1360 Van Ness Ave, Fresno, CA 93721
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A Message from the President

2015

A Message from the President, December 2015
Happy New Year!!

I hope all of you had a safe and happy holiday season.

The start of a new year always provides many with a sense of renewed energy and inspiration to reach those resolutions.

At the FDSA, January is also a time to reflect on the fallen officers who were killed in the Line of Duty in 2015. In May of 2016, during Police Week in Sacramento and Washington DC, we will honor their families and their memory.

These are the fallen officers in the State of California in 2015:

  • Officer Michael Johnson – San Jose Police Department EOW: March 24, 2015
  • Officer David Nelson – Bakersfield Police Department EOW: June 26, 2015
  • Sergeant Scott Lunger – Hayward Police Department EOW: July 22, 2015
  • Officer Bryce Haynes – San Bernardino Police Department EOW November 5, 2015

Promotions to Deputy Sheriff IV
Congratulations to those of you selected on the recent list for promotion to the Deputy Sheriff IV. In June of 2015, many of you tested for these positions. In July of 2015, we received the decision on the grievance related to movement filed by the FDSA in September of 2014. The Arbitrator ruled in favor of the FDSA on the grievance we initiated.

Recapping the three reasons to move a deputy from their special assignment are;

  • Performance
  • Attrition/Retirement
  • Voluntary

After this decision, Deputy Sheriff IV promotions were halted. The Sheriff felt that with the arbitrator’s decision she would lose her discretion to move personnel in these positions. Currently, the Sheriff is appealing the ruling in Superior Court. In the meantime, we still have the Deputy Sheriff IV list that is active and ready to promote from within. Starting in about September, we (Sheriff and FDSA) tried to work out an agreement on promotions and reassignments. To date, we have yet to come to any mutually agreeable terms with Sheriff Mims, and her appeal is continuing.

During the interim, the FDSA and Sheriff Mims came to an agreement that was memorialized in a side letter agreement to allow promotions of the Deputy Sheriff IV’s to go forward, but neither party, Sheriff or FDSA, is giving up each other’s legal positions. Below is the language both sides agreed to in the interim to allow the promotions of deputies to the Deputy Sheriff IV position.

Sheriff,
Here is our suggested language.
FDSA realizes you are not waiving your right to continue through the court process of the Arbitration ruling. Nor are we (FDSA) waiving our position or defenses in that case.
This document should mediate that in the interim.
SIDELETTER AGREEMENT
FRESNO DEPUTY SHERIFFS ASSOCIATION (FDSA) UNIT 1 EMPLOYEES
The County of Fresno and FDSA agree to the following purpose and goals for the position of Deputy Sheriff IV.
Over the past few years due to budget constraints, the opportunity to promote Deputy Sheriff IV’s has been restricted. Approval has now been given to promote Deputy IV’s and we have an opportunity to put into place a thoughtful efficient Deputy IV deployment plan. The goal is to identify and designate Deputy IV positions in the Fresno County Sheriff-Coroner’s Office Specialty units and in patrol. The purpose is to place Deputy IV’s in places that will mirror Sergeants and allow them to act in a lead capacity over lower level officers and act as a supervisor in the absence of a Sergeant and will allow them to develop their responsibilities in a well-structured reasoned manner based on departmental needs.
As we move toward this goal it is with the understanding that as we identify the Deputy Sheriff IV positions, movement into the positions will be on a case by case basis. The promotions will be based on the person in accordance with Civil Service rules. It is also understood that it will take some time to fully realize the completion of the deployment to reach the goal. To allow the maximum flexibility and as we work toward the goal, some promoted deputies may remain in place in their current Deputy III positions as a Deputy IV and some may be assigned to a new position depending on current investigations, training and replacement considerations.

San Bernardino Shooting at Inland Regional Medical Center
I wanted to put this article in this edition to show the leadership shown by Chief Burguan of the San Bernardino Police Department during the recent terror attack that occurred on US soil, in California, from people linked to the ISIS Terror Group. Reading this article, showed that in times of critical stress true leaders emerge – and lead people.

An example of Leadership
Los Angeles Times
By Phil Willon

As police officers kicked open doors in the Inland Regional Center in the search for the armed assailants who just massacred 14 county employees, San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan was outside scanning the terrain for a safe place to coordinate the sweeping emergency response.

He found it a block away — an abandoned house with a dirt yard and boarded-up windows, one of many pocking the streets of this hollowed-out city. Within minutes, police, fire and other emergency agency commanders huddled inside, out of gunshot range.

It was a no-nonsense move by a city police chief who has been praised for his cool-headed response in the chaotic aftermath of the worse terrorist attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11.

When standing before television news cameras, Burguan’s cleanly-shaven crown and thick, linebacker frame punctuated his blunt, straightforward accounts of the manhunt and the rapidly-developing investigation.

“He was quite effective in giving out whatever information he could, calming the public and discouraging any other lunatics from committing acts of backlash,’’ said Brian Levin, a former New York City police officer and terrorism expert teaching at Cal State San Bernardino. “The response, of all the agencies, was a national model for first responder actions regarding terrorist attacks.”

Burguan knew the nation was watching, and that San Bernardino was on edge. He held three news conferences on the day of the attack. He didn’t dodge questions but also knew some leads could not be made public.

“I believe in transparency,” Burguan, 45, said. “My philosophy has always been that if I can tell you, I’m going to tell you. And if I can’t tell you, I’m going to say I can’t tell you.”

Burguan also took to Twitter to provide instant updates and knock down rumors: “Suspects are down, one officer wounded. Details still unfolding,” he tweeted shortly after the assailants were killed in a gunbattle with police.

On Friday, he was at home and sending out a series of tweets explaining why a UPSstation was evacuated after a delivery driver spotted a package addressed to one of the killers. “Item was safe, posed no threat.” Moments later, he watched, amazed, as his tweet popped up on a television news broadcast.

“The power of social media,” Burguan said.

Burguan, named chief two years ago after two decades as a San Bernardino officer, is uneasy with the attention, sensitive to the lives lost and those maimed in the terrorist attack and the long list of agencies, including the FBI and San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department, involved in the case.

His pride, however, is difficult to hide.

“We knew the response was good, we knew people were very, very happy that we hunted down these guys and caught them very quickly, ’’ he said. “There’s no doubt that these guys were going to do something else. They had an arsenal on them. They were going to continue fighting.”

Burguan, a former football star at Bloomington Christian High School, just outside of Rialto, was 21 when he joined the San Bernardino Police Department in 1992. It was near the height of the crack epidemic, when gunfire echoed around the city almost every night and the homicide rate was double what it is today. He worked the night shift and went to night school, eventually earning undergraduate and master’s degrees at the University of Redlands.

San Bernardino was a different city then. Lumbering C-141 Starlifters still flew out of Norton Air Force Base. There were two malls in town and a hopping restaurant row. Burguan, living on a traffic officer’s salary, failed to qualify for a loan when he tried to buy a home up near Cal State San Bernardino.

“I watched the decline. I’ve watched businesses leave, and I saw Norton close,” he said.

This once-proud blue-collar city has been hamstrung by years of bankruptcy, poverty and noxious politics. Since 2009, the police force has been cut by 100 officers. The anti-gang and other crime prevention programs “are a shell” of what they used to be, he said. There is a proposal to beef up the agency over the next five years, but it is before a federal bankruptcy judge awaiting approval.

“We’re largely a reactive agency. I hate to say it, but that’s the truth of the matter,” Burguan said. “Our response times are not good. And the irony is, people are praising us for our response to this incident.”

On Wednesday morning, as Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik burst into the Inland Regional Center during a party for county health workers and opened gunfire, Burguan was three miles away at San Bernardino City Hall for a meeting with department heads.

Burguan’s cellphone lit up with a call, but was on silent. It was from one of his captains.

“I ignored the call, twice,” the chief said. “Then he texted me – “911.”

The first San Bernardino officer arrived on the scene within four minutes of the first 911 call, and Burguan pulled up minutes later. Police cars and ambulances clogged Waterman Avenue, and teams of officers were evacuating the complex and going office to office searching for gunman.

Witnesses, panicked and fleeing to safety, gave varied accounts of the shooting. They described two, maybe three shooters, and possibly a getaway driver in a black SUV. They were described as white or Latino males, armed with assault rifles.

“Someone came out of the building [and] said, ‘I think it may be [a] co-worker. This Farook guy,” Burguan said. “He was at the party with us, and he left.”

Burguan was with San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon and David Bowdich, assistant director in charge of the FBI office in Los Angeles, in a mobile command trailer in the afternoon when police radios lit up with chatter from a police pursuit of Farook and Malik. Their rented SUV was being tailed from their Redlands home into San Bernardino when they opened fire on police.

“I will tell you that’s a heart-wrenching moment when you’re listening to your officers in a gunbattle,” he said. “You hear that an officer had been hit, and your heart just stops.”

The officer, who sustained a leg wound, already is out of the hospital. Farook and Malik were killed in the firefight.

Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz credited the successful manhunt and efforts to prevent any additional loss of life to the effective cooperation between all the law enforcement agencies, which can be an issue in other jurisdictions.

“In Jarrod’s particular case, he embodied professionalism,” Diaz said. “The idea that there’s no egos there, that you sacrifice your ego for the mission.”

When evidence mounted of the assailants’ possible links to terrorist organizations, Burguan said he had no issue with allowing the FBI to take command. He recalls Bowdich joking with him, saying “It’s not like in the movies when the FBI charges in and says, ‘We’re in charge.’ “

“They brought worldwide resources into this investigation,” he said.

Meantime, San Bernardino remains on edge. Burguan said he’s committed to increasing police patrols throughout the city in the near future, despite the cost, to assure residents that they are safe. And though he appreciates all the goodwill, he knows it won’t last forever and his job won’t get any easier.

Just last month, one of his officers was killed by a suspected drunk driver after dropping off an arrestee at the county jail. And earlier this year, when a 2014 video surfaced showing an officer using enough force to allegedly dislocate the elbow of a handcuffed suspect in a car theft case, Burguan quickly put out a statement vowing to investigate the incident. He assured residents that he was aware of the scrutiny police agencies are facing nationwide.

Terrance Stone, who founded the Young Visionaries gang intervention program, said the police agency is slowly recovering from a “real rocky relationship” with residents in many neighborhoods, especially among African Americans. Police officials have made a concerted effort to salve those wounds from years ago, and the officers’ quick action to hunt down the two terrorists, will only add to that goodwill, Stone said.

“They have to keep that up. One bad incident will change everything, and [they’ll] be back to square one,” Stone said. “This is San Bernardino, not Beverly Hills.”

Burguan said he’s well aware of that, half-jokingly adding that “next week they’ll go back to being mad at me.” But, he said, this past week the San Bernardino Police Department showed the world what it’s capable of, and that’s something to build on.

“No question, we’ve been through a turbulent time,” he said. “But this is my home.”

Take care of one another and be safe out there.


-Eric
A Message from the President, November 2015
In a few short weeks, scorching summer temperatures ended and suddenly cold weather arrived! We have even been treated with several storms bringing us much needed rain! I hope each and every one of you has had the opportunity to enjoy the holiday season with family and friends!

 
9th Annual FDSA Golf Tournament
I am so happy to report; the 9th Annual Fresno Deputy Sheriff’s Association Memorial Tournament on Friday, October 23 was a huge success! The event was held at Eagle Springs Golf Course and was the best tournament yet!! This year, it was a “mega-style,” event- with 200 golfers playing the four man scramble style tournament. Sponsorships were up, along with the number of players. We even had a waiting list of players who wanted to sign up after the tourney was sold out!! Due to the overwhelming response, we are working to accommodate more players and sponsorships next year. We are also considering the possibility of two flights. This year, we got a lot of great ideas that we plan to implement next year to help ‘grow’ the tournament. We also had a wide range of raffle prizes and we sold more raffle tickets than ever before! Thank you to every person who played a part in making the day memorable, fun and successful!  

Every single dollar raised through the tournament goes into the FDSA Peace Officer Memorial Fund. The single day event is the largest revenue generator for the fund each year. Other events that also contribute to the fund include the FDSA Phantom Fireworks stand, along with the monthly BBQ’s.  

The Peace Officer Memorial fund provides assistance to those families facing the devastation of a loved one being killed in the line of duty. We immediately offer any support necessary to local families when they are dealing with intense grief and hardship. In addition, we also reach out to other statewide law enforcement agencies/families to help when they are dealing with these tragedies.

This fund is also used to remember those law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice. During Peace Officer Memorial Week – we send ten members to Sacramento. Those selected are chosen at random through a raffle. The members attend the Candlelight Vigil Sunday evening and the Peace Officer Ceremony the following day. In addition, we also send two members to Washington D.C. each year. These members fly to the nation’s capital to honor our fallen Fresno County Deputies. We also help support our local Fresno County Peace Officer Foundation, by providing a donation to assist with the costs of the annual ceremony held in Fresno County Courthouse Park. This event honors those law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in Fresno County. 

A very important part of our mission at the FDSA, is to honor our fallen deputies and remember the families left to continue on- despite a big void. We also feel it is appropriate to extend a hand and gesture of love to neighboring agencies when they are facing these tragedies. 


63rd Annual PORAC Conference of Members
The PORAC Annual Conference of Members was held at the Portola Plaza Hotel in Monterey, on November 20 through November 22, 2015.

During the Board of Directors, several topics were discussed and several training sessions were held during the conference. 

President Mike Durant was unanimously re-elected as the PORAC President. He is serving his second term leading this great organization. Durant held the position of Vice President for seven years, until he was elected to President in 2013. He took the top spot after outgoing president, Ron Cottingham retired.  

Marcelo Blanco was also re-elected as Treasurer of PORAC for his third term. Marcelo is a sergeant for the Upland Police Department. Blanco has reined in the budget over the last few years and manages the money of PORAC, as if it were his own hard earned cash.  

A few of the main topics covered during the conference include issues pertinent to PORAC and matters which are concerns in the future.  

Pension initiatives were a big topic of discussion at the conference. Our Sacramento Lobbyists, Aaron Reed and Randy Perry updated the Board of Directors and members in attendance on the latest efforts to push this measure to the ballot box. To date, we have seen no less than 3 separate initiatives filed by former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, former San Diego Council Member Carl DeMaio and their accomplices against public employees. Whether these initiatives move forward this year or are held over for the next year, PORAC will be better prepared to take on these fights to protect all of our vested benefits. 

PORAC, along with many other state organizations- will continue to push back against Reed and DeMaio and their efforts to get pension reform on a ballot initiative this year. Even if this were to happen, PORAC and public agencies across this state cannot let our guard down and must continue to be aware of the forces against us who are relentless. There is no doubt in the minds of PORAC leaders and our advocates, that similar initiatives will be headed our way by these Reed and DeMaio in the coming years.  

Reed and Perry have navigated PORAC through some of the toughest legislation in recent years coming out of Sacramento. Legislators continue to reach out to PORAC for issues related to public safety, and to discuss conceptual ideas, proposed legislation, or language amendments of current legislation. 

They monitor each bill relating to public safety as it is going through the legislature. As these bills move through, or are killed- PORAC is constantly updated of the status. President Durant is aware of things that need to be done by PORAC, with the help of Reed and Perry. Many times, the Board of Directors is asked to reach out to our local delegation to educate or inquire about issues pertaining to legislation. These lobbyists are the most respected and trusted advocates in Sacramento.

Two years ago, PORAC changed our advocacy firm in Washington D.C. to Steptoe and Johnson. PORAC has repeatedly been raising our name identification- not only among our congressional delegation in California, but also with many committees responsible for providing federal law enforcement funding. 

PORAC travels to Washington DC during two separate, three day lobbying trips a year. The purpose is to meet with our delegation and different committee members dealing with law enforcement issues firsthand. Body Worn Cameras and various funding mechanisms were some of the agenda items for 2015. 

Darryl Nirenberg along with Jason Abel and Eva Rigamonti, of Steptoe and Johnson, do an outstanding job for PORAC coordinating meetings and providing PORAC with the most current legislative program. These advocates and their firm have elevated PORAC to a much higher level at the nation’s capital. Representatives and Senators, along with many committee members are contacting PORAC for our input on federal policies related to public safety. 


PORAC Membership and Legal Defense Fund Grows
We were also informed at conference that PORAC’s recruitment and retention is steadily climbing. Currently 66,000 members and 915 Associations belong to PORAC. Twenty new member originations joined PORAC throughout the year of 2015. 

PORAC’s Legal Defense Fund continues to grow in size and strength- by leaps and bounds. This growth is seen in the number of members, the amount of money in reserves, and the quality of services being provided to you, the members. 

Law Enforcement, day in and day out, is battling to keep the hard earned benefits that we have negotiated over the years. The battle is made more difficult by other labor groups (of lessor significance) continuing to try to lure PORAC members away with promises of more services and coverage for less expense. The truth really becomes – they deliver nothing for the expense. 

Legal Defense Fund Chairman, Fred Rowbotham reported at conference PORAC LDF’s membership is now at 105,588 members, and 1,115 associations. The fund has over $16 million in assets. LDF is the line between you keeping your benefits or losing them all. 


PORAC Benefits Update
PORAC’s Insurance Benefits Trust Fund (Short/Long Term Disability) and (Life Insurance Programs) are what the FDSA benefits from through its membership. PORAC also provides health insurance to many members of the organization. However, you must be a PERS agency to take advantage of that benefit. Since we are a 1937 Retirement County, unfortunately- we don’t qualify for the different health insurance plans. 

In February of 2014, PORAC’s IBTF rolled out a major change to the IBTF’s Disability Plan. The Long Term Disability (LTD) went from a single policy, to now, two separate policies. We now have a one-year, self-funded Short Term Disability Plan that wraps into a fully insured LTD Plan insured by Standard Insurance of Oregon. 

The change strengthens our plans ability to meet the member’s need for continued income- in the event they become ill or injured either on or off duty. The IBTF Trustees enhanced the Death Benefit by increasing Short Term Disability and fully insured Life Insurance Benefit to a total of $70,000 lump sum benefit. It also reduced the waiting period from five years to two years on the self-funded, $50,000 Natural Causes Death Benefit. 

IBTF reported the assets vs payouts were continuing at strong pace, which puts the fund in a good positions for renewals on the variety of programs offered, such as health insurance, both STD/LTD programs, Life Insurance, and Home and Auto Insurance. 

Please stop by the FDSA or email me if you are interested in exploring any of these programs. The Life Insurance along with Home and Auto Insurance are very competitive programs that PORAC members can take full advantage of with little to no hassle. 

This conference was attended by over 1,000 members of PORAC. As FDSA President, I attend quarterly meetings for PORAC and sit on the Fiscal Management Committee (answering to the Treasurer) along with sitting as Region II Peace Officer Memorial Committee (answering to the President of PORAC).   Deputy Kelly Mayfield also attended conference this year. He was asked by PORAC to be the Region II Sergeant at Arms during the conference. 

Any questions you have about PORAC, or how to get involved- please feel free to contact me. You can also contact the Central Cal PORAC Chapter President, Anthony Gomez as well. 

Be safe out there. I am wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Always,

Eric
A Message from the President, October 2015
In my August message to the members, I briefed you on the recent failure of the pension initiative put together by Chuck Reed and Carl DeMaio. You may recall, once Attorney General, Kamala Harris reviewed the title and summary, she basically determined it was a misrepresentation to the voters. The latest, August 2015 rejection by the Attorney General, is the second time Harris dismissed these efforts of Reed/DeMaio attempting to take pensions from public employees and retirees. A thorough explanation of the issue is below authored by Aaron Reed our PORAC lobbyist who has been working tirelessly on this issue alongside the PORAC leadership.  


PORAC Talking Points on Reed/DeMaio Retirement Security Attacks
Former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and ex-San Diego Councilmember Carl DeMaio can best be labeled as ‘stubbornly wrong.’

After failing twice to qualify ballot measures that unfairly and illegally undermine constitutionally protected and negotiated retirements of law enforcement officers – as well all other public employees – they are submitting two more ballot measures that are equally punitive, and make devastating changes to employees’ pensions and healthcare benefits. Their initiatives will be certified for circulation around December 1, 2015.

PORAC has been instrumental in turning back the ill-conceived Reed/DeMaio efforts in the past. However, the retirement security of law enforcement officers continues to be at risk. The problem is worsened if Reed and DeMaio qualify their initiative and garner the support of wealthy Wall Street benefactors willing to fund a costly and misleading campaign.

Protecting the contractual rights of legislated and negotiated benefits of our brave men and women in the face of mean-spirited and unworkable initiatives remains our top priority.

Reed and DeMaio are banking their own futures on successfully passing any initiative that steals the future security of public employees. While they are just plain wrong and bullheaded in their efforts, we need to be educating our members on the continuing threat.

Below are talking points to share with our PORAC membership; please note that some arguments are repeated because they apply to both measures.


Measure 1: Elimination of Defined Benefit Retirement
This initiative attacks the core promise made to law enforcement that after a career of dangerous service to our communities, you will have a retirement check you can rely on – a defined benefit.
This initiative eliminates the defined benefit and is both an extreme and punitive measure that will hurt law enforcement officers and their families.
  • It eliminates defined benefit retirement for ALL new public employees hired after January 1, 2019.

  • The measure is so poorly written that it implies a retirement benefit will be there for retired law enforcement officers, but does not require employers to provide new employees with any retirement at all – does anyone want to trust future politicians with providing adequate retiree benefits for law enforcement?

  • It penalizes employees who change jobs. If any PORAC member moves from one Department to another, they lose their pension.

  • For years, officers have forgone higher salaries in favor of the promise of a reasonable retirement. The Reed/DeMaio elimination of defined benefit retirement plans also includes removing virtually any assurance of retirement whatsoever, and creates a hindrance to recruitment that would be incredibly difficult to overcome. And creates serious safety concerns in our communities.

  • New employees will lose their pensions and be forced to work side-by-side with other workers, while receiving less retirement, or no retirement at all.

This initiative takes away death and disability benefits for police, firefighters and other workers killed in the line of duty.
  • It cleverly and dishonestly states that the measure “shall not be interpreted to modify or limit” death and disability benefits, but it eliminates the basis on which these benefits are provided. Once defined benefit pensions are eliminated, it is impossible to provide current death and disability benefits to police, firefighters and others injured or killed on the job.

  • Officer death and disability benefits were put in place to protect the public. Peace officers and firefighters cannot do their job in an environment where they hesitate to act. The Legislature recognized the inherent dangers of law enforcement decades ago and enacted protections to ensure that first responders, and their families, would be cared for if they are killed in the line of duty. This initiative deletes most of those protections.

This initiative is poorly drafted and will have unintended negative consequences.
  • It closes pension plans to new employees and prohibits employers from paying the costs of closing these plans.

  • Once new hires are put into a new plan, the existing plans, lacking new membership, will skyrocket in cost, and those costs will have to be paid by employees and employers.

  • This initiative jeopardizes the sustainability of our state’s multi-billion dollar pension funds, thrusting public employees into financial uncertainty.

  • It allows voters to reinstate defined benefit plans, increase retirement benefits or increase employer payments to pensions to more than 50% of retirement costs. This will force costly elections across California and politicize the provision of retirement benefits.

  • These decisions should be negotiated at the bargaining table, not in costly and misleading campaigns.

This initiative is unnecessary.
  • The average public employee pension is only $2,784 a month and the average teacher pension is $3,639 a month.

  • Most peace officers do not receive Social Security. Elimination of public safety pensions upends the financial future for officers who dedicate their careers protecting our communities.

  • Public employees currently contribute as much as half, and oftentimes more than half, of the cost of retirement from their paychecks.

  • Studies show that public employee retirees injected almost $20 billion into California’s economy, generating over $30 billion in economic activity for businesses.

Measure 2: Capping Retirement and Cutting Pay
This initiative undercuts new police officers and new deputy sheriffs.
  • It caps retirement contributions, forcing new public employee pay cuts of between 7-39%.

  • The initiative limits employer contributions towards retirement for new employees to 11% for miscellaneous employees and 13% for safety employees. Included in this maximum are payments for deferred compensation, retiree health care, prefunding retiree health care, defined benefit retirement and defined contribution retirement.

  • A new California Highway Patrol (CHP) Officer’s starting salary is $6,250 a month. This initiative will force a cut in every new CHP officer’s salary of 39%. This is a cut of $2,437.50.

  • New state employees would have their salaries reduced by 21.8%. Every new law enforcement officer would experience a significant pay cut under this initiative.

This initiative punishes cops who change jobs and will hurt recruitment and retention.
  • If cops, investigators or teachers move to a new Department, they jeopardize their pension.

  • For years, officers have forgone higher salaries in favor of the promise of a reasonable retirement. The elimination of defined benefit retirement plans, and guaranteeing virtually any assurance of retirement whatsoever, creates a hindrance to recruitment that would be incredibly difficult to overcome.

  • New employees will lose their pensions and be forced to work side-by-side with other workers, while receiving less retirement, or no retirement at all.

This measure takes away current death and disability benefits for law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, a dishonest and inept effort that is insulting to every PORAC member.
  • The initiative states that the measure “shall not be interpreted to modify or limit” death and disability benefits, but it eliminates the basis on which these benefits are provided. Once defined benefit pensions are eliminated, it is impossible to provide current death and disability benefits to police, firefighters and others injured or killed on the job.

  • Officer death and disability benefits were put in place to protect the public by letting courageous officers know that when they go into a dangerous situation, they have the peace of mind that their own families will be protected if they perish.

This initiative is unnecessary.
A direct and honest message from PORAC has resonated in the previous situations when Reed and DeMaio tried blaming PORAC members and other public employees for economic ills that were clearly not of their making – stop the blame game.

We have issues of real concern that need to be addressed and these initiatives that are designed to keep Reed and DeMaio relevant have been rejected in the past because they are spiteful, poorly-written, bad public policy, and dangerous for our communities.

We have already participated in extraordinary retirement reforms that were initiated by the Governor, Legislature and cooperative public employees. Let’s resolve remaining issues at the bargaining table and move on.


Bilingual Pay
The issue of bilingual pay has been an item the FDSA initiated with the Sheriff’s administration for about a year and a half now. In early 2014, several members inquired about how to receive bilingual pay, since it is a condition of the MOU. (Attached is Article 7 of MOU)

ARTICLE 7 - BILINGUAL SKILL PAY
Any employee that has been certified by the Department of Personnel Services to receive Bilingual Skill Pay shall be paid in the amount of $23.08 per pay period. Fresno County Salary Resolution Section 533 shall govern, with exception of 533.12.
Upon further review of this section of the MOU, I found it very self-explanatory however, not very detailed. I contacted County Personnel Services Director, Beth Bandy to inquire if we could get this for qualified FDSA members. I was most interested in finding out about the certification process and requirements as defined in the article.

Bandy came back a few weeks later and explained that Unit 1 doesn’t really have any restrictions when it comes to this incentive. Fresno County’s position with FDSA has been to not put a number on maximum number of members who would qualify for incentive pay due to the nature of our jobs (law enforcement) and the multilingual public that we must communicate with daily. Bandy said this is a “no brainer” and should be easy to take institute. The Department needs to give the test. She said that she would have no problem if 100 people overnight qualified and gained this incentive – since it is important in the line of work we do.

I contacted Personnel Lieutenant, John Zanoni and explained the issue. I also told him about my conversation with Bandy, and our desire to get this benefit for members who qualify for it. About six months later, Lieutenant Zanoni got back to me, and said all the Department needs to do is give the test.

I communicated this to those of you who reached out and asked how to attain bilingual pay. Basically, Fresno County is going to authorize the amount of people we submit, for those who qualify after the test has been given. The County will just need to approve whichever test the Department decides to give. The County made it very clear to the Sheriff’s Office – come up with a test, we will certify it, and you can administer it for a pass/fail so members can be compensated for using their bilingual skill.

An announcement flyer went out in March of 2015, advertising for those who wish to obtain bilingual pay submit your name for the testing process.

To date – there has been no test. I have been told each time I inquire, that it is a few weeks out. I know many of you are using the second language without any compensation. Thank you for helping out your partners, and the public by providing this service. I will continue to ask about this test, until it is provided.


Deputy Sheriff IV
I want to address the issue of the status of the Deputy Sheriff IV positions that many members tested for back in June 2015. The test was taken by quite a few who qualified to take it. Since the test was given, no action has been taken to give the in-grade promotion.

The main issue holding this promotion up is movement of Deputy Sheriff IVs and creating specific Deputy Sheriff IV positions for specific specialty units and patrol. The Sheriff has sent this request to Fresno County Labor Relations - in an attempt to get an agreement with FDSA on both issues. I have had two meetings with Labor Relations regarding this issue. I am hopeful we can get an agreement on this very soon. I wish this request would have been made prior to taking the test and leaving many of you in wondering about the status of the test and promotions.  I will update you as I learn new information.

As always, we will meet with the Sheriff and/or the County whenever there are issues regarding hours, wages and working conditions.

I am attaching a portion of the job spec regarding Deputy Sheriff IV.

DEPUTY SHERIFF IV
DEFINITION:
Under general supervision, performs specialized law enforcement work; may act in a lead capacity over lower level officers; and performs related work as required.
DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS:
The Sheriff's Office, under the administration of an elected Sheriff, is responsible for the enforcement of all public safety laws within the County of Fresno. In addition, the Sheriff’s Office is responsible for the detention of incarcerated inmates as required by state, federal, and case law and applicable regulations.
The Deputy Sheriff IV classification is the advanced experienced level in the Deputy Sheriff classification series. The Deputy Sheriff IV performs assignments primarily oriented to specialized law enforcement activities such as detectives, special investigations, administration, school resource, community relations, intelligence, planning and research, internal affairs, warrant-fugitive, civil, court services, specialty units, and/or patrol functions which may include acting as a patrol training officer over lower level officers, or acting as a field supervisor in the absence of a patrol sergeant. Deputy Sheriff IV differs from Sheriff's Sergeant, in that incumbents of the latter classification have full first-line supervisory responsibilities or perform technical law enforcement duties.

During these discussions with Labor Relations, I have maintained the position that Sheriff Mims can promote whoever is on the list to Deputy Sheriff IV. She does not need to meet and agree with FDSA. Labor Relations representatives understand this, however, it seems to be the position of the Sheriff that she wants allocation of the positions per unit and wants the right to move Deputy IVs.

As more talks take place and a resolution is determined, I will update you as to where we are with these positions.
A Message from the President, September 2015
As fall approaches, many annual issues are negotiated and then presented to the FDSA membership.

Health insurance benefits information, (outlined below) was sent to all of you on Thursday, October 1, 2015. We are looking forward to providing members with a new option for health insurance. I look forward to seeing many of you at these informational meetings outlining all of your healthcare choices. The dates and times are listed below, and the location will be at the FDSA.

We also have shift signups tentatively set for October 21st. There have been many back and forth discussions between the FDSA and the Patrol Captain. We are trying to provide a selection for you to choose from that will allow sufficient staffing, vacancies, overtime and days off. Overtime will not being going away with signups. So, we will try and mitigate the circumstances the best we can through creative solutions.

Vacation signups should be coming out shortly after shift signups are complete. We will again be blacking out the week of Christmas, allowing only for one person in the area to sign up. Once we get the FMLA/CFRA requests in, FDSA and Area Commander/Patrol Captain will meet to go over staffing for allowing the extra week. Again, as we have in the past- this will be based on seniority.


Insurance Trust Informational Letter
Over the past year, the Insurance and Benefits Trustees have been working with our brokers from DiBuduo/DeFendis to review and analyze the health insurance we provide to our membership.

During the last few renewals, many factors have affected the insurance rates we are paying as a Trust. These factors include, but are not limited to: The Affordable Care Act, large claims, and high usage.

Throughout the year, our brokers from DiBuduo/DeFendis have been working very diligently to bring our rates down. The goal has been to make them more affordable, while still maintaining good coverage to our members and their families.

The trustees have met and decided to offer a third option to our health plan, along with another option for dental coverage.
Overall, I am happy to report that our rates are reduced, in general, because of a great year of experience we had as a group.

We are staying with our dental carrier, Delta Dental, for another year. However, we are going to offer a DHMO, type of coverage, for those who are interested.

Below is a list of the options the members will have.

  • PPO no change to coverage, PPO Dental no change to coverage

  • HMO no change to coverage, PPO Dental no change to coverage

  • PPO no change to coverage, DMHO Dental

  • HMO no change to coverage, DHMO Dental

  • PPO with a Health Savings Account and higher deductible, PPO Dental

  • PPO with a Health Savings Account and higher deductible, DHMO Dental

Overall, there will be a reduction to out-of-pocket expenses you are paying now. The higher deductible PPO offers some significant savings to the members, while keeping your benefit coverage the same, with actually a better overall maximum out-of-pocket.

We would like to explain our benefits more in depth. DiBuduo/ DeFendis has set up times to explain this to all members who would like more information or have questions.

The times are as follows:

  • Wednesday October 7, 2015 from 11:00am - 1:00pm

  • Wednesday, October 14, 2015 from 11:00am – 1:00pm

  • Wednesday, October 21, 2015 from 7:00am – 1:00pm

On these dates, rate sheets will be available, along with an explanation of benefits.


These meetings will all be held at the FDSA.
These will also be posted on the FDSA website, www.fresnodsa.org under the health benefit tab.

You can also call Katherine of DiBuduo/DeFendis directly, for information and inquiries.

Also, I am always available to answer any questions you have about insurance. Insurance Trust members are also well versed on benefits. Current members are: Isaac Torres, Anthony Gomez, Sarah Davis, Ryan Gilbert and James Bewley.


Pension Reform Update
As I updated you a couple months ago, the latest efforts from Chuck Reed and Carl Da Maio in putting together a pension reform ballot initiative has come under scrutiny by Attorney General, Kamala Harris. This was evident when she submitted her Title and Summary of this initiative. Their most recent tactic included a plan to mislead voters into taking defined benefit pensions away from public workers – specifically to our members, and Police and Fire.

DeMaio and Reed were hoping to put a public pension overhaul before California voters next year. They will soon file two new initiatives they say will get around a political obstacle that has blocked previous measures. Below are excerpts from a few different articles written about what both Reed and DeMaio are attempting to do to your pensions.

Carl DeMaio, a former San Diego city councilman who is spearheading the initiative effort along with former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, wouldn’t disclose details about the new proposals, but indicated in a they would take “a totally different approach” than a measure his group filed over the summer.

The idea, according to DeMaio, was to see whether Democratic Attorney General Kamala Harris used what they consider “poison pill” language to describe the new measures as she has three previous pension change proposals since 2011. If she does, DeMaio believes, “we think she’ll be giving us the evidence we need” to successfully sue Harris for unfairly skewing her description of pension initiatives.

The attorney general’s office writes the short title and summary of all ballot initiative proposals. The language is important because it appears on petition materials used to qualify them for the ballot, often shaping voters’ first impression of an initiative’s contents. Perhaps even more important, the wording affects potential contributors’ willingness to underwrite a campaign.

Unions, which strongly oppose the Reed/DeMaio effort, note that the campaign has virtually no funding yet. Labor spokesman Steve Maviglio recently ridiculed an online drive to gather volunteer signature gatherers as “nothing more than a way to boost the finances of DeMaio’s political committee.”

“This is the gang that couldn’t shoot straight,” Maviglio said Friday, in reference to former pension measure attempts. “They’ve messed this up so many times, we have complete confidence they’ll do it again.”

Harris, who is running for U.S. Senate, has been accused of employing poll-tested language about previous pension measures to make them as politically unpalatable as possible. In 2014, Reed took Harris to court, alleging she described a pension measure he proposed with “false and misleading words and phrases which argue for the measure’s defeat, is argumentative, and creates prejudice against the measure, rather than merely informing voters of its chief purposes and points ...”

The courts ruled against Reed. Harris’ representatives have said throughout that she has fairly characterized the pension measures that came across her desk. They say claims of bias are commonly leveled at attorneys general writing titles and summaries.

Reed and DeMaio took similar stock of Harris’ analysis of their measure this year, noting that she used similar language to describe their proposal to require voters approve increases to public pensions and other local and state government retirement benefits.

Harris said the proposal “eliminates constitutional protections” for current employees, including those in “K-12 schools, higher education, hospitals, and police protection” and would lead to “significant effects – savings and costs – on state and local governments.”

DeMaio this week accused Harris of “collusion” with labor unions to keep the proposal off the ballot. If the same thing happens to the new proposals, he said, “She’s going to have to explain to California voters why she’s using poll-tested lines. And that will really look bad in an election season.”

 
Racial Profiling Bill AB 953 Signed by Governor Brown
Assembly Bill 953 authored by Dr. Shirley Weber out of San Diego was signed by Governor Brown on Friday, October 2, 2015. PORAC and our lobbyists have been a vocal voice about not supporting any bill with so many uncertainties. Once again this bill comes with no funding from the State of California for the law enforcement agencies in California.

Shirley Weber is the same Assemblywoman who is spearheading body camera policy statewide, AB 69. (This is now a two-year bill, and is still unknown what will result). Obviously, the signing of this bill (AB 953) , led by NAACP activists, will now give Weber the momentum for her efforts to get AB 69 passed.

I am attaching an article written by Patrick McGreevy from The LA Times explaining what the consequences are of AB 953.

Jerry Brown on Saturday signed bills aimed at reducing racial profiling and the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers, problems that have been elevated into a national debate by recent incidents across the country.

One of the bills, AB 953, requires police officers to collect data on the people they stop, including perceived race and ethnicity, the reason for the encounter and the outcome.

In addition, the governor signed a requirement that law enforcement agencies provide annual reports with details on all cases in which officers are involved in uses of force that result in serious injury or death.

Those and others bills signed by the governor will "strengthen criminal justice in California," according to a statement by the governor's office.

The state attorney general’s office will determine how the reporting will be done and how the data will be stored, under AB 619.

Assemblywoman Shirley N. Weber (D-San Diego) introduced the bills in response to “the deaths of unarmed black men and other people of color by police,” which she said “have forced us to confront some ugly truths about the persistence of racial bias in law enforcement.”

Weber thanked Brown in a statement, citing his work in civil rights issues in the past.

“AB 953 will be the state’s first step toward not only understanding the problem of racial profiling, but also toward formulating policies to reduce the practice and its devastating consequences," Weber said. "California is going in a new direction on this issue; hopefully, this will set an example for other states."

The new law will help restore trust in law enforcement by the community, according to Patrisse Cullors, founder of the civil rights group Dignity and Power Now. 

“Our communities have lived experiences with biased policing -- ranging from racial profiling, to excessive, and sometimes lethal, use of force. This inevitably breeds distrust in law enforcement, which in turn undermines the safety of all Californians,” Cullors said.

The governor also signed a bill that requires police agencies that have officers wear cameras on their uniforms to follow rules on storing and using the video collected so it is not mishandled.

That measure, AB 69, was introduced by Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez (D-Pomona).

The racial profiling bill has drawn vigils by dozens of activists from groups including the Communities United Coalition, supporters of the "Black Lives Matter" movement, outside Brown's office in recent days. That movement began with the fatal shooting of an African-American man by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri in August 2014.

Jerron Jordan, an activist with the group LA Voice-PICO, welcomed Brown's action. 

"These are historic times we are living in," he said. "I applaud the efforts of all of those who worked tirelessly to pass this bill and especially to the families who lost loved ones due to police violence. I am glad that our Governor had the moral courage to sign our bill.”

Take care of one another and stay safe wherever this job may take you in our organization and the different assignments we all do.


Truly,

Eric
A Message from the President, August 2015
For several years, I have been informing our membership about statewide pension reform and the looming threat that has sparked much discussion and debate. The issue is set to be taken voters who cast ballots in the presidential/general election of November 2016.

Some critics have attacked public safety pensions, claiming they are “lucrative, over the top and not affordable.” The ongoing argument is pension versus salary for public employees. Public employees fall under bargaining units who organize and negotiate with the various cities and counties for hourly wages and working conditions. Salaries are among the biggest scrutinized topics, following health benefits and pension. 

One perspective that has been a common thought in the past and present, is that government employees choose to make less in their salaries- for the benefit of security down the road when they retire. 

For example, an engineer working for CAL Trans typically does not make what an engineer working in the private sector earns. The CAL Trans engineer is likely working for the benefit and security later in life when he/she retires and has a vested pension to fall back on. Although, many government workers may take home less during their careers, it is deferred into a pension plan. 

Law enforcement is completely different. The job and benefits should be as well. There is not a private sector job that is as dangerous and unforgiving as this profession. I have conveyed this many times to our elected officials when there are times of lean budget years. Privatization is possible for most everything in this County with the exception of law enforcement, specifically deputy sheriffs. 

However, those of us in law enforcement still have to deal with organizing and bargaining for hours, wages, and working conditions. We still, at times, are treated like government workers. When this happens in Fresno County, I remind our local policymakers that there are no replacements for our positions. 

Unfortunately, our pensions too often, fall into that same ‘government worker’ category when it comes to economics. Defined benefit pensions that FDSA members have, is negotiated to ensure, in consideration of the stress and risk to life, that we are able to retire sooner than the Cal Trans engineer that I referenced earlier. 

When big business million and billionaires come into the picture and talk about anti-government and anti-pensions, their biggest motivation is to reduce taxes, which ultimately makes them richer than they already are. 

Over the years, there have many attempts to silence our voice. Two examples are in 2005, the Proposition 75 initiative, and the NO on Proposition 32 initiative in 2012. Both failed because once the public finds out the truth about what these billionaires are trying to accomplish- they are defeated. 

PORAC has been part of a coalition in Sacramento for many years, where large labor organizations such as CTA (California Teachers Association, CNA (California Nurses Association), SEIU (Service Employees International Union), and others come together to get a unified message out to voters about the misconceptions regarding all of these attempts to strip your pension and ultimately, livelihood. 

The group putting the ballot initiative together is led by two former mayors- Chuck Reed of San Jose and Carl DeMaio of San Diego, both of whom put pension initiatives together in their individual cities and were successful in their efforts. They are now behind the latest push and funded by billionaires.

The pension reform in San Jose, known as Measure B, is now completely watered down and labor has spent a ton of money to reverse it in court. In San Diego, the same thing has occurred. Now, Reid and DeMaio are attempting to change pension for all of California, which will have drastic effects on PERS, the 1937 Act Retirement Systems (Fresno County) and the five charter cities who administer their own City retirement systems. These include Fresno, Long Beach, San Jose, San Diego and Los Angeles. 

Pension reform advocates still need to collect 600,000 signatures throughout California for this item to be taken to voters. 

On August 10, 2015, the Attorney General issued her Title and Summary regarding this ballot initiative. She determined the initiatives authors were deceptive in how they titled and described the initiative to voters. During our August PORAC Board meeting, she reminded us that, “it is my job to call balls and strikes.” 

I am attaching an article about the Title Summary put out by Attorney General Kamala Harris about this ballot initiative. Those in the business of this expertise have agreed this article sums up exactly what was and is being sold by Reed and DeMaio. 


Daniel Borenstein: Kamala Harris is right about Chuck Reed's latest pension initiative
Former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed claims his latest pension reform initiative would not reduce the future benefits of current public employees. Attorney General Kamala Harris says it could -- and she's right.

Last week, Harris released the initiative summary that would appear on the ballot if backers collect sufficient signatures. She began by saying it "eliminates the constitutional protections for vested pension and retiree health care benefits for current public employees." 

That contradicts how Reed and former San Diego Councilman Carl DeMaio portrayed the measure when they unveiled it in June. They said they wanted to avoid an attack on California's vested rights doctrine protecting the rate at which current employees accrue pension benefits.

On Monday, DeMaio still maintained that "nothing in our initiative changes the vested benefits for existing employees." Reed echoed that: "We don't believe the initiative affects current employees."

But it does, as an excellent legal analysis by McGeorge Law School Professor Clark Kelso makes clear. The analysis was prepared for labor leaders fighting the initiative, but its conclusion was supported by four top pension attorneys who did not want to speak publicly.

No retirement law experts have defended Reed and DeMaio's position. They now have two options if they plan to start the signature-gathering phase: They could challenge Harris' ballot wording in court, and almost certainly lose. Or they could embrace it and accurately promote the initiative as one that would truly reform California's public employee pension system.

But they shouldn't continue to falsely pitch the measure.

At issue are public employees' protections for pension accrual rates. Take for example most California public safety workers. Each year that they work, their future pensions increase by 3 percent of final salary. After 30 years, their starting pensions are 90 percent of that salary.

But what if the employer cannot afford such generous benefits? A private-sector company could reduce the rate of future accruals. It could tell workers that they can keep the 3 percent credit for each year already worked, but going forward they will earn pension benefits at a rate of, say, 2 percent a year.

However, once a California public employee starts working, that accrual rate can never be reduced. The state Supreme Court issued a series of rulings, the most recent in 1991, that reductions would violate the contract clauses of the state and federal constitutions. 

Amy Monahan, University of Minnesota law professor, has sharply criticized the "California Rule." California courts, she writes, have "established one of the most protective legal approaches for public employee pension benefits of any state in the country."

Reed and DeMaio claimed their initiative would not change the California Rule. They said they were only trying to alter the rules for new employees by making those pensions subject to voter approval, and for current employees by requiring ballot approval for future increases.

But, actually, one part of the initiative would amend the state Constitution to give voters the right through an initiative or referendum to reduce the future pension accrual rate for current employees. This could be applied statewide or in each local government jurisdiction. 

Thus, if the initiative passed and withstood court challenge, voters could eliminate current workers' vested rights protections under the California Rule. 

In an earlier column on the measure, I missed the significance of this section. Harris' ballot summary prompted my re-examination.

Reed and DeMaio could take the lemons Harris handed them and make the proverbial lemonade. They certainly should stop demonizing her for making a politically calculated move to please union supporters as she prepares her U.S. Senate campaign. 

Rather than running from the wording of their initiative, they could embrace it. Government employers -- in this case, voters -- should be able to scale back future pension accruals if they're too costly.

To be clear, no one should reduce benefits workers already earned. The issue here is the accrual rate for future labor. 

As the Little Hoover Commission, a state bipartisan watchdog group, presciently wrote in 2011, pensions will strangle funding for needed public services unless officials reduce future accruals for current workers.

The initiative could let voters do that. But Reed and DeMaio should be honest about it, or abandon the measure.

Daniel Borenstein is a Contra Costa Times columnist and editorial writer. Contact him at 925-943-8248 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow him at Twitter.com/borensteindan.
I hope this provides you with some knowledge as to what lies ahead.  The FDSA along with PORAC are gearing up for what undoubtedly will be one of the biggest battles we have ever taken on.  I will keep all of you informed of the latest developments on this ballot initiative.
A Message from the President, July 2015
I would like to begin this message by expressing my gratitude to everyone who helped at the fireworks stand or supported it. We had a record breaking year of sales, and I want to give a big thanks to all of the volunteers who helped and the families who came out to buy their fireworks from the FDSA stand. The proceeds all go to our Peace Officer Memorial Fund. Next year, we go back into the fireworks lottery again for another two-year eligibility and location.

Also, a reminder, due to several conflicts the FDSA General Board/Membership meetings in August and September has been changed. Below are the correct dates which will be followed up by reminder emails.
  • Wednesday August 19, 2015
  • Wednesday September 9, 2015


Movement Arbitration

As I reported to you in my newsletter dated September 23, 2014, the FDSA filed a grievance on behalf of two deputy sheriffs who were being “forced-out,” of their specialty/detective assignment without cause. If you remember last year, this delayed shift signups about 30 days. To refresh your memory, I have included a portion of the message to remind you about the issue.

Excerpt from September 2014 President Message:

To date, there is a disagreement between the FDSA and Sheriff Mims (her Executive Staff) regarding movement within the department. Specifically, the issue of moving deputy sheriff’s from their current assignment in a detective/special assignment unit, to somewhere else in the department - that could be either Patrol Division or Court Service Unit- 
without cause and for no apparent reason.

Right now, there is not a rotation policy within the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office. Depending on whom you talk to and what day of the week you talk to them, some supervisors may feel they want deputies to stay in these units anywhere from no more than 3 years, to 5 years - - lately I have even heard 10 years.

History is our best source of knowledge as it relates to this situation.

Many deputies have dedicated their careers to certain units within the Sheriff’s Office because they are passionate at the job they do, work well with others, and are good at it. This is experience and knowledge that is hard to come by and not easy to replace. Some of these deputies are still working here, and do an incredible job in their assignment.

These issues arose with the Patrol Captain during the preparation of shift signups. There were a few detectives who were put on the patrol signup list, who did not ask to leave their current assignment. In addition, they have not received any unfavorable reviews and their performance is not an issue. When I posed the question as to why they are on the list, the answer varied from, “They have been there too long,” “We are moving people to help their careers,” “We need to give new people a chance at these positions.” Longevity within assignments varies, arbitrarily, from one supervisor to another.

The argument of opportunity doesn’t really come into play, since 90%+ of you move because you want to do something else in the department. We do not keep people from doing what they want. But, we also have those deputies who have put in for many assignments and have been denied every one of them. So the opportunity argument really is insignificant in this discussion.

This is the first time we have encountered this type of involuntary movement. Many of you have come to me over the years and have vented, if your supervisor(s) wants you to leave, or is demanding you transfer out. Normally we have been able to work out these types of issues with conversation and common sense.

Our proposed language to insert in the shift signup agreement helps protect deputies from being moved arbitrarily and without cause. Our suggested language is being declined and without even a discussion.

Last Tuesday, September 23, 2014 a Grievance was filed with the County of Fresno, to address this issue. The results are still pending. So, right now, we do not know when shift signups will take place. Vacation and shift signups are on hold until we can find common ground. I am hopeful that someone will talk to us to come up with a resolution since this is affecting many people in the patrol division. In my six years as your President, I have yet to have an issue come up, where the FDSA and Sheriff’s Administration were not able to work out the problem. That is the benefit of having working relationships with people day in and day out.
 
Although we never reached an agreement with the FSO Executive Management on the conditions of signups (after much review of the shifts and the way the department was structured for RDOs and area selections), we opted to allow just the shift selection to take place. We had to balance the need of members to know RDO’s for the upcoming year, and plan their lives around them. We made this decision in the spirit of cooperation and to try and encourage talks and ultimately- the settling of the grievance. Unfortunately, it did neither.

On April 17 and April 18 2015, the FDSA, along with our legal team, led by Gary Messing and assisted by Lina Balciunas-Cockell, began the arbitration hearing. The FSO Executive Staff was represented by County Counsel, Kathy Basham.

Over 2 days, several witnesses were called to testify from both sides. The arbitrator, who was mutually agreed upon by both the FDSA and County of Fresno- heard the entire case from start to finish. Once the arbitration concluded, both parties had roughly 30 days to submit written closing arguments into him. The arbitrator would then render a decision in the following 30 days.

The Arbitrator ruled in favor of the FDSA.

I am going to attach a summary of the last page where his ruling is handed down.

In summary, based on the evidence the arbitrator’s finding is that the Department violated Government Code Section 3505 and Article 53 of the MOU, when it unilaterally changed the past practice of involuntary transferring the deputies from their special assignments based on criteria other than that of disciplinary issues, documented performance issues, layoff or disability retirement.”

 

DECISION

The Grievance is sustained

 

AWARD

1. The department shall cease and desist from involuntary transferring deputies from special assignments, unless the involuntary transfer is the result of discipline, documented performance issues, layoff or disability retirement.
 2. The Department shall allow Deputies Isaac and Alstrom the opportunity to return to their special assignments in the Vice Intel Unit and the Ag Task Force, if they choose to do so. That election shall be made in writing within thirty (30) days from the date of this award.

 

One of the main points described by the Arbitrator includes the department violating the FDSA Memorandum of Understanding, or MOU. His decision sustained the Article in the MOU- determining it was violated by the department. It also gave the deputies the ability to go back to their original assignment.

On July 20, 2015 the Sheriff filed a writ in Fresno County Superior Court appealing the ruling by the mutually agreed upon Arbitrator.

To date, I have had one discussion with Sheriff Mims regarding the Arbitration. During the conversation she told me, “Well you guys won, so I have to decide if we are going to fight/appeal that decision. I am not quite sure yet.” I have had no conversations with anyone from her management staff about what the impacts are and how we move forward.

Had the ruling not been in our favor, I am certain the FDSA would have been labeled ‘whiners and complainers’ if we appealed the ruling.

I am disappointed in the way the arbitration and decision has been handled by the Sheriff’s Office. Sadly, in addition to the lack of respect for the decision- some administration are misrepresenting the truth, making false statements about the ruling, and making up blatant lies about this process and results. It really is too bad that rumors and false statements have to come into play in something that still could have been handled without all of the proceedings we all went through to get the same result, which is what our position was in the beginning.

This action will only create a division between the FDSA and the Sheriff’s management. I still believe this was taken too far, due to a lack of communication that should have been addressed in-house. For years prior to last, we came to an agreement on things like this. Agree to disagree, but when the MOU is violated, labor has the right to throw the penalty flag - - and the penalty was upheld.

The FDSA has been very respectful during this entire process, and just because a ruling went our way doesn’t mean you point fingers and rub people’s noses in it. This is all business – period – and all a process within government.

Since taking this position in August of 2008, I have maintained the mission and philosophy that the FDSA will talk to anyone, anywhere about any issue- anytime. I have proven this from Sacramento, to Washington DC and all throughout Fresno County.

I have and will continue to extend the invitation to the Sheriff and her top staff - to meet and discuss any issue, anytime and try and resolve things, face to face.

Please stay safe out there. I hope everyone has been able to enjoy time with their family and friends during the summer, and those who were fortunate enough to get vacation time during the summer have taken full advantage of. I know we have all been working a lot, but remember at the end – we can only take care of one another.

 
Truly,

Eric
A Message from the President, June 2015
Summer is here! We are happy to again have the opportunity to fundraise by selling fireworks- at the same great location on the southwest corner of Barstow and Blackstone. We will be through the 4th of July- all day, until we either sell out, or run out of customers! Please, remind your friends and family members buy their fireworks from us. All proceeds go to the FDSA Peace Officer Memorial Fund.

This fund is not only to assist in the event of a local death in the line of duty- we also reach out to every family in the state of California whose experienced a death that was in the line of duty. We could still use some help at the fireworks to fill shifts. If you are available, you can call the FDSA office to arrange a time slot to volunteer. Also, this is a great time to support the organization, meet some of your co-workers you don’t know, or catch up with others you do! Thanks again for all your support. 


Budget Hearings 2015
A month prior to budget hearings this year, I sat down to brainstorm and reminded myself of the positives. The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office was being funded nearly $11 million dollars more than the last fiscal year. A majority of this money is being allocated to the custody/jail portion of the department. However, there is money allocated to fund new deputy sheriff positions, along with five upper management positions Sheriff Mims has been advocating for- for about the last five or six budget cycles. 

The board allocated an additional seven deputy sheriff positions into this fiscal year’s budget. Last year, they agreed to hire a total of 8, with two (2) additional positions being funding by the AOC (Administrator of Courts). Overall, 10 additional deputies were allocated for fiscal year 2014/2015. 

During budget hearings, Sheriff Mims provided a stat to the Board of Supervisors – that in the last fiscal year, we hired 38 deputy sheriffs. However, 34 left the agency for a variety of reasons.  So, currently, we are roughly 4 positions ahead of where we were last year. Then, you incorporate the 33 deputy sheriff vacancies we have as of today. Not a promising forecast for filling positions. 

As I always do, I talk about recruitment and retention issues with Board Members. The fact that we get people applying for the FSO, starting the process and then removing themselves from it- because they found another job in another jurisdiction. This is not helping us close the gap. This “dropout dilemma” occurs most often in hiring deputy sheriffs and dispatchers. 

At the beginning of the year, I began discussing this issue with different board members and discussing a successful way police agencies throughout California are recruiting, great, quality cadets who are at the top of their class- by offering a recruitment “signing bonus.” This would be a great way to draw excellent law enforcement officers to the FSO. This one- time bonus has to be competitive though – ranging from $5,000 to $10,000. Many agencies are doing it because of a shortage of recruitments and the positions that need to be filled.

The Board of Supervisors made an effort at the end of last year to look at our contract and offer retention money for the Deputy Sheriff series. This equaled 1.8% starting in December 2014 and reoccurring each December through the end of the MOU (December 2016). 

At budget hearings, I thanked the BOS for this gesture. We are grateful for retention money and their commitment to keeping people employed here. However, the overall picture is similar to putting a band aid on a bleeding wound – it’s only a temporary fix.  

At the end of budget hearings, we received the necessary funding for running at the pace we are now and the Sheriff was also authorized to hire 33 more deputy sheriff’s during this fiscal year.

Some things that still need to be considered and possibly streamlined include the hiring process in Fresno County. It is lengthy and takes quite some time. Pay and benefit packages have to be increased, with the priority being where we have the retention issue (which are currently deputy sheriff and dispatch series). Once that is addressed- then we can truly go back to rebuilding the enforcement side of the agency. 

There are many positions that can be brought back to assist the entire agency when it comes to efficiency. Report writing CSO’s that we use to employ made a huge difference for the deputies working the areas. CSO’s who were assigned to area detectives throughout the agency were invaluable in helping alleviate all that goes on within those positions. Hiring more Crime Scene Technicians is going to be in high demand in the very near future. This position is critical when connecting evidence to the crime, investigation and ultimately leading to a conviction. Our crime scene techs are stretched thin and when a big case pops up, like anything else, the little stuff get put aside. The entire spectrum of the enforcement side of the office needs to be re-examined. 

An idea Sheriff Mims mentioned during budget hearings was having POST come in and conduct a line staff and workload study. I think that will formulate on paper what we all already know here at the agency - we are understaffed and over utilized. 

Many things are in play still, even after the close of budget hearings. I will be updating you more as the time comes where things may change for the betterment of our jobs. 


Rebuilding an Agency
Those of you who have been here for a decade or longer will remember the luxuries we used to have in regards to resources we could reach out to for help – to assist all of us in keeping the public safe.

Many may recall the days of having more staff that allowed us to be more proactive as a police agency. These include units like having OSS, multiple narcotic teams, mounted unit, large area detective units, Cops in Schools, contract city deputies, etc. 

The recession of 2008-2012 truly stripped us at the FSO of the luxuries we had. There are many factors why once we lost these positions in mass numbers, and why they will only be added back a little at a time. Pension, recruitment, and pay have all contributed to rising costs and a shrinking workforce at the FSO. The only true contract we have that pays for salary and benefits is with the AOC (Administrator of the Courts) which funds the Court Services Unit at the Sheriff’s Office. Obviously, this is an imperative part of the FSO – because just like the thin blue line of justice on the streets, there is also great danger that lies with moving inmates from the jail to the courts- where they are in a custody setting that is less controlled. Our deputies and CSO staff do an outstanding job at this task –keeping the Fresno County Courthouse safe and secure. 

The contract with the AOC keeps us whole inside of the Fresno County Courthouse. But, some lingering questions remain… like how do we start to climb numbers in patrol? How do we ensure sufficient backup and support while the deputies are in the field? 

I think we are at the triage level right now and should focus on trying to fill the vacancies we have. Once those are filled, the next step is: when do we begin to get back to the days of doubling up our beats and getting back to proactive law enforcement? Is there a plan to rebuild? That is the poignant question that really needs to be asked and analyzed. Where should our resources be deployed? 

I want suggestions from all of you on where you believe the priorities need to be focused in regards to the rebuild of the FSO. Although POST will come do a study, the true subject matter experts are already working here, doing the job for the people of the County. I am always working on having our voice heard and open to ideas that will make this place a premiere law enforcement agency. 

Have a wonderful 4th of July. I hope you are enjoying the summer with family and friends!


Truly,

Eric
A Message from the President, May 2015
I would like to begin by thanking each of you who came to our FDSA Open House. The event was very well attended. It was an evening filled with fellowship and great food. Several family members of fallen deputies attended and said they appreciated the chance to catch up with everyone. I think the annual event is a great reminder to the families that we care about them and continue to honor their loved one.

An announcement was made at the event by Brenda D. Lavell, of Three Sisters Ranch. She hosted the event, and, in addition, gave a 25 thousand dollar scholarship for continuing education to any spouse of a fallen deputy who would like to return to college or get training for a new career. Brenda has been a generous sponsor each year in our annual golf tournament and has helped each year in putting together the Open House. She puts together a food and dessert spread suited to meet every taste. Also, her assistant Shelli Armstrong works tirelessly to handle everything from establishing a color scheme, to décor and putting together all the fine details. The events are always very classy and memorable. I would like to thank them for their continued support of the FDSA and our annual memorial events.


Officers Victims More Often?

It seems like more often, I am reading about police officers throughout the United States who are becoming victims of violent crimes. The sad reality is we will never have a year where there is not a police officer assault or death. Nationwide, we have to strive to be under 100 deaths for the United States. Its a tragic number. The manner of most police officer deaths are by violent crime, specifically ambush killed by gunfire attacks.

Recently, in San Diego, another officer was shot and wounded while on duty.

I have attached the following article, taken from the San Diego Union Tribune. It is a good illustration that shows the mindset of survival that this injured officer displayed that day. It also describes the courageous acts of another fellow officer to save her life.


San Diego Officer Shot
A San Diego police officer was shot in her upper chest at a Kearny Mesa interchange Sunday morning, and rushed by a fellow officer to nearby Sharp Memorial Hospital.

The suspect was shot dead, and police later learned his car might be linked to a series of

shootings aimed at buildings in that area, including the Kearny Mesa headquarters of the San Diego Gas & Electric Company.

"Right now she is in good spirits, she sustained one injury, one gunshot wound," San Diego police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said during a briefing at Sharp Memorial, two hours after the shootings.

According to investigators, San Diego police officers attempted to make a traffic stop on a high Speed vehicle on the southbound 163 south of the 805. The vehicle exited at Genesee and continued on Surface streets.

Officers lost sight of the vehicle but continued to search the area. A short time later they found the vehicle unoccupied near Annrae Street and Mesa College Drive.

A few minutes later they observed the suspect and attempted to detain him. The suspect produced a handgun and opened fire. One officer was shot and 2 other officers returned fire, killing the suspect.

The wounded police officer was loaded into a squad car and taken to the Sharps emergency room by a fellow officer.

The police chief said her injured officer has been with the department for five years.

The wounded officer was going through a medical procedure, two hours after the shooting, and was talking and smiling, said police officers in a hospital waiting room.

Police later learned the Jeep matched a vehicle connected to a case of shooting vandalism cases on Kearny Mesa, including two such incidents at the SDGE headquarters building, a quarter mile away from the shooting scene, April 17 and May . Several other businesses in the area had been hit by gunfire, and SDGE had posted a 10,000 reward for information about the shooter.


Recruitment and Retention Discussions

The buzz word lately for police agencies is Recruitment/Retention. This has been discussed on the local and state level for at least the last -12 months. We are seeing it at the local level, yet the concern is on the State level as well.

The recession hit a lot of police sheriff departments hard. Some lost live body, working officers. Some just left the positions vacant and others just managed to get by. Fresno County leaders decided to save money and not hire deputies for over four years. During this time several deputies retired and those positions were left unfilled. The lack of hiring, coupled with concessions that had to be made, so there wasn't a budget shortfall was a harsh reality.

Climbing out of the recession has been one thing- a long, tedious process. Now, this strain on recruitment has been combined with other issues like PEPRA, body cameras, and the rising costs of health care. There is a potential tipping point ahead that many are unaware of, including the public.

The recruitment of qualified candidates to become law enforcement officers is becoming more and more competitive. Pay, benefits and hiring bonuses are being solicited by departments across the state in an attempt to land the best recruits.


Working Conditions
Many of you have told me you are frustrated with the working conditions here. At times, I feel the same way. However, I must prioritize and then respond to issues- in order of importance. cannot be reactive or veer off trail. Lately, many of you have noticed my presence at your work stations or in your units. I am trying to figure out the root of where the problems lie and why moral is dropping in patrol. Is it the volume of work? Is it lack of manpower? Is it your equipment? Is it public sentiment? These are the things I am looking at as I work to figure out what is going on. My overall concern is if we are a displeased workforce, we will not be providing the level of service we need to- in dealing with the public. We need to have a good attitude when we handle calls and interact with the community.

My job as your President is to push to hire, retain, and build on our pay and benefits package. The task involves remaining steadfast, and at times being vocal. Lately, much of my time has been occupied protecting the rights of members covered under Peace Officer Bill of Rights.

The article below was sent to me from the staff at PORAC. It really gives a complete picture of what is going on in California Law Enforcement.


Why we need more police
You wouldn't know it by watching news about police-community conflict, or tracking state legislation on the use of force by law enforcement. But California's biggest problem when it comes to policing remains the same:

There isn't enough of it.

Issues of police misconduct are serious, as stories from the racist police texts in San Francisco to the shooting of an unarmed homeless man in L. make plain. But underlying these issues is the fact that California lacks the manpower necessary for the smart, effective policing of our diverse, complicated communities.

California has long been distinguished by its sparse policing, with small police departments unable to keep pace with population growth in vast cities. But in recent years, police shortages around the state have become significantly worse. In San Diego, the police department has 300 fewer officers than a decade ago, and half the current force of 1,800-plus officers is eligible for retirement by 2017. The Fresno Police Department has seen a decline of more than 100 officers over the past decade. Los Angeles, after years of work mostly associated with former Chief Bill Bratton, reached its goal of 10,000 officers two years ago — and then immediately started slipping, as it struggled to find enough qualified people to replace retiring and departing officers.

In Oakland, with its notoriously high robbery rates, the police force has lost nearly a quarter of its sworn officers since 2009. And San Jose may offer the bleakest picture for police staffing. That sprawling city of 1 million people now has fewer than 1,000 street-ready officers; some projections show the number dropping below 900 by the middle of next year.

The impacts of such declines are seen in more than slower response times and in departments' inability to investigate crimes like burglary. Cops also have less time to develop deep

relationships within the neighborhoods they cover. Breakdowns in police-community relations are an inevitable result.

Nearly as many reasons are given for this decline as there are cops. Tight budgets during the recession. A surge in retirements of Baby Boomer officers. The difficulty of finding enough qualified candidates. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that lured away military personnel who might have been cops. The bigger salaries available to cops who work in the growing private Security Sector.

The pool of qualified applicants out there is utterly dismal,Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin told the Washington Post last year. We've lost 25 percent of our sworn staff since the recession, in a department that was desperately understaffed at our highest, facing a community plagued by violence.” The result, the chief said: just 11 officers patrolled the city of 154,000 on the average day shift. Its one of the lowest ratios in California, and therefore the lowest ratio in the country, because nobody has fewer cops than California.”

In California, there is another factor. The high salaries and generous pension benefits of police make employing cops an exceptionally expensive endeavor; the costs of retiree benefits in California cities are crowding out other local services.

Of course, some might ask: With the historic decline in crime, who needs police?

That question is answered powerfully by Jill Leovy, a Los Angeles Times reporter, in her new book, Ghettoside.” In a different spin on Black Lives Matter,Leovy shows how we have too little enforcement of the law, particularly where black men live, with the failure to punish murderers creating impunity” that produces more violence.

There is a strong connection, she writes, between this failure and the complaints about police abuses. The perceived harshness of American criminal justice and its fundamental weakness are in reality two sides of a coin, the former a kind of poor compensation for the latter. Like the schoolyard bully, our criminal justice system harasses people on small pretexts but is exposed as a coward before murder. It hauls masses of black men through its machinery but fails to protect them from bodily injury and death. It is at once oppressive and inadequate.

In this context, the 20-plus state legislative proposals to put more restrictions on cops — body cameras, changes in prosecution of deadly force cases — amount to treating symptoms of the policing disease, not its root causes. Far more urgent is the challenging work of rebuilding California’s police departments so we have enough good cops on the beat, with the time and resources to focus on the fundamental work of preventing violence.


Update on AB66
President Mike Durant, Randy Perry and Aaron Read have been working every day, --yes, weekends too, - for more than 2 weeks to keep AB 66 (Assemblywoman Weber) from being amended to remove the good amendment we got in Assembly Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee to allow an officer to review all video tapes prior to giving a statement or doing a written report. She wanted to delete that amendment from the bill. While we heard over the weekend that it would likely become a two year bill, we did not want to put that out Since it is always subject to change at the last minute....But, we can now report that it has become a two year bill and will not move out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee tomorrow.

AB 66 will remain alive and can be taken up next January in the Appropriations Committee again. Also, Dr. Weber has the rest of this year to find another bill to gut and amend should she decide to do so.

The next step for PORAC will be to decide whether to try and move forward this year with our own bills) making changes to POBOR, the CPRA (Calif Public Records Act) and other policy recommendations.
A Message from the President, April 2015
***Please remember to joins us for the 4th Annual FDSA Peace Officer Memorial Open House. It’s this Thursday, May 7, 2015 from 5:30pm-8:00pm at the FDSA. This is the time for us to reflect, remember and honor the deputy sheriff’s from our own agency who have died in the line of duty. There will be family members of our fallen deputies there as well. This is a great time to reconnect and let these loved ones know that we will never forget the sacrifices that were made by their husband, son, father, or brother.


Golden Handshake

Many of you have inquired over the last few weeks about a “5 year Golden Handshake.” This is NOT anything the County of Fresno is talking about, nor is this anything the County of Fresno would entertain as a benefit to encourage an employee to leave early and receive a full pension behind that departure (retirement).

The issue of “Golden Handshake,” lies completely in the fact that, if the County of Fresno were to agree to this (give an employee even one year time of what we would consider a “Golden Handshake”) that money paid into the Fresno County Pension System would need to come from somewhere, (i.e. Fresno County Budget). The County of Fresno would still need to pay the full benefit into the system. The fund is solvent based on the actuarial report as it deals with percentage, age and dollar figures.

The discussion of a “Golden Handshake” did come up at the end of the 2014 from Supervisor Judy Case. The discussion, however, was not in favor of this benefit. The discussion centered around deleting the language out of the Fresno County Charter completely because of how much this benefit would cost the County of Fresno.

When I have had the opportunity over the years to discuss the topic, I have told members of the Board of Supervisors that the cost to the County of Fresno is high, but the cost to be paid, would be that of pension only, not salary and health benefits of the employee. The counter to that is, ‘Yes, you are correct, but we would still need to hire someone for the position and pay the full salary and benefit package on top of what we already pay into the retirement system.’

I have tried to get the County to understand that a “Golden Handshake” shouldn’t be frowned upon entirely. The people the County would like to get out of the retirement system are those in the Tier One pension system. As it stands now, these are the most costly pensions. By paying the benefit and offering a “Golden Handshake,” it would allow that person out, and bring in a new employee, under Tier V (PEPRA), with a much lower pension cost.

For the County, this idea presents a multitude of issues that range from people leaving in droves to early departures creating an additional workload for other employees left to pick up the slack. Hiring, training and investing in a full-time non-probationary worker is also a concern some Board of Supervisors had with this scenario.

So, while the “Golden Handshake” is still technically on the books for the County of Fresno- as it stands now, the County of Fresno is not interested in making this an option for any of their employees.


Recovery of Lost Retirement Funds

On April 15th, 2015, Fresno County Retirement Association (FCERA) decided against making roughly 6,750 retirees pick up the bill for a $3.4 million overpayment.

In November of 2014, FCERA stopped the “bonus benefit,” just months before it was supposed to stop. At the time, FCERA refused to require the retirees to pay the money back. The extra money ranged from $2.50 to $150 per month. The money was supposed to have stopped in May of 2014, but for some unclear reason- it ran through November of 2014.

Fresno County officials, specifically CAO John Navarrette, asked the retirement board to consider having the retirees reimburse the retirement system for the overpayment, since those are where the funds were paid out from. Basically, the CAO felt if the retirees don’t reimburse the overpayment, the current Fresno County employees will have to foot the bill. The retirement board took the position to not ask retirees to pay the overpayment. So, only choice left to fill this gap is to have current employees pick up the reimbursement.

I spoke to our safety representative on the retirement board, Eulalio Gomez. Eulalio and I spoke prior to this action on April 15, and my conversation to him was to do what you can to keep current employees from shouldering the cost of this overpayment. Unfortunately, Eulalio did the opposite, and actually made the motion for the action item. The day after this decision was made, I received four calls from members all expressing displeasure about the action.

Eulalio and I disagree on this issue. I also voiced the FDSA’s position about a month prior- conveying the message that current employees should not be assessed for a mistake FCERA made in the overpayments. Eulalio dismissed our position, saying this $3.5 million is a drop in the bucket for the retirement fund. He contends this money may never be seen or realized by the current employees.

Eulalio explained the way the fund will be reported out is through the unfunded liability that FCERA already has reporting requirements on. He said $3.5 within a fund with over $4 billion in assets, and a debt service of $700 million means that $3.5 will probably never be noticed.

I explained to Eulalio, that $3.5 million is ‘real dollars’ and FCERA showed that when issuing the checks to retirees. So paying it back cannot be assumed that the amount isn’t real money. Plus, the perception and message that sends to current working people is the wrong message. FCERA has now pitted current working employees against those who are retired. This retirement board and FCERA body, should not be doing this. Dismissing a stance taken by our organization is wrong, as well- since according to Eulalio, the FDSA was the only group who contacted anyone on FCERA to voice concern about this money.

Nobody wants to punish the retirees, I mean after all they have put their time as hard working county employees. Whether this money is paid back now or three years from now - as long as it gets back into the fund is really what matters. If an employee is affected 5 cents or 5 dollars the message is the same. A FCERA accounting error will get shouldered by the current employees of this county. As your representative I cannot stand by and allow that happen without voicing our disapproval and also reporting the outcome to the membership.


AB 66 Body Worn Camera Legislation

-Written by Randy Perry – Aaron Read and Associates (PORAC’s Sacramento Lobbyist)

As you know, body cameras are one of the hottest issues in the Capitol right now.  Our team has been working with President Durant and LDF Administrator Ed Fishman for months, and we discuss this subject numerous times per day.  There are currently half a dozen bills relating to body cameras that have been introduced in the Legislature and we have had discussions with the authors of all of those bills.  President Durant asked us to provide a brief update on the fight against AB 66 by Assembly member Weber (D- San Diego) dealing with body cameras and officers’ review of the video. 

The original version of the bill called for setting up a Task Force to determine the appropriate policies and procedures that should be used by agencies implementing body-worn camera programs.  During that time, PORAC created a subcommittee of the Board of Directors to formulate a position on the issues surrounding BWCs.  In addition, Ed Fishman gathered numerous attorneys at PORAC’s headquarters to assist in drafting language supporting PORAC’s position on the issue.

The Weber bill was then amended to list numerous mandatory policies and procedures for agencies implementing a BWC program, including stating that an officer shall not review his or her BWC video prior to making a statement or writing a report on all arrests.  We lobbied every member of the Assembly Public Safety Committee and testified in opposition to the bill.  Many of PORAC’s concerns were raised by members of the committee during the hearing.  Because of that, the author committed to continue working with PORAC to address those concerns.  With that commitment, members allowed the bill to move on to the 2nd committee, Assembly Privacy and Consumer Protection. 

The next set of amendments to AB 66 made many of the mandatory policies and procedures permissive.  However, the bill still prohibited officers from reviewing the video prior to writing their report, but added language stating that an officer could review the video after writing their initial report and gave them the ability to amend their report, should there be discrepancies between their original report and the video.  PORAC remained opposed to the bill as amended. 

We immediately began meeting with members of the Assembly Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee.  On Monday, the bill was amended again to deal with some of PORAC’s major concerns, such as adding language making policies and procedures around BWCs a meet and confer item.  Also, they removed the language mandating officers Mirandize all witnesses whom they videotape.    The author added language that the act of an officer amending their original report could not be used as the sole reason for placing that officer on a Brady list.  The final amendment they took was to limit the prohibition on an officer reviewing to incidents of “serious use of force” and defined what that means. 

We have met with all members and consultants of the Privacy Committee at least twice in the last week and have made it very clear that PORAC remains strongly opposed to AB 66 as amended.  A special hearing of the Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee will be held tomorrow after the adjournment of Assembly Floor session.  PORAC needs six of the eleven members to hold the bill in committee.  Tomorrow is the deadline for bills to get out of policy committee if they are fiscal, and this bill is. 

After meeting with all of the members, we have successfully raised doubt in a majority of them.  We have asked the Chair of the committee and all of its members to hold the bill in committee and allow PORAC to continue negotiations with the author’s office. 

Yesterday, LAPD’s Police Commission approved their BWC policies and procedures negotiated by LAPPL, the Department and the city’s Inspector General.  Their language states that an officer shall ALWAYS review their body camera footage prior to making a statement or writing a report.  The timing of this approval has been very helpful. 

First thing this morning, we spoke with LA’s Inspector General and asked if he would consider traveling to Sacramento tomorrow and testifying before the committee.  He stated that he would. 

Again, our goal is to have the committee hold AB 66 and not put the bill up for a vote.  We will update all of you as this strategy unfolds over the next 24 hours. 
  • Aaron and Randy Thursday April 30, 2015

AB 66 (Weber, D-San Diego) regarding Body-Worn Cameras (BWCs) was heard in the Assembly Privacy and Consumer Protections Committee today.  President Durant and our ARA team were there.   President Durant was the only rank-and-file law enforcement association leader in the room.  He has participated in all the conversations with all the members.  It was great to have him with us for this important hearing.

We have vigorously lobbied this bill since it was introduced and have achieved several amendments. 

The bill has been amended four times prior to today.  PORAC has remained actively opposed, particularly to the section prohibiting officers from reviewing the body camera footage prior to writing a report on incidents involving “serious use of force.” 

Based on our strong opposition and discussion with members, we believed we had the votes necessary to kill the bill today.  That was demonstrated vividly when many members of the committee asked pointed questions and many of the Democrats stated that they could not vote for it.  We spoke to all four of the Republican members prior to the committee and knew they would not be in support.

After it became clear that Assembly member Weber did not have the sufficient number of votes to pass the bill, the chairman, Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Glendale), who supported our position on reviewing camera footage prior to writing a report, as well as other amendments that we had discussed, called a five minute recess and convened a meeting across the hall that included both supporters and opponents.  We discussed our position and what was important to PORAC.  Many changes were agreed to; however, we were unhappy with an amendment that said review of the camera footage would be left to local control and therefore each local agency could decide on their own.  We wanted an affirmative statement in the bill allowing officers to review the footage, thus removing our need to have to negotiate with 400 cities and 58 counties over that issue. 

After much debate, the committee resumed and a second vote was taken.  There were still insufficient votes to pass the bill, which lead to another recess, this time in the committee room with the chairman ordering that the doors be locked by the Sergeants so that no one could leave until the issue was resolved. 

We then had a series of private meetings with the chairman, members of the committee, and the author, Assemblywoman Weber.  In the end, our amendment was accepted, allowing officers to review the tape, with a carve out for those agencies who have current policies in place that may not allow it.  Therefore, with the exception of grandfathering a few agencies, such as Oakland and Richmond, the policy in statute, going forward will be that officers will have the right to review the tape.  That language will be in the bill and will not have to be negotiated.

The committee resumed again and another roll call was taken.  This time it received the requisite number of votes necessary to pass.  The final vote was 6 to 0, with 5 members abstaining (all four of the Republican members and Democrat Jim Cooper – a career deputy sheriff, now retired).  Jim Cooper was an all-star in the hearing.  He asked pointed questions and brought into play his 30 years of being a street cop.  We applaud our friends Assembly members Matt Debabneh, Evan Low,  Ian Calderon and the Chair Mike Gatto for great help in making this a better bill.

The roll call was as follows:

Ayes – Gatto (Chair), Calderon, Chau, Dababneh, Gordon and Low.

Abstentions – Wilk (Vice Chair), Baker, Chang, Cooper and Dahle.

There are a number of other amendments relating to tightening access to filming under the California Public Records Act, strengthening protections for informants, tightening provisions dealing with filming in private homes, etc.  We will send you a copy of the amended bill.

The FDSA will have a copy of this bill when it is complete and will share with those who are interested.

Again, take care of one another. Try to stay as positive as you can during these times of a lot of work and not a lot of people. I am here for all of you.
 

Always,

-Eric
A Message from the President, March 2015
The month of March has brought some change to the FDSA as well as tragedy with a line of duty death in the State of California. I have attached an article written on San Jose Police Officer Michael Johnson. 

We will be introducing some new apparel in the month of April for FDSA members to purchase. We hope you like the products and the prices will be very affordable.


Reorganization of Carroll, Burdick, McDonough
Since late 2001, the Fresno Deputy Sheriff’s Association has employed the firm of Carroll, Burdick, and McDonough, commonly referred to as CB&M, as our corporate counsel, labor negotiator, and legal defense representative. The partner in the firm who has been our corporate attorney is Gary Messing, supported by his associate, Jason Jasmine. 

Over the last few years, Gary has informally discussed with me the labor side of CB&M breaking away from the CB&M firm- to set up what would be CB&M dealing with labor law only. 

Carroll, Burdick and McDonough are an international law firm with offices in Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Beijing, Hong Kong, and Bollinger (Germany). The firm has evolved over the years. It began primarily as a labor/employment litigation firm, to now largely an international business firm, dealing with many things not relevant to labor specific. You can go to their website at www.cbmlaw.com to see a list of the types of law they specialize in. 

Gary Messing met with me on Thursday, March 12, 2015 to advise me/FDSA that he and two other of the labor partners, Gregg Adam and Jason Jasmine will be taking the labor side of CB&M and forming the firm, Messing, Adam, & Jasmine, LLP. The split from CB&M is seamless and amicable - whereas the clients will see no change. In fact, the Sacramento and San Francisco offices will be staying the same along with the more than 10 labor attorneys and support staff that comes with it. This is simply a name change to point us specifically to labor/employment litigation. 

Gary made it pretty clear - continuing labor through CB&M is going to drive up costs too much for a labor organization such as FDSA. Carving the labor side out and dealing specifically with labor/employment law only- rather than the international business side, will drive fees down and/or stabilize them for all of the labor organizations they deal with.   
I wanted to let the entire membership know of this change since I am putting Gary Messing on our agenda April 8th to lay this entire transition out to the Board of Directors and any members who want to hear what is going on. 

Initially, when Gary explained the situation, this change was going to occur in about 60 days. However, all of their client information and paperwork needed to be completed by April 6. Therefore, the transition needed to take place sooner, specifically for LDF (Legal Defense). 

Again, I want to emphasize -- there will be no change in the way we go about doing business. The one most notable change the FDSA will see will be lower attorney fees and costs associated with the creation of the new firm. Costs will now be controlled much easier by Gary, Greg and Jason. 

Also -- to date, no clients on the labor side who are represented by CB&M have had any  issues with this transition. Some of the bigger clients CB&M represents under the labor/employment law include, San Jose POA, CCPOA, and CDF Firefighters. All of these associations, along with all of the smaller associations, have embraced this move.  

Any members who have any questions regarding this move can contact me directly or any of the FDSA Board of Directors. Again, Gary will be here on Wednesday, April 8th to discuss the transition at the beginning of the board meeting.  


San Jose Police Officer Death
On Tuesday, March, 24th, a SJPD officer was killed in the line of duty. The following is an article from the San Jose Mercury News about one group- shaken, once again by the tragedy of losing a fellow officer.  

SAN JOSE -- The night Officer Michael Johnson was gunned down, the San Jose Police Department knew one group of officers in particular should find out before it hit the news: his police academy class of 2001.

These were people who were already changed forever when their classmate, Jeffrey Fontana was killed during a traffic stop just weeks after graduation. Now this. "They are probably the closest-knit officers in the department," said Officer James Gonzales of the Police Officers Association. Johnson's Tuesday evening death "took what is almost an immeasurable bond and multiplied it to infinity."

Throughout the past 14 years this group has formed a tight connection through triumph and turmoil at the SJPD -- from the days when San Jose was known as the safest big city in America to a modern era fraught with pay cuts and pension debates, layoffs and low morale.

Of the 35 members of the class of 2001, class members count 19 remaining on the force. Of those who left, most found jobs at other police agencies and some have retired on medical disability after being hurt so badly on the job they couldn't return. In many ways, this class has come to define a generation of San Jose police officers.

No matter where they landed, many of these men and women gathered for Fontana's every vigil and anniversary, treated Fontana's mother and younger brother as their own, and struggled with loss and fear for years.

So when Johnson was killed on Tuesday night, the bond brought them together again. 

David Solis, 38, left the SJPD last summer to work at the Menlo Park Police Department. He was on duty at the jail when his cellphone started pinging with messages from his 2001 classmates.

"I told my boss, and he said, 'go,'" Solis said Friday. "I drove from Menlo Park to San Jose, in uniform in my patrol car. I got there and stayed there until the scene was secure, almost at 4 a.m. It was like being at a funeral without being at a funeral. It was horrible."

And it was too eerily familiar. "It seemed like deja vu," he said. "This can't be happening."

As word quickly spread through the ranks of the SJPD, some 40 officers -- many of whom had just finished their day shifts -- volunteered to cover midnight beats as resources shifted to the crime scene.

Johnson, 38, who grew up in San Jose like many of his classmates, was a specialist for the San Jose Police Department, a sharpshooter who won numerous trophies for his skills at police Olympic games. He was one of the first deployed for "hot calls" like the one Tuesday at dusk, when a 911 call came in saying a man was suicidal and had a gun. The man, Scott Dunham, 57, was threatening to kill his wife if she didn't leave their condominium on Senter Road. It's the kind of dicey and dangerous call police officers respond to all the time.

As Johnson carefully approached with his AR15 rifle, Dunham, who was partially hidden behind a solid-front balcony, fired. Johnson fell to the ground. He never fired a shot. Another officer, Douglas Potwora, immediately returned fire. The walled balcony made it difficult to determine if Dunham was hit or fled, so through the night and into the dawn, Johnson's fellow officers secured the area and sent robots and flash grenades into the condo until Dunham was found dead right where Potwora shot him.

Former academy classmate Mike Ruybal , who left the SJPD in 2012 for another agency on the Peninsula, was at home with his wife and children when one of his classmates called with the tragic news. Soon, another 2001 alum arrived. They listened to the scanner and watched the news, spotting a couple of their former classmates working the grim crime scene, knowing that their buddy -- the quiet guy with the quick smile and love for firearms and jiujitsu -- was gone.

The TV news captured the solemn procession of officers escorting Johnson's body through the city streets to the coroner's office. 

"It was tough," Ruybal said. "It's rekindling for all of us what we went through with Jeffrey Fontana."

Johnson became the 12th officer in San Jose police history to be killed in the line of duty. Fontana was the 11th.

Fontana, 23, had finished his six months of academy training and four months on the streets with a field training officer when, working the midnight shift alone two weeks later, he turned his lights on to pull over DeShawn Campbell. Campbell made a couple of right turns before pulling into a cul-de-sac in the quiet neighborhood of Almaden, then gunned down the rookie.

Officer Tony Vizzusi, who trains new recruits at the SJPD police academy, was one of Fontana's best friends. He helped carry his coffin into the funeral at St. Pius Catholic Church in Redwood City. Every year, he goes deer hunting with Fontana's younger brother and shares memories around the campfire.

"It's an unfortunate bond. A lot of people in that class grew up real quick," said Vizzusi, whose father and three uncles were part of the San Jose force. "It makes you evaluate what you're doing with your life. You have to make some serious commitments as to whether you still want to do this job. The class had to wrestle with that moment."

One of the classmates, who had been on the scene after Fontana's death, wasn't sure he'd stay.

"He saw him lying there. That really affected him. There were times he wasn't sure and people were unsure if he could continue," Ruybal said. "He pulled through and had a strong career."

But a second tragedy? "I was with him yesterday. I can see this is affecting him a lot. He's having a hard time."

In the weeks after Fontana's death, Vizzusi remembers "making a plain old car stop and shaking like a leaf. Over time I found a way to work through that and, thousands of stops later, I'm not shaking. But I have to make sure I'm safe."

It's still tough for Steve Donahue, too, the first of the class to be promoted to sergeant. 

"Even to this day, if I make a car stop and the guy makes a couple of right turns, my heart starts to pound and I'm more alert and sense a little more danger," Donohue said. "That's exactly what happened to Jeff, a bunch of right turns and he got him in acul-de-sac. I'd be lying if I said it didn't affect me."

Early on, Fontana's death made classmate Mark Hernandez "much more timid in how I did things. Do I want to stop this person? Should I have someone with me? It's dark and no one's around."

In the fall of 2013, Hernandez suffered injuries so serious when he was hit on his motorcycle responding to a crime -- including broken ribs and scapula -- that classmates said they wouldn't blame him if he never came back. But he did.

This class of 2001, 31 men and four women, started their careers at a storied time for the San Jose Police Department. After 9/11, patriotism and respect for officers in uniform soared. The police department and its academy became one of the most respected and sought after in the state, hiring only the top applicants. Rarely did anyone leave for another job in those years. 

After the recession hit in 2008 and the pensions of law enforcement officers became a focus of budget woes, battles began between the police union and city officials. Ever since, officers have been resigning by the dozens.

"Officers who intended to work with the SJPD for the duration of their careers, they would have maintained working here with pay cuts and tough negotiations," said Raul Peralez, who joined the force in 2007 and left in January when he was elected to the San Jose City Council. He wants to help ease tensions and rebuild the department. "But the straw that broke the camel's back was the environment -- the painful feeling of a lack of respect in just being an employee in San Jose. It wasn't just your employer, the city council and mayor, but also now the citizens that were turning against you."

This week, politics were set aside as officers turned toward each other to comfort and grieve. Tuesday night, Jeffrey Fontana's mother, Sandy, rushed to the home of Johnson's mother.

"I needed to offer them support and maybe a little guidance," Sandy Fontana said, "and let them know that they're not alone."

In the days after Johnson's death, as American flags fly throughout the city at half-staff, makeshift memorials of balloons and flowers and well wishes have sprung up. It helps, said Sgt. Donohue. 

"I'm thinking, there are some people out there that still care about us, that appreciate the sacrifices we make and that we lost a family member," Donohue said. "When you see the flowers, or someone at Starbucks says, 'I'm sorry for your loss and thank you for what you do' and buys us a cup of coffee, it strikes that core within us, that I am doing the right thing. I am doing something good."

Donohue and Vizzusi are organizing a gathering for the class the night before Johnson's funeral, which will take place Thursday at SAP Center. Some are flying in from out of state to join the dinner and remember the classmates they lost.

At Fontana's funeral, they all sat together. They're not sure if they will this time. They are halfway through their careers now. They know it is not just their loss. The entire force is grieving. So is the community, hundreds of whom attended a vigil Friday night in the City Hall plaza.

But this class of 2001 carries a special distinction, an onerous burden that weighs ever more heavily now.

"It's hard to explain," Donohue said. "For the last 14 years, people have known our group as Jeffrey Fontana's class. That's kind of how they defined us. I don't know what it's going to be now."


Uniform Committee
The uniform committee met on February 8, 2015 in an effort to meet and discuss different options for the evolution of our equipment and clothing. FDSA Board Member Scott Plann, who runs the uniform committee for the FDSA attended the meeting and reported back some of the information that I wanted to share with the membership. 

Many of you asked about ball caps for the Fresno County Sheriff's Office. The Sheriff has ruled no ball caps. However, there is some interest to research all available hats for law enforcement use and approach it as safety minded to cover neck/ears for skin cancer/sun protection. 

The current beanies were approved back in 2009. The Uniform Committee wants to look at a black fleece with a subdued badge/FSO emblem embroidered on it rather than the current knit watch cap with a bright yellow target on the front.

There have been a lot of rumors floating around that the Sheriff is going to mandate a Class A coat when wearing the class A uniform. Sheriff Mims has stated if a Class A coat is made a requirement, it will be for E-staff only and optional for Sergeants and Deputies. 

Vest (outside carrier) – 

Two examples are the current Detective vest carrier and current K9 vest carrier. We have requested one be set up for a demo use. We are still waiting on an answer back on the request for that. The Uniform committee wants to know how that vest would translate into the custody side of the Sheriff’s Department in regards to the stab vest panels. 

An idea was that if we cannot agree on a vest carrier, we would like to have it approved to replace the current mesh raid vest. It would be issued with new armor and worn for call-outs or taking vehicles in for service, etc.  This would not be our first choice. 

Next, is the issue of what  type of shirt to wear under the outside carrier, instead of the current uniform shirts, wicking shirts, polo shirts from 5.11 or Propper shirts. We will look into these options. Also, along with the vest is the holster and duty weapon, along with the draw to clear the vest. A few options include a drop down belt loop and thigh holster with one or two legs straps.

If you want a new jacket or to replace one,  a new OD Sheriff green, 5.11 fleece jacket with patches, star patch and name tape runs around  $100-$120. This is cheaper than the current approved jacket. It is also warmer and can be used as a liner for rain gear. 

In the coming months, we will be discussing uniform options. If you have any other suggestions, please direct them to Scott Plann. He can address them and also share them at the next committee meeting.

Hope your spring is off to a great start! We have a lot coming up in the next few months. I want to remind you all that Peace Officer Memorial in Fresno County will be on Thursday, May 7th 2015 at 12pm, Courthouse Park. 

Following that event will be the luncheon. Later that evening at the FDSA will be our 4th annual open house recognizing our fallen deputies, their families, and all of you as co-workers. We hope to see many of you there who are able to attend this event. 


-Eric
A Message from the President, February 2015
Tribute to our Partners

A year ago to the exact day they died on duty- hundreds of family members, friends, and law enforcement officers gathered under a pole barn at the Selma Swap Meet. With the sound of traffic in the background, three miles of Highway 99 was dedicated to CHP Officers, Brian M. Law and Juan J. Gonzalez. 

On February 17, 2014, Officers Law and Gonzalez were riding together and handling a routine call in the area of northbound Highway 99 and Manning Ave. A radio call came out of a distressed citizen involved in a crash on Southbound Highway 99 near Bethel Ave. Officers Law and Gonzalez rushed to the scene.

Investigators say as they approached the area, a pedestrian stepped onto the highway. Officer Gonzalez was driving and swerved to avoid a collision with the pedestrian. The CHP Crown Victoria lost traction, flipped onto its top and ended up crashing and coming to a stop at the highway exit sign and guardrail at southbound Highway 99 and Sierra Avenue. 

Both Officer Law and Officer Gonzalez were killed instantly. 

This May, we will honor both of these officers in Fresno, Sacramento and Washington DC. Their names will be etched in stone and raised in bronze –lasting forever.

The memorial signs will serve as a reminder to those who travel on both southbound and northbound Highway 99- of the sacrifices these dedicated officers made to keep the roads safer.

Officials who spoke at the dedication said they hope each driver who passes through the Central Valley will take a moment to look down at their speed and remember the importance of driving safely. They also hope motorists will remember the families of the fallen who are suffering the true pain of this sacrifice. 

As Sheriff’s Deputies, often times we work closely with the California Highway Patrol. We share a common job assignment: to patrol rural roads and cover long distances. We assist each other often, whether it’s a normal backup, or a needed pickup at 10,000 feet. This agency (CHP) is there for us and we are grateful. Therefore, we have been there for them, and will continue to remember Officers Law and Gonzalez. 

 

Patrol Vehicles 

Over the past few weeks, several members have reached out to me inquiring about the status of the current take-home patrol vehicles. Apparently, some members were hearing rumors about the Fresno County Board of Supervisors allegedly trying to take the program away from the Sheriff. This is untrue and I want to quash these false claims. 

As it currently stands, the take-home patrol vehicle program is in the FDSA MOU. Within the article, it outlines how the program is supposed to run. This MOU, along with Department Order #1192, provides the conditions of the program through the department. 

I believe the confusion lies in what took place at a Board of Supervisors meeting on February 10, 2015. There was an agenda item the Sheriff submitted to purchase thirty (30) additional marked patrol vehicles. The money from this was from an overage payment collected from Prop 172 monies (state public safety sales tax). The overage amounted to roughly $1.2 million. 

At the board meeting, a few Supervisors asked the Sheriff the status of the vehicle replacement plan or the depreciation plan. The Sheriff told the BOS she would be submitting the plan 30 to 90 days after the authorization to purchase was given. After a lengthy discussion and many different viewpoints aired- the BOS opted to delay the purchase until the replacement plan was presented to them. 

The delay in purchasing vehicles is a completely separate issue from the take-home car program. The next step in purchasing the cars is for the Sheriff to present a replacement vehicle program plan, at which time, the BOS will review.

 

Op-Ed in Sacramento Bee by PORAC President Michael Durant

It’s budget time in Sacramento, and that means another round of pension bashing from critics seeking to crack the modest nest egg of California’s working families. 

The budget picture shows the state’s economy in recovery, and the state’s two largest pension funds performing far above the annual rate of return from their actuaries. But even this turnaround isn’t quieting those who seek to undermine retirement security by pointing to so-called “unfunded liabilities” of the state’s pension plans. 

Unfunded liabilities — the statistic that pension bashers typically use for their false hysteria — are cyclical, and better measured as a percentage than a dollar basis. Pension critics are willfully ignoring cyclical variations and the long-term nature of pension funding, seeking an opportunity to turn more public dollars over to their Wall Street cronies. The fact is, the biggest downturn in unfunded liability was due to the fiasco caused by irresponsible Wall Street bankers gaming the system. And today, thanks to the economic turnaround, the funded status of retirement funds today (on a percentage basis) is better than it was in 1980.

Pension critics say the modest rate of return set by the state’s two largest pension funds is unrealistic. A simple glance at actual data indicates the estimates of the professional actuaries at these multi-billion dollar pension systems are a lot more accurate than the host of ivory tower pension critics who have been crying wolf for the past few years. 

Pension plans are designed to be funded over the long-term. Variations in funded status are expected and over time the highs and lows of the market even out. 

Earlier this month, the state’s two largest pension plans – the Public Employee Retirement System (CalPERS) and Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) announced the return on their investments for the year – a whopping 18.4 percent. 

That's higher than last year's return rate of 16.2 percent. The gains increased the fund's three-year average to 10.4 percent. Its target return rate, set by the CalPERS board, is 7.5 percent.

Most of the inflated liability numbers we are seeing are remnants of the Great Recession working its way through the pension system. Since then, employers and employees have increased their contributions to the pension systems, and the stock market has rebounded, boosting the investment portfolios of the large public pension systems. 

Gov. Jerry Brown has said he wants to address the issue of post-retirement public benefits during the next round of collective bargaining with public employees. 

Nobody is more interested in retirement security than the working families who earn and receive those benefits. As we have time and time again, public employees will sit down with negotiators from the administration and work together, in good faith, to further fortify our retirement systems. 

But Gov. Brown understands what the pension hawks don’t: Any changes made to the current system should be based on a thoughtful understanding of facts instead of a misinformed debate drummed up by activists seeking to willfully misguide the public into reacting so they can line the pockets of Wall Street investors.

Public pensions are the only source of retirement for 30 percent of public employees since they do not receive Social Security. Pension plans also play a vital role in decreasing poverty among older Americans, according to the National Institute for Retirement Security.

Concerns about pensions pray on our fears about the overall state of the economy, and economic security for our future. It is encouraging that more and more of our leaders are starting to address the fact that, even in recovery, the American economy is not working for everyone. The gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow, and millions of Californians are struggling to make ends meet. 

We are wrestling with global forces that are pushing down wages as demands for state services continues to grow, as does the retirement-age population. Amid these national and global economic trends, we should all be increasingly concerned about retirement security, and what it will mean for our state and our nation as a generation of Baby Boomers continue to hit retirement age. 

Retirement security will be an increasingly important issue as we prepare for the largest-ever population of retired Californians. Instead of pitting groups of low and middle-class Californians against each other, we should all be engaged in a thoughtful discussion about how to ensure retirement security continues to be part of the California dream.

I would like to extend an invitation to all of you to join me on Thursday, April 30th 2015, from 5:30 to 8pm, at our 4th Annual Peace Officer Memorial Open House. The event is held each year to come together with the families of the fallen deputies to remember their sacrifice and legacy. The sponsors who contribute to our memorial fund are also invited to attend. The evening will be filled with fellowship, food and drinks. I hope you can be there.

 

Stay safe, 

Eric

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