8 cases where Cal Fire disciplined employees
A professional standards program created two years ago to impose discipline at Cal Fire after a series of scandals will remain in place under a new administration, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget.
Former Gov. Jerry Brown launched the program to improve the culture at the 7,600-member department following a series of scandals that came to light after a Cal Fire academy battalion chief murdered his girlfriend in 2014.
Brown in 2016 created a 14-member unit with a $4 million budget to investigate employee misconduct, impose discipline and educate staff about the department’s expectations. Newsom’s budget sets aside the same amount of money for the same number of positions. The Legislature supports the spending, according to a Budget Conference committee report.
The program has been at the center of a number of disputes between the state’s seventh-largest department and its union, Cal Fire 2881, over disciplinary actions the union believed were overly harsh in some cases.
Thirty-one cadets at Cal Fire’s academy lost their jobs over after-hours drinking in Amador County bars, and 12 were suspended for not reporting on their peers. Investigators have doled out discipline for other offenses ranging from a poop joke on a receipt to substance abuse and off-duty fighting.