first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who requested the audits that were released Tuesday, said he wants the department to get a handle on these problems before it’s “beyond our control.” “We don’t want this to become another MLK (Martin Luther King/Drew Medical Center) problem where the problem gets so bad that it’s virtually impossible to turn around quickly,” Yaroslavsky said. “We need these issues to be dealt with now or we’ll have ourselves a huge problem with the federal Justice Department.” Auditors wrote that criminal investigations of department employees are assigned to outside law enforcement agencies that often refuse to investigate because of jurisdictional issues. “For many of the allegations that rise to the level of a crime, there is no investigation,” auditors wrote. “Many allegations of criminal activity by Probation Department employees only result in administrative investigations and are not pursued criminally.” About a dozen department employees are charged criminally each year, mostly for off-duty incidents, including drunken-driving, drug crimes and domestic violence, said Robert Smythe, chief of administrative services at the department. Smythe said he only recalls one arrest in the last two years of an employee who allegedly used excessive force on a youth. “It had to do with use of force at one of our camps,” Smythe said. “Shortly after the arrest, the person was released due to a lack of evidence.” The audits urged the department to enter into an agreement with the sheriff or district attorney to conduct criminal investigations of employees suspected of committing crimes. The audits also urged officials to strengthen background checks on new employees. “The limited system check for criminal activity may not reveal serious criminal activity of candidates for employment,” auditors wrote. “For example, if a potential employee has committed certain serious crimes in counties other than Los Angeles, the (background) system check will not reveal these crimes. There are approximately 300 background investigations that are pending.” The department, which has a $530 million annual budget, also oversees 1,650 youths at three juvenile halls and 2,000 more at 19 probation camps. Troy Anderson, (213) 974-8985 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Amid increasing reports of violence against children by county probation workers, two audits released this week found the Probation Department fails to adequately screen new hires to ensure they don’t have criminal histories. Auditors also noted that the department is unable to investigate whether its 5,400 employees are engaging in criminal activity. “Many of the allegations made against Probation Department employees are criminal in nature,” auditors wrote. “These include child abuse or excessive force, taking money or other gratuities under the color of authority, falsifying reports or other documents.” The allegations have come from Los Angeles County juvenile halls and probation camps, the audit said. last_img read more