For the past year, CCSO has been compiling information on prominent issues affecting our membership on a statewide basis. Although there are many systemic issues plaguing the Department, CCSO has identified the Sergeant/Lieutenant (Sgt/Lt) transfer process as a reoccurring complaint from members who’ve contacted the CCSO Office this past year. Our office has heard from many Sgts/Lt’s who have been unsuccessful in gaining a transfer for many years because of the current supervisor transfer process. Many of them are good seasoned supervisors with no blemishes on their records and with years of training and experience. One would think, that alone should make them desirable to any prison canvassing to hire a Sergeant or Lieutenant. However, that is not the case, and most often than not, these seasoned Sgts/Lts are denied a transfer on the basis that a more qualified applicant was selected. Often the “most qualified person” selected is a candidate in a lower classification with little to no experience in the supervisory classification they are interviewing for.
One might ask themselves, how can an individual with little to no experience be more qualified than an individual with years of training and experience in a certain classification? The answer is simple. As with past practices observed, the Department in many cases is often about who you know and “not what you know”. Unfortunately, with the current process many individuals who have stepped into the supervisory role and have dedicated years of supervisory service, are subjected to the inability to exercise their transfer options. Thus, they are often stuck with the choice of working at a place far away from family or demote just so they can obtain a transfer to a location closer to them (many have).
A great example is a Lieutenant from a Northern Prison who has over 19 years of supervisory experience, five of those years as a Lieutenant. This Lieutenant has been actively seeking a transfer to another prison in order to be closer to his family. He has interviewed a total of 5 times and has received the same response each time, “we found more qualified applicants”. In his words he states the following, “I’m interviewing against Sergeants looking to get promoted, how can they be more qualified”?
“The Department is Often about Who you Know and Not What You Know.”
CCSO believes the Sgt/Lt transfer process is in desperate need of revision in order to ensure supervisors a fair and impartial method to transfer. The Department (through negotiations) fixed this issue for the rank and file years ago but has never afforded the same privilege to its supervisors. A percentage of rank and file staff are guaranteed a transfer based on their seniority without an interview and regardless of their experience or qualifications.
CCSO also believes CDCR Supervisors should be afforded at the very least in some form, transfer opportunities similar to those given to rank and file. The Department often tells supervisors how much they value their hard work and dedication, but then seems to find a way to short change them at almost every corner (ie, transfers, longevity pay, vacation relief, Holiday relief, etc). Which is why many individuals refuse to promote, and much less to an undesirable geographical area where they know they will be stuck at for many years. In my opinion, this has only deprived the Department of some good potential supervisors.
CCSO is preparing to meet with the acting CDCR Secretary Ralph Diaz soon and will be expressing this and other relevant issues in the meeting. I know Secretary Diaz is aware of the hardships facing supervisors, because after all, he was one himself. We hope that he will take the necessary steps to rectify this issue in the near future.