Director’s policies plague Probation front-liners

February 15, 2008

By DANIEL BLACKBURN and KAREN VELIE

2/15/2008

First in a series

Agents and officers of the San Luis Obispo County Probation Department have been burdened by policies of the department’s director which endanger the public in general and law enforcement agencies in particular, according to a grievance prepared by union representatives, UncoveredSLO.com has learned.

An official filing of the grievance reportedly is being delayed while union and department officials attempt to work out a variety of issues.

A group of nine San Luis Obispo County Juvenile Hall officers submitted their formal criticisms to their local union, California Organization of Police and Sheriffs. Complaints allege that a number of procedural changes have resulted in an unsafe working environment.

Among issues being discussed through the union are: (1) a shrinking field agent pool confronting a growing population of violent felons on what is supposed to be “supervised” probation; (2) a reduction in use of force and safety training hours and in programs for both veteran and incoming agents, and shortening of a “mentor” program designed to introduce inexperienced agents to the realities of the street; (3) the 10-month ban on use of pepper spray at the county’s Juvenile Hall, which reportedly resulted in more than a doubling of violent confrontations with staff; and (4) a directive prohibiting department agents from responding to calls for help from other law enforcement agencies.

Department Director Kim Barrett said through a spokesman that she would not comment on the matter until next week.

“There are no problems with safety issues,” contends Juvenile Hall Superintendent Jim Salio. “We have had dialogue with the union over training. It’s an ongoing thing that we always do.”

Union President Mike Dutra declined comment.

UnCoveredSLO.com interviewed more than a dozen agents, supervisors and others at the Probation Department for the preparation of this article. All agents asked to remain unnamed, claiming they would be fired or retaliated against for providing any information.

“After the new superintendent (Salio) cut the use of pepper spray in January, workers’ comp claims and incidents of excessive force skyrocketed,” said a Juvenile Hall employee. “It became an unsafe environment. The grievance was filed in November.”

According to agents and employees at Juvenile Hall, the pepper spray ban was also lifted in November, but not before the spike in violent incidences had occurred. One agent suggested the mere threat of pepper spray’s use was often enough to quell disturbances at the facility.

“We never removed the use of pepper spray,” countered Salio. “There haven’t been any changes in the operations of Juvenile Hall.”

“The comment from The Chief in a staff meeting with many witnesses was that ‘… if you (staff) get popped, you get popped,’” said one Probation employee. “She appeared to believe the safety of the detained minors overrode the safety of her officers.”

Agents also allege their workloads are stretched to a dangerous point, and program cuts continue.

“I think that if people knew how many serious felons are walking around this county… there are literally thousands of convicted felons on the streets and just a handful of agents to keep tabs on them,” said one agent. “That has created a very dangerous situation for us and for the public.”

Several Probation employees expressed concern over constricted training programs, including one designed to ease younger, more inexperienced agents into the field, where the possibility of violent confrontation is a day-to-day reality.

“Some of our new people have never been in a situation that required them to use serious force to defend themselves,” a veteran observed. “When instant response is necessary, these people might not be ready.”

Law enforcement agencies contacted by UncoveredSLO.com shrugged off the prohibition against Probation agents responding to an “officer-down” call.

A spokesman for the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department, Lt. Rob Bryn, said such a policy decision would be Barrett’s alone: “It’s her call, her agency,” said Bryn. “Probation doesn’t work for us. But when there is an 1199 (officer down or in trouble) call, we don’t care what color the sirens are.”

Bryn noted that some law enforcement officers are not required to carry firearms while on duty, which is the case at Probation where the decision is left up to individual field agents. “But there is always perimeter work at the scene, like traffic direction and holding back crowds” that unarmed officers can provide, Bryn said.

Lt. Steve Tolley, day watch commander at San Luis Obispo Police Department, said he was not aware of Probation’s policy but noted it would have no effect on his department’s policy of immediate response upon receiving an “officer-down” call.

Last week, The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors, probably unaware of the difficult issues plaguing the Probation Department, decided not to reduce budgets of the Probation and Sheriff’s departments and the district attorney to deal with a $20 million budget shortfall facing the county. All other departments have been asked to cut expenditures by 2.5 percent.

Nonetheless, extra funding has not been provided to address the agent and officer shortage. Instead, budget increases are currently earmarked to combat gang activity, said District 4 Supervisor Katcho Achadjian said.


Loading...
ccn_debate

Member Opinions:

By: Anonymous on 6/18/08

As a former employee of this agency I believe I have the right to post my opinion about the subject. I have previously worked for this agency and I have to admit that most of this information is quite true. I always thought it was unprofessional for Mrs. Barrette to have sent an email to her staff in which she treated us like children and prohibited the staff from reading or accessing this site. Some of you who have read this post have concluded that the employees at the Probation office are a bunch of whining little kids who think the big boss is treating them unfair. I have to disagree with you and say that once you have walked a mile in my shoes, then will I consider listening to your comments. I am not trying to say that we are all victims here, because I do admit that some of the employees are taking advantage of the situation and are trying to get something out of it. But for those of us who do care about what we do, it is quite hard to continue to do our jobs and not feel like hypocrites. I, on various occasions, tried to apply for a promotion, but was denied for stupid reasons. For example, my educational background was not what they were looking for. Somehow they decided to disregard that I have a college degree and that I had been working in this office for years and had more than enough work experience to be competent enough to over take other tasks. But who do they decided to hire instead, someone new to the office without the work experience required for the job. Sure I was happy for this person, but the way they went about hiring this person was very deceiving. It was apparent that they already had made their mind before they began the hiring process. This kind of thing has not only happen to me, it has happen to a lot of competent people who really work hard, but are over looked because they are not favored by Mrs. Barrette or other management personnel. As for the people in the Revenue Recovery Department, I have to say that most of those ladies do a darn good job. They work their butts of for a boss that is not even worth the praise he receives from Mrs. Barrette. Has she ever taken the time to consider that maybe it’s the staff who is actually bringing in all this money into the office as opposed to Mr. O’Connell? Maybe Mr. O’Connell needs to spend less time with a certain person and let her actually focus on her work; maybe then the customers who have been complaining about public defender fines will get a return call and not be improperly billed. It still bothers me to know that after countless formal complaints regarding this man and an investigation, Mrs. Barrette continues to keep him in the office under the excuse that he brings in the money and the office can afford losing him. What will she do when she starts loosing all those people who really care what they do, and do it well, because of her poor decisions? How about trying to preserve a bit of self respect and do the right thing for once? How about giving the right people credit for the hard work they do? I also think Mrs. Barrette should spend a Thursday answering the phones, talking to clients, opening new cases, and dealing with some of the duties most employees do in the office. Maybe then will she understand how over worked some of her staff is, and poorly appreciated. Hope is the last think a person losses and it looks like the staff of this office is beginning to loose hope.

By: Anonymous on 3/18/08

Some people will always have a problem no matter what you do. I like to call these people TURDS. You cannot help these people. They are like toys made with lead based paint from China. You just have to wait for them to be recalled. Maybe someone overlooked what kind of career they wanted.

By: Anonymous on 3/17/08

Maybe the employee who was passed over was less qualified.

Maybe…

By: Anonymous on 3/17/08

Mommy! Kim took away our pepper spray. Now we have nothing to play with. Make her give it back!

By: Anonymous on 3/17/08

Mommy! Kim won’t give me the ball, and it’s my turn, too. Make her give me the ball!

By: Anonymous on 3/16/08

Sadly, an employee who has dedicated the last 20 years of his life to the department was passed over for promotion yet again even though he held the position on a temporary basis for over 7 months while the previous employee was out on administration leave. He has given 110% to every position he has been assigned; apparently he does not subscribe to the “good ol boy” club. “The right thing” was not done. He is a true leader. No, he did not write this either.

By: Anonymous on 3/11/08

By: Anonymous on 3/11/08

Kudos to Unbelievable and Simon.Sending a flaming email out to staff only shows Barrett’s lack of courage to actually face her staff in order to address all the concerns,which she is well aware of and refuses to address.OOH! I take that back, she did hold a few meetings to address a terrible county survey by employess, yet nothing was done, it was all lip service. She does not want to be held accountable for her actions which are vindictive in nature. A vote is looking good.P.S.Dreamy supervisor, you have got to kidding!

By: Anonymous on 3/11/08

There is just too much hate out there. What the world needs now is love sweet love. I’d like to start with a certain dream boat supervisor on the “hill” who shall remain nameless. Love, your secret admirer. PS his name rhyms with “spike”

By: Anonymous on 3/11/08

Let’s get the facts straight. Department employees have been threatened with their jobs if they use county computers to log onto THIS website, and/or post any unflattering comments no matter how true on THIS website. Wake up chief Barrett. Every day less and less people are afraid of you and getting closer to the vote of no confidence that is long overdue.


ccn_debate

By: Anonymous on 3/11/08

First and foremost, I have the utmost respect for most of the bloggers. You are venting and saying what reflects most employee sentiment. However, anyone who gets on the blog and starts eating fudge to get a “atta boy” from certain people need to check yourself. Nothing u say can right the obvious wrong felt by these people. Save dat 4 da BIRDS!!!

By: Anonymous on 3/11/08

WAY TO GO UNBELIEVABLE! It’s about time somebody says what needs to be said! Let’s talk about the many venues the Chief brings up in her request to her employees to bring up concerns or issues about the department or personnel matters.

What about RETALIATION on her part? She forgot to mention that piece. Every time an employee brings up an issue or concern they have, the employee either ends up leaving the agency, gets transferred to another division, site or department, gets a bad reputation as a bad employee, does not pass probation, or gets demoted and/or terminated!


The Chief can say or do whatever she wants to make it look like it’s unprofessional on the part of the employees, but in fact, it is the continued dysfunctional behavior on her part that has this department in the turmoil it is in and it will continue to be in this condition until someone (David Edge) does something about it!

By: Anonymous on 3/11/08

It is truly unbelievable that the Chief of Probation has the nerve to send out an e-mail to all her employees within the Probation Department and includes an attachment in which she is requesting all employees sign stating that they are not to use county computers for personal use to comment regarding work during working hours. She states the employees are violating county policy as well as the probation departments employee conduct policy and that if it is determined that an employee of this department engages in conduct amounting to a violation of the referenced county policies, it will be grounds for disciplinary action up to and including termination from employment.


The employees of the Probation Department want to know who holds the Chief accountable when she has given authorization to one of the supervisors (Doug), to comment on the internet site during work hours while utilizing county computers which has inflamed and escalated the whole situation that is going on in the Department.


Who is dealing with the Chief and who is holding her responsible for violating the county and departmental policies?


It seems that as long as the comments are in her favor, it’s okay; but when the public, past employees, and current employees express their true opinions, then all of a sudden, it’s an issue with violation of county and departmental policies! This is a good example of why staff have a vote of no confidence in her ability to lead this Department!


Also, in speaking of conduct, it is obvious that she utilizes policies when it is convenient and beneficial for her.

By: Anonymous on 3/10/08

Anarchy…Anarchy…Anarchy!!!

By: Anonymous on 3/10/08

I am a former JSO. I left the department because of many of the problems that are being discussed in the blog. I will save the readers the petty, yet funny, sarcastic remarks (even though I’m good at them). Instead, I will address the main issue: officer safety. During my tenure at the hall, officer safety was never a priority of management. Supervisors would make statements about how important it was, but actions speak louder than words. Action was where the problem was. Supervisors would not allow staff to take action against “juveniles” who refused to follow the rules. When you do not hold the minors accountable, THE MINORS RUN THE HALL. What a shock it must be to the minors when they go to big boy and girl jail. In big boy and girl jail, THE DEPUTIES RUN THE JAIL. Kim Barrett is (in my opinion) far to into the liberal “touchy feely” side of corrections. Take a look at recidivism and one will find that it doesn’t work. The staff at the juvenile hall are paid to enforce rules and maintain order. The policy and marching orders given to the supervisors impeed the officer’s ability to safely complete their assignment. The question is if the public wants the minors to be coddled and hugged and given a 307th chance or if the public wants the offenders to be held accountable. I’m not talking about beating them or not complying with state law. I’m only talking about following through (with force if needed). The department, if it hasn’t changed, allows the kids to run the hall. The reason the kids are in the hall is because the parents allowed the kids to run the home without holding the kids accountable. If the JSOs were allowed to enforce the rules and maintain order, the department would not be dealing with a grievance. I still work in law enforcement and I havent heard of a big pepper spray law suit that is brining down the big pockets. Instead, that would be the Barrett’s way to hide behind the “we have to fear the letigious society” routine. A real leader would simply tell the staff, ” I’m a liberal tree hugger and I care more about the sweet innocent kids then I do about my staff.” Sorry, that one slipped. Best of luck to the JSOs who still work at the hall. I was once told that I would not find a department where I would be happy (with my conservative views). That individual (a former hall mgr) was very wrong. The grass can be greener. Every department has its issues but SLO probation is a paradigm of organizational dysfunction.

By: Anonymous on 3/10/08

Having worked in a variety of organizations, both large and small over the many years, I can’t say I’m surprised by much of what I’ve read here. I have never worked anywhere where there haven’t been people dissatisfied with and critical of their leadership, many times to the extremes that I see here. The reality is that workplace politics exist everywhere. It may not be right, but it is a fact of life wherever human relations are involved. To those who work at the Probation Department, who think this situation is somehow different, all I can say is that you don’t have enough experience working in other organizations.


I don’t know what concerns me more about this case: that any unsubstantiated rumor and gossip can be posted, unmoderated by the site owner, in the stated interest of “investigative reporting” or that our public servants, in the comfort of anonymity, feel free to vent their own personal job dissatisfaction with such hostility and vengeance. Certainly there are legitimate issues that arise in any workplace environment and this situation seems to be no different than any other. But there are mature, responsible ways of handling them and there are other ways. There is certainly a dysfuntion here but I have to question where it really lies.


I have to wonder whether any change in leadership, no matter how needed it may or may not be, would ultimately statisfy those who have such large axes to grind. My own experience tells me that it would not because those people are never statisfied and will always find something to be critical of no matter who the leadership may be. It is always just a matter of time.


ccn_debate

By: Anonymous on 3/7/08

Is so sad to see so much bad feelings. Why you must fight like this? One person say bad things then other person say bad things. Is no good for everyone. You make bad name for selfs. Is this why you not give names? So no one know how stupid are you? You think you know what is true. You are psychic? No, you know nothing. One day people know who you are and you can no hide any more. Then they spit on you worse than you spit on self. One day you look to Heaven and say, “Oh God in sky, why I was so stupid?” Then maybe God spit on you too.

By: Anonymous on 3/7/08

To Can’t Suffer Fools…

Know what you’re talking about before you put it in writing! Chief Barrett IS responsible for the squabbling on line. She’s the one that gave one of her employee’s (Doug) the authorization to put his comments online during working hours. Do you think that’s making a good judgment call coming from the Chief of Probation? Do you think that this is professional behavioral for a Chief? Come on, WAKE UP! EVERYONE KNOWS SHE DID THIS!

By: Anonymous on 3/6/08

Mr. Lumm, you’ve got to be kidding. One of the wisest things the Department ever did was to can your sorry butt. When you were Chief, the dysfunction was addressed and it was found to be you. You, sir, were held accountable and, like so many other who have been held accountable, you claimed harassment. After so many years, can’t you just go away?

So, a janitor was promoted to Assistant Chief. What a success story. I believe the whole County should applaud this man. I don’t agree with everything Mr. Salio has done, but I haven’t agreed with everything any Manager has done. But to call him incompetent, dishonest, unethical, and rude is a desparate attempt to slander a man for whom you have no real evidence of improper behavior. Politicians do it all the time.

Staff morale was low before Mr. Salio came on duty. The poor morale was caused by the burdonsome population of detained minors in custody. Coming in to a new job and dealing with problems that are already present is difficult and generally meets with disapproval from many of those who feel that they were wronged by the problems. Morale has improved in recent months due, in part, to Mr. Salio’s management of the population.

Anyone looking to retire via litigation is generally searching for problems that don’t exist. It’s a way of getting what you want without earning it. And, if you’re willing to lower yourself to a position of “squabbling online like a bunch of children,” don’t blame Ms. Barrett for that. She is responsible only for actions that occur in the line of duty. Take some responsibility for your own actions.

There have frequently been complaints against Superintendents at the Hall. I don’t know if grievances were formally filed but they weren’t necessary. The staff were courageous enough to deal with the problems directly by addressing them with the Superintendents. And, you know what? The problems were taken care of.

Instead of whining and spitting at others online, why not wait until the grievance issues have been settled? Isn’t this why the “good and honest and courageous” officers went to the trouble of filing a grievance? Give them the respect they’re due and let the process complete itself. The sniveling is getting old.

By: Anonymous on 3/5/08

Since I’ve left this dysfuctional department, obviously not much has changed. A janitor is promoted to Assistant Chief. But don’t worry, this was all in the big scheme of things. The department can now save money because Salio’s duties will include emptying the trash. In regards to time to be positive, wake and smell the coffee. Better yet, the cookies baking in the kitchen at JSC overseen by baby chief Johnson. The dysfunction has never been addressed and no one has ever been held accountable, just moved to another position in the department by a wave of Barrett’s hand.

By: Anonymous on 3/5/08

Let us know when you awake from your pleasant little fantasy so we can have an adult conversation. Mr. Salio is a real LEADER, yeah right! Where were you when he reduced his staff to tears during Staffing Meetings and in other meetings? Where were you when he treated those people who couldn’t help his career with like crap and those who could help his career like queens? Where were you when he was treating people in flagrant violation of our conduct policy? He IMPROVED morale? Get real. That’s why 12 people, good and honest and courageous officers came forward and filed a grievance, because morale is so high. Did the man Salio replaced ever have a grievanmce filed against him? Did officers feel safer when Salio arrived and his reign of terror began? Did any previous superintendents? All I have to say is if Salio ever treats me badly again I won’t waste my time going to Barrett, I’ll just sue everyone I can and retire to a condo in Cabo. When Barrett and Salio are looking for jobs maybe I will send them a postcard!! Oh, and by the way, I hope you are happy Kim Barrett. You’ve got your staff squabbling online like a bunch of the kids you love so much. What leadership!!


ccn_debate

By: Anonymous on 3/5/08

I say Congratulations to Mr. Salio. He came to the Juvenile Hall and did what he could with the information he had. I would rather work for someone who is a leader, knows the aspect of business management and utilizes the ‘chain of command’ than someone who does not lead by example, who is directly involved with all the personal business with staff and uses their position to ‘get information’ either from minors or staff. Since Mr. Salio has been in charge the gossip and drama has gone down and the staff morale has gone up. He set a positive example of a ‘Business Professional’ for the Leadership Team and for the line staff to follow. It is common knowledge people don’t always behave professionally and ethically and sometimes when those people are not held accountable, you see a domino effect and over time it just gets worse. The department has dysfunctions that can’t be fixed with the snap of someone’s fingers. People are now being held accountable for unprofessional behavior and not abiding by the County’s Policies. As far as union and grievance issues, we (the County) need money and we also need individual people to speak up for themselves. So many times there have been complaints or anonymous ‘tips’ but who gets held accountable? When people ask for advice on serious issues, the suggestion is for them to call their union representative and in most cases; they are not even a member. To work for the department you must be at least 18 years of age (an adult), why when someone breaks policy, or is behaving unethical, not doing their job; are people so afraid to address the issue directly? We are all adults and if you are doing the right thing why be afraid of someone who is not? The answer is don’t be. People have posted comments again and again about Mrs. Barrett and Mrs. Johnson’s friendship. Because they are good friends, neither of them would ever jeopardize each others careers by any means and that’s how they are able to maintain such a good friendship and working relationship. In all my years with the Probation department I have not had a problem utilizing the chain of command with my issues and concerns nor have I been ‘afraid’ to seek out advice, direction or help from anyone, even the Chief herself for many types of issues. My suggestion: take all this ‘blogging energy’ and do something positive in your life, maybe in your career or just for someone else; sometimes a little something can go a long way.

By: Anonymous on 3/5/08

Of course, everyone in the department knew who would get the position as Asssistant Chief. The Chief herself made sure everyone was aware and made sure he was very well trained on everything for the Assistant Chief position. No one else even had a chance at getting the position. I’m sure she even coached him and made sure they rehearsed all of the questions and responses in the interview beforehand together. WAY TO GO CHIEF! Continue to do harm to the department by promoting someone who you’ve trained to be just like you! The department will continue to be doomed until someone from the outside lends the employees a helping hand… it’s just not fair. Someone needs to come and clean house and order an Audit be done cause I’m sure something BIG is there, that no one wants to have come out! Who’s it going to be? Who’s going to do the right thing? Will the employees of the department ever get to work in an environment free from harassment, discrimination and a dangerous environment? Again, WAY TO GO CHIEF!

By: Anonymous on 3/4/08

She really did it. Barrett promoted one of the most incompetent, unethical, dishonest, rude members of her staff to the assistant chief position. Way to go boss!

By: Anonymous on 3/2/08

It’s trash day and Barrett needs to be dumped! She’s out of touch with the hard working staff of the Probation Department and still living in the 70’s style of treatment. Little does she know about the type of offenders her staff deal with on a daily basis including juveniles. She believes in handing out cookies and giving hugs rather than holding them accountable, placing staff at the juvenile hall in harms way. The adult officers face increasing caseloads daily with no end in sight. All officers are expected to do more with less. Most recently, the department,as usual, displayed a lack of professionalism when managers gave “notice” to newly highered employees that they may possibly lose their jobs due to budget cuts. When in fact, they state they have no idea how the budget cuts will affect the department. Maybe they should consider not filling the Assistant Chief position, who quietly retired in the night due to a discrimination accusation. Maybe Barrett should follow suit and take her managers with her, since most of them lack leadership qualities, engage in sexual conduct with line staff, and are homophobic. “DO THE RIGHT THING”.

By: Anonymous on 2/21/08

I believe that Can’t Suffer Fools has the right idea. This whole thing is a setup by the Undercover people to expose a problem that should have been handled by the county’s Union first. Where is the union on this case? They seem very quiet and unresponse to the needs of these brother and sisters in trouble. Do these workers pay union dues for nothing? Well, I work for a union also and know that it is always a good place to start and helps with superviors that are above you. All the players in this drama need to take a look at how the world sees of them. Petty comes to mind first, but I am just a tax payer so what do I know.

By: Anonymous on 2/21/08

Said by Current Employee:

“Current JSO… yeah right? In your very first paragraph you state that you are not speaking on Chief Barrett’s behalf, yet throughout your whole comment you’re doing just that, incoluding saying what she meant with her statements. If you are a current JSO, which I doubt, how would you begin to think you know what Chief Barrett meant to the point of stating that she only “EMPHASIZED” certain statements. I can assure you that the JSO’s who truly are current employees don’t appreciate your comments and also believe you are not one of them. Come on Chief Barrett… we all know this current JSO is you or one of your friends. We’re not as ignorant as you think and have stated to so many people!”


I can assure you that I am a current JSO working at Juvenile Hall. I said I wan’t an aplogist for Chief Barrett or the Probation Department and that I do not speak for her or the department. This is true as they are quite capable of speaking for themselves. My comments reflect my understanding of the facts as I know them, nothing more. And I never editiorialized on her statements; I only put them within the context which they were spoken and stated what I saw and heard. If you feel I am in error in any of my statements, please feel free to point out where I was mistaken.


My addition to this thread should not be seen by you or anyone else as taking sides with anyone. I am a union member and will support any legitimate grievance; but I will also say so when I believe an allegation is false, such as the one that OC was banned at Juvenile Hall. It simply isn’t the true. I might add that I have posted anonymously because I it seems more important to me that the argument should focus on the facts as they relate to the issue rather than on personalities. I am not afraid to reveal my name but if you are a current employee at the Hall, then you and I know each other and work together every day. In other circumstances, you would, I’m certain, treat me with far more respect than your post has demonstrated. It troubles me that, since we are, no doubt, friends on the job–I have no enemies that I know of–that we can’t discuss the issues in a public forum with the same respect we show each other at work.


ccn_debate

By: Anonymous on 2/20/08

My comments reflect what everyone is thinking about Doug’s comments.I simply stated it without the politics that are obviously playing a role in some responses. Plain and Simple, I’m sure you’ll know exactly what I mean once your reprimanded for being on the internet on tax payers dollars.For those who don’t work there you don’t know how the company operates. And if you do work there you’re simply saving face cause you know as one point or another you’ve had to compromise your integrity to move ahead, you’ve thrown someone down or were the henchmen for management. So you don’t like what I’m saying, Too Bad. Doug is pathetic bottom line. Salio should address the misuse of staff time and the policy that indicates misuse of the internet/computer usage cause this is clearly not business related. I didn’t know I was taking a course on punctuation and grammer usage. Uncoveredslo.com you’re doing a great job and I look forward to more of your articles. People don’t like to know the truth and when it’s out there for all to see it makes certain individuals nervous. Keep up the good work.

By: Anonymous on 2/20/08

I have to agree with Can’t Suffer Fools, and thank/him her for the comments. Makes one really wonder about the quality of service and treatment these minors are receiving, regardless of why they are in juvenile hall. I have observed several of the so-called “veterans” engage in similar “childish” behaviors in their interactions with the minors, which in my opinion, is very disturbing.


As far as friendships are concerned, what is the big deal if the Kitchen Manager is friends with the chief? Is this to say that employees should not engage or interact with one another outside the workplace? If so, then that would definately cut down the time several officers spend together at parties, bars and concerts. And if this comment is presumed to be false or an assumption, just hang around after an evening of fun, and you will not miss hearing all the details.


In regards to Doug’s “unauthorized” time writing his comments while on shift, once again, hang around and you will be amazed at how many “unauthorized my space” time is spent in the III’s office while on shift. Or better yet, have the county check it out…I am sure that they will be happy to know that updating your profile and spending time looking at others’is what they are paying one to do.


I, although happy that I am no longer there, actually feel for those who remain that actually do not fall into this “childish, gossiping, all about me” group that currently exists and do their jobs without the drama.


All in all, if you are that unhappy at your job, and if it has come to the point to where you feel that creating chaos, resort to name calling, act worse that the minors you work with, and are unable to come to healthy solutions as repecting adults, then quit and find another job.


By: Anonymous on 2/19/08

My! Listen to the squabbling. If you could all simply sit back and see how childish you all sound, you’d find it humorous.

Anonymous, you talk of the bravery of those who signed the grievance. It appears now that they did not even sign the grievance. They remained anonymous, as you yourself did, for fear of retaliation. There is no courage in acts that risk no loss or injury.

Bill Knoll, I hope to God you have no children. Your priorities are sickening and your concerns amusing.

Don’t be blind, if you truly work for Probation, I already question their intelligence. Judging from your childish name calling and you pathetic English skills, I’d be surprised to find you had graduated elementary school. Your sentences contradict themselves and are often nonsensical due to lack of punctuation. Doug is right. Get an editor. Or, better yet, an education.

Attn. David Edge/Hey David Edge, do you have a life? I’ll bet you would have enjoyed the Middle Ages. Front seats at all beheadings and hangings, huh? What a crank!

Doug, while your motives for commenting on the article are understandable, there was, in my opinion, no need to comment on the remarks made by those who responded to your posting, as ignorant as those responses may have been. I think you would have been better off leaving them unanswered.

UncoveredSLO, if you call this journalism, I can see why you were fired. This is muckraking pure and simple. I suggest you go back to paper deliveries.

By: Anonymous on 2/19/08

Take a look at Doug Boiseree’s comments. He’s clearly retalliating against the probation department employees who filed a grievance. His comments are inflamatory and he seems to have made some of them while he was logged on while on duty in the juvenile hall. Did Superintendent Jim Salio and Chief Kim Barrett authorize Mr. Boisseree to be their spokesman? Did they authorize his comments? Did they give him permission to speak for the probation department? They should both be placed on leave until a complete and UNBIASED internal investigation has been completed. If they did condone Boisseree’s comments they should both be asked to resigned or terminated. Hey David Edge, how many potential lawsuits need to pop up before you do the right thing and force a change in probation department leadership?


ccn_debate

By: Anonymous on 2/19/08

On the contrary to what anyone says, I believe that uncoveredSLO has done a great justice by exposing what truly goes on inside the SLO Probation Department, specifically the Juvenile Hall. I am a former employee at the Juvenile Hall and have witnessed many of the truths stated in comments and in the article written on this site. I now work in a similar setting, but on a much larger scale, and notice that many of the things going on at the SLO Juvenile Hall were not accomplished by policy nor were they ethical by any standard.

I would like to begin my post by referring to the many comments listed by Supervising Juvenile Services Officer Doug Boisseree. I believe that it just might be against policy for you to even be expressing your opinions about this article, especially while on duty at the Juvenile Hall. Yes these posts do show the date and what time you posted them. You state that “you are always amazed at how much havoc a small group of grumblers can cause by spreading misinformation and half truths.” “Had these nine officers brought their complaints and questions to their supervisors, the issues would have been explained and clarified.” The first thing any of these officers would do if they had a complaint about the Department would be to definitely NOT go to their Supervisors. The Supervisors at the Juvenile Hall are known for RETALIATION. It is a fact that when working at the Juvenile Hall, people are discriminated for not going along with the norm, or going along with what the “good ole boys” have to say. I believe that complaints have been filed in the past for such misconduct. Doug, you are a part of this group unfortunately. No matter how you try to explain it, or hide the truth, your employees are afraid of RETALIATION against you and your “posse.” I have felt the wrath of this unethical behavior and believe that these officers made the right decision by appealing to a higher authority. I agree that issues are more complex, but the Supervisors have never been on the same side as the line staff officers working there. As for your statement on training, I believe that JSO’s are hired and working on the units for months before they receive any type of academy or core training. The training they receive is extremely insufficient to handle situations that deal with physical, chemical, or mechanical force. It would only make sense to receive this type of training before you send your newly hired officers to the front line to deal with situations never faced before.

As for the Chiefs message in this article, IT WAS NOT TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT. I know exactly what she was saying firsthand! There is no way that you can sugar coat this Doug. It was stated in those exact words, and believe me; the Officers working the units were shocked that this statement came from the Chief. The Chief did not remind us that “the core of our job duties rested in the counseling and de-escalation of the minors.” She made this statement assuming that Officers had the training and tools needed to deescalate these types of dangerous situations. These Officers do not. She made this statement with the utter disregard for staff safety.

In regards to your statement about retaliation and that you would have been terminated years ago, wake up Doug, Supervisors change. This is not ten years ago. The Department is very different and many a Supervisor has lost his/her temper while employed at the Juvenile Hall, including you.

I agree that it is a difficult balance between the safety and rights of staff and juvenile offenders, but we must remember who the “offenders” are. The Department must learn to trust and stick up for its Officers. I recall one incident where an Officer was walking by a juvenile offender’s door and the juvenile smashed the glass on the door into the Officer’s face. The Officer stated that he had pieces of glass in his eye. What was the outcome of this event for the Juvenile? In any rational persons mind, the juvenile should have been charged with some type of assault or battery charge. Was this ever done? I don’t believe so. We must learn to look out for each other as Officers, and this includes SUPERVISORS.

Doug, you also state that claimants should state “information on exactly what the Department is doing wrong.” You know that this will not happen. Due to confidentiality, libel and slander statutes, and the fear of retaliation, it is almost impossible for this to be done. Only through independent posts and articles such as this will the fear of retaliation be lifted. It will take an independent investigation and a lot of courage for people to speak up. No Officer wants to lose their status with the Department or have their name black listed from any type of career advancement.

As for other posts, discrimination does exist inside the Probation Department. It would be nice to see some type of investigation on the harassment and sexism within the Department. I do agree that the County Administration should make an effort to look further into the issues regarding racism, sexism, and discrimination at the Department. It might be wise to speak with the line staff Officers and previous employees of the Juvenile Hall.

Doug, you really should watch what you say. Many Officers inside the Hall have overheard unethical and inappropriate comments made by you and other Supervisors. The walls are thin there, and you should strive to support your fellow Officers in their endeavor to follow policy and make the right decisions. I do not wish to state specifics, because I would not want to further discredit your name. During my employment at the Juvenile Hall, you were my direct Supervisor. I kept a detailed journal of events that happened and of what types of things were said by all. I admit that I am not perfect in any way, but I do strive to maintain my conduct as an Officer in any way possible that would be unbecoming. I can only say that this statement does not hold true for the Management at the Juvenile Hall.

By: Anonymous on 2/18/08

To Don’t Be Blind: If disagreeing with your point of view makes me thick, blind, not that bright, or any of the other insults you directed my way, I proudly accept that title. If being promoted is a sign of blindness, how do you explain your position in leadership at the Hall? Was Management blind then? What my 10 years of service has taught me is that no Administrative decision is ever simple. I have learned to look for the rationale behind decisions that appear illogical or injurious. If that makes me thick, then I thank you for the compliment.

I would also suggest that you go back and re-read my comments. You’ll find that I never blindly supported Administration. I simply corrected a number of erroneous claims cited in the article. I don’t believe that the public should be misled by tabloid journalism. I also don’t believe that spitting out vindictive words is constructive. If I did, I would advise you to find an editor before posting your next comment.


To the filers of the grievance: If the statements made by Anonymous this morning are correct, I owe an apology to those officers who filed the grievance. My comment about a small group of grumblers was inappropriate. I was reacting to the misinformation given by the article which claimed that 9 Juvenile Hall officers signed the grievance. If the grievance was voiced by a majority of the JSOs, then I was wrong in my comment. The intent of my initial comment was to dispel the rumors, or at least clarify misunderstandings. I have done what I can there and I have learned that UncoveredSLO is no different than other journalistic ventures. Each wishes to present a position that brings in the viewers. I have also learned an important lesson: Watch what you say or you may be misquoted in UncoveredSLO.


ccn_debate

By: Anonymous on 2/18/08

Doug it’s sad that after what was it, 10 years of service you are still that blind as a bat as to what goes on at probation. This is pretty scary considering you are one in a supervisory position at the hall. Having many more years of service than you either you catch on to how things run or your just not that bright. Take it how ever you will I really don’t care. I don’t think your as thick as you seem to appear and yes you are exactly what management sees as the ideal candidate for a promotion-your blind and from the looks of your responses want to stay that way. No one ever said Probation is the only dept. with problems and it’s insulting that you would imply that the JSO’s didn’t follow the appropriate steps before filing a grievance. I think it’s better that you stop while you are behind, it’s better to be thought of as stupid then open your mouth and remove all doubt. Thick is the word I belive you are entitled to post your comments and let them spill out. Have at it, you’re only risking your credibility. Oh yea Good Luck with that, you’ll only go far with Management which is sometimes o.k. with some people.

By: Anonymous on 2/18/08

Then it sounds like the reporters are reporting rumors not facts. I guess this exemplifies what happens when we make judgments based on incomplete or inaccurate information. Maybe UncoveredSLO should check their sources.

By: Anonymous on 2/18/08

Doug JSOs are not speaking for the DPOs. Anything reported in this article regarding DPOs came from interviews with DPOs. Pepper spray restrictions were lifted because management learned a grievance was being prepared by the Union. No JSOs signed the grievance due to fear of retaliation from the Chief, union officials signed the grievance on JSOs behalf. And the majority of JSOs met with the union to share our concerns, not just nine.

By: Anonymous on 2/18/08

To Anonymous: I don’t doubt that the officers who signed the grievance are hard working individuals with a lot to lose. My contention is that their claims are unfounded and based on inaccurate information. As for my assertion that they are a small group, they constitute only one quarter of the JSOs in the Hall and less than a fifth of all Juvenile Hall staff. Also, given that they speak for the DPOs as well, they then constitute less than 10% of the officers. That would amount to a small group.

The grievance did not result in the “freeing up the use of pepper spray” because the use of pepper spray was never banned. Its use was limited in situations of room extractions. This limitation was lifted not by the grievance but by communication between Juvenile Hall leaders, including Jim Salio, and Chief Barrett. Chief Barrett was convinced by these individuals that pepper spray would only be used in compliance with Departmental policy and procedure.

Yes, there are problems in the Department. I have never seen a department that was free of problems. I am also sure that nobody, including the authors of the grievance, sees all of the problems. My argument is that the problems listed in the article are misrepresented and based on rumors and limited information.

To Don’t Be Blind: Your response illustrates my key point. Individuals are basing large assumptions on limited information. You assume that, because I disagree with the claims about Juvenile Hall, that I support all of the Administration’s actions. This was never stated or implied. You assume that my comment regarding low morale means that staff are unhappy with Administration. Also not implied. Most of the staff with which I’ve spoken were more frustrated with the actions — or lack of actions — from their fellow employees. You also assume that anyone who disagrees with an attack on Administration must be seeking an advance in position. This is also untrue. When I look at the list of staff in leadership, I see a number of people who have been quite vocal in their opposition to Administrative decisions. They clearly were not placed on the Chief’s “list.”

The filing of a grievance is an appropriate response under certain circumstances. I helped organize the filing of a grievance myself a few years ago, although I claimed no anonimity. A few steps must be taken before filing a grievance, however. First off, one must get his/her facts straight. This did not occur prior to the filing of this grievance, as indicated in my first response. Secondly, a grievance should be a last resort after all other measures have proven unsuccessful. I have seen no evidence that these officers attempted to resolve their concerns with immediate management, at least where the complaints about Juvenile Hall are concerned. If they had, they may have been educated on the laws, standards, and policies upon which decisions are based.

As far as the claim of discrimination, I cannot speak for the Department as a whole, although I do notice a number of minorities in management positions. As far as Juvenile Hall is concerned, the only complaints of discrimination I have heard came from individuals who failed to meet the requirements of the position for which they were applying. These individuals immediately pointed fingers at Administration instead of accepting responsibility for their own behaviors.

Work at Juvenile Hall is not easy, when performed properly. I confess myself to have been a slow learner. Ultimately, one needs to look into the reasons that things are done as they are in order to understand the decisions that are made. It also helps to address those decisions with which one does not agree.

By: Anonymous on 2/17/08

As a current employee at the Probation Department, it is disturbing to know that you are detached and appear to be disinterested in helping to resolve the multitude of problems at the Probation Department. Issues of racial discrimmination have been going on for years in this agency and your inability to get involved and address these issues gives the impression that you condone it.


It’s time to stand up and take some action to begin resolving these issues. Leadership means getting involved and not standing on the sidelines while your staff at Personnel supports the Chief. Personnel has taken the stance of defending Chief Barrett regardless of right or wrong or established policies.


We trust that you as the Chief Administrative Officer will look into your staff at the Human Resources Department and the Personnel Director and find out why Chief Barrett continues to work in her capacity as the Chief of Probation when there is a zero tolerance policy on retaliation which she continues to do.


Why don’t you come and speak with linestaff without management present and find out for yourself firsthand what is going on!


ccn_debate

By: Anonymous on 2/17/08

Also a department employee and very much aware of the list that exists within the department by Chief Barrett. Once you’re on the list, you’re in for it. There are alot of employees at probation who can attest to this. In response to Doug’s obvious support to an administration that condones inappropriate behavior and mistreatment of employees regardless of what protections are in place to provide them with a safe working environment-lets go back to when you stated to management and I quote, “Moral at the hall is very low and almost everyone is looking for jobs somewhere else”. My how easy we forget. You know how I explain your comments on this blog, well one thing comes to mind–“What position are you trying to promote into and what’s in it for you?” As many of us employees know this is how it works, you say and do supportive things for Barrett and your soon promoted. Look at whose she training and grooming as her successor geez big surprise there! To all those who stick their necks out and stand up for whats right my hats off to you. Shame on the County for not supporting you. David Edge what kind of business are you running here. Do your job and quit spending tax payers money to handle what’s right in front of your face and within your ability. Mr. Edge you know what needs to be done. I’m sure this is just the beginning, what about those employees claiming discrimination—get the facts uncoveredslo it’s out there!

By: Anonymous on 2/17/08

I’m not giving my name because I work for probation and I don’t want to go on the chief Barrett’s “list.” Most of us know it exists and once you’re on it, she won’t forget. Doug Boiseree’s comments are off base. He completely forgets just how brave someone has to be to stand up and object to their working conditions. First, the officers from the juvenile hall who signed the grievance aren’t just a “small group of grumblers.” They are good hard working and dedicated employees with families and homes and bills and alot to lose. It took real guts for them to come forward and demand some changes in safety and we should all be proud of them and admire them. Not just pass them off as typical disgruntled workers. And its not a “small group.” 9 of them signed the grievance and thats almost half the juvenile services officers. And if their demands were so unreasonable and vague, why did Barrett and the superintendent Salio agree right away to freeing up the use of pepper spray and other safety equipment and getting to work on more safety training? Because the officers who signed the grievance had a good point and Barrett didn’t want them going public, thats why. Whats really sad is that when Barrett leaves shes going to replace herself with someone who is going to just keep doing all of the things she has and things in the department won’t change. Things will just get more corrupt. We all know who her replacement will be and things will just get worse. We have good people who could take her place but it will never happen because Barrett isnt going to leave unless she can pick her replacement. So Doug, give the officers in the grievance a break. Trust me if they could have gotten the changes made without a grievance they would have. And remember you are only seeing things in the juvenile hall. There are problems going on all over the department you have no idea about.

By: Anonymous on 2/16/08

If Bill Knoll has evidence that the claims made by the nine officers are true, he should forward the information to the investigating body. At this point, I believe the claims are simply that — claims.

“Too much time on kids and families…” Even he must see the ignorance in his statement. Look at statistics, Mr. Knoll. If we pay ignore the kids and families to focus primarily on the adult criminals, the adult criminals will simply be replaced by the kids that were ignored in the first place. Remember, those adult criminals were once kids that received insufficient attention.

And what effect could the relationship between the Chief and the Kitchen Manager possibly have on the entire Department? The Kitchen Manager feeds the minors and staff and ensures that we meet State and County standards. I’ll save UncoveredSLO the effort doing an investigation and lay it all out for them. The Chief and the Kitchen Manager are friends. Doesn’t sound too exciting to me.

You, Mr. Knoll, like those who submitted the griveance, speak in generalities. There are no real specifics. This is because citing specifics would make it too easy to discount the claims. Generalities such as, “They’ve made it unsafe,” keep the claimants safer. We’re hearing a lot of complaining but not much information on exactly what the Department is doing wrong.

By: Anonymous on 2/16/08

My brother was on probation after he beat up his girlfriend and got into meth. I can honestly say that his probation officer saved my brother’s life. I know how incredibly overworked she was and all the cases she was supposed to somehow keep track of, but she always found the time to help my brother. Its too bad that the probation director apparently doesn’t have the same dedication to helping people like my brother. Why is it that departments with great people end up with not-so-great people at the top running things? How did the director get hired if she had all of these issues? Other than my brother I don’t have alot of information about how things work there on the inside but I bet there’s a interesting story about how this person became the head of the department in the first place. Sounds like the “Peter Principal” at work here. I hope it works out for everyone. They have enough to worry about keeping track of all those people


ccn_debate

By: Anonymous on 2/15/08

Let’s just come out and say it. Anyone associated with the probation department will tell you that Kim Barrett lost touch with her staff a long time ago, and should quietly retire while she can. The majority of your statements in the article were true. Healthy organizations just don’t have problems like this. The juvenile hall isn’t the only issue or problem. Too much attention on kids and families and not enough on really dangerous adult criminals has been a long standing problem. Barrett’s policies reflect a personal liberal political agenda. She has no concern for what the community wants. And we haven’t even started to discuss the civil rights suit that’s coming from 12 Hispanic employees? Are they just a “small group of grumblers” like the person above says? Finally, unless there’s a full investigation in the relationship between Barrett and the juvenile hall kitchen manager, the public will continue getting ripped off. THERE is the REAL story here. Get to work uncoveredslo!

By: Anonymous on 2/15/08

I am always amazed at how much havoc a small group of grumblers can cause by spreading misinformation and half truths. Most of the complaints and comments cited in this article reflect an ignorance of the realities of Probation. Had these nine officers brought their complaints and questions to their supervisors, the issues would have been explained and clarified. These officers did not. They drew up a grievance, claiming to speak for more than their number, and attempted to smear the Department with incomplete bits of information and statements taken out of context.

I have worked nearly ten years at Juvenile Hall and I have found that isues are generally much more complex than they superficiall appear. While I have frequently disagreed with Administrative decisions, I have never doubted the Department’s intent. Officer safety is first and foremost in all decisions.

The grievance was submitted by Juvenile Services Officers (JSOs). We are trained on policies and procedures that directly affect our jobs. All but two work exclusively at the Hall. We have minimal knowledge and understanding of the policies and procedures that govern the duties of the Probation Officers. What we get is hearsay from content or discontented Probation Officers. How can these JSOs complain about policies that affect only the Probation Officers?

There has been no reduction in the amount of use-of-force training offered to the JSOs. This training has, in fact, increased and continues to increase. We had a period of nearly a year during which the Hall was holding more minors than we could properly accommodate, which meant more work for the JSOs and less time to receive the trainings offered. This problem has, however, been addressed by Administration.

There was never a ban on the use of pepper spray. Chief Barrett addressed the staff at a meeting and informed us that the Courts were scrutinizing the use of pepper spray on minors. She advised us to be certain before using pepper spray that its use was justified for the situation. This advice was intended to protect us from possible litigation. The statement made by the Chief during this meeting that was cited in your report was taken completely out of context. The Chief reminded us that the core of our job duties rested in the counseling and deescalation of the minors. This is the best way to maintain a safer working environment. Some staff felt that counseling an angry minor was too dangerous. Chief Barrett reminded us that using force on a minor is always more dangerous than counseling. We work in a dangerous environment, however. There is always the chance of violence. We take this risk consciously on a daily basis. Ultimately, we might “get popped” and we cannot avoid our job resposibilities due to fear of this.

An increase in officer injuries did occur during this time. It happens occasionally. The number of violent minors in the Hall fluctuates, as do the number of uses of force and staff injuries. This was not, however, due to a “ban on pepper spray.” Most of the injuries occurred in situations where the use of pepper spray would not have been feasible. A ban on pepper spray, or even a perceived one, would not and did not influence the number of incidents of excessive force. All uses of force are guided by policy, and the lack of one tool would not justify the excessive use of another tool.

You state that the Board of Supervisors was “probably unaware of the difficult issues plaguing the Probation Department.” They are clearly aware of the difficulties that always plague law enforcement. This is why they did not reduce our budget. They did not, however, increase it, which would explain the alleged staff shortage. The Department cannot hire staff for which they do not have money. The Department cannot be criticized for its funding, given that the Department does not allot the funds.

The staff interviewed claim that they wish to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation. This is an unwarranted attack on the Department. If retaliation were a true concern, I would have been terminated years ago. In my early years, I tended to be less than tactful in my responses to Administrative decisions with which I disagreed. While my reckless remarks may have delayed my chances for advancement (Who wants a supervisor who cannot control his/her temper?), my points were listened to and continued self-improvement gained me the positions I desired. The Department is always open to listen to criticism. This does not mean that they will change their policies, though. Departmental policies and procedures are governed by State and County laws and mandates, Court decisions, and current events. Many new officers (the younger me included) do not understand this interaction.

It is a difficult balance between the safety and rights of staff and juvenile offenders. A few questions from staff — and journalists — would be more beneficial than the dessimination of spiteful and misinformed rumors. This, of course, requires a little more responsibility from the complainant.