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The Los Angeles County Probation Office has cited tougher self-policing and stricter hiring standards for a dramatic decrease in the number of employees arrested for driving under the influence and various other crimes, but the union representing probation officers complained the changes have led to understaffing.
Probation Office Chief Jerry Powers said the number of probation employees arrested for crimes both on and off the job fell from a high of 74 in 2011 to just 32 in 2013. Nearly half the arrests last year – 15 – were for DUI offenses. Most of the remaining charges were theft and assault.
“We’ve come light years from where we were to where we are today,” Powers said at a news conference.
But the president of AFSCME Local 685, the union representing the county’s probation officers, disputed Powers’ claim that the drop in the number of arrests was the result of hiring standards and self-policing.
“It’s like crime statistics, they go up and down all the time,” union president Ralph Miller said. “Taking credit for those numbers going down is like taking credit for the sun rising and setting.”