Issue 122 – April 2022
The California JPIA is pleased to announce the creation of the Risk Managers Committee. This committee is designed to carry the voice of member risk managers and support the multi-faceted roles risk managers play within their organizations. The newly formed Risk Managers Committee will join the Managers and Finance Officers Committees as advisory to the Executive Committee in supporting key roles within member agencies, while providing guidance and recommendations to Authority staff.
“At the Authority, we take pride in the best-in-class service we provide our members,” said Chief Executive Officer Jon Shull. “The addition of a Risk Managers Committee enhances our connection to members and further develops our understanding of the services they need. This committee provides another avenue for Authority staff to support risk managers in their work to reduce overall risk for their agency.”
The committee’s purpose is to ensure the delivery of the best risk management solutions to members, and to better understand and assist risk managers with operational risk exposures within their organizations.
“I am very excited that the Authority has created the Risk Managers Committee and that I get to participate,” said Big Bear Lake Administrative Analyst Rachel Bowman. “Being a part of this committee will allow me to make practical contributions to the Authority’s risk strategies as a whole and to my organization, as well.”
The inaugural meeting of the Risk Managers Committee will be held on Monday, May 16, at 12:00 p.m. via a hybrid format. Members may attend online via Zoom or at the Authority’s La Palma campus. Each member agency will have a representative on the committee, which meets quarterly.Print Article
The California JPIA is pleased to announce that the keynote speaker at the 27th Annual Risk Management Educational Forum is former Boston Police Chief Daniel Linskey. Chief Linskey began his career with the Boston Police Department as the youngest officer in its history. Eventually, he earned the title of superintendent-in-chief, the highest-ranking police officer within the department, in a career spanning 27 years.
Chief Linskey is known for his strong leadership and response through some of Boston’s darkest and most difficult moments, including the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. Drawing from personal experiences, the chief’s presentation at this year’s Forum will provide attendees with lessons on leading before, during, and after a crisis. Chief Linskey will share how he and others effectively led team members to prepare and respond to unthinkable challenges and how those values can help attendees overcome their own unique challenges.
This year’s Forum, titled Adventures in Risk Management, will be held at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort from October 5–7, 2022. Registration for the Forum opens in May.Print Article
The Authority, which first partnered with the California Association of Code Enforcement Officers (CACEO) in 2018 in response to an ongoing rise in assaults on these officers, is offering training for its member agencies’ code enforcement officers.
“We began our relationship with CACEO when the organization approached us about the need for self-defense training for code enforcement officers,” said Senior Risk Manager Melaina Francis. “When we investigated, we found that California JPIA members providing code enforcement services reported occupational injuries impacting code enforcement officers in the form of assaults, ranging from verbal threats to physical attacks.”
The Authority, in consultation with CACEO, which promotes and advances the code enforcement profession through education and certification, legislative advocacy, and technological collaboration, published an article about code enforcement safety awareness to address agency exposures. That partnership has continued as both organizations cooperate in providing training to their members.
In the December 2021 Authority newsletter article CA Senate Bill 296: Code Enforcement Officer Safety Standards, certified code enforcement officers and CACEO board members Larry Breceda, treasurer, and Matthew Silver, second vice president and legislative director, apprised California JPIA members of Senate Bill 296, which requires municipal agencies employing code enforcement officers to develop specific, appropriate safety standards.
To comply with SB 296, effective January 1, 2022, agencies must assess and create standards to address the conditions faced by code enforcement officers in their jurisdiction. CACEO offers an SB 296 model minimum safety standards template and training resources on its website.
“Awareness of code enforcement’s unique challenges and needs for agency support is the first step to improving code enforcement officers’ safety and working conditions. Assessing the risks and hazards that code enforcement officers face in their communities can help determine the resources they need most to do their jobs effectively and safely,” said Francis, who advises member agencies to research officers’ experiences and factor in their recommendations for improvements.
Authority training includes Pepper Spray Defense (accompanied by a Pepper Spray Policy template) and Tactical Communication: Tools for Service & Safety in the Field for member agencies’ code enforcement officers. Through the first course, municipalities can lessen their liability by training employees to appropriately deploy pepper spray in the performance of their duties, providing an immediate option for personal protection that can make employees feel safer in hostile field situations. The second course helps code enforcement and community service officers communicate more effectively during field encounters, emphasizing officer safety and resident service skills.
“Non-sworn code enforcement personnel, building inspectors, and community service officers protect and improve communities by enforcing laws ranging from straightforward parking issues to complex housing issues. These enforcement activities can pose dangerous situations,” said Senior Training Specialist Ryan Thomas, who is currently working with CACEO to develop additional training for code enforcement officers. “The Authority’s live, instructor-led trainings, presently available over Zoom in our ‘virtual classroom,’ can help prevent injuries, lost work time, and stress for code enforcement officers.”
The California JPIA will host a breakout session on code enforcement officer safety standards at the 27th Annual Risk Management Educational Forum, October 5–7, 2022, at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort.
For more information about how to ensure your agency’s compliance with SB 296, please contact your assigned regional risk manager.Print Article
After a year of executing virtual academies, the California JPIA successfully presented three in-person training academies during the first quarter of 2022. The Authority’s training academies are unique opportunities for member staff to step away from their desks, and fully immerse themselves in a learning environment. The trainings offer two and a half days of learning and networking with colleagues from various member agencies in a comfortable hotel setting.
The Risk Management Academy was held in San Diego in January 2022. One of the talented academy speakers was Gerry Preciado, who has presented at the Authority’s Annual Risk Management Educational Forum and previous academies. Mr. Preciado talked about the dynamics of organizational culture, communication styles, and how risk management can gain a “seat at the table” in member organizations. In addition to great speakers, attendees of this academy had great things to say: “Last week was a really great experience for me. While I had the opportunity to participate in this academy virtually in the past, the in-person event was so much more effective for me personally. I really appreciated the opportunity to connect with my Authority Risk Manager in person, and it was great to meet so many other folks on the California JPIA team. I also appreciated getting the opportunity to network with colleagues in my community. I am the sole risk manager at my organization, so making connections with others will prove to be invaluable. Thanks again for providing me with the opportunity. I know I am coming back to work armed with more knowledge and resources to help my agency,” shared James Ramirez with the Southern California Association of Governments.
Parks and recreation managers and supervisors from various member agencies attended the Parks and Recreation Academy in Indian Wells in February 2022. “The Parks & Recreation Academy is a life-changing experience. California JPIA really knows how to schedule HIGHLY experienced educational and motivating speakers. Being in this field for over 23 years and having attended multiple California JPIA trainings over that time, I really wanted to be strongly motivated to bring life back to my city and team. Having the opportunity to participate in this academy did not disappoint. Sign up! Bring your team. Sign up everyone. They will win, learn, and grow!! California JPIA, thank you for bringing these speakers into my life,” commented Brie Houghton with the City of Alhambra.
Just last month, the Authority held its annual Leadership Academy in San Diego to impart fundamental concepts of leading organizations to grow a culture of risk management. Lorena Matarrita at the City of Loma Linda shared, “It’s been a week since I completed the California JPIA Leadership Academy, and I’m still reflecting on the lessons and tidbits learned. I am beyond grateful each one of you took the time to share your knowledge and stories with us. Additionally, staff did an amazing job ensuring the event went smoothly and without a hitch.”
The Leadership Academy is unique in that it fits in the middle of the Authority’s leadership development series. Five academies comprise the series: for new managers and supervisors, there is the Management Academy; the Leadership Academy is designed for department directors and long-time supervisors; the Executive Academy is geared toward agency managers/executives; for officials in office for less than two years, there is the Newly Elected Officials Academy; and the Governance Leadership Academy is appropriate for seasoned elected officials.
Additional academies scheduled for 2022 include the Human Resources Academy in April, the Governance Leadership Academy in May, the Newly Elected Officials Academy and the Public Works Academy in June, and the Management Academy in September.
Email announcements are sent to member agencies two months before each academy with a link to the academy website for submitting registration requests. For additional information about the Authority academies, please contact Michelle Aguayo at firstname.lastname@example.org or (562) 467-8777.Print Article
Preempting Arbor Day, which traditionally is held the last Friday in April, California JPIA members La Quinta, Paramount, and Santa Paula joined 27 municipal agencies across California to plant 2,000 trees in one day on March 12, 2022. Supported by local volunteers, community groups, and municipal leaders, the AMPlifying the Urban Forest tree-planting event advanced a collaborative urban forestry movement by educating the public on the importance of cultivating and maintaining a healthy urban forest.
Home to more than 8,000 city trees, Paramount was named a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation—a nonprofit conservation and education organization with the mission to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees—in honor of the city’s commitment to effective urban forest management.
“City trees are a vital part of what makes Paramount a great place,” said Paramount Mayor Brenda Olmos. “AMPlifying the Urban Forest brought the community together to add to our developing urban canopy and make Paramount a cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable place to live.”
Santa Paula, currently pursuing a Tree City USA designation, recently recommitted to improving the health and wellness of the community’s local trees through new tree plantings, increased tree care, and hazardous tree removals. Volunteers planted 65 young, healthy trees during AMPlifying the Urban Forest.
“It was great seeing our residents spend a Saturday morning planting trees to beautify Santa Paula,” said Santa Paula Mayor Jenny Crosswhite. “This event not only helped us enhance the green space in our city but also paved the way for Santa Paula to become more sustainable and environmentally friendly.”
“Taking part in a statewide event like AMPlifying the Urban Forest reminds us that environmental issues and accomplishments are much bigger than just our city,” said Santa Paula City Manager Dan Singer. “Planting trees and continuing to invest in our environment will allow the next generation to keep Santa Paula’s unique culture and traditions alive.”
This spring, Santa Paula is removing invasive eucalyptus trees with the support of a $300,000 CAL FIRE Climate Investments Fire Prevention Grant, awarded by the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.
The City of La Quinta also recently began repairing irrigation and replacing diseased trees along its Bear Creek Trail, planting varieties including Blue Palo Verde, Honey Mesquite, and Desert Willow from the Coachella Valley Native Plant List.
AMPlifying the Urban Forest was developed and presented in partnership with the California Urban Forests Council, West Coast Arborists, Taylor Guitars, The Britton Fund, and the Western Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection provided funding for the project as part of the California Climate Investments Program and the US Forest Service.
“It was incredible to see how urban forestry can unite a group of people to impact their community,” said Mike Palat, vice president of West Coast Arborists, which provided hands-on support and subject matter expertise to ensure the trees were planted safely. “We are grateful for the many volunteers and elected officials that came out, got their hands dirty, and supported this event.”
For other member agencies planning Arbor Day events, California JPIA’s Tree Inspection and Maintenance Policy template contains guidelines to reduce public agency exposure to liability associated with trees, protect trees, and maintain trees’ public benefits, including improved air quality, reduced stormwater flow, habitat for wildlife, and reduced heat island effect. The template, available electronically at cjpia.org, is accessible in Microsoft Word format so that members can make agency-specific modifications. For more information, please contact your regional risk manager.
Pictured: Paramount volunteers and West Coast Arborists staff at Progress Park in the City of Paramount. Photo Credit: City of ParamountPrint Article
With the goal of providing exemplary and substantive service to its members, the California JPIA continues to strategically advance the structure and number of its dedicated staff to anticipate extended needs. In March 2022, the Authority increased its dynamic team with the addition of two new professionals: Administrative Assistant Jennifer Torres and Training Assistant Kanisha Adams, who join the California JPIA to support members and assist in the development of fundamental Authority services.
“Our services consistently improve with the addition of each new, dedicated staff member,” said Administrative Services Director Nikki Salas. “Authority staff members are most successful when they receive support from within the organization and are able to rely on their fellow teammates.”
As the Authority’s newest administrative assistant, Torres will provide support for human resources, finance, the Board of Directors, and fellow administrative staff members. She joins the team with over 20 years of experience in administrative duties at ADP, an industry-leading payroll and human resource solution.
“I am so excited to dive into my responsibilities at the California JPIA and provide support to our wonderful team,” said Torres. “The team already has welcomed me with open arms. I look forward to contributing to their efforts and assisting our members.”
With 18 years of experience in workers’ compensation and customer service, Kanisha Adams joins the Authority staff as a training assistant. According to Salas, Adams’ extensive knowledge and understanding of workers’ compensation claims will greatly benefit training staff as they develop and deliver comprehensive training and materials to members.
“The California JPIA has long recognized the important role training plays in risk management,” said Adams, who will support the training division by providing help with training initiatives and onsite member support for training. “I am excited to have joined the training team and look forward to fulfilling our crucial role to help our members.”
Welcome to the Authority, Jennifer and Kanisha!Print Article
As the weather warms, communities begin to spend more time outdoors at parks and playgrounds. While playgrounds are a great place for children to have fun, exercise, and interact, they are also a place where frequent accidents and injuries occur. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 200,000 children under the age of 14 are injured on America’s playgrounds each year. Of these injuries, 45% are severe and include concussions, dislocations, fractures, and internal injuries. At a cost of over $1 billion annually, these injuries are devastating to communities, both financially and emotionally.
To prevent playground injuries, it is essential for member agencies to routinely inspect the condition of their playgrounds, perform maintenance on equipment and surfacing, and investigate all reported hazards and incidents.
It is the responsibility of agency staff to facilitate a commitment to safe playgrounds by ensuring that defined inspection protocols are implemented. These protocols should include a documented Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) inspection of all playgrounds. The CPSI inspection is a requirement in California. It verifies that playgrounds are compliant using the American Society of Testing and Materials specifications and playground-related recommendations from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Inspections are critical to ensure hazards are found by staff before injuries occur.
The most common hazard and threat of noncompliance on a playground is the surfacing, as more than 80% of playground injuries occur from falls. Playground surfacing, such as engineered wood fiber, poured-in-place unitary surfacing, and rubber tiles, can deteriorate and therefore need constant maintenance to ensure safety. Older playgrounds often have tall structures towering over a non-compliant surface of grass, sand, or pea gravel, which does not afford adequate impact attenuation for the fall heights of the equipment. Further, neither sand nor pea gravel meet Americans with Disabilities (ADA) requirements for accessibility. Note that all surfacing must comply with the Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Playground Equipment for Public Use and ASTM F1292: Standard Specification for Impact Attenuation of Surface Systems Under and Around Playground Equipment.
Playground structures can present protrusion, entanglement, and entrapment hazards. Slides, swings, bridges, and climbing walls can show obvious signs of wear and can present an injury risk. An effective inspection program should identify these hazards, but in some cases, a community member notifies the agency of an existing hazard. All notifications regarding the condition, accessibility, or safety of agency-owned playgrounds should be taken seriously and addressed as soon as possible. Records should be generated and maintained for all complaints, subsequent inspections, and corrective actions.
If an incident resulting in injury or property damage occurs, the agency’s risk manager should be notified immediately, and an investigation into the alleged incident should be conducted. The investigator should take photos of the incident location, and any equipment alleged to be defective should be obtained. It is important to obtain contact information for any injured party and witnesses. Also, their statements of events that resulted in the incident should be documented. If equipment failure is a causal factor, the equipment should be retained in a safe place and clearly labeled. Defective equipment involved in an incident should never be disposed of under any circumstance until any resulting claims/lawsuits have been resolved.
Creating a safe environment for children while they enjoy community playgrounds is of paramount importance, and spring is an excellent time of the year to review parks and playground program information, ensure that regular documented inspections are occurring, and attend playground safety courses. Parks and playground checklists, templates, and safety training can be found on the California JPIA’s website, cjpia.org.
For questions about playground safety, Authority members can contact their regional risk manager.Print Article
California JPIA reminds members to protect outdoor workers from heat illness as temperatures increase. A recent Cal/OSHA News Release advises all employers to take steps to protect outdoor workers from heat illness by providing water, rest, shade, and training. California Code of Regulations, Title 8, §3395, the state’s heat illness prevention in outdoor places of employment standard, applies to all outdoor worksites. This would include workers that spend a significant amount of time working outdoors, such as public works, maintenance, parks and recreation, and public safety personnel. Heat illness is more likely to occur when workers are not accustomed to working at full capacity in the hot weather, so preparation is essential for staying safe.
The law requires employers to provide outdoor workers with fresh water, access to shade at 80 degrees, and cool-down rest breaks when requested by a worker (in addition to regular breaks). Additionally, employers must maintain a written prevention plan with training on the signs of heat illness and what to do in case of an emergency.
Employers must develop, put in writing, and implement effective procedures for complying with the requirements of T8 CCR Section 3395. The Heat Illness Prevention Plan must include the following:
- Procedures for providing sufficient water
- Procedures for providing access to shade
- High-heat procedures
- Emergency response procedures
- Acclimatization methods and procedures
The Heat Illness Prevention Plan must be written both in English and in the language understood by the majority of employees. It must be available to employees at the worksite, as well as to representatives of Cal/OSHA upon request.
Members with outdoor workers must follow heat illness prevention requirements:
- Plan: Develop and implement an effective written heat illness prevention plan that includes emergency response procedures.
- Training: Train all employees and supervisors on heat illness prevention.
- Water: Provide drinking water that is fresh, pure, suitably cool, and free of charge so that each worker can drink at least one quart per hour and encourage workers to do so.
- Rest: Encourage workers to take a cool-down rest in the shade for at least five minutes when they feel the need to do so to protect themselves from overheating. Workers should not wait until they feel sick to cool down.
- Shade: Provide shade when workers request it or when temperatures exceed 80 degrees. Workers have the right to request and be provided shade to cool off at any time.
Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention special emphasis program includes enforcement of heat regulations as well as multilingual outreach and training programs for California’s employers and workers. Details on heat illness prevention requirements and training materials are available online on Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention web page and the 99calor.org informational website. A Heat Illness Prevention online tool is also available on Cal/OSHA’s website.
Members are encouraged to take advantage of the Authority’s E-Learning Training. The Authority has developed several e-learning safety courses that comply with Cal/OSHA safety requirements, including Heat Illness – Refresher Training. Additionally, the Authority has a Heat Illness Prevention Plan available in the Resource Library. Heat safety tips and resources are also available on the National Weather Service website.
For more information, please contact your regional risk manager.Print Article
While it might be hard to believe, summertime is just around the corner. This is an opportune time for public agencies to begin thinking about managing risk associated with increased use of public facilities such as parks, playgrounds, and swimming pools.
Injuries that occur at member-owned swimming pools and aquatic centers can be both traumatic and costly. Members can manage this exposure in several ways:
- Ensure lifeguards are trained to follow specific operational and emergency procedures and possess current lifeguard and first aid/CPR certifications. In addition, regular in-service trainings provide lifeguards with simulated experiences of potential real-world incidents (victim retrieval, unruly patron intervention, etc.)
- Regularly inspect the pool, locker rooms, showers, and other areas of the facility to identify and correct hazards such as broken glass, bodily fluids, inappropriate behavior, etc.
- Ensure that rescue equipment such as backboards, rescue tubes, and throw ropes are readily accessible and that staff has been trained to use these devices effectively.
Larger crowds coupled with an increase in temperatures during the summer months make it more likely that agency staff will have to respond to an ill or injured member of the public. Members can improve the odds of a favorable outcome by ensuring that key staff members are formally trained in first aid, CPR, and AED use. The California JPIA offers American Heart Association (AHA) first aid, CPR, and AED training to members at no additional cost. The AHA requires re-training every two years, so if it has been a while since your employees received this training, it would be good to review your records and determine if certifications have expired.
Special Events Program
Summertime also brings with it an increase in the number of special events hosted by public agencies. Event organizers or members of the public wishing to use member-owned facilities may have difficulty obtaining minimum liability insurance limits recommended by the California JPIA (typically $1 million per occurrence). The Authority’s Special Events Program can help with this issue since the program provides general liability insurance when member-owned premises are used for special events or short-term activities. Examples include weddings, art festivals, parades, yoga classes, and member-sponsored events such as fairs, carnivals, and swap meets. There is no deductible for this coverage, and members are automatically added as additional insured. For more information, visit the Special Events page of the California JPIA website.
If you have questions or would like more information, please contact your regional risk manager.Print Article
Originally published on March 29, 2022. Reprinted with permission from Collins + Collins LLP.
The national dialogue about criminal justice reform has sparked calls for the abolition of qualified immunity. The U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a bill that would have expressly eliminated all qualified immunity for state and federal law enforcement officers. Given the current social and political factors affecting public perceptions towards law enforcement, is there a significant risk that qualified immunity will be eliminated as a defense in civil rights litigation?
The Qualified Immunity Defense
Qualified immunity is a judicial doctrine created by the Supreme Court that may shield state officials from liability for their misconduct, even when they break the law. Under this doctrine, a police officer cannot be held liable for violating someone’s federal civil rights, unless their conduct violated a “clearly established law.” While the doctrine is malleable, it generally requires a civil rights plaintiff identify an earlier decision by the Supreme Court or Court of Appeals that found the alleged misconduct was unconstitutional. If none exists, the official could be found immune.
The Origin of Qualified Immunity
The justification for qualified immunity was first introduced by the Supreme Court in the 1967 case Pierson v. Ray. The plaintiffs, who were black, alleged their arrest for improper assembly in a “whites only” waiting room at a bus station was unconstitutional. In an unrelated case decided after plaintiffs’ arrest, the Supreme Court struck down the improper assembly law as unconstitutional. Nonetheless, defendant police officers argued they should not be held liable for violating plaintiffs’ constitutional rights because they genuinely believed the law was valid at the time of the arrest. The Supreme Court agreed and held a police officer should be excused from liability “for acting under a statute that he reasonably believed to be valid but that was later held unconstitutional.”
Although qualified immunity has gone through several iterations since it was first applied in Pierson, the intent of the doctrine is largely the same – to shield police officers from lawsuits based on a reasonable mistake about the constitutionality of their conduct. Police officers are not trained constitutional scholars and should not be charged with predicting the future course of constitutional law during rapidly evolving, life-or-death situations.
Criticism of Qualified Immunity
Critics of the doctrine argue that qualified immunity is unlawful because the text of the Civil Rights Act did not create the defense. Many criminal justice reform advocates view qualified immunity as discriminatory because the doctrine gives too much weight to the government official’s interest in immunity and too little weight to the plaintiff’s interest in recovery.
Even some national law enforcement organizations have called for the abolition or curtailment of qualified immunity. The Law Enforcement Action Partnership, a nonprofit group of police, prosecutors, and correctional officers, asked Congress to pass a law that will ban the doctrine from being used as a legal defense, saying it had eroded faith in police. In testimony before a congressional committee, Ronald L. Davis, an official with the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, stated that the doctrine “prevents police from being held legally accountable when they break the law.” The Major Cities Chiefs Association also modified its long-standing position in favor of qualified immunity to say there are circumstances in which it should not apply.
Elimination of Qualified Immunity Is Unlikely
Notwithstanding the highly politized debate around the issue, civil rights cases are rarely dismissed because of qualified immunity. In a 2017 study published in the Yale Law Journal, qualified immunity resulted in the dismissal of just 0.6% of the cases in the dataset before discovery, and just 3.2% of the cases before trial. Thus, the empirical data suggests that the overall risks, costs or outcomes in civil rights litigation are unlikely to change significantly whether qualified immunity is eliminated or not.
In 2020, the Supreme Court declined to hear eight cases involving the qualified immunity doctrine, seven of which involved police accused of excessive force or other misconduct. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act also collapsed in Congress after the elimination of qualified immunity became an insurmountable sticking point. In similar fashion, at least thirty-five state qualified-immunity bills have died in the past eighteen months, according to The Washington Post.
Violent crime rates have risen since 2020, a fact that will likely cause many lawmakers to step back from criminal justice reform efforts so as not to appear “soft on crime.” In a July 2021 Pew research pole, Americans expressed more concern about violent crime than they did about the federal budget deficit, climate change, racism, economic inequality, and illegal immigration.
Despite the current political climate, widespread changes on qualified immunity are unlikely anytime soon.Print Article