By CSLEA Senior Legal Counsel Ryan Navarre
SACRAMENTO - On August 14, 2015, the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) met with Department of State Hospital (DSH) leadership to discuss ongoing issues impacting law enforcement at DSH. Attending from CSLEA were Senior Legal Counsel Ryan Navarre, Hospital Police Association of California (HPAC) President Luis Jimenez, and Legislative Advocate Shane Levine. In attendance from DSH were Director Pamela Ahlin, Chief Deputy Director Stephanie Clendenin, and Legislative Director Tom Dey. Among the topics discussed were officer salaries, standardized training, firearms, and the law enforcement organization structure.
CSLEA expressed its gratitude to DSH for agreeing to the recent recruitment and retention enhancement, however, emphasized the recruitment and retention was just a band-aid to provide short-term stability for the hospitals. CSLEA explained that neighboring law enforcement agencies are also raising salaries and despite the recent raises and recruitment and retention differential, in comparison to those agencies that DSH competes with for quality officers, hospital police officers remain severely underpaid. CSLEA pressed DSH to develop a long term strategy to continue to increase salaries consistent with the profession, and specifically expressed urgency on transitioning the recruitment and retention differential to CalPersable compensation. CSLEA looks forward to working with DSH and CalHR on officer salaries during upcoming contract negotiations in the Spring of 2016.
Additionally, CSLEA expressed that DSH lacks specific standardized training. This creates a situation where officers possess various levels of training – potentially eight different levels of training ranging from full Basic POST Certificate to merely PC 832 training. CSLEA pressed DSH to continue to push for standardized officer training through POST. DSH explained that, much like salaries, standardized training continues to be part of the DSH Law Enforcement Strategic Plan and it continues to push forward on achieving a consistent statewide training plan.
Although DSH continues to pursue standardized training, the strategic plan states that it hopes to achieve that objective in 2019. CSLEA does not plan to merely wait for the training in hopes that once the training is achieved, officers may be authorized to carry firearms when patrolling outside the secure treatment areas of the hospitals and during outside transportation/custody assignments. CSLEA expressed the urgent need for DSH to immediately reconsider its long-standing prohibition on firearms for officers and requested that DSH Executive Management keep an open mind and consider authorizing firearms as soon as possible. To continue this discussion on firearms, CSLEA and DSH plan to reconvene the Joint Labor Management Task Force on Firearms in September 2015.
CSLEA will continue to work with DSH Executives and for its members in hopes of achieving better pay and benefits; and creating a more professional and safe police force.