LA County probation chief promises reforms in wake of scathing report

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Los Angeles County Probation Chief Donald Blevins Monday said he'll speed up and consolidate investigations.

In an interview with KPCC's Patt Morrison today, Blevins conceded that his agency has failed to investigate problem employees in a timely fashion.

The probation chief said the slow pace of investigations has forced him to retain probation officers who’ve been accused of crimes — including assault and cruelty to a child.

“To keep people working that should not be working is troubling, but once you lose that one year statute of limitations, it’s almost impossible to go back and resurrect it," Blevins said. "Essentially they are damaged goods that I have very limited ability to move them around in the department.”

Blevins — who was hired from Alameda County to run the Probation Department just a few weeks ago — promised to improve investigation procedures. He indicated the department's done a poor job of screening applicants.

“Without a good background unit — and I think that’s what’s happened in the past — we’ve probably hired some people that shouldn’t have been hired in the first place.”

His comments followed a report from L.A. County’s Office of Independent Review that blasted the Probation Department. Michael Gennaco, who wrote the report, said the department’s problems run deep.

“I think it stems from inattention and neglect over the years. It certainly didn’t happen overnight.”

The department employs more than 6,000 people and is responsible for supervising adults and juveniles placed on probation. Three thousand juveniles are under its care.