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Monday, June 17, 2019
HomeColumnsBlack Rifles Matter: What about the probation officer?

Black Rifles Matter: What about the probation officer?

By ART CHANCE
SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR

Probation Officer Kendall Rhyne added his State of Alaska business card to that of Alaska Human Rights Commission Executive Director Buscaglia, as the two made a veiled threat to a tradesman over a “Black Rifles Matter” decal on his vehicle.

[Read: Human Rights Commission vs. First, Second Amendment]

The two worked in concert by harassing the plumber, who had parked his truck in the parking lot of the Human Rights Commission. The agency shares a building in downtown Anchorage with the Corrections Department’s Probation Office.

Buscaglia is now gone. She quit, rather than face the ignominy of making an apology. After serving her slap on the wrist suspension of 15 days, she could have hung on at least until Gov. Michael Dunleavy had the opportunity to appoint a majority of the staggered-term commissioners who hired her, and who let her remain on duty in spite of her transgressions.

[Read: Human Rights executive director resigns]

But the the Human Rights Commission has always been little more than a sinecure for leftist ideologues, and she couldn’t bear the thought of apologizing and thus admitting she might have done something wrong when she ordered the tradesman to remove his truck and its “offensive” decal from the parking lot.

Rhyne has since dropped below the radar, but he is almost as guilty as Buscaglia; he just didn’t have the Department of Corrections’ social media platform to spread venom like Buscaglia had with the commission’s Facebook page, when she used State of Alaska resources to mock and degrade a citizen who holds beliefs different from hers.

Rhyne is a Probation Officer V. He is the chief probation officer for Anchorage and one of only four at that rank in the state. He’s a comfortable Range 22.

It takes awhile to get to a Probation Officer V, and he undoubtedly has a bunch of “steps,” so he makes $100,000 per year or more.

For those of you unfamiliar with the State’s pay schemes, merit system salaries in ranges that start with a 2, particularly 21 – 23, are the top of the food chain in the non-political ranks. The Range 20-somethings are like the “Permanent Undersecretaries” in State government; they’re the ones who know they’ll be attending the directors’ and commissioners’ going-away parties at the change of administration. After that farewell party, they’re the ones going back to work the next day. I know because I used to be one.

Buscaglia was a political appointee hired in a Democrat (Walker) administration; she was expected to be a leftist ideologue.  Rhyne, however, is a career law enforcement officer; there’s a big difference, or there should be.

Probation officers are not uniformed but are usually armed. They they look innocuous, but they have tremendous authority over probationers.   They can show up at a probationer’s house or work at any time without warning or warrant and if anything is untoward, the probationer leaves in handcuffs.

If a probation officer can convince a judge that the probationer was violating the conditions of probation, it is back to jail for the probationer.

The Department of Corrections was in my portfolio for much of my career with the State, so I had a lot of dealings with probation officers. The minimum qualification is a degree, so they consider themselves a cut above mere cops and correctional officers.

Some of them were straight up, squared away law enforcement officers. Some of them were social workers with a badge. Most of them maintained a discrete, professional distance from the probationers. Some of them wanted to hold hands and sing Kumbaya with them.

Some wanted to do more than hold hands, and we fired quite a few for that.

The only thing Buscaglia could do to the plumber-with-the-truck-decal was rant about him on the internet. Rhyne, on the other hand, knows practically every cop and judge in Anchorage and could make a tradesman’s life a living hell. Rhyne should have known better than to participate in Buscaglia’s little show of “resistance,” and he should pay a price for having participated in it.

But we’ll never know what, if anything, the Department of Corrections does to him. He’s a classified, unionized employee and is protected by the confidentiality provisions of AS 39.25.080; the only thing the public gets to know about his employment is “name, rank, and serial number.”

No, they can’t fire him, assuming he has a clean record. Unless an employee already has a record of discipline, it is almost impossible to fire a public employee for a single incident of misconduct unless there is violence or crime involved.

Were I still wearing my old hat, I’d be willing to try to sustain a 30-day suspension without pay. 30 days is the biggie, short of dismissal, because 30 days sets back your retirement date by a month; any unpaid absence over 23 days adjusts your service time for merit or longevity increases and your retirement date.

The State needs to take a piece of Ryne. He needs to feel some pain for being stupid. That’s a real problem today; we reward rather than punish stupid.

Art Chance is a retired Director of Labor Relations for the State of Alaska, formerly of Juneau and now living in Anchorage. He is the author of the book, “Red on Blue, Establishing a Republican Governance,” available at Amazon.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Yep. Exactly Art. They need to set the clock back on this guy. How could he be so stupid? To get to that pay range you would think he’d been around the block a few times…but if he’s snorting the liberal fairy dust it doesn’t matter. And another thing… A probation officer has seen some nasty stuff. To have his feathers ruffled over a bumper sticker and jump on her bandwagon is really weird.

    • Well, I can think of a couple of things that might cause a man to do stupid things when in the company of a woman.

      • Jeez…I must really be getting old or something. I hadn’t even thought of that. I better check my pulse….

  • I’m sure this is a long-shot but I’ll go ahead & post it anyhow: When you say “unless there is violence or crime involved”, well what about “Title 18, U.S.C., Section 241 – Conspiracy Against Rights”. I’m thinking a Probation Officer V should know something of Federal Law. FBI link if anyone wants to take a look https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/civil-rights/federal-civil-rights-statutes Thanks Art, so much focus on Buscaglia that everyone seemed to forget about Ryne

  • So does this guys personal beliefs influence his decision making while on the job?

  • I have said this over and over… where is the probation officer in all this? He is just as guilty. One could argue more so because he is the one to actually put the card on the window adding his own.

  • Not that it makes much difference here but I believe Alaska State Probation Officers can be armed these days in certain circumstances. I just don’t know the specifics. It used to be they could not at all. But yes 100% Art

    • Arming POs in my time was an off again, on again thing, and always a fight about psyche evals and range qualification. When I left government in ’06, I don’t think they were armed, but God knows what has happened in what seems to be twelve years of misrule since then.

      • Give him a bb gun. Great article, Mr. Chance.

      • Art, were you holding state office about 1986 or 1985? Recalling an incident where a PO from (I think) North Pole said their administrator was “steeped in gross ignorance” and got fired? Just curious.

        • I started with the State in April of ’87. I suspect that unless that PO already had a bad disciplinary record if s/he got fired for that s/he got put back to work if the union took it to arbitration.

          • Thanks Art

  • “Title 18, U.S.C., Section 241 – Conspiracy Against Rights”. Under this USC most all our State Legislators could be prosecuted and should be!

  • He was an errand boy, working beneath all of those women, made him feel like a BIG man. Maybe he wants to meet the plumbing contractor and his buddies for lunch?

  • The PO should be looked at too. He is in an armed position. What right did he have to harass and use his position as an armed officer of the court to try and intimidate an innocent citizen of the SOA and an American citizen. Good for the goose, good for the gander

  • As a P.O. he is a Peace Officer. After I spent 10 years as a police officer, I went over to probation and parole supervision for another 11 years. Back in my day POs who could pass the background and pysch evals could be armed. As a former street cop, who was also a firearms instructor, I was involved in those issues back then. All the state POs fall into three categories; 1. Field probation and parole supervision folks who enforce the Court’s rules of Felony probation and orders of the Alaska board of Parole. 2. Social worker types who work in field probation who usually have a burning hatred for the law-enforcement types. But they do serve a purpose.
    3. Probation/Parole Officers who work within the prisons. This last group classifies inmates for security risks and prison placement, plus they produce pre Parole Board hearing reports for the Alaska Board of Parole. Like the Field Officers they tend to be a mixed bag of either liberal enablers or strict enforcement types. Like all State agencies, the hiring and promotion practices of various Governors has a direct impact of who ( or what) gets promoted within the Department of Corrections. For example, Wally Hickel tended to hire enforcement type folks, while Tony Knowles swung the hammer in the opposite direction. Once politically appointed commissioners and directors, are in place, all sorts of folks move up or are banished depending on their political leanings.

    • Thanks Alex