Sgt. Brian Pallares is a retired Navy officer who now helps select new correctional officers for CDCR.

Sgt. Brian Pallares is a retired Navy officer who now helps select new correctional officers for CDCR.

CDCR background investigator subject of magazine interview

By Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor

Careers & The Disabled magazine recently interviewed Sgt. Brian Pallares, who serves as a background investigator for the Office of Peace Officer Selection (OPOS) in the Southern Selection Center.

The magazine’s current issue focused on hiring veterans with disabilities. Sgt. Pallares, himself a veteran who served two tours in the first Gulf War, has a hearing impairment and encourages other veterans to apply for a position at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

“I would rather work with ex-military because of the teamwork and camaraderie they value,” he said. “Veterans also tend to communicate more effectively and that increases morale.”

Sgt. Pallares was in the U.S. Navy for 17-and-a-half years.

“I dealt with nuclear weapons and was an intel officer (and other positions),” he said. “You name it, I did it.”

He got his start in the military at age 19 as a dental hygienist and was putting in fillings when he was 20. He’s also a trained combat medic.

Throughout his military career, he said he worked his way up, going to officer school and eventually getting out with the rank of lieutenant.

“I was the last navigator off the ship USS Durham, LKA114,” he said. “I wrote the decommission instructions on that.”

His duties have been varied. He ran an entire medical unit, ran the whole-duty section on a ship, wrote presentations for a four-star admiral and triaged Marines. He was also awarded the Navy Achievement Medal.

He said he enjoys his CDCR career because once again, he’s able to face challenges and overcome them.

He started state service at the Employment Development Department in 1999. Because of his military background, his friends were pushing him to give CDCR a try.

“In 2009, I came on with corrections. I worked at R.J. Donovan out of the academy.  Because of the layoffs, I took a demotion and worked at Centinela in 2012 and demoted to a part-time intermittent employee,” he said. “In May 2013, I promoted to sergeant. In November 2014, I came to OPOS.”

He said CDCR has been good to him.

“When I came to corrections, I saw lots of opportunities for me, just like in the Navy. I saw lots of opportunities and challenges and took them,” he said. “I love this job. I’ve had the opportunity to work in two prisons and now I’m helping select future correctional officers, ensuring we have good, qualified candidates.”

He said his disability doesn’t slow him down.

“As a disabled Gulf War vet, I have been able to interact with staff in a positive manner and attempt to demonstrate good leadership skills by listening to others and taking good advice as necessary,” he said. “As a background investigator, I can choose the best qualified applicants for CDCR, which I in turn will work with in the future when I return to the institution.”

According to the magazine, he’s been busy. They quote him as saying, “We have approximately 1,800 staff retiring each month, so right now, the challenge is getting qualified applicants into the academy. I determine who has hiring potential. … That requires heavy attention to detail when deciding who to send off for evaluation.”

To check out openings at CDCR, visit

(Editor’s note: Some websites may not be accessible from a CDCR computer.)

To read the story on CDCR hiring in the magazine, Careers & The Disabled, jump to pages 44 and 45 in this PDF version,