On March 6, 2015, California Health and Human Services Agency (HHS) presented to the Legislature, its overdue report containing recommendations to "improve the quality and stability of law enforcement functions at both developmental centers and state hospitals" as required by Penal Code Section 830.38(c) which was added in 2014. The recommendations were due to the Legislature no later than January 10, 2015, however, the report was delayed while being reviewed by the Administration and Department of Finance.
"The report does not go into as much detail as we had hoped," said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. "But it is encouraging to see Agency stepping up and publicly acknowledging many of the issues that are plaguing Department of State Hospitals (DSH) and Department of Developmental Services (DDS)."
As a result of the completed Office of Law Enforcement Support report, CSLEA and Hospital Police Officers Association of California (HPAC) leadership and legal counsel have scheduled a meeting with Agency executives on March 25, 2015 to evaluate the report's recommendations and what steps will be taken to implement them.
Numerous topics will be discussed during this meeting including the organization structures of the Office of Protective Services at DSH and DDS, policy development, specialized training, POST Basic Training, and the various units being created at the Agency’s Office of Law Enforcement Support. CSLEA is particularly interested on how Agency plans to receive funding to achieve the cultural shift at DSH and DDS - as it explains in its report.
The primary topic CSLEA and HPAC will press, is how Agency plans to remedy the critical issue of officer-vacancies, excessive overtime, salary disparity, and recruitment and retention of qualified law enforcement officers at DSH and DDS. It is CSLEA's and HPAC's stance that these issues should be an immediate priority as the officers are the backbone to the entire operation. In order to achieve the much needed cultural shift, DSH and DDS need highly qualified and experienced officers and police departments that are well staffed.
The Office of Law Enforcement Support report acknowledged the issues regarding officer pay and vacancies, however the report noticeably did not mention the current recruitment and retention proposals for officers at DSH and DDS that are currently being considered by CalHR and Department of Finance. CSLEA will press for the status of these proposals and press Agency to make these proposals an Agency priority during this upcoming Budget cycle.
CSLEA will update members following its March 25th meeting with Agency.