Controversial New Probation Policy Makes It Easier for Staff to Get Promoted After Being Disciplined for “Inappropriate Conduct”

Los Angeles County Probation has recently instituted a policy
making it easier for staff who have prior discipline problems to receive promotions, but not everyone is pleased by this development.

The policy, which is the result of a deal struck between county officials and probation’s labor unions, has been greeted with alarm by critics who point to a still troubled department with a history of mistreating the children in its care, and a penchant for tolerating extravagant, and sometimes criminal misconduct by a portion of its sworn employees.

The agency’s previous chief, Jerry Powers (who departed under a cloud last year), came to the job in late 2011 with a mandate to institute broad reforms. Yet many probation employees, along with union leadership, complained that Powers instead often caused deserving staff to be blocked from advancement for trivial infractions, whereas higher-ups who broke rules experienced no such consequences.

Those who favor the new policy maintain that the revised guidelines for promotions simply give a second chance to otherwise worthy people who’ve made minor mistakes.

Yet critics of the policy fear that county officials wrongly caved in to pressures by the unions, and that problems will result. To illustrate their concerns, they point to certain sections of the new guidelines, which seem to wink at behavior that should be disqualifying.

For instance, under the revised policy, one is eligible for a promotion after having engaged in certain kinds of “inappropriate conduct,” and long as one has not engaged in said conduct “two or more times,” within 60 months, which would constitute a “pattern.” Examples of the conduct in question are listed as those concerning issues such as:

behavior unbecoming peace officer;
moral turpitude
unreasonably or unjustified use of force.

Yet, in certain instances, even if there is two or more instances of ‘moral turpitude” or “unjustified use of force,” or whatever else, according to the guidelines, executive management may still step in and make it possible for the staff member to promote.

(You can find the guidelines here if you want to take a look for yourself.)

On Sunday, the LA Times ran an excellent story by Abby Sewell and Garrett Therolf about the new agreement and the issues swirling around it.

In researching their story, the Times obtained a copy of the list of 57 people who are to be promoted based on the new policy. Here’s some of what Sewell and Therolf discovered about those 57:

They included one worker who was disciplined in 2012 for putting his hands around a juvenile’s neck, in 2013 for injuring another juvenile, and in 2014 for abusive language, dishonesty and failure to perform his duties, according to a source with access to his file.

Another worker had been disciplined in 2011 for misuse of force for striking a juvenile, according to a source with access to his file. A third had been given a 20-day suspension in 2012 for “failure to properly supervise” and “failure to exercise sound judgment.”

That arose from a 2010 incident in which she was on duty in a dormitory at one of the juvenile lockups and one minor was assaulted by another and sustained a serious jaw injury. The department’s investigation found that the officers on duty “allowed the dormitory to remain in a chaotic state with virtually no supervision.”

And then there was this:

One beneficiary of the new policy was an officer who was disciplined for excessive force after slamming a boy’s head into a bed frame. Officials gave him a 15-day suspension, according to a county official with access to his file who requested anonymity because California law prohibits the disclosure of peace officer discipline. After the rule change, he was promoted earlier this year, helping to raise his pay by more than $9,500 above last year’s total compensation of $95,000, county officials said.

According to a conversation the Times had with interim probation chief Cal Remington, an additional 18 probation employees, “some with more serious misconduct,” are currently being considered for promotion.

(PS: Be sure to read the rest of Sewell and Therolf’s story.)


  • I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a similar policy with other lea’s, but since the times myopic reporting only wants to castigate probation, it seems they never bothered to follow up. Seems like this blog just regurgitated this story without doing their own fact checking. “Reporting.” Keep piling on probation, I’m sure the other “troubled” agencies appreciate the break from the bad pub. You can look up all the arrests reported for probation through the county council website, mostly DUI and DV’s. Wonder what the same arrest data with other lea and county agencies is???

  • This blog’s obsession with Probation is very unhealthy Whoever leaked confidential peace officer information to the reporters is guilty of a crime. This site is guilty by extension. This is not to condone what the Probation employees did but strictly to highlight the blog’s and the self-anointed saviors absolutely sick obsession.

    Please elaborate on, “alarm by critics who point to a still troubled department with a history of mistreating the children in its care, and a penchant for tolerating extravagant, and sometimes criminal misconduct by a portion of its sworn employees.” What the hell is extravagant criminal misconduct? Also, name one critic who has suggested this.

Leave a Comment