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Parolee suspect in shooting of LAPD officer not monitored despite alleged gang membership

July 15, 2010 | 11:46 am

State corrections officials said Thursday that an inmate's street gang affiliation is not considered when determining how to classify and monitor parolees like the one who allegedly shot an LAPD officer during a traffic stop in the San Fernando Valley.

Javier Joseph Rueda, identified by police as a Vineland Boys gang member who was fatally shot after exchanging gunfire with police, was placed on "non-revocable parole" in May. The classification meant the 28-year-old did not have to report to a parole officer.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck asked the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation on Wednesday to investigate how Rueda was granted early release and classified as a low-level offender and how to prevent such incidents in the future.

Corrections spokesman Oscar Hidalgo said Thursday it was not immediately clear why Rueda did not have to report to a parole officer, but his street gang affiliation was not a factor in determining his level of risk in the community.

"Obviously, offense history is taken into account," Hidalgo said. "But when we are looking at gang affiliation, we are looking at documented proof of his involvement in a prison gang. We look at not only the commitment offense of the individual but his overall behavior in prison, which includes prison gang involvement and overall behavior."

"Documentation is critical for us," he added. "It's critical each individual receives due process."

In recent months, police officials have said more attention needs to be placed on how parolees are monitored. The law has long required different levels of monitoring for those released from state prison, with violent offenders subject to more rigorous checks, including more frequent visits with their parole agents.

A new law that went into effect this year aimed to cut the state inmate population by about 6,500. The reductions, targeting low-level offenders, are achieved in part through good-behavior credits but also by revising parole rules to stop police agencies from returning nonviolent offenders to prison for minor parole violations.

In implementing the new law, officials have been using a new computer risk-assessment tool called Parole Violation Decision-Making Instrument to identify parolees who carry a high risk of violence and who need more attention.

The tool also is being used on lower-risk offenders, whom parole agents would spend less time monitoring and who might be eligible for targeted programs rather than being put back behind bars.

But law enforcement officials, including Beck and Los Angeles Police Protective League President Paul M. Weber, have questioned the limits of that technology. Even corrections officials say it is a work in progress.

Some 600 felons were classified as being at "low risk" of re-offending. Of those, 240 that were granted parole were reclassified and were supervised. Corrections officials said 1,700 agents are currently monitoring more than 108,000 parolees across the state.

-- Andrew Blankstein