Investigators took too long in LA County Probation Dept. misconduct investigation

More than 30 Los Angeles County Probation Department employees accused of misconduct will probably escape discipline because investigators took too long to complete their cases, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The allegations are in a Los Angeles County Office of Independent Review report on internal investigations in the county Probation Department.

"It's a big problem, huge," Michael Gennaco, the lawyer who led the three-month probe requested by the county Board of Supervisors, told The Times.

"The system is broken down in so many ways, from the inception of the investigation all the way through," he said. "There are bottlenecks that slow things down, and cases that should have been done, could have been done in a reasonable time, were not."

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who requested the report, said some employees have committed "some egregious violations, sometimes against our kids, and they don't get punished. This is the product of many years of buildup, and it's got to be cleaned up."

Of 31 sworn staff who will probably go unpunished by the department, Gennaco said 18 had been charged with such crimes as cruelty to a child, sex with a minor, prostitution, assault with a deadly weapon, resisting an officer and battery. Of the 18 charged, at least 10 have been convicted, he said.

But the officers may not be disciplined by the departmental because investigators violated the statute of limitations for investigations of peace officers by taking more than a year to complete their reports.

More than half of the disciplinary cases that did make the deadline were completed within five days of the limit, according to The Times.

The report blamed the problem on "bureaucratic inefficiencies, insufficient tracking and weak case management."

The probation department has 14 internal investigators for 6,000 employees, of whom about 4,400 are sworn officers.

The report found that investigators took an average of 200 days to complete cases, when the department's self-imposed deadline is 45 days.

The report recommended 34 changes. Blevins told The Times his staff will report back on the suggestions within a month.

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