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Workers left wondering who's running L.A. County Probation Department

January 25, 2010 |  6:59 pm

Workers in the troubled Los Angeles County Probation Department have spent several days wondering who is in charge of the department after receiving conflicting messages from management.

As relations continue to sour between outgoing Probation Chief Robert Taylor and county supervisors, Taylor announced Friday to his staff that his deputy, Ron Barrett, would take over the department as acting chief Feb 1.

On Monday, however, County Chief Executive William T Fujioka said he ordered Taylor to rescind the announcement and stay on the job. That message was subsequently sent to some, but not all, probation employees earlier today.

“Barrett’s appointment is not going to happen,” Fujioka said in an interview, noting that the responsibility to name an acting chief would be his own.

Taylor announced last year that he would retire once a successor is appointed, but he has become anxious to leave early as the search to replace him continues amid questions about his management ability.

County supervisors, who have recently vocalized their dissatisfaction about Taylor, are set to interview the top candidate to replace him, Alameda County Probation Chief Donald H. Blevins, this week.

The department's 6,200 staffers oversee 60,000 adult probationers and 20,000 youths, including about 3,600 in county-run detention halls and camps. The juvenile operation has been the subject of U.S. Justice Department oversight for misuse of force.

-- Garrett Therolf