Tuesday, June 22, 2010

CSEA to take probation case to arbitration

ROCHESTER – Public safety is threatened and crime is likely to increase if Monroe County officials do not fully staff and appropriately distribute cases in the Probation Department; that’s the argument CSEA hopes to prove in arbitration June 23.

CSEA, the union representing Monroe County probation officers, has filed a grievance against the county stating that the department is understaffed and that cases are not distributed in an equitable manner. The potential result is that probationers will not be adequately supervised, placing the public at increased risk. June 23rd will be the second day of hearings on the issue.

“We are calling on Monroe County to fully staff the probation department so that each probation case can receive the time and attention necessary to keep the public safe,” said CSEA Western Region President Flo Tripi. “Crime cannot be controlled without a properly staffed department.”

While staffing has dwindled, Officers have seen their workloads rise to impossible levels. Caseloads include violent offenders, gang members, high risk sex offenders, DWI repeat offenders, and persons with significant mental health and substance abuse problems.

“Without a full staff of probation officers, we fear that a serious offender may slip through the cracks and that public safety could be in jeopardy as a result,” said CSEA Monroe County Local President Bess Watts.

Probationers have been linked to other crimes during their probation period. In the three years from 2006-2009, Monroe County had 153 homicide cases. Of these cases, 128 involved individuals with a probation history. Nineteen people were named as suspects in homicides while on probation. Fourteen people were victims of homicide while on probation.

“These stats on their own are very alarming,” said CSEA Monroe County Unit President Cris Zaffuto. “More importantly, they illustrate that more probation officers need to be hired in the county to appropriately conduct probationer supervision and keep the public safe.”

The county has for years attempted to keep costs in the department artificially low through the hiring of probation officer trainees instead of full probation officers. The problem is the trainees are required to have reduced caseloads. The end result is a short-staffed department and, ultimately, an increased danger for the public.

“Monroe County probation officers are calling on public officials to correct these staffing inadequacies so we can fully serve the public and provide the highest possible level of safety”, said CSEA Probation Section President Todd Wersinger.

CSEA is New York State’s leading union, representing employees of New York State and its counties, towns, villages, school districts, library systems, authorities and public corporations. Together with a growing population of private sector members and retirees, CSEA forms a union 290,000 strong. It is also the largest affiliate (and Local 1000) of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) which, in turn, is one of the largest affiliates of the AFL-CIO.


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