The California Joint Powers Insurance Authority (California JPIA), 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.
Providing innovative risk management solutions for its public agency partners for more than 40 years, the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority (California JPIA) is one of the largest municipal self-insurance pools in the state, with more than 120 member cities and other governmental agencies. Members actively participate in shaping the organization to provide important coverage for their operations. The California JPIA provides innovative risk management solutions through a comprehensive portfolio of programs and services, including liability, workers’ compensation, pollution, property, and earthquake coverage, as well as extensive training and loss control services. For more information, please visit the California JPIA’s website at cjpia.org.