On January 6, 2014, CSLEA met with DDS representatives in the first conference of the Joint Labor-Management Task Force. The Task Force was created as part of the recently ratified Bargaining Unit 7 Memorandum of Understanding which provides that DDS and CSLEA shall convene on a quarterly basis to explore issuing peace officers firearms for use while on duty.
Participating in the first meeting were Chief of DDS’ Office of Protective Services Ken Hill and Porterville Developmental Center’s Executive Director Theresa Billeci. CSLEA was represented by HPAC President Luis Jimenez, Fairview Developmental Center Peace Officer I Emilio Escobedo, Sonoma Developmental Center Peace Officer I Ralph Garcia and CSLEA Senior Legal Counsel David De La Riva.
The topics discussed included the locations and surrounding areas of each of DDS’ developmental centers, the daily tasks performed by officers and the types of calls they are required to respond to. Most important to the discussion was the emphasis CSLEA placed on its position that access to firearms should be restricted to those officers who are participating in off-grounds transports, patrols and overall assignments away from the secure treatment areas of the facilities.
Penal Code section 830.38 grants DDS the discretion to allow its peace officers to carry firearms while on duty. DDS’ long-standing position is that it chooses not to exercise that discretion. However, with the retirement of former Director Terri Delgadillo at the beginning of 2014 and the naming of a new Director Santi Rogers to replace Delgadillo, CSLEA’s representatives are eager to demonstrate the need for its officers to have access to more than batons and pepper spray in order to protect staff, patients and themselves on the grounds of DDS’ facilities which are open to the public.
In the meantime, CSLEA plans to meet with Director Rogers individually to introduce him to the many issues affecting the overall health and safety of DDS’ peace officers, including their need for additional safety equipment, such as firearms.
CSLEA will continue to keep its members up to date on any further developments concerning this matter. Should you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact CSLEA’s David De La Riva at (714) 894-4411.