Earlier this year, FPPOA conducted a survey to gather information from the field. A series of questions was developed to obtain information on topics FPPOA hears about from its members, as well as non-members. In no way was this survey a professional, long term, “survey company/academic” approach to gathering information. It was simply a series of questions to gather information from the field.
The survey received feedback from over 1,500 officers. That’s nearly 25% of the probation and pretrial officers in our system, meaning about one out of every four responded. We thank all of you for your time in responding. This number signifies to us that the line wanted to be heard. As FPPOA is the sole “voice” for Federal Probation and Pretrial Services Officers, we proudly provide you with the following information gathered from the survey. The survey was not intended to bring about dispute, but to bring about cooperation and a better future for our officers.
One conclusion FPPOA drew from the survey is that a follow up survey may be needed. We also hope to use this information in upcoming work measurements studies conducted by PPSO.
First, here is the general data on who responded and provided feedback.
53% of those responding were supervision officers; 19% presentence investigators; 9% pretrial officers; 19% combined job functions.
39% of those responding had less than 10 years on the job; 42% had between 10 and 20 years on the job; while 18% had 20 or more years.
86% reported not having a second job, while 14% indicated they did have a second job. Of those who did have a second job, 8% worked 5 or more hours per week.
The following information was in reference to salary and work hours.
75% of those responding indicated they would like to see Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP). The survey simply defined this as receiving 25% more pay for 25% more work.
45% reported not being able to earn compensatory (comp) time. 27% reported not being able to use flexible (flex) time. If offered the choice, 60% would prefer LEAP time, 23% flex time, 17% comp time. For those who earn comp time, 38% earned 1 to 3 hours per pay period, while 17% earned more than 4 hours. For those having the ability to flex time, 59% did so 1 to 3 times per pay period, while 14% flexed 4 or more times per pay period.
The question, “How often are you required to work after normal business hours, including weekends?” resulted in the following data. At least once per pay period, 15%. 1 to 6 times per month, 51%. More than 7 times per month, 18%. 15% reported only working normal business hours.
29% noted forfeiting “use or lose” annual leave. 54% of those forfeited less than 5 hours, 46% reported forfeiting more than 5 hours.
73% reported that their district considers them to be available or on call 24/7.
56% of those responding were satisfied or very satisfied with their salary. 27% were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their salary. The reminder were neither satisfied nor unsatisfied.
87% reported they will continue in their career as a U.S. Probation/Pretrial Services Officer. For the 13% who reported they plan to seek other employment, the reasons noted were: Lack of Advancement (15%), Salary (15%), another federal Job (27%), another state Job (1%). 47% of those seeking other employment cited other reasons as follows: no LEAP pay, stress/burnout, management issues, retirement.
The survey asked what was the most time consuming part of your job. 26% reported data entry/documentation; 18% reported paperwork/clerical duties; 11% reported administrative or management items such as meeting with SUSPO, Human Resources, meetings.
“What would you like to see done to better your position” resulted in a wide range of responses, including better pay and more consistent pay steps; less data entry; less case load/more realistic work requirements; LEAP; improvement to LM system; more officers; better officer retention; telework options; officer wellness/work-life balance/stress burnout; more efficiency; “nothing is taken away when more is added”; better grievance process; better evaluation process; “be more like one organization”.
“What is the most challenging part of your job” resulted in the following feedback: deadlines; micromanaging; lack of time to get it all done; being on call 24/7; no flexibility; work load; stress; work-life balance; keeping up with changes; low morale and difficult work culture; increasingly dangerous job/offenders; liability concerns; spending more time documenting the job than doing the job.
FPPOA asked “Do you perform other tasks during the course of your job duties, i.e. STARR coach, searches, etc., and how many hours?” We recognize this question was a bit vague and did not allow for a “none” response, therefore is somewhat invalid. However, firearms, searches, safety/ORT/NLTA was noted in 53% of the responses.
FPPOA believes with the large percentage of those who responded, specifically with reference to the wide range of time served as an officer in our system, the information gathered reflects a history of changes in our system. The younger group of officers would seem to be seeking fair and better benefits, in a career that is adding more responsibility and job duties. FPPOA would agree with the comment, “be more like one organization” when it comes to time, salary, providing all with the same tools for the field. FPPOA hopes to further research and expand on the survey in the upcoming months. Please provide us with your feedback or questions.