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LA county axes leadership in juvenile detention system over rampant violence, officer morale collapse

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LA county axes leadership in juvenile detention system over rampant violence, officer morale collapse

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Authorities in Southern California have axed more than a dozen top officials after complaints of violence and injuries from rank-and-file officers in the county’s juvenile facilities.

Los Angeles County Probation Chief Guillermo Viera Rosa said that 14 top managers would be impacted and 13 chief deputy positions would be eliminated – “an entire layer of management” in the department, which has 6,600 employees.

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The impacted individuals were offered positions in other county offices, authorities said.

Sources tell Fox News Digital the shakeup is connected to chaos within the county’s juvenile facilities. Officers have been complaining of increasing violence against themselves and between inmates at the jails for at least the past two years. 

LOS ANGELES COUNTY HAS PUT 66 PROBATION OFFICERS ON LEAVE SINCE JAN 1 FOR MISCONDUCT, INCLUDING SEX ABUSE

The Coalition of Probation Unions staged a rally to demand L.A. County Board of Supervisors address safety on the job as probation officers were being assaulted at youth facilities. The rally was held at the Hall of Administration on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022, in Los Angeles, CA.  (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

“The entire justice system is a mess, and criminals have the upper hand,” said Neama Rahmani, a Los Angeles-based trial attorney and former federal prosecutor. “Probation officers aren’t coming to work, because the juveniles are so dangerous.”

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The cuts came in expedited fashion after Viera Rosa’s office asked the county board of supervisors to eliminate funding for the jobs in its latest budget revision.

“A streamlined organization will not only allow us to enact internal reforms more effectively, but it will also align us better with the new County Departments of Youth Development, and Justice Care and Opportunities,” the probation chief said in a statement.

In an internal email to the department seen by Fox News Digital, Viera Rosa wrote that the cuts would “make us stronger and nimbler” without adding to the workload of sworn officers and other staff.

“It will make it easier to institute the reforms we need to guarantee the safety of employees and clients,” he wrote.

JEWISH LA PROSECUTORS BLOW WHISTLE ON ALLEGED ANTISEMITISM IN DA’S OFFICE

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Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall viewed from above

Aerial view of Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey, CA, on Thursday, June 29, 2023.  (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The cuts come as the department is facing a class action lawsuit from officers who accuse leadership of discriminating against officers with injuries, and the county as a whole struggles with crime.

The Los Angeles Times last week revealed that dozens of probation officers assigned to the Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall facility were calling out on a daily basis, due to the unchecked inmate violence.

Last year, overcrowding at the facility forced police to wait with suspects in their squad cars in the parking lot for hours.

OVERCROWDED LA SLAMMER LEAVES JUVENILES IN SQUAD CARS FOR HOURS AS POLICE WAIT IN LINE TO DROP THEM OFF

Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall aerial view

An aerial view of Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey, California. Some probation officers in the facility as well as others have been placed on leave since Jan. 1 for a range of alleged offenses, officials said Monday.  (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

As Fox News Digital has reported, Los Angeles has shied away from prosecuting juveniles for minor offenses – so the ones who do make it to lockup are accused of serious and often violent crimes. Last summer, the juvenile hall endured an inmate riot and a jailbreak. On the night of the escape, 60 officers out of 100 scheduled to work that shift had failed to show up, according to the LA Times report.

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And although it is a juvenile facility, there are still offenders housed there who are above the age of 18.

The result is that probation officers, typically trained for desk jobs that focus on the supervised release of low-level offenders, are now being forced to confront violent individuals without the training, protective equipment or compensation given to correctional officers, according to Arnold Peter, a lawyer for hundreds of probation officers in a class action lawsuit against the county.

“The job of the probation officer in the last seven to 10 years has changed pretty dramatically,” he told Fox News Digital. 

And juvenile inmates have been growing bolder at the same time.

“Youth offenders feel like there are few restraints on their ability to be violent,” he said.

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Probation officers demand safety at job.

Despite complaints from probation officers, on-the-job safety remains a concern. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

He said county leadership, structural failures and a lack of funding are to blame, but he is hopeful the management shakeup will help improve the situation.

“I hope that someone with this management change can think about that issue and not kick this lawsuit down the road,” he said. “Fix the issues. Provide adequate compensation, and put this behind them – otherwise, it will cost them exponentially more.”

Peter said he filed the class action in part because the county tried to staunch its staffing problems by ordering employees with medical restrictions to take on shifts at the juvenile facilities. Then it got worse.

“These people were constantly getting injured,” he said. “Sometimes there’s as much violence in the juvenile halls as in the adult prisons.”

Los Angeles County Department of Probation entrance

The headquarters of the Los Angeles County Department of Probation. (Los Angeles County Department of Probation)

The county is trying to have the case thrown out, but Peter said he expects the procedural move to fail after the next hearing on July 25.

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On top of the probation department’s funding problems, the county is facing a number of whistleblower retaliation lawsuits aimed at the district attorney’s office – two of which have ended in multimillion-dollar payouts – and at least one other major labor lawsuit from Viera Rosa’s predecessor, Alfredo Gonzales.

Gonzales’s lawsuit states that he repeatedly told the county board of supervisors that the department was so understaffed that it violated state law. When state inspectors conducted a review of Los Angeles’ juvenile facilities, he told them that compliance issues were due to the staffing shortage.

Then he was fired.

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Montana

Hurricane Force Winds, Thunderstorms Slam West Central Montana

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Hurricane Force Winds, Thunderstorms Slam West Central Montana


The Missoula area, the Bitterroot Valley, and other areas of West Central Montana were slammed by severe thunderstorms Wednesday evening, downing lines and trees and starting fires.

The National Weather Service had been tracking the storm for several hours as the cells began moving across Idaho.

Around 8:30 pm NWS issued a warning of severe thunderstorms moving into the Northern Bitterroot and Missoula Valley, and when the weather came it hit hard, with pounding winds, lots of lightning, and heavy rain.

One of the strongest windstorms in several years

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Forecasters are still analyzing data, but winds appeared to be gusting 50 to 60 miles per hour. At one point, NWS reported a gust hitting 81 miles per hour at the forecast center at the Missoula Montana Airport.

Additionally, forecasters tell us they reported a gusting hitting 120 miles per hour at the top of Mount Sentinel.

The winds ripped through Lolo and Miller Creek, knocking down trees and power lines. Then the storm blasted across Missoula and moved into East Missoula, kicking up a major dust storm and debris.

Lightning strikes were expected to total several hundred in the Missoula area.

Damage everywhere

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Missoula area fire and police crews were kept busy responding to a rapid-fire succession of reports of downed power lines and trees, with multiple wildfire starts. At one point, firefighters were called out to stop a structure fire in East Missoula that was threatening other homes.

Missoula Electric Coop was reporting several hundred people without power from Lolo to Missoula to Superior and in Seeley Lake.

Northwestern Energy was also reporting several thousand customers without power in the Missoula and Bitterroot service areas.

Storm moved NE

The storm was continuing to move northeast toward the Upper Blackfoot, the Front, and Great Falls area before 10 pm.

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7 Unsuspecting Items That May Spark Wildfires

With extremely dry conditions across the state, the Michigan DNR is reminding residents of the following everyday items that may accidentally spark a fire.

Gallery Credit: Lauren Gordon





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Nevada

Hiker, 70, found alive after five days lost in Sierra Nevada wilderness: ‘In good spirits’

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Hiker, 70, found alive after five days lost in Sierra Nevada wilderness: ‘In good spirits’


A 70-year-old hiker was found alive Wednesday after spending five days lost in the Sierra Nevada wilderness.

Warren Elliott was spotted around 8 a.m. by another hiker passing by California’s Hell Hole Reservoir, about 10 miles west of Lake Tahoe, officials announced.

Thrilling video shows the exhausted man wearing tattered clothing and gripping a water bottle embracing his relieved family at the command post at Homewood Mountain Resort after he was finally airlifted to safety.

Warren Elliott was found Wednesday morning, five days after he vanished. Placer County Sheriff

Elliott was miraculously walking without assistance — earning a hearty round of applause and cheers from bewildered rescue officials, the footage shows.

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He was also handed back his beloved cowboy hat, which he left behind when he went on what he thought was to be a brief, leisurely walk.

The tenacious hiker said he was familiar with the area, but made a devastating wrong turn around 3 p.m. Friday.

He was camping in Rubicon Springs with a group doing trail rehab ahead of an upcoming car event dubbed the Jeepers Jamboree, the Placer County Sheriff’s Office said.

Elliott survived by drinking from the river and eating foraged berries, police said. Placer County Sheriff

Elliott survived the excruciating five days by drinking water from the river and munching on foraged berries.

“From the point he was last seen, near Cadillac Hill, to the area he was found, Hell Hole Reservoir, is roughly 9 miles as the crow flies; however, he walked much further than that over the five days,” the sheriff’s office said.

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“Mr. Elliott was not hurt and is in good spirits.”

Elliot was familiar with the area but made a wrong turn when he went for a walk last Friday. Placer County Sheriff

Elliott’s disappearance sparked a massive manhunt that included as many as 100 rescuers per day, Blackhawk helicopters, drones, dog teams and ATVs.

Even workers from the Jeepers Jamboree pitched in by feeding rescuers and providing a place to camp overnight.

Eliott’s tale of survival comes just days after a missing 75-year-old retired teacher was found alive after being stuck in a bog for four days.

Mike Altmaier was walking through the Maine woods when he slipped on moss and fell over an embankment.

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New Mexico

‘Truly shocking’: New Mexico AG reacts to NBC News investigation into hospital

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‘Truly shocking’: New Mexico AG reacts to NBC News investigation into hospital


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