Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Tuesday, Aug. 8 @ 3:54 p.m. / Jail, Youth
Del Norte Supervisors Green-Light Probation Department Reorg; Juvenile Hall Closure Date Still Undecided
Lonnie Reyman laid the blueprint for a reorganized probation department that includes transitioning the juvenile detention facility to a youth center before Del Norte County supervisors on Tuesday.
But while he asked supervisors to approve new positions and salary changes, the chief probation officer still didn’t offer a date for when juvenile hall would close.
“We want to go through that process with existing staff right now to, once these are established, to get them the necessary paperwork so that we can work through a transfer process and they can make those decisions on where they want to be and what they want to do,” Reyman said. “That effective date will be determined by you and coincide with the closure of the juvenile hall division as well. But the establishment of those positions allows us to go through that process with staff.”
Four Del Norte County supervisors approved the probation department’s reorganization, which will result in closing the youth detention facility and creating a reentry unit. This reentry unit includes establishing four new reentry officer positions, a new program coordinator position and a new supervising deputy probation officer position.
Supervisors also approved a side letter between the county and the Del Norte County Employees Association SEIU Local 1021. This agreement gives current juvenile correctional officers the ability to transfer into the new reentry officer positions without undergoing a hiring or interview process.
The side letter also outlines the changes in salaries, safety requirements, reimbursed meals and discipline practices for the new re-entry officer positions.
Finally, Del Norte County supervisors authorized a budget transfer of $81,100 from the juvenile hall fund to the California Youth Authority budget unit for housing in-custody youth outside the county. According to the staff report, this transfer will cover the costs for fiscal year 2022-23.
The county’s plan for restructuring juvenile services comes nearly 10 months after Reyman recommended closing the 24-7 detention facility due to an inability to meet state staffing requirements.
The facility had been operating as a special purpose juvenile hall since January with Reyman telling supervisors he only had enough officers to staff the facility about 90 hours per week.
On Tuesday, he told supervisors that the number of juveniles receiving services similar to those that will be offered at the youth center number in the mid 30s.
There are currently 18 positions at juvenile hall, including 15 sworn peace officer positions. Of those peace officer positions, only four are staffed. There are currently a total of 12 vacant positions at juvenile hall, according to Reyman’s staff report. These positions will be eliminated when the 24-7 juvenile detention facility closes, he said.
When it came to figuring out how salaries will work for the new positions, Reyman said he and administrative staff found that the current structure isn’t competitive with other counties. In his staff report, Reyman said he used a salary survey produced for Del Norte County by the Maryland-based firm The Collective Good as well as a survey Shasta and Tehama counties used in 2022 to restructure their salary structures.
Reyman said he and his staff also looked at existing salary structures for probation officers in Mariposa, Siskiyou, Trinidad, Calaveras, Humboldt, Glenn and Colusa counties.
“The average biweekly salary for a DPO (deputy probation officer) II among the seven counties referenced above is $2,076.86, which is 8.2 percent higher than Del Norte DPO II’s,” Reyman wrote. “This restructure proposal would raise a DPO II’s salary from $1,908.19 to $1,997.90 biweekly. This change could greatly improve the department’s ability and, even more importantly, retain qualified and experienced staff for these critical positions.”
For the reentry officers, while their salary is lower than a deputy probation officer’s due to the lower training and skill requirements, it increases at a rate of 7.5 percent as they advance in their career.
Meanwhile, the assistant chief probation officer’s salary will bring it to within roughly 21 percent of the chief probation officer’s salary, according to Reyman’s staff report.
Del Norte Employee Association President Norma Williams said the stipulations outlined in the side letter the Board approved “turned out to be for the best.” Both sides wanted to make sure juvenile correctional officers didn’t have to reapply to be reentry officers.
However, some employees will still be displaced, she said.
“I met with two of those employees last night, reviewing their options once this goes through and once it is determined when the hall will close as a correctional institution and transition over to a youth center,” Williams told supervisor. “That is probably the one final detail hanging out there right now.”
Williams said the union will continue to help those staff find other employment wihtin the county.
“As I said last time, if there’s any hiccups in any of this process, the union is open to re-engaging with the county and probation,” she said.