(DISCUSSION/ACTION) Probation Officers’ safety issues; court reporting and protocols for recommendations for disposition.
Comm Stiglich said she asked for this item, after speaking with many POs. Her understanding is that POs do not have safety vests and/or vests’ condition is not meeting standards (active ‘shelf life’). Chief Siffermann was not aware of the practice currently in the Dept, but was approached by the DPOA for a meeting to discuss safety concerns, including the possibility of arming POs in the field. PO safety is a big concern for him, and he is looking at equipping them with two-way radios with direct line to the police, while in the field.
Have there been incidents of violence against POs? this needs to be established.
Comm Stiglich said that it is the general sense that being in the field is dangerous and POs are hesitant to go into certain neighborhoods or situations without any form of protection.
Comm Rodriguez commented that how the POs present themselves would greatly determine what responses they receive.
The discussion touched on various issues of rapport between youth, the probation officers, the families, and CBOs, to make POs work less felt like enforcement and compliance than support and guidance.
Comm Fetiçō suggested that staff on modified work duty could be utilized, and this was followed up on by Chief Siffermann, who gave the example of using them to do reminders for youth to appear at their hearings (and thus reduce the number of warrants resulting from no-shows).
Comm Stiglich asked about the protocols in place regarding filing of court reports on probationers.
She understood that CBOs often directly file with the courts, reports on how probationers are doing, without referring to the case carrying PO and allowing the PO to submit a comprehensive report that incorporates the CBO’s report.
B. Johnston said he didn’t think there was a written policy on that protocol. Comm Stiglich asked if POs have any participation in the CBOs provision of services to the youth? No.
Comm Fetiçō said that in his own experience with his non-profit, he’s never seen one PO inquire about a youth in his program.
Comm Stiglich commented that this is a serious and important issue. She felt that POs have not been given their rightful due, vis-à-vis the courts and community, and this may be leading to the morale situation within the Dept.
She is concerned with the flow or lack thereof, of information regarding available services, to the POs so they can take advantage of them.
Comm Fetiçō mentioned an example of information that POs do not get regarding their charges, where an incident log book in Juvenile Hall is not reviewed so that POs know how their charge is acting in Juvenile Hall, and can take that into account in their report to the courts.
Chief Siffermann said that under utilization of resources is unforgivable. They are looking at ways to improve accountability, customer service, and re-craft the mission statement. This will include POs in the conversation.
There were none.