On March 24, 2015, California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona and California Alcoholic Beverage Control Agents (CABCA) President Kevin Highbaugh met with several legislators to press the importance of what was revealed when the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) presented its report on numerous issues surrounding the ABC agent vacancy rate and recruitment and retention to a Budget & Fiscal Review Subcommittee earlier this month.
The two association presidents met with Assemblymembers Scott Wilk, Melissa Melendez and Adrin Nazarian
“We met with several legislators just prior to a second Budget & Fiscal Review Subcommittee meeting on ABC matters,” said California Alcoholic Beverage Control Agents (CABCA) President Kevin Highbaugh. “There was a vote to secure funding for 10 of our agents who are paid from, for lack of a better word, a slush fund. But what needs to be addressed is improving the salaries of ABC agents and closing the ABC agent vacancy rate.”
How bad is it?
- ABC has 145 authorized positions for sworn rank-and-file agents compared to the 165 authorized ten years ago.
- The Department is currently down 22 agents (positions that have not been filled).
- The Department revised the sworn agent minimum qualifications to expand the candidate pool.
- 56% of agents leaving ABC are going to other state agencies that offer either increased pay, or equal pay combined with better working conditions (ie; no nights, weekends, holidays or working in dangerous environments).
- In addition, over the past five years, ABC made 36 conditional offers of employment to candidates who chose to accept employment offers from other state agencies for the same reasons.
- 40% of ABC’s agents have less than five years tenure with the Department.
“It is inconceivable to me that there is a huge number, 98,000, establishments in California that sell and/or serve liquor in this state and only 123 ABC agents are available to enforce the alcoholic beverage control laws. That’s a huge issue,” said CSLEA President Alan Barcelona. “These agents know alcoholic beverage control laws, like no other law enforcement officers.
In addition, they deal with dangerous illegal activities involving drugs, gangs, gambling, illegal weapons, organized crime and human trafficking. Much of their work involves hours in the middle of the night and on weekends. We need to beef up this well-trained, highly skilled, force of law enforcement agents and pay the agents a salary that keeps them from being lured away to other agencies that pay equal or higher salaries and that offer Monday through Friday day shifts with fewer dangerous encounters with criminals. It’s really that simple. It’s a public safety issue that needs fixing. I thank Assemblymembers Scott Wilk, Melissa Melendez and Adrin Nazarian for meeting with us to discuss this very important issue.”
Following their meeting with the legislators, both Barcelona and Highbaugh attended the Budget & Fiscal Review Subcommittee where ABC issues were discussed.