SACRAMENTO – As California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) peace officers, public safety and consumer protection members continue to work at home, at offices and in the field, while millions of California citizens are doing their part to shelter in place to combat the spread of COVID-19, CSLEA wants its members to be aware of the work that is being done on their behalf to keep them as safe and as healthy as possible in this unprecedented time, a time in which as essential public servants, they are required to work.
Below you will find updates as they pertain to departments. If there is an area that needs the attention of CSLEA attorneys and discussions with departments, please contact CSLEA.
Department of State Hospitals
On March 30, 2020, CSLEA and Hospital Police Association of California (HPAC) representatives participated in a teleconference with Department of State Hospitals Labor Relations and Office of Protective Services. The purpose of the teleconference was to voice concerns that hospital police officers (HPOs) have about the DSH screening process, patient transportation, and the specified isolation units at the hospitals. Specific topics included the following:
- Improvement of the screening process guidelines for officers who are ordered off work by DSH.
- Need for immediate access to Administrative Time Off for officers who are exposed to COVID-19.
- Need for specific guidelines and safety protocol for HPOs designated to transport patients suspected of having or diagnosed with COVID-19.
- Verification that identified isolation units at the hospitals, and related hospital guidelines, comply with CalOSHA Aerosol Transmissible Disease (ATD) Exposure Control Plan.
- Need for specific safety protocol and procedures for HPOs that are to respond to, or be assigned to, COVID-19 isolation units.
- Process for HPOs who are designated as at-risk for serious illness to notify DSH so that they may be excluded from certain assignments that would have direct exposure to COVID-19 patients.
- Need for DSH to work with CalHR on revised COVID-19 guidelines for state employees who are subject to a medical screening by their department.
CSLEA and HPAC emphasized that the health and safety of its members are at the utmost importance, and urged DSH to issue refined guidelines and protocols so that the officers can be confident that DSH feels the same. CSLEA and HPAC understand that this pandemic is novel and the response is very fluid. As such, CSLEA and HPAC plan to meet again with DSH next week to receive updates on the above referenced topics and to continue to push for health and safety measures.
“CSLEA Senior Legal Counsel Ryan Navarre and Supervising Counsel Dave De La Riva, as well a HPAC representatives from all five state hospitals participated in this conference call and provided their input regarding the issues and concerns our members had brought forth,” said HPAC President Luis Jimenez. “It’s important for us to ensure the department is providing our officers with the appropriate information and training in regards to minimizing their exposure to this potentially deadly virus.”
California Highway Patrol
CSLEA Senior Counsel Andrea Perez is communicating daily with CHP Headquarters regarding COVID-19 precautions and concerns. She is in constant communication to identify what further steps can be taken to make sure essential personnel at CHP are safe including CHP dispatchers and motor carrier specialists. CHP has informed CSLEA it is working on making sure there is adequate cleaning supplies at the dispatch centers and that social distancing is practiced whenever possible (dispatchers sitting at every other desk). CHP has stated that dispatchers who feel they need to stay home because they are at higher risk than others, can do so without any recourse. However, they must use their own time.
As for CHP motor carrier specialists, CHP has informed CSLEA it is working to get them additional hand sanitizer and masks. CHP motor carrier specialists may stay home if they feel the need, without any repercussions, again using their own time.
Office of Emergency Services
CSLEA is in communication with OES to confirm OES is doing mandatory screening of all personnel entering the OES Headquarters, including the State Warning Center and the State Operations Center.
Department of Motor Vehicles
On March 26, 2020, after weeks of discussion with DMV and the governor’s administration regarding health and safety conditions at DMV field offices, the state has chosen to restrict public access to DMV offices March 27-31st. Field offices closed and full-time examiners were provided Administrative Time Off for Friday, March 27th and Monday, March 30th (Only Permanent Intermittent Employees that were scheduled to work either day will receive ATO). During this time, all field offices will be given a deep cleaning. After the state holiday on March 31st, employees will return to work at the field offices. They will be trained to perform tasks so that the field offices will operate as "virtual" field offices - to assist customers on-line. The important fact is, there will be no public access to the field offices until further notice. This will significantly limit the hazards associated with COVID-19 at the field offices. The decision to close the offices followed an earlier decision to cancel drive tests.
California Department of Justice
On March 26, 2020, CSLEA President Alan Barcelona, CSLEA Chief Counsel Kasey Clark, and Association of Special Agents- DOJ held a conference call with DLE Chief Edward Medrano and Assistant Chief John Marsh. Issues surrounding firearms agents conducting field investigations and contacts with Armed and Prohibited Persons were discussed. CSLEA and ASA-DOJ relayed to Chief Medrano concerns that firearms agents had including the need for protective equipment and protocols for contacting subjects with no prior knowledge of their COVID-19 status.
The group also discussed the reason why firearms agents were now being required to conduct field investigations. Chief Medrano assured CSLEA and ASA-DOJ that DLE was in the process of obtaining protective equipment for all of their agents and no agent would be taking any enforcement action, like conducting search warrants without proper protective equipment. Chief Medrano stated he wanted firearms agents to start working up Ammo denials cases, evaluate the cases and when appropriate conduct enforcement action if deemed necessary. He also felt that these types of cases had investigative tasks such as investigative case workup/research and surveillance that would not require agents to have close contact with the subject, others residing in the same residence as the subject, or the general public.
Chief Medrano stated firearms agents would still be allowed to work from home and only have to come into the office when necessary. Chief Medrano expressed the health and safety of all agents and professional staff at DOJ is of utmost importance to him and the Attorney General. CSLEA and ASA-DOJ will continue to meet with Chief Medrano to insure all safety measures are being addressed and agents are being outfitted with all the proper safety equipment.
California State Parks
On March 24, 2020, CSLEA Chief Counsel Kasey Clark communicated with Division Chief Scott Bayne regarding the health and safety of State Park rangers and peace officer lifeguards. To protect officers and the public, State Parks closed parking lot gates to eliminate crowd yet at the same time allowing locals to access the parks by foot or bicycle. State Parks has ordered additional PPE’s. State Parks informed CSLEA it has N95 masks throughout the state. Orders for face shield, gloves and gowns continue to arrive. State Parks has personnel traveling around the state delivering these items upon request from the districts.
State Parks recognizes that this is a very fluid and unprecedented event that it is adjusting to daily based on new information.
CSLEA is now inquiring about a division-wide directive on enforcement contacts as oppose to each district possibly making its own call on how low or high level an incident must be to support personal contact with subjects by rangers and peace officer lifeguards.
Housing and Community Development
CSLEA has been in communication with HCD about the health and safety of the District Representatives while they are in the field performing inspections and/or investigations. Once the governor deemed HCD to be essential work, CSLEA wanted to ensure that HCD was addressing health and safety concerns presented by District Representatives (i.e. personal protective equipment, social distancing, and inspection prioritizing). Given that the pandemic has been new for all and the state's response has been fluid, it took some time for HCD to issue specific written guidance for District Representatives. However, after CSLEA continued pushing for written guidance, HCD issued Coronavirus Protocols to all District Representatives on March 26th.
CSLEA invites its members to please contact CSLEA at firstname.lastname@example.org if there are any remaining questions or concerns about health and safety as it pertains to COVID-19.