By CSLEA Supervising Counsel Dave De La Riva
PASO ROBLES – One of the benefits of being a full dues-paying member of the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) is access to prepaid legal representation through the CSLEA Legal Defense Fund (LDF). LDF coverage is available 24/7 to provide legal support for matters arising out of the normal course and scope of employment, including officer involved shooting investigations.
"No peace officer should be without access to a LDF," said CSLEA President Alan Barcelona. "If you are working without union membership that offers an LDF, you are essentially working without a net, a safety net that protects you, your job and your financial security."
CSLEA LDF panel attorneys were on the scene in San Luis Obispo County on June 11, 2020, as a result of law enforcement response to an active shooter suspect found hiding out in a riverbed. On June 10th, the suspect ambushed peace officers at the Paso Robles Police Department, injured law enforcement officers, and is suspected of killing a homeless person. The active shooter suspect kept the Paso Robles community on edge for two days. The law enforcement response on June 11th included Bargaining Unit 7 peace officer personnel from the Department of Parks and Recreation and from the Department of Fish and Wildlife, who responded to a call of the fleeing suspect near Highway 101 and Highway 46.
In the aftermath of the event, which resulted in the shooting of the suspect, CSLEA immediately provided LDF access to the dues-paying Parks peace officer who requested an LDF attorney. This type of coverage is necessary in situations such as what occurred in Paso Robles as the incident requires an investigation, often including statements from the officers involved. Unfortunately, the warden who was involved in the incident is not a CSLEA member and access to the services of a LDF panel attorney could not be authorized for him.
CSLEA retains the services of LDF panel attorneys throughout the state to provide their expertise in these types of incidents and make their services available at all times of day. This benefit is a critical tool especially for Bargaining Unit 7 peace officer personnel to have at their disposal as they are more likely to become involved in critical incidents. During the course of critical incident investigations, it is an invaluable benefit for CSLEA members to have, at their request, experienced attorneys to provide legal assistance to help guide them through these exhausting, confusing conditions.
The Paso Robles Police Department issued in part the following statement:
As for everyone involved, Paso cannot thank you enough. From the dispatchers, officers, streets division, IT, restaurants who dropped off food, to the many thoughts and prayers we received from the community. Everyone pulled together to bring this situation to an end.
CSLEA echoes this statement and we thank our members for continuing to protect the public and their co-workers on a daily basis. CSLEA encourages those who continue to perform their duties without full member benefits, like LDF coverage, to reconsider that decision and to complete and submit a membership application on the CSLEA website in order to take advantage of all that CSLEA has to offer.
For more information regarding CSLEA's Legal Defense Fund click here.
To sign up for CSLEA membership online, click here
To contact CSLEA with any questions you may have, email firstname.lastname@example.org.