Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas delays Probation Department reforms

File photo: Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas
File photo: Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas

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Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas Tuesday blocked a vote on proposed changes at the problem-plagued Probation Department.

One proposals would allow the county’s Office of Independent Review to monitor internal affairs investigations at the probation department. Another would explore allowing the new probation chief to bypass civil service protections and assemble his own management team.

“I need a management team that is committed to the department, committed to me," Chief Donald Blevins told the board. The board appointed Blevins two months ago.

Blevins faces big challenges at a department that’s permitted credit card fraud and failed to discipline abusive officers in probation camps.

Without comment during the meeting, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas blocked the proposed reforms – much to the chagrin of his colleague Gloria Molina.

“I abstain, Madame Chair," Ridley-Thomas said.

“I’m sorry, you abstain?" Molina replied.

Ridley-Thomas later said all supervisors should participate in the discussion. Supervisors Don Knabe and Mike Antonovich were absent. Ridley-Thomas said he also wants to see more reports on the problems.

"The Board is currently due much-needed information from the Department in order to make sound and substantive decisions," he said.

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said it was "a shame" the proposals were delayed. He said it reflects poorly on the board's stated desire to fix probation.

“Anybody who doesn’t understand that has their head deeply ensconced in the sand," he said.

Molina said she's been "horrified with the indifference that was being displayed on some of these investigations" into officers accused of mistreating children in probation camps.

The board takes up the proposed probation department changes again next week.