Probation officers’ union files suit against city over provisional appointments

Stephon Johnson | 1/17/2019, 4:11 p.m.

The union representing New York City probation officers has filed suit against the City of New York.

Late last month, the United Probation Officers Association, the union that represents more than 80 probation professionals, filed an Article 78 special proceeding in New York State Supreme Court against New York City Department of Probation Commissioner Ana Bermudez, New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services Commissioner Lisette Camilo and the City of New York. The union is accusing the city of hiring people outside of the department and promoting probation officers who shouldn’t have been promoted.

“There are plenty of qualified, professional and dedicated UPOA members working in probation that are eligible and eager to fill the role of supervising probation officer,” said UPOA President Dalvanie Powell. “These provisional hires are a slap in the face to hardworking women and men who serve the city as the heartbeat of our criminal justice system. No other previous administrators have gone outside of the Department of Probation to fill promotional positions.”

According to the suit, the city hired six people as supervising probation officers from outside of the probation department and promoted two officers who hadn’t completed their probationary periods. The union states that these acts violated the New York State Constitution, New York City’s Personnel Rules and Regulations and the Civil Service Law.

“This adds insult to injury because our probation officers and supervising probation officers within the five boroughs are the least paid within the city’s criminal justice system,” said Powell. “The city must reverse these decisions immediately and do what is right.”

To become a supervising probation officer, a candidate must take a promotional exam that is open only to Department of Probation employees. To be eligible for promotion, the candidate has to pass the exam and serve as a probation officer for at least one year and have peace officer status. The last exams for supervising probation officer positions were taken back in March 2015, and current probation officers are waiting for the next exam to qualify for promotions.

The New York State Constitution, the Civil Service Law and New York City’s Personnel Rules and Regulations permit provisional appointments only “when there is no appropriate eligible list available for filling a vacancy in the competitive class.”

Attempts to contact the city for comment were unsuccessful.