues,
- the department does not regularly provide specialized training to OPS staff,
- the department lacks a formal recruitment program to address high vacancy rates within OPS and to counteract its lower salaries compared to those of nearby local law enforcement agencies.
In order to remedy these deficiencies, the audit recommended that
- DDS revise OPS training policy to require specific specialized training to OPS staff,
- implement a formal recruiting program and evaluate how to reduce the compensation disparity between OPS and local law enforcement,
- increase staffing,
- amend policies and procedures to better guide and instruct OPS staff.
"We welcome the results of the current audit," said CSLEA President Alan Barcelona. "For the sake of the patients and our OPS investigators and officers, let's get it fixed."