Foundation CEO Letter on the Appointment of the Next Los Angeles County Chief Probation Officer
October 23, 2020
Supervisor Kathryn Barger, Chair
Supervisor Janice Hahn
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas
Supervisor Hilda Solis
Re: Appointment of the next Los Angeles County Chief Probation Officer
Dear Supervisors Barger, Hahn, Kuehl, Ridley-Thomas, and Solis,
Los Angeles County is transforming its approach to justice, especially in its approach to young people who come in contact with the law. We have seen numerous examples of this, through the creation of the division of Youth Diversion & Development (YDD) within the Office of Diversion and Re-entry, the Ready to Rise public-private partnership, the Youth Justice Workgroup, and the L.A. County Youth Commission. This transformation has even carried over to the broader justice system, through the Probation Oversight Commission, the Alternatives to Incarceration Initiative, and the workgroup developing a plan to close Men’s Central Jail.
The County is moving away from a system of punishment to one of prevention, mental health resources, and youth development, as demonstrated through many bold actions taken by the Board over the last few years. We have seen historic thought-partnership between County leaders, community organizers, philanthropy, and youth and adults with lived experience, to inform this shift and ensure it is done with collaboration from those most impacted. This ongoing transformation now comes to a critical juncture — the selection of the next Los Angeles County Chief Probation Officer.
As the Board embarks on the search to fill this important position, we commend the Board’s leadership in working towards a more just Los Angeles County. As philanthropic leaders serving Los Angeles County’s most impacted communities, we want to go on record in support of choosing a Chief that aligns with this vision. Specifically, we support the selection of a Chief with an explicit commitment to racial equity, justice and a sincere dedication to working in partnership with youth, families, and community. Further, we urge the selection of a new Chief who is motivated to transform the culture of the department, and who understands that a meaningful focus on prevention must be realized through reinvestment in community-based organizations and non-law enforcement public agencies doing the work of diversion and development-based service provision.
We are available for continued thought-partnership in this process, and hope to be part of more meaningful conversations between government, philanthropy, and the community. This new Chief has the potential to either continue the transformation happening in L.A. County, or to hinder it; choosing the right Chief will impact the lives of thousands of L.A. County youth and adults, the majority of whom are Black and Brown folks from underserved communities.
We commend the Board for directing the Hawkins Company, who has been retained by the County to conduct the search, for holding virtual town-halls for community input on the position. This is so important to ensure the community’s voice is heard, and we want to encourage additional town halls. Although the decision will be made via a confidential process, we want to go on record that we are in support of the Board’s decision to engage the community in the process thus far.
We respectfully urge the Board to prioritize the hiring of a new Chief Probation Officer who will further the transformation underway to continue the progress made in L.A. County’s probation system. It is so important that the new Chief is committed to the vision of transformation already set in motion by both your leadership and the community.