Division of Adult Parole survey about
COMPENSATION, RETENTION AND TREATMENT AT WORK
This informal survey was developed and conducted by Colorado WINS in March of 2015.
INTRODUCTION As the state of Colorado aims to reduce its prison population, more convicted criminals are released into our communities to finish out the length of their sentences on parole. Community Parole Officers (CPOs) in Colorado’s Department of Corrections - Division of Adult Parole deal with these sometimes dangerous people on a daily basis. Their job is not only to ensure a successful re-entry of former inmates into our society, it’s also about protecting the community and the public when something goes wrong. Colorado’s CPOs believe they lack the proper support, equipment and backup from executive management to perform their duties in the field, which in turn makes it hard to perform their job effectively. In the past decade their caseloads have increased (sometimes to more than double), while the morale in the Division has decreased, and belief that management is out of touch with the day-to-day requirements of the job has become pervasive. Furthermore, officer pay has been frozen for most CPOs for more than 7 years. Colorado WINS, the union representing Colorado’s CPOs and other classified state workers, conducted an informal survey of CPOs to gauge the level of satisfaction with their pay, caseloads and management. What is clear from this survey is that CPOs are frustrated — caseloads are at an all-time high, salaries have been frozen and there is no delineated opportunity for advancement in pay. The results of the survey show CPOs are unhappy with their treatment at work and many are on the lookout for other positions outside of Parole.
More than 80% of respondents said they are actively looking for a way to leave the Division. Nearly half said they would take a job that pays less but has higher morale. This deeply-rooted dissatisfaction with their jobs, executive management and the Division’s priorities is not sustainable. This is not a one-off comment but rather a strong sentiment that surfaces in a majority of the responses, regardless of length of service or geographical location. Anecdotally, these feelings seem to permeate the highest levels of management in the Division of Parole. In January 2015, Parole Director Walt Pesterfield announced his resignation after less than one year of service for the state of Colorado. Though he did not give a specific reason for leaving his position, he took a pay cut of approximately 13% in order to leave Colorado’s Division of Parole.1 It is the intent of this survey analysis to shine a light on the internal anxiety within the Division and the lack of support and respect felt by the officers charged with keeping Colorado safe. We are urging the Dept. of Personnel and Administration to request a custom salary survey for Parole and to issue recommendations on how best to compensate qualified CPOs in order to recruit and retain top talent for the positions.
BACKGROUND On August 21, 2014, a group of Colorado WINS members from the Division of Adult Parole met with representatives from the Dept. of Personnel and Administration (DPA) and Dept. of Corrections (DOC) to discuss the possibility of a custom survey to reform the current pay structure in the Division of Parole.
Length of service as a Parole Officer
0-2 years (12%)
DPA agreed that a custom study would be ideal for the Division of Parole. DOC committed to get the process started and vowed to include input from Colorado WINS members. However, DOC cited time and capacity concerns as reasons that prevented the department from moving forward with a study. As a result, Colorado WINS created an informal survey to help gauge the feelings of Community Parole Officers (CPOs) currently working in the Division.
What follows are the results of this survey, which was completed by 77 CPOs from across Colorado. The sample size represents about a third of all CPOs in the state and the responses come from across the spectrum in terms of length of employment in the Division of Parole and various geographic locations.
3-6 years (15%) 7-9 years (38%) 10+ years (35%)
Surveyed CPOs self identified as working at the following offices: »» Colorado Springs
»» Ft. Collins
»» Grand Junction
Why did you originally apply with the Adult Division of Parole? To protect the public by helping those who were in
The survey responses were collected between March 3 and March 20, 2015. Responses were solicited through e-mail and by visiting various offices throughout the state. No personal information was tracked or collected and respondents submitted answers under the assurance of anonymity.
need of greater direction than they’d been able to
The goal of the survey was to gauge CPO satisfaction with working conditions, pay, and management support. All respondents answered the same questions.
difference in people’s lives as a result.
find on their own. My family members have struggled with sobriety and committing crimes. I wanted to make a
I wanted a career where I could advance. I wanted to make a good living to support my family and be able to have a decent retirement. I came from a DOC facility and back then (1998), Parole was very respected. It was looked at as the best Corrections type job there was. I wanted to be
part of that.
COMPENSATION Throughout the past decade, Community Parole Officers have seen a steady increase in their caseload that has not been matched by an increase in pay.
During the hiring process, were you told you would earn a progressively higher salary each year?
Prior to July 1, 2002, Community Parole Officers were separated into four classes (CPO Intern, CPO I, CPO II and Master), each with its own pay range in line with other Colorado state agencies. After that date, the original system was abolished and combined into a CPO Broadband system, with its own specific levels and steps. Advancement through the levels was supposed to be dependent upon time, experience, training and performance. However, in reality this was not the practice. In 2006-2007 there was a spike in the number of offenders released to Parole, which left CPOs supervising excessively large caseloads. “The total number of paroles granted (mandatory and discretionary) by the [Parole] Board in Colorado increased by about 34 percent from Fiscal Year 2004 through Fiscal Year 2008. Mandatory paroles increased by 30 percent, and discretionary paroles increased by 41 percent during this period.”
Yes (76%) No (13%) Not sure (11%)
Do you feel the Division of Parole cares about compensating employees fairly?
The Division hired a large number of new officers using the CPO Broadband as an incentive. Then, with no apparent explanation, the CPO Broadband was dismantled in 2008. The Division did not return to the original 4-class level system and CPOs were left with no pay increase system in place. These changes affected pay in unintended and unexpected ways, depending on where the officer was in his or her career when the changes were made.
As a result, Parole Officers are among the lowest paid peace officers in the state, despite the fact that CPOs are required to have the highest level of eligibility requirements and do work in line with both Probation Officers and Police Officers.
Yes (4%) No (91%) Not sure (5%)
Explain your answer: This Division has a tough task in asking for more salary for employees in spite of the recent black eyes in the media; however, a competitive wage would likely go a long way toward building a first-rate, professional body of employees. Reducing salaries, or only providing barely adequate COLA increases, will only likely serve to further alienate good employees.
It’s been clearly stated to us by directors that we are lucky to have a job and if we don’t like it other places are hiring. We are constantly told we are expendable. 3
COMPENSATION The starting salary for a CPO is $3696/month or $44,352/year. All incoming Parole Officers were frozen at that salary from 2008 until July 1, 2013 (5 years), when they received a 2% monthly pre-tax cost-of-living increase (which came from a raise for all state employees) as well as a small merit pay raise of 1.8% or 2.4% for a handful of officers deemed as peak performers (again, available to all state employees).
With a base salary of just more than $44,000/year, current 5-year veteran CPOs earn about $25,000 - $30,000 per year less than 5-year veteran officers working for other police agencies throughout the state.
Salary information for various police agencies: CDOC – Division of Adult Parole
Education requirements: POST certification and Bachelor’s degree in any discipline. Applicants without BA/BS degree may apply if they have prior police experience. Community Parole Officer (CPO) »» Starting Salary: $3696/month or $44,352/year »» No delineated opportunity for advancement in pay
Colorado Springs Police Department3
Education requirements: Associate Degree or 60 semester units. Monthly Salary »» Police Recruit: $45,852 »» Police Officer 4th Class: $49,524 »» Police Officer 3rd Class: $55,464 »» Police Officer 2nd Class: $62,124 »» Police Officer 1st Class: $69,576
Lakewood Police Department4
Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree in any discipline. Department will put non POST certified applicants through a police academy. Monthly Salary (as of April 2014) »» Hire date as Recruit: $52,665 »» Entry into Field Training Program: $56,201 »» Graduation from Field Training: $59,987 »» Two Years from Date of Hire: $64,022 »» Three Years from Date of Hire: $68,369 »» Four Years from Date of Hire: $72,945 »» Five Years from Date of Hire (final step): $78,499
Colorado State Patrol5
Education requirements: High school diploma or GED. All recruits attend an internally run police academy. Monthly Salary »» Academy Cadet: $43,176 to $61,368 »» Trooper: $50,004 to $71,040 + $100/m uniform allowance »» Corporal: $52,560 to $74,700 + $100/m uniform allowance »» Sergeant: $59,160 to $84,096 + $100/m uniform allowance
What is your difference in pay from when you started to present day?
Each bullet is the self-reported difference per person
CPOs with up to 2 years of experience: »» $204/month »» 2.5% (2014’s raise for all state workers) »» None
CPOs with 3-4 years of experience: »» $60/month »» $200/month
CPOs with 5-6 years of experience:
Do you feel that you are fairly compensated for the work you do as a POST certified Law Enforcement Officer in Colorado? 45
Not fairly at all
»» Only cost of living increase »» $129.36/month in 6 years
Explain your answer: CPOs with 7-8 years of experience: »» 15% »» $254/month in 7 years »» Pay is the same or possibly even lower »» None
CPOs with 8-9 years of experience:
Other POST certified departments/police officers may start out at what we are currently making, however they top out in 3 to 5 years at almost twice what we are making. The Department of Corrections/Parole does not keep up with the other law-enforcement agencies.
»» About $700/month gross
Parole requires a college degree and POST
certification and we are not paid as much as other
»» Only cost of living as I was part of the first group to
law enforcement agencies that do not require a
not get step increases
CPOs with 10+ years of experience:
college degree. I have worked as a parole officer for over 7 years.
»» Very slim
During the past 7 years I have grown immensely
as a parole officer. I can say that I am far more
»» I started at $2800/month, now I am at $6200/month
effective and competent than I was when I first
»» Approximately $25,000/year but has stayed the
started. When I was hired a clear progression in
same over the past 14 years
salary was laid out for me. Almost immediately
»» Quite a bit because I was around when there
that process was “suspended.” It has never been
was a step system and then I benefited from
reinstated. I have never heard of any job situation
where there is no opportunity for a pay increase clearly outlined. I worry that I may retire at this same pay rate. 5
RETENTION It is of utmost importance that the Division of Parole employ an adequate number of highly qualified and highly motivated CPOs to supervise offenders and to ensure public safety. The Division of Parole employs a staff of a little more than 200 CPOs statewide, all of whom are POST certified peace officers. They have a unique job that is best described as a blend between a Probation Officer and a Police Officer, as they perform both offender case management and police work. In their daily work they must contact, arrest, and transport felons they supervise.
In your opinion, how dangerous is your job of supervising convicted felons?
Very (74%) Moderately (25%) Mildly (1%)
In 2013, 200 CPOs were responsible for supervising approximately 14,000 offenders. Due to stagnant wages, increased workloads, and low morale in the Division, an overwhelming majority of CPOs surveyed noted that they are considering leaving their positions. Frustrations are palpable and intense nearly across the board and many CPOs believe the department’s executive management does not care about its employees or Division morale. Officers cite low pay and excessive workload as two of the main reasons for why CPOs are leaving the job. However, dislike and distrust of management ranks very highly on the list. This is both a public safety issue and an undue burden on CPOs who are working to protect the community and manage caseloads.
No CPO surveyed selected the fourth option, “Not very dangerous.”
Are you considering leaving the division of parole?
Yes (82%) No (18%)
Would you leave the Division of Parole Explain your answer: if an opportunity presented itself for a comparable salary and more opportunity I hate coming to work. My head and my stomach hurt every day. I hate the negativity from all around for advancement/raises/steps? the office, frustration, lack of consistent supervision, fear of retaliation or punishment. Donâ€™t want to work under someone who has no faith in you or upper management who blames line staff and puts them
Yes (86%) No (2%) Not sure (12%)
down publicly, nor do I want to work for management who doesnâ€™t value my 25 years of experience, my POST certification or my degree.
I apply weekly [for other positions and] on more then one occasion I have been told that there are too many POs applying. I am too close to retirement. But as soon as I can retire, Iâ€™m gone, even for something with less pay. I have been fortunate enough to progress through the pay system unlike most of my less fortunate coworkers. However, the morale is at an all time low and it is 90 percent due to pay.
TREATMENT AT WORK By nearly all measures, CPO morale is at an all time low and distrust of management is pervasive. CPOs list salary and workload as two main reasons why officers leave the division, and distrust of management is the third most quoted reason for seeking outside employment.
CPOs are entrusted with a highly dangerous job, but they report not having support or understanding from management when it comes to their job duties.
This deeply-rooted dissatisfaction with management is not sustainable. As evidenced earlier, more than three quarters of all CPOs surveyed report the desire to leave the division as soon as another opportunity presents itself. While CPOs surveyed have many issues, by far the largest problem repeatedly mentioned is the distrust of management. CPOs are nearly unanimous in feeling that executive management does not value them. It appears that CPOs have slightly more faith in middle management than executive management, but by all accounts they feel like both are too removed from the day-to-day activities of CPOs to have a good sense of what their jobs entail.
Not a single CPO surveyed answered “Yes” to the question “Do you feel that executive management truly cares for you?”
Do you feel that you have the necessary support from management to be successful in your position? 30
Don’t have any support
Have all the support I need
Do you feel that executive management truly cares for you?
Do you believe executive management in the Department and Division has a good understanding of the duties and responsibilities of a CPO? No, when the interim Director of Parole has never had to supervise offenders, carry a caseload, carry
No (95%) Not sure (5%) No CPO surveyed answered â€œYesâ€? to this question.
a weapon, arrest anyone or be in law enforcement at all it becomes difficult to believe they have any understanding of our duties. Absolutely not. They either have no experience in law enforcement or they are decades detached.
Do you believe middle management truly cares for you?
This is a law enforcement agency and the dangers associated are not considered. No. Those in management currently [...] are mostly detached from what we do. Most would be hard pressed to follow through with a complaint to the
Yes (36%) No (45%) Not sure (19%)
Parole Board due to the fluid nature of changes by all parties involved in the process. Just examine the reintegration program, and the job coaches, and how those resources are being squandered by the staff who orchestrate those resources, to the detriment of clients. Parole officers were once in charge of such resources, but management needed two more chains of command so a few among them could compete for positions as an Assistant Director. I believe that they have been far removed from direct case management for several years. This separation from case management has blinded them about how dangerous these offenders are. The other issue is that the management team lacks adequate skills in dealing with employees. I have seen members of the management team criticize employees in the similar manner they use to handle parolees. The division is more offender-friendly than employee-friendly. The management team would rather send messages to everyone in a threatening manner than dealing with individuals directly.
TREATMENT AT WORK CPOs also have a great mistrust in the way reviews are being administered. An overwhelming majority of those surveyed believe reviews are biased and based on favoritism rather than merit. In open ended questions, CPOs list many complaints, including promotions going to officers who are not ready or qualified to be promoted, uncaring and disrespectful attitude toward staff, lack of tools to do the job, protecting offenders over officers.
Do you feel that the existing 6-month and 12-month reviews completed by management are fair and unbiased?
What do you think the Division should do to recruit and retain good officers? Respect what we do by spending time learning what we know. We change people’s lives more than they know. And sometimes the best thing we can do for them is arrest them. I have had many offenders thank me for arresting them before they died from drug use. Management says they want what is best for the offenders but they really don’t. They just want to look good on paper. And that’s horrible, immoral even. I’m ashamed of the direction the division is going. We aren’t helping people, we are playing a shell game with their lives. Give them the support they need to do this highly stressful job. We are working with individuals who are walking out of prison with nothing, who have drug
problems and who are criminals. And we are held
responsible if one of them commits a crime (“if only
Not sure (24%)
you would have had that home visit done on time this wouldn’t have happened”). We need leadership that understands who and what we are dealing with. We need support. The executive staff needs to start talking to their line
Do you feel that promotions are based on merit or on favoritism?
staff, to the officers. Policy changes are being made by people who have never done this job, some who have never even had offender contact. In any job changes will be made without speaking to line staff. However, ALL decisions are being made without any input from those who understand the job, and
Merit (5%) Favoritism (75%) Not sure (20%)
subsequently are the ones affected with increased workload. This is one of the biggest underlying issues for [low] morale. We need to have a competitive salary with a predictable pay structure. There needs to be opportunities for advancement and different experiences. It should be easier to transfer to an equivalent position anywhere in the state. We should be treated like law enforcement officers. We should be given vehicles and other emergency equipment that would make our job safer.
CONCLUSION Colorado’s CPOs have some of the highest eligibility requirements to meet within Colorado law enforcement and yet they are some of the lowest paid officers in the state. While their job is to protect the public and provide support to parolees, their pay does not reflect the dangerous and unpredictable nature of their job. The State of Colorado’s goal is to give employees “a competitive total compensation package to ensure that the State is able to recruit, reward and retain a qualified workforce.” In addition, “the State’s total compensation philosophy is to provide employees with pay increases that recognize employee performance and contributions.”6 Unfortunately, when looking at the compensation package for the state’s Community Parole Officers, this has not been the case. Since 2008, the pay for CPOs has been frozen with no pay increase system in place. This means that, in reality, CPOs have experienced a 10.5% pay cut, if adjusted for the rate of inflation from 2008 to 2015.7 To recruit, but especially to retain, quality officers in the Division of Adult Parole their pay must match the pay and incentives offered by other law enforcement agencies in the state. Since the abolition of the CPO Broadband system, officers have been left with no opportunity for advancement in pay, save for raises given to all state employees (none of which have kept up with inflation).
Because compensation is not the only issue plaguing the Division Parole and DOC at-large, it is critical that DPA direct the Department of Corrections to work in Partnership with Colorado WINS to address issues before they raise to a crisis pitch. Colorado WINS is the “certified employee organization that represents eligible DOC employees”8 and is “entitled to exclusively represent all employees in the Partnership Unit on issues covered by this Executive Order.”9 Most CPOs entered the state workforce to make a difference – change the lives of parolees for the better, help them reenter society after years of incarceration, and provide them with the resources to do so. While they were aware the job they were entering was a hard and dangerous one, they were not prepared to spend years at a grueling and demanding job, both physically and mentally, without any opportunity for higher pay. This treatment of the State’s Parole Officers stands directly against the idea of providing a competitive compensation package that recruits, retains and rewards qualified and dedicated public servants. We ask that the State of Colorado take this into consideration when creating a custom salary survey for the Division of Adult Parole.
Based on the results of this informal survey, we ask that DPA commission a custom study of the pay and benefits for Colorado’s Community Parole Officers as compared with other law enforcement agencies in the state. When comparing CPO’s compensation packages to those of other agencies, it would be prudent to also consider the level of eligibility requirements required to obtain a CPO job versus the lower requirements of other agencies.
ANNOTATIONS 1. “Dept. of Corrections suffers another short tenure departure “ by Todd Shepherd http://completecolorado.com/pagetwo/2015/03/02/dept-ofcorrections-suffers-another-short-tenure-departure/ 2. Parole Board Performance Audit (Nov. 20018) http://www.ccjrc.org/pdf/Parole_Board_Performance_ Audit_Nov_2008.pdf 3. Colorado Springs Police Department http://www.springsgov.com/Page.aspx?NavID=3455 4. Lakewood Police Department http://www.lakewood.org/Police/Employment/Police_ Agent_Salary___Benefits.aspx 5. Colorado State Patrol http://www.lawenforcementedu.net/colorado/coloradosalary/ 6. Annual Compensation FY 2015-16 Report https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/FY%20 2015-16%20Annual%20Comp%20Report%20-%20FINAL.pdf 7. http://www.usinflationcalculator.com/ 8. DOC Administrative Regulation 1450-13(III)(A) 9. Executive Order D028-07(III)(B)
When state employees have a voice, Colorado WINS ColoradoWINS.org