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Los Angeles Wants Probation Officers — But This Time, They Better Not Be Troublemakers

by Oct 22, 2013, 6:42 am ET

la countyScreen Shot 2013-10-21 at 3.17.21 PMThey’re looking for probation officers here in Los Angeles, but the county doesn’t want to repeat the experience of 2005 to 2008, when many hires didn’t get much of a background check and ended up with DUIs or even battery arrests.

Yes, those were probation officers themselves, getting “very limited to no background checks,” Don Meyer, a Los Angeles County Probation Department assistant chief, tells me. So, now, “we want to fill positions more than anybody but we want to do it the right way.”

During that mid-decade period, Meyer says, there was “tremendous pressure to hire.”

There’s some of that now, particularly as people are released from overcrowded jails and end up in probation. The department has about 6,600 employees and about 1,100 vacancies. About 470 of those are for “peace officer” slots that need to be filled. Of those, 300-320 people have been identified, but they haven’t necessarily even taken their jobs. That’s because of the domino effect: the county needs to first fill the jobs that will be vacated by candidates moving up internally before it will put the promoted or lateral-moving people into peace officer jobs.

The county is using Facebook and Twitter (such as this page) to recruit. Of course, it’s using its own career pages. It’s working on its LinkedIn page. It’s advertising in college newspapers, both two- and four-year colleges. It’s working with California State University/Los Angeles on getting its curriculum in line with county needs, and recruiting year-round from there.

Most people will fall out of the process at one point or another — something that as you saw at the outset of this post, may not be such as a bad thing. The assessments people will take vary by job, but generally they include an online work-style assessment (about 35 percent of a recent group of detention officers failed or didn’t complete it); an in-person state reading-writing-problem-solving exam (also, about 35 percent don’t show or don’t pass), and an interview.

And then there’s the background check part. That includes “neighborhood canvassing,” credit checks, and a polygraph test (“Warning!” It says toward the bottom of the county’s career site, telling them the polygraph is coming). The background check includes driver’s records, social media posts, and physical and psychological tests.

It’s quite a process, but Meyer says it’s quite an opportunity in that other law-enforcement jobs don’t have as much variety. “It’s a very unique opportunity to work with disenfranchised people,” he says. “A challenge, but very rewarding.”

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  • Keith Halperin

    Thanks, Todd. Here’s what Careerbliss says about the pay:

    Los Angeles County Probation Department
    HQ: Downey, CA
    Industry: Social Services – Probation Services

    Bliss Rating

    4.1 – 9 Total Reviews
    Follow Company

    Top 18 Los Angeles County Probation Department Salaries
    See All Salaries »
    Curious about what your friends are making at Los Angeles County Probation Department?
    CareerBliss has a large database of anonymous salary information from real employees. We did the legwork for you and found that the average salary at Los Angeles County Probation Department is $42,716. Dig a little deeper – search Los Angeles County Probation Department salaries by job title



    Supervising Deputy Probation Officer
    Based on 1 salary


    Deputy Probation Officer
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    Internal Affairs Investigator
    Based on 1 salary


    Detention Officer
    Based on 1 salary


    Detention Services Officer
    Based on 1 salary

    Search for Jobs at Los Angeles County Probation Department

    Detention Service Officer
    Based on 1 salary


    Probation Officer
    Based on 1 salary


    Staff Development Specialist
    Based on 1 salary


    Student Professional Worker
    Based on 1 salary


    Administrative Assistant
    Based on 1 salary

  • Robert Ruff

    I once worked with a guy who molested one of his own daughters. He was arrested, and the company fired him. He quickly got a job with the biggest background checking company in town, because they didn’t do background checks…. A couple of jobs later, he went to work for a defense contractor and passed the security clearance with flying colors.

  • Todd Raphael

    That’s horrifying.