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San Diego County’s Former Chief Probation Officer Under Fire in Los Angeles County

San Diego County probation chief Los Angeles
Adolfo Gonzales. Photo credit:

Two members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors have called for the resignation of the county Probation Department chief, a former official in San Diego County.

They criticized Adolfo Gonzales following concerns about the L.A. agency’s operation and treatment of youth in the department’s care.

Gonzales has led the county Probation Department since Feb. 1, 2021, and previously served as chief probation officer for San Diego County.

“I have lost confidence in Chief Gonzales’ ability to run our Probation Department,” board Chairwoman Janice Hahn said in a statement. “His ineffective leadership is hurting both the youth in our care and our staff who deserve better. I believe the best way forward is for Chief Gonzales to step down.”

Supervisor Kathryn Barger echoed the concerns, in a statement, saying the department is in “crisis and has consistently failed to correct increasingly unsafe conditions for youth and staff, chronic understaffing and abysmal conditions for the youth under its supervision and care.”

There was no response to a request for comment from the Probation Department.

The county’s Probation Oversight Commission on Thursday voted 5-2 to call for Gonzales’ resignation.

A University of San Diego biography states that Gonzales’ law enforcement career began in 1978 and has included stints as Assistant Chief of Police for the San Diego Police Department, Chief of the National City police, and as the chief investigator for the San Diego District Attorney’s Office.

Supervisor Hilda Solis issued a statement Friday afternoon that fell short of calling for Gonzales’ resignation, but said recent concerns make her “question and doubt whether Chief Gonzales and Chief Deputy (Karen) Fletcher should continue leading this department.”

The calls come one week after the Los Angeles Times reported the launch of a criminal investigation by the District Attorney’s Office into the actions of several probation officers caught on video piling on top of a teenager at a juvenile probation camp in 2020 during an argument that escalated into a physical altercation.

According to the Times, an internal disciplinary board moved in 2021 to fire a supervisor involved in the melee, but Gonzales overrode the panel, allowing the supervisor to remain employed.

The Probation Department was targeted last year in a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse of dozens of girls by agency staff dating back to 1985. The county’s juvenile lockups have also been criticized in recent years by state corrections officials for being unsuitable to house offenders.

Late last year, the department abruptly moved all detainees out of Central Juvenile Hall in Lincoln Heights over concerns about conditions at the facility.

Last month, the Board of Supervisors approved an emergency motion after learning that the Probation Department was auctioning off surplus firearms to dealers.

Supervisors Hahn and Solis wrote in their motion that such an auction “directly compromises the board’s efforts to address the gun violence epidemic, is antithetical to the county’s values and is highly insensitive in the wake of the recent tragedy in our community,” referring to the fatal mass shooting in Monterey Park.

The board ordered the county to halt any other such auctions of weapons being conducted by county departments and called for a policy banning sales by the county of firearms and ammunition.

– City News Service

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