LA Times — Los Angeles County probation officers are at loggerheads with their chief over the way he wants them to monitor lower-level felons who have become the county's responsibility as a result of state prison realignment.
The officers' union is complaining that Chief Jerry Powers wants members to make unannounced visits to the homes of probationers, but without carrying weapons. Union leaders say that's too dangerous and are threatening to sue.
The issue is the latest in a series of snags in implementing AB 109, the realignment law that took effect in October 2011 to comply with a court order to relieve state prison overcrowding.
Under the rules, some lower-level felons — generally, those whose most recent offense is nonviolent and nonsexual — are now sentenced to county jail instead of prison, and those paroled from prison are supervised by the county rather than state officers.
The Los Angeles County Probation Department oversees about 10,000 ex-state prisoners, although at any given time, 2,000 or so have fled from supervision. The department has hired 220 additional probation officers to handle those cases and is hiring an additional 143 — a process that the chief said was slowed by labor requirements to try to fill the positions internally but that the union said was slowed by the chief being too particular about whom he would promote.
Most of those officers are not permitted to carry arms. The department has 46 officers who carry guns and plans to eventually raise the number to 100, spokeswoman Carol Lin said. continue reading...