Are California’s Probation Officers at Risk?

With Governor Jerry Brown’s prison realignment in place, California counties must begin to implement the strategies set forth, but many are questioning whether the new supervision requirements for inmates released under the AB 109 legislation puts probation officers at greater risk.

Specifically, the Los Angeles County probation officer union has demanded that Governor Brown revamp the new training procedures for deputies hired to complete home visits with AB 109 inmates. The training entails a 30-day field training program, after which probation officers complete scheduled home visits with probationers under the AB 109 legislation. Those probationers in the program were convicted of drug violations, domestic violence, and registered sex offenders.

During the 30-day supervision period, probation officers are accompanied by special armed Special Enforcement officers, but after the supervision period, the newly trained officers must complete their home visits without an armed presence.

A Risky Situation

Union officials say that this move puts probation officers at risk and that it will likely become a huge public safety issue. A recent shooting where a probation officer was shot during a home visit brings to light the concerns of the probation officer’s union. In addition to citing a lack of firearms, the union also says that these probation officers do not have adequate training time.

Proponents of this program and supervision period say that all officers within the program were aware of the dangers of the position and that they would be performing these types of visits when they were hired. Further, aside from basic compliance checks, any stringent compliance checks, such as when a probation officer must look for the presence of pornography for a registered sex offender, is always completed with an armed Special Enforcement officer or with an LAPD officer or sheriff’s deputy.

Meanwhile, the Probation Commission is actively examining new training procedures and the protocol needed to supervise AB 109 probationers.