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Federal officials should take bigger role in overseeing L.A. County's probation department, Ridley-Thomas says

June 23, 2010 | 12:58 pm

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/images/2008/03/20/mark_ridleythomas_2.jpgLos Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas urged the U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday to broaden its investigation of the county Probation Department and provide more muscular oversight of the troubled agency.

Ridley-Thomas' op-ed in the Huffington Post was published amid persistent reports of employee wrongdoing, abuses of minor wards and a broken internal affairs unit.

"The problems at Probation are too great to drop at the feet of a new manager alone," Ridley-Thomas wrote. "The Board of Supervisors has attempted to fix the department over the years through various motions. We've tried to repair the department from within, and we now know the results."

Meanwhile, Ridley-Thomas has declined to join his fellow board members in support of measures to begin addressing the department's problems.

The department's newly installed chief, Donald H. Blevins, has requested the ability to hire outsiders to fill many of the department's top positions, but a motion to develop such a policy failed Tuesday when Ridley-Thomas declined to vote on it. The vote was 2-1, with two members absent.

Ridley-Thomas also declined to vote on a measure that would add two attorneys from the county's Office of Independent Review to Probation's internal affairs unit, as well as a measure that would initiate an investigation of any Probation staffers with recent arrests.

-- Garrett Therolf

Credit: Los Angeles Times