By OPEC Staff

CDCR Secretary Jeff Beard recently paid an unexpected visit to the offices of San Francisco Parole Unit #1.

“The agents were really surprised and happy to see him,” said Parole Agent II Ken Wong, unit supervisor.  “They were happy that he took the time to see their work first hand and to show that he cares.”

The Secretary’s visit, which came on short notice, was the first by a Secretary to the San Francisco Parole office.

“It’s a big honor,” Wong said, adding that the Mayor’s Office sent a representative to greet Secretary Beard.

Secretary Beard in SF

Left to right: Steve Lin, Parole Administrator; Geraldine Thompson and Dwayne Cooks, Region II Deputy Regional Administrators; Michael Wong, Director of American Red Cross, representing San Francisco Mayor Lee’s Office; Brian Clay, Region II Parole Administrator; CDCR Secretary Jeff Beard; Ken Wong, Parole Agent III, Unit Supervisor.

Wong described his job as a parole agent as “half law enforcement and half social work.”

“Public safety is still the number one concern,” he said, but more emphasis is being placed on community-based programs.

If a parolee relapses, failing a drug test for example, there is more communication in an effort to understand why, he said.  Minor violations used to mean “doing time,” now, he said, they mean community service.

Two years ago Wong, along with several agents in his San Francisco unit, won Distinguished Service Medals for their efforts with the Parolee Graffiti Cleanup Program. Wong started the program a dozen years earlier, and it’s still going.

“It’s exactly what the Secretary was looking for,” Wong said. “It’s tailor-made.”

Parolees engage in community service work – painting over graffiti, planting trees, picking up litter. Wong said he and other agents in the office donate one weekend a month to oversee the award-winning program.

Their next outing as part of the Community Clean Team efforts will be June 22. More information is available at  sfdpw.org/volunteer (Note: This website may be be viewable on a CDCR computer).

Community Clean Team0001

Community Cleanup Program volunteers gather. (Back row, far left) District Administrator Matt Goughnour; (front row, kneeling) Parole Agent I Milton Chew; (front row, third from right) Goughnour’s son; (second from right) Parole Agent III Ken Wong; (far right) Parole Agent I Charlotte Sullivan.