Register for the Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drill, Share Safety Pictures

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The County’s Office of Emergency Services invites employees and their families to register to drop, cover and hold on at 10:17 a.m. on 10/17 as part of the Great ShakeOut earthquake drill. You can also help spread the word about the importance of individual and community preparedness by taking part in a #ShakeOutSD social media challenge.

 Visit ShakeOut.org to register and learn about how to plan to survive an earthquake with your family. Learn what you can do to prepare before an earthquake strikes.

 Then to participate in our social media challenge, take two simple steps on Thursday, Oct. 17:

Take a picture or video of yourself, your friends, colleagues, team, department, classroom or agency practicing “Drop, Cover, and Hold on” under a sturdy desk or table.

If you don’t work in an office or have access to a table, you can still be part of it. Show us how you would stay safe in other environments or situations that apply to you like being outside, parked in a car, at the beach, or if you’re in a wheelchair. To find recommendations, visit this page and look for Specific Situations.

Just post the video or photo on your social media, or your department’s Facebook and/or Twitter account if they agree to it and include the hashtag #ShakeOutSD. Don’t forget to tag @ReadySanDiego too.

OES will be sharing your posts and other useful earthquake safety tips on ShakeOut Day.

Are You the County’s Best Baker?

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Are you the County’s best baker? The proof is in the pudding… or cupcakes, cookies or pie. Enter the 7th annual County Employees’ Charitable Organization Bake Off to vie for the title!

To enter the CECO Bake Off, email your name and baked good entry to sdceco@sdcounty.ca.gov.

Past winners are Pete Jacovino (ARCC), Donatella Aguinaldo (General Services), Margarita Flores (HHSA), Chris Welsh (County Counsel), and Candy Cowell (TTC).

The icing on the cake is that the Bake Off is part of a CECO bake sale fundraiser at the County Administration Center on Oct. 24. All money raised will go to community organizations and employees in need.

If you’re a good baker, rise to the occasion and donate yummy goodies for the sale. Drop CECO an email to let them know you plan to prepare a dessert.

PerkSpot: Scary Good Deals for Halloween

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Get ready for Halloween with this spooktacular sale. Get 30% off everything at Halloween Express through PerkSpot. The online shop has costumes, accessories, party supplies and décor.

PerkSpot offers benefits and discounts through more than 400 service providers and retailers. Go to SDCounty.PerkSpot.com and shop. If you are new, click on “Create an Account” to register.

Each month, one of the most popular PerkSpot deals will be highlighted on InSite. 

ERG Celebrates Coming Out Day

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Our LGBTQ and Allies Employee Resource Group held a National Coming Out Day celebration at the County Operations Center on Friday.

The event, which commemorates the first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights 31 years ago, had resource booths, giveaways and guest speakers. 

The ERG noted that observing National Coming Out Day is significant because it reaffirms the importance of coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or an ally.

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County Employees Demonstrate HEART

County employees came together Tuesday to celebrate National Customer Service Week during the County’s first-ever Journey to Customer Service Fair. The County’s Customer Experience Initiative hosted the fair, which allowed employees to explore the definition of outstanding customer service in a playful way.

Fair attendees were invited to take a journey around COC Chambers, filling up their Journey to Your Best Self road map along the way. To get a token of appreciation, employees had to stop at six stations, where they could learn more about maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle, even in hectic times.

Among the stations was a table where attendees could learn mindfulness exercises. Another stop on the journey invited County employees to tie strings to words that define their true selves and see how many fellow County staff share the same defining attributes.

Once they completed all the activities, County employees were asked to sign a banner, affirming that they commit to using a positive approach to provide customers with a positive experience and to promoting an environment that is inclusive to all. The banner will be on display at the National Coming Out Celebration at the COC this Friday.

Outside of the Chambers, employees from various County departments and several external vendors informed fair attendees about their services. County staff engaged fellow employees in conversations about process changes, programs and activities they have put in place to improve the customer experience.

To learn more about the County’s Customer Experience Initiative, visit the CEI page on InSite.

 

Friday Photo: Protecting the Public

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Did you know that the County is continually working to protect the public from disease? It does. And to do that, it relies on its Public Health Lab which works with public health clinics, local hospitals, healthcare providers and the departments of Epidemiology and Environmental Health.

Microbiologists at the Public Health Lab can detect practically any organism, including measles, influenza, plague, norovirus, HIV, rabies, drug-resistant tuberculosis Zika, dengue and chikungunya.

The Public Health Lab processes about 60,000 specimens and performs more than 100,000 tests each year. Also, the lab tests more than 1,500 water samples—drinking water, wastewater, and recreational water—per year.

Share your fabulous photos! If you see a coworker getting the job done, a beautiful sunset over your office or wonderful County program being offered—snap a pic and submit it. Be sure to include information about the photo and your name. One image will be posted to InSite every Friday.

See the Friday Photo gallery.

Public Safety Group Leadership Announcement

from Helen Robbins-Meyer, Chief Administrative Officer

After a stellar County career spanning more than 30 years, most recently leading our Public Safety Group, Ron Lane has announced his retirement, effective at the end of this year.

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ron lane

Ron is admired and respected by everyone who’s had the fortune of working with him. He’s shown excellence in everything he’s done – and he’s done a lot. He started with the County in Planning and Land Use, then switched to public safety, working in municipal courts, Child Support and Emergency Services, where he expertly managed response operations during the 2007 firestorms.

In 2011, he became Deputy Chief Administrative Officer and General Manager for PSG. He’s continuously raised the bar for the departments and guided them through challenging organizational changes and program implementations: the successful completion of realignment, the opening of the Community Transition Center, Las Colinas reconstruction, the Living Safely strategy, County Fire expansion, the Trauma Response Unit at juvenile hall, Drug Medi-Cal. That’s just to name a few.     

It’s a tremendous legacy, and we are all safer thanks to Ron’s effective leadership.

We’ll miss him, but I am thrilled to announce Holly Porter will take the reins at PSG.

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holly porter

As director of the Office of Emergency Services, Holly has shown leadership when it matters most: during times of disaster. She’s led the Emergency Operations Center during multiple incidents, including the 2014 wildfires and the Lilac Fire in 2017. She’s overseen the introduction and expansion of various tools to help residents prepare for and stay safe during emergencies. During her tenure, OES met standards for the Emergency Accreditation Program, which recognized the County for best practices in planning, training and public awareness campaigns.

Prior to taking over at OES, Holly held several communications positions within the County, guiding our response in numerous high-profile events.

Holly has consistently provided strategic vision and promoted innovation, and I look forward to her taking our public safety departments to new heights.

Please join me in congratulating Holly in her new assignment and wishing Ron the best in a well-deserved retirement. Over the next three months, they’ll serve together in PSG, and we’ll conduct a nationwide search for our next director at OES.

 













Fair Showcases Customer Experience Initiative

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National Customer Service Week happens Oct. 7 -11, and the County is celebrating its dedication to exceptional customer experiences in a big way. County employees are invited to attend the Journey to Customer Service Fair at the COC Chambers on Tuesday, Oct. 8.

The fair runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will include booths highlighting the work of numerous County departments and vendors. There will also be an opportunity drawing.

Representatives from County departments will showcase how they are improving the customer experience by sharing process changes, programs and activities they have put in place to ensure that all customers, internal and external, are receiving the best service.  

Fair attendees can also participate in the It Starts with HEART workshop, (HEART stands for Helpfulness, Expertise, Attentiveness, Respect and Timeliness) which will detail how County employees can provide world-class customer service without losing sight of their personal health and wellness goals.

The workshop starts at 11:30 a.m. and will allow employees to explore the direct correlation between providing exceptional customer service and nurturing your authentic self physically, emotionally, culturally, spiritually and intellectually.

The workshop and fair are presented by the County’s Customer Experience Initiative. Visit the CEI page on InSite to learn more about how you can get involved.

 

Enter ‘County’s Got Talent’ Competition

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UPDATE: Deadline extended to Monday, Oct. 14.

Remember when MTV played videos, Ronald Reagan was president and people rocked shoulder pads, acid-washed jeans and mullets? This Halloween the 80’s are back with a County’s Got Talent competition that honors the decade!

Singers, dancers, musicians, magicians, comedians or variety acts are invited to enter the fun and friendly employee contest.

To enter, upload a video audition to YouTube and email the link to the County’s Got Talent committee by 5 p.m., Oct. 10. Videos must be two minutes or less and 80’s themed.

Semi-finalists will be announced Oct. 14 on InSite where employees can vote for their favorite through Oct. 18. The top five vote-getters will compete live at a Halloween festival at the County Operations Center on Oct. 31. The winning act will be selected by a panel of special guest judges the day of the event.

(Instructions on how to upload to YouTube from a computer, Android and iPhone/iPad.)

InTouch – Probation Officer’s Life Mirrors Juvenile Justice Transformation

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When Probation Officer Elizabeth Brown works with teenagers in detention, she knows what they’re going through. She really does. It doesn’t come from empathy training. She was one of them.

She just had her first anniversary as a County employee. Her long, difficult path there included several stints in juvenile hall and years as a Probation client.

Elizabeth’s personal turnaround is remarkable and inspiring. It also reflects one of our biggest stories at the County in recent years: the transformation of our Probation department, especially for juvenile justice. We’ve had a lot of changes in our organization but probably none more dramatic than how we approach young people whose lives have gotten on the wrong track.

Take Elizabeth’s history as an example. She grew up in an unstable household, regularly exposed to family members using drugs and so much violence that she says it felt normal to her. She had a lot of anger, started getting in fights, and at 15 years old made her first trip to juvenile hall.  

Given the environment she came from, the results are not surprising. In fact, sadly, they’re pretty typical. So underlying our changes to juvenile justice is first a recognition that many of these kids’ behaviors are an outgrowth of bad circumstances. They need help, encouragement, stability, and someone to believe in their worth.

“No matter how much these kids push your buttons, they might be going through something that we just don’t know why they’re acting the way they are,” Elizabeth says. “And sometimes some of them are hard to get to. It takes a little bit of time to break through that wall and for them to start to accept you and begin to change slowly. You know, it’s a long process. They’ve been through a lot.”

Correctional Deputy Probation Officer Elizabeth Brown

Correctional Deputy Probation Officer Elizabeth Brown

That’s meant a shift for probation officers, whose role is now less cop, more counselor and coach. Their training includes learning about adolescent brain development, trauma-informed care, and restorative justice. They really get to know the young people and the root causes of their challenges. That kind of approach is what really made the difference for Elizabeth. She says those who took a personal interest in her made her want to improve her life. She didn’t want to let them down.

One officer helped arrange for her to have tattoos removed, taking her to the appointment and staying with her during the procedure. Elizabeth was touched by the effort. Those kinds of relationships and that level of involvement is now becoming more commonplace in the department.

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Elizabeth says when she went to juvenile hall, it was traumatic to lose the connections she had to friends and family. We now know that kids are going to have a better chance of successfully returning to the community when we help maintain positive networks. We’re making it easier by increasing visitation hours and moving the youths away from remote locations that many families have trouble getting to. The last few years, detention facilities have hosted Thanksgiving dinners so that relatives can join the youths and they can all be together at a traditional time for families.

In general, we’ve worked to make the environment more home-like. We’re going to be taking a much bigger leap in that direction within the next few years by creating a new campus that will replace the existing juvenile hall. The $112 million project will create smaller living units, with more private spaces and recreation opportunities. It will also include improved facilities for staff, such as lounges where they can decompress from a high-stress job.

Of course, what’s even better is helping kids stay out of any sort of facility, and we’re working harder than ever at that. Our number of juveniles in custody has dropped to less than a third of what it was at its peak, and we want to keep that trend going. Thousands of young people each year participate in Alternatives to Detention and a variety of diversion programs. Our recently opened Achievement Centers offer structured, prosocial activities during afterschool hours.  

These are all illustrations of how we’re working with these clients as people – individuals with complex and unique needs. It takes a comprehensive approach to achieve the kind of outcomes we’re striving for. So Probation is also getting more involved with the community, engaging a variety of partners, and working more closely with Health and Human Services and other County departments. This allows us to deliver wraparound services and build more relationships to proactively reach at-risk youth.

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Elizabeth hopes to work in the community someday. Even as she tried to move on from her years on probation, she continued to face struggles: domestic violence and life as a young, single mother. But she persisted, getting a degree in criminal justice and eventually coming to the Probation department. For now, she’s at the East Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility, where she’s turned her difficult past into an asset.

“My history helps me in being more understanding,” she says. “I don’t get upset when they’re doing things they shouldn’t be doing. I just take the time to talk about it.”  

I thank Elizabeth for sharing her story and offer my congratulations on her courage and everything she’s done to get where she is. And let me express my appreciation to all Probation staff for the demanding work you do to improve lives and keep us safe.