October 31, 2022
Media Contact: Probation Media
First of 150 New Officer’s Start Academy Classes
LOS ANGELES, CA (October 31, 2022) — The Los Angeles County Probation Department’s largest class of officer recruits in two years will begin its formal academy training today, representing the first wave of what will eventually be 150 new hires intended to address chronic staffing shortages in the County’s two juvenile halls.
The 17 recruits reporting for class will go through nine weeks of formal classroom training before starting their jobs in the Central and Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Halls by mid-January. As newly minted peace officers, they will receive additional two weeks of training on the job while they shadow current officers in the halls.
In all, the Probation Department expects to have dozens of new officers in its halls by early next year, with the full complement of 150 full-time peace officers expected by June, said Dr. Adolfo Gonzales, the County’s Chief Probation Officer and head of the Department.
“This is an important day for the Department,” said Gonzales. “Our new class of 17 recruits is just the beginning. We’ve got another 30 going through the final round of background checks and dozens more coming up behind them. These reinforcements represent just one of the changes that my management team and I have been making since taking over the Department last year.”
Gonzales said the other measures have included offering bonus pay to officers currently working in the juvenile halls; upgrading the halls, which will eventually create home-like settings, as well as the installation of security cameras and WI-FI; revamping the Department’s Human Resource function to better track employee leaves; and seeking technical assistance from the BSCC to resolve issues raised by state inspections.
Hit hard by COVID-19, a high number of personal leaves, and officers calling out sick, the Probation Department has been struggling to maintain minimal staffing levels in its halls even as it operates under a hiring freeze.
The result has created safety issues for staff and youth, compromised the delivery of programming and forced some juvenile hall staff to pull double shifts of 16 hours, sometimes on successive days.
To address the problem, the Department petitioned and received an emergency budget exemption from the County CEO’s Office that allowed for the hiring of 150 officers starting August 1.
More than 1,500 have applied, and to fast-track those who eventually qualify, the Department will schedule parallel academies.
Most of the 17 recruits starting the academy today are Hispanic women with four-year college degrees. Overall, they will be in class for 70 more hours than the state requires.
Their classroom curriculum will include the California criminal justice system; law enforcement ethics; trauma-informed care; verbal skills to de-escalate confrontations; dealing with gangs; safe crisis management techniques; and mental health training on adolescent development, child trauma, and behavioral health conditions.
The Los Angeles County Probation Department is the largest probation service organization in the country, with about 4,500 employees, two-thirds of whom are sworn officers. It serves a population of nearly 500 juveniles in its camps and two halls and monitors more than 30,000 adults through officers in the field.