Summer is officially here and we are experiencing the results of an incredibly wet winter. Overflowing rivers and waterways are extremely dangerous now. Although the public has been banned from recreation on the lower Kings River- the water is still drawing a few who are risking their lives- either as thrill seekers, or just unaware or careless citizens. These people grossly underestimate the power and deadly possibilities of the current until they find themselves in a dire situation. When you respond to these calls, please be cautious and extremely careful. Evaluate your options before jumping into the river without life saving equipment or resources. The danger is not limited to the public- it's a force that can overcome all of us.
One welcome benefit this summer that we haven't seen in a while- is a much anticipated pay hike. As of July 3, 2017, the first of three pay raises took effect. If you track law enforcement raises throughout the state this year, you will see the contract we negotiated provides substantial increases that most agencies aren't seeing.
However, please take note that every six months, between the county giving more towards your health care, and the next two pay raises, you will be seeing increases to your paycheck. We should have the new health insurance rates within the next 6-8 weeks for the 2018 enrollment year. There will be more to come on this topic later.
This is quickly becoming a deadly danger that we need to be aware of no matter what assignment we work. Synthetically manufactured fentanyl is difficult to detect and has the same appearance as many other illicit drugs. Within the past few weeks the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has issued a nationwide alert to first responders about the accidental overdose risk of illegal fentanyl.
A year ago some of our deputies encountered this drug. Fortunately- they were not injured during the contact. Ingesting merely a few granules can be deadly. However, a reversal drug called Narcan – works to quickly counteract the drug’s effects. Narcan is widely used in a nasal spray form. It can be purchased at most pharmacies including CVS and Walgreens.
We have asked the sheriff's administration to consider providing this lifesaving tool to deputies.
Attached below is a letter formalizing our position to FSO management.
Captain Zanoni, June 16, 2017
The recent nationwide epidemic and potential exposure to Fresno County Sheriff Deputies has raised our level of concern about the deadly danger of illegal Fentanyl.
The DEA has recently published exposure findings that are concerning to us. The fatality rate in micro amounts is startling.
On Tuesday, June 13, ABC30 did a news piece illustrating the dangers to law enforcement officers. It even showed two officers who were exposed, but lived to tell about it. This story, along with our own interdepartmental bulletins on the dangers of illegal Fentanyl, has raised the concern of the FDSA.
The Narcan nasal spray, used to counteract the deadly effects, seems to be the most widely used for first responders when there is an exposure.
I would like to request the Sheriff’s Administration look into purchasing the Narcan nasal spray for all deputy sheriffs as a preventative measure. Narcan is widely available at pharmacies like CVS or the health department. Narcan is easily available to pharmacists.
I would like to meet and discuss how we can work together to provide this necessary lifesaving option for all of our deputies.
**To date I have received a short response advising me our request is being worked on. I will update you all with more information to follow.
Bigs in Blue Campaign
The FDSA is partnering with Sheriff Mims to make a positive difference in our community by investing in elementary aged students in Fresno County. We are joining forces with Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Central California, who are asking deputy sheriffs to consider donating their time to a child who could use a friend and positive role model. The commitment is nominal and takes about an hour a week to make a lasting impact on a young boy or girl. This is a completely voluntary commitment.
During detective/patrol/CSU briefings over the next few weeks, representatives from Big Brothers and Big Sisters will be giving specifics about the program titled, Bigs in Blue. The goal is to partner law enforcement officers with local youth to build strong and trusting relationships. Ideally, we would like to get at least 10 deputy sheriff volunteers, but truly there is no limit.
Volunteers will be mentoring a child attending Madison Elementary School, which is located at Madison and Kearney Boulevard in Fresno County. The program will start at the beginning of the school year and volunteers will be asked to basically have lunch with the student who they mentor once a week.
The campaign is also being presented to FPOA and ClovisPOA with the same goal in mind.
Undersheriff Steve Wilkins said deputies, regardless of their assignment, will be able to participate in the program during on-duty hours, schedule permitting. No matter what shift you work- all deputies are welcome and encouraged to participate in the program. If you do not work a day shift, flex shifts will be accepted to accommodate the deputy’s time.
This is completely voluntary on the side of deputies, but a great opportunity to connect with the community we serve.
As reported in the FDSA 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. 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.
On April 17-18, 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.
During the two day hearing, 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 in to 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.”
The Grievance is sustained
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.
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.
On June 7, 2017 the arbitration ruling was heard in Fresno County Superior Court by the Honorable Samuel Dalesandro. Both sides presented brief discussions supporting their points and authorities.
To date, we have not received word of the decision. I have not discussed this case with Sheriff Mims in about two years. She elected to challenge the arbitrators ruling in this case. Once a decision is handed down- I will provide it to you.
As always, please remember we rely on each other. Take care of one another- in the field and in the office. I can’t emphasize that enough.
In addition- I would like to extend my gratitude to those supervisors who have taken the extra time to allow flexibility in the schedules of many deputies during the summer months. Many of us are working well over 40 hours a week, and that extra personal time is much appreciated. And to every member, we are safer when we all do our part to fill staffing positions during months when vacations are in abundance.