The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department may be failing to weed out problematic or underperforming deputies during the standard year-long probationary training period, according to a report from Inspector General Max Huntsman presented to the LA County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
The board approved a motion by Supervisors Hilda Solis and Michael Antonovich to direct Sheriff Jim McDonnell to report back with a plan for ensuring that the probationary supervision period “is a meaningful part of the employee selection process.”
After deputies graduate from the Academy, they must complete a one-year probationary period, which is spent in the Custody Division. First, they attend a four-week, classroom-based training course to prepare for work in Custody, then they are divided up among the county jails.
After that, new deputies spend 12 weeks in an on-the-job training program under the guidance of Training Officers. During this time, the TOs are expected to assess and give trainees feedback regularly, and complete bi-weekly evaluations of the deputies’ training progress.
At the 90-day mark, a unit commander (usually a captain) must review a trainee’s work habits and performance, with a focus on “issues such as honesty, integrity, trustworthiness, and character, and any other characteristic” that would show whether a deputy was fit for a law enforcement career. If the trainee passes the assessment, he or she moves on to an assignment within the jail. Thirty days before the probationary period is up, the unit commander must complete a final evaluation of career performance to determine whether the deputy will move on from probation. This is a crucial step, because during the probationary period, deputies do not have the same protections held by permanent LASD employees, and if trainees do not meet department policy standards, they can be “released.”
None of the LASD Academy’s 334 Deputy Sheriff Trainees (DSTs) who graduated in 2014 were eliminated for poor performance.
Over the last two years, the department has reportedly revamped it’s hiring practices in order to get a large number of recruits through the door quickly.
Sheriff Jim McDonnell, who was sworn in on December 1, 2014 (and has had the task of reforming a department plagued by abuse and misconduct scandals), has said he only wants to hire officers with a strong moral character. “While we’re heavily recruiting and we want to be able to fill the ranks, we’d rather work short than hire the wrong people,” McDonnell told the LA Daily News last year.
A veteran LASD manager, now retired, said that in the past, under former Sheriff Baca’s rule, there were too few background investigators to handle the number of LASD applicants, and some applicants that should have been disqualified were hired (despite objections from investigators) in order to quickly increase the sheriff’s department ranks.
The IG’s report took an in-depth look at 16 of the deputies’ probationary training files. According to the report, 9 out of 10 evaluations of new deputies on probation occurred after the one-year deadline, leaving no way to get rid of any unfit trainees—which is the main purpose of the probationary period. Those final evaluations are supposed to be completed a month before the end of the probationary period. The untimely assessments were reportedly completed between 1.5 and 5 months after the end of the probation period. Some were never completed. Moreover, many of the written evaluations included non-specific, cut-and-pasted comments about the trainees.
AN INDIVIDUAL TRAINING STORY
In one particularly alarming case reviewed by the IG’s Office, a problematic trainee was passed around among several Training Officers like a hot potato, but still managed to finish his probationary period. The deputy’s first TO wrote that the trainee was “not comprehending the importance of having knowledge of department policy and unit orders,” and not taking his TO seriously, despite multiple conversations about the issue.
After a pile of similar reviews, the department moved the deputy to a new TO, with similar outcomes. The deputy was passed to a third TO who said the trainee was “not taking his position here at Men’s Central Jail as a Deputy Sheriff seriously” and that his “integrity is a major concern not only in his role as a Deputy Sheriff but also for the safety of his partners.” The department sent him to yet another TO, who was able to push the deputy through the training program 10 months into his probationary year.
The deputy finished his year, and did not receive a final assessment. “Even though this DST received rigorous evaluations over the course of his probation that revealed the significant likelihood that he was not a fit for the position of Deputy Sheriff, the Department nonetheless failed to take advantage of the opportunity to release a low-performing employee before he obtained the substantial rights provided by civil service protection,” the IG’s report said.
IG Huntsman recommends certain clarifications on current custody training policies, like actually defining what a “meaningful” assessment entails, as well as what specific competencies a trainee should have (with measurable benchmarks) in order to move on to patrol.
The report also recommends that each deputy trainee be assigned to one dedicated Training Officer for their entire probationary year, and that custody training officers receive a boost to their salary for their extra responsibilities.
Huntsman makes a good point, said our veteran source. “But it is not as easy as it seems.” Making sure there are enough seasoned, capable training officers in Custody, which has in the past not been considered a coveted assignment, he said, “will take some real leadership, standards and honest assessments of employees.”
Unfit deputies should actually be let go during their probationary period, the report says, and higher-up commanders—rather than captains—sign off on each trainee’s completion of probation 30 days before the end of the year.
Sheriff McDonnell only agreed with the recommendation to review department policies, including defining “meaningful” training. McDonnell did not agree with the other recommendations—assigning a trainee to one TO for the whole year, releasing unfit deputies, and moving evaluations up to the commander level—citing staffing issues.
The Supervisors voted to have Sheriff McDonnell report back to the board within 60 days with a plan for implementing the first recommendation, as well as options for achieving the remaining recommendations (and what each option will cost), and any other recommendations for improving the department’s probationary training system.
send the new deputies to patrol right out of the academy. (union issue) Their patrol certification is good for 5 years. Once they complete training send them back to custody. It is fairly simple to complete training in custody. Patrol is a different story. As long as they are sent out prior to reaching the 5 years they are good to go. You will have patrol certified deputies assigned to custody and they would be additional assets in the event of a major incident. It is difficult to discharge and employee after they have passed their probation. Civil service rules apply.
The first that needs to go is the insane POE that Baca put in place. The POE has been used time and time again by trainees who fail to cut the mustard as a means of arbitration over whether or not they are competent. Coupled with the way the policy has been enforced by the department, and you end up with trainees getting multiple chances, at multiple units, to get off training. The other side of the coin is the TO’s not wanting to suffer the consequences of a trainee beefing them with a POE complaint playing the race/gender card, so the TO’s are more lenient and less likely to hold the trainee to set standards.
I’ll stand by now for all the self righteous comments about how if a TO is worried about that they shouldn’t be a TO. The fact is, the POE has caused the LASD to bend over backwards to accommodate lazy, incompetent, sub-standard malcontents who don’t work or play well with others in any environment, much less in the role of a LEO.
The best first step to alleviating the problem is to get rid of the way the POE is implemented/enforced. . Just another one of Baca’s great ideas that has been extremely detrimental to the LASD.
Remember the HUGE cheating scandal some years ago? And we were the only the second academy to be de-certificated. Yes, and Baca and his female chief said that POST overreacted? The PC crap has been in place for generations. It’s just that McD has brought to a new low of incompetence! Still think that McNugget and Nutty Tyler are men of integrity? They both know what’s going on at the academy and no one is being fooled except the public!
Make probation five years for all LEO.
Have things changed. I know we have the dual path now, but for those that opt for the patrol path, don’t they still have to complete their two mandatory training assignments, custody then patrol. It didn’t happen to often, but in the past there were deputies who failed their patrol training program, several years on the job and past their probationary period, who were discharged and/or allowed to demote to a non-sworn position. It was agreed upon, the same way we all checked the boxes about working any hour and anywhere in the County.
It kinda seems like Max and the BOS would like to see people fired in their first year so they can show the loud minority constantly complaining segment of the public that they are doing something, the ol’ political sacrificing someone NOT THEM. Who on earth would want to hire on to this ship on fire right now, with buckets of gasoline being thrown on it rather then water, if other places are hiring. Especially when the new sheriff is the one watching the buckets of gasoline be filled and tossed. He CAN’T claim he doesn’t see it, and if he doesn’t then that’s even worse. I guess his heads in the sand looking at the next version of the star logo that he’s considering changing again.
If it were all just that easy..
LASD is the biggest sheriffs department in the land, custody isn’t the most “highly desired” place to work, negative publicity doesn’t make law enforcement and LASD the most attractive career/place to be, staffing shortages, younger workforce mindsight. All these issues make it difficult to impossible to find let alone keep good employees. It’s so easy to sit back, criticize, make recommendations and consider your job done. The real work and heavy lifting comes in the implementation. Ask LASD personnel how its going trying to meet the all the near impossible dictates of ROSAS, CCJV and DOJ. Yet another vulture feeding on a wounded carcass.
# 2. You left out the “unqualified and assholes” of LASD T/O’s who don’t deserve to be training deputies anyway.
Mind you there are many issues attributed to some (not all) T/O’s including race/gender biases. Im specifically speaking about “more than a few” LASD Field Training Officers. To deny this is asinine. Many lateral deputies and original deputies would strongly agree.
It’s kind of funny how the IG is wringing his hands over the failure of the department to exercise the cheap option of not granting tenure to non-performing probationary employees. At the very same time, the department is sending perfectly good employees to the slaughterhouse of firings and/or demotions, with the belief they are sending a “message” to all employees. Screw us and we will destroy you, or something like that. The victim has to fight to get his/her job back, civil service wonders what crack department execs are smoking for firing/demoting without cause, and morale continues to tank.
Hey Jim, how is that whole retreaded management team from Baca/Tanaka working out for you?
Huntsman is simply doing his job. He is bringing to the Sheriff and BOS a problem. 334 deputies graduate in 2014 and not one single person released from probation? The LAT story is probably just a gloss over from the real problems Max found when he started connecting the dots of Custody deputies involved in heavy disciple or termination, and their training track record. It’s hard to justify a rubber stamp evaluation, likely hundreds of them, but it is also a reality. The evaluation system was to have been revamped years ago, but it never happened. Human nature is human nature, a sergeant is handed 25 evaluations on his/her first day as a sergeant, and told they are all overdue. The story of the problem trainee, given three TOs, serious deficiencies noted, and they get signed off. Those are the things Huntsman gets paid to find. I’d sure like to know the specifics of that caper.
Under the Tanaka Crime Family mandate, we hired 2,000 deputies in two years, rolled-up tenured Background supervisors who did not play the Kristy Guyovich game of rubber stamp OK to Hire, lowered the standards lower than ever before, had Academy Staff having sexual affairs with recruits of their choice, POST tests compromised by the same staff, decertification of the LASD Academy by POST, the Academy Captain rolled up as the sacrificial lamb but she was smart enough to keep copious notes on who the real villains were and suddenly promoted to Commander, and then we find out of this group of 2,000 we suddenly have an epidemic of DUI cases, severe discipline and discharge cases the likes of never seen and what is the result? Guyovich and Tanaka take a picture around a celebratory cake and Guyovich and Tanaka are promoted. Don’t blame Huntsman, his job is to find problems and make recommendations, which may or may not work. But it is the Sheriff’s job to deal with the solutions to the problems Max finds. There are no easy solutions to this one. Now that Tanaka is the convicted and sentenced Federal Felon that he is, maybe McD will allow sergeants and lieutenants to for once, do their jobs without having to look over their shoulder. But the, McD did decide to retain the Tanaka groomed and promoted command staff, maybe folks are justifiably gun shy, for a good reason. Keep digging Max, keep digging!
When you can provide the name of one, just one, trainee who was rolled up after having a single TO, get back to me. If the TO is an asshole, the trainee is going to get another chance with a new TO. Substandard trainees having problems are given multiple chances before they are fired. The fact that NONE of the 334 trainees who graduated in 2014 were fired speaks for itself. Those asshole TO’s you referred to caused exactly ZERO out of 334 trainees to get fired. There’s the facts, the numbers. They fly in the face of your logic.
Not comparing apples to fruit even…
Custody “TO” = no bonus pay, no true respect for the position and zero incentive.
Patrol TO = bonus pay and rank, respect, stepping stone/requirement for many desired spots and real incentive.
Not fair to mix up the two…totally different animals all together different.
The recommendation of OIG of pay and training incentives for custody TO’s is a start.
Hello, ALADS, are you there? “Sorry, you have reached a recording. The Directors are busy planning the River Trip and Family Picnic. Please leave a message.”
# 9. You’re confused. I’m specifically talking about Field Training Officers and NOT Custody Training Officers. @ Reality: At least you get the point and see the picture. You’re correct in that both are totally different animals. Many deputies rose to higher ranks after being paired with some some idiot FTO’s. Many good Field Training Officers do exist though and my post was not to slight them them.
Hey Huh. Aren’t we supposed to hush and eat mush? Not questioning Alads, concerning their complete inaction towards deputies. It’s a recurring and redundant conversation, but ALADS is a bunch of blow hards, not showing up at critical times in the interest of deputies. Yet they’re spending hundreds of thousands to go after Former President Macias while Hayhurst left in a Maserati.
As a side note, I saw a great LASD story on the internet about a kid who is ill and had an opportunity to work with some of our K9 personnel. But there was a commander shown in the video footage whose uniform appearance was absolutely atrocious, I mean flat out embarrassing. Sheriff, do you not see these things? How can this person allow this to happen, how can this person even put on a uniform and be seen in public in that condition. Wow, sad. But that aside, great job by the K9 crew, you brought great happiness to a very ill child.
I would like to know how many executives family members, friends of family and 924’s were originally DQ’d, yet somehow got hired. Cindy Chang, that’s where you need to start investigating. Look at all the people that were originally DQ’d, then follow the trail as to how they ended up in the academy. You will find that there are some that should not have gotten to graduation for a variety of reasons, yet they did. And no 14 you are right. Finally a real article where we really made an impact on the life of a child. I am so tired of seeing every station trying to step on another with feel good stories, that are not. Good old Commander Parker has taken us into the social media frenzie that often times just seems fake.
We seem to find the worst representatives possible to put in front of the camera. If it’s not Tyler zoning out space cadet style, it’s a soup sandwich executive with a “Dunlap” Sam brown, or some clueless deer-in-the-headlights lieutenant who can’t speak a coherent sentence in English. Sheriff McDonnell, you should feel proud, however, they all had brass snaps!
Ps: Dunlap, for those unfamiliar with the term, is a situation created when a morbidly obese person puts on a uniform belt that is lapped over by the belly fat above the belt. Removing critical items, such as ammo clips, becomes an awkward, energy-sapping task.
I investigated a female deputy in 2007 who resigned in lieu of firing for fraternization with a southsider at wayside. The southsider’s wife caught the female deputy at TTCF visiting her old man. The female deputy threatened the wife acting as a deputy. An impersonating an officer report was written. I ran this female on RAPS and she was a convicted felon for Arson. I went to backgrounds and most of her paperwork had do not hire. She got the ear of a Commander. That commander gave the green light for her to be hired. I hear the deputy was a POE factory from jump street and she had a son that was a gang member in prison for car jacking.
The butthurt is strong here. Couldn’t make it thru the FTP? Pethaps you were looking for a handout. Suck it up buttercup and try again. Maybe prepare this time. If you made the FTP, Maybe you ended up in band 3 of coveted testing for FTO. Awwwww.
I agree that custody TOs should get bonus pay. Station FTOs should get more than they do.
In over 20 years of patrol, never seen anyone cut who wasn’t worthty. Never. Seen more than a few who were failures, refused passage by training staff, yet moved on by executive care bears above the rank of captain. That is where we fail. Executives passing failures. Hmmmmmmmm.
“Dunlap” hilarious! We can’t have realistic fitness standards after the academy because being obese is almost a protected class. Can’t discriminate. You ever get in a patrol car after a large partner had it? What a sinking feeling. Ins
I remember a guy that would continuously forget to secure his gun before entering MCJ, lose his jail keys, and forget to close jail cells after placing inmates in them. Supervision didnt want to take the time to fix it. He is only one example of many.
LASD has been horrible with training for years. Now the department is paying the price. The crappy documentation above is the norm.
End mandatory custody, tighten up the training program in custody for those who would rather start their career there, and recruit lateral transfers from other departments to attract proven talent and reduce a need to hire from the unknowns where 1.8 in 100 make it to the academy. Do that and no matter what happens, everyone is trained and treated equally in their first year.
20: where did you get those stats? I see the stats every month so where did you get that?
currenly LASD has to compete with every other agency in california. With so much controversy on the department it is difficult to obtain quality personnel. The background takes 8 months to a year to complete which is poor at best.
@ Really, I have a neighbor whose kid put himself through an academy then applied with LASD. He waited, waited, waited and then waited for Backgrounds to process him and give him an answer. After close to a year, he moved on. He was sworn in last week to another police agency. This was a quality applicant. Nothing changes with LASD, this nightmare story has be told a thousand times.