It is with great encouragement that the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) and its affiliate, the Hospital Police Association of California (HPAC) welcome new Department of State Hospitals Office of Protective Services Chief of Police Kevin Hart.
For years CSLEA and HPAC have urged the Department of State Hospitals to hire a Law Enforcement Executive who has extensive law enforcement experience and who can bring a law enforcement perspective to decisions made by the Department and now that day has arrived.
CSLEA and HPAC representatives met with Chief Hart on May 29, 2014. "We thank Chief Hart for meeting with our representatives so quickly, given he had only been on the job for less than a month at the time of our meeting," said CSLEA President Alan Barcelona.
CSLEA and HPAC are pleased to know Chief Hart brings with him more than three decades of experience at the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office and at the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST).
CSLEA and HPAC representatives had extensive discussions with Chief Hart regarding the main issues affecting Hospital Police Officers at the Department, including; safety, equipment, salary, training, and morale. The discussions included the recruitment and retention difficulties the department has had for years and the current steps the department is taking to address those concerns.
With the understanding that Basic POST training is very important to the officers and should be important to the Department as well, Chief Hart explained the Department's plan to enhance the training of the officers and is actually meeting with POST within the next couple weeks to discuss his plan.
Although Chief Hart had only been on the job for about a month, through his visits to the hospitals and conversations with officers, he already understood the challenges he and the department faces.
CSLEA also explained to Chief Hart that the officers are concerned he will not be able to create change or address the above concerns due to the Management/Executive structure at the Department. Chief Hart explained that the law enforcement organization structure is a 'work in progress' and he currently reports directly to the Chief Deputy Director at Department of State Hospitals. "This is excellent as it gives Law Enforcement a seat and voice at the Executive table, something that has never occurred at the Department in the past," said Barcelona.
"The meeting we attended with DSH Chief Hart provided us with the opportunity to address the ongoing and recent issues and concerns of our members at the Executive level, " said HPAC President Luis Jimenez. "I have received a lot of questions from our members on exactly how these changes in DSH’s organizational structure will affect them. It was very encouraging, to say the least, to discuss these matters with Chief Hart. Chief Hart has the knowledge and experience to truly understand the problematic areas that have plagued our departments for far too long. He also understands how to provide comprehensive solutions to these problems and has already taken action in addressing these matters at the Executive level. It is evident Chief Hart recognizes the challenges we face as a Law Enforcement Department and has made it clear that he values the importance of the rank and file officers. I am also confident he will continue to work with us collectively as we continue to address these issues in establishing the essential framework for a professional statewide law enforcement department."
CSLEA acknowledges that these changes and improvements to the Department of State Hospitals Law Enforcement may take some time, but CSLEA is encouraged by the steps that the Department and Agency are taking to make law enforcement a priority. CSLEA would like to welcome Chief Hart to the Department of State Hospitals and is excited to continue to work with him on addressing officer concerns and improving the services for the Department.