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The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted Tuesday to staff and fund a new watchdog agency to oversee the Probation Department.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas championed the plan to transform the existing Probation Commission, giving it investigative power through the Office of Inspector General and shifting from an all-volunteer membership to paid staff and broader citizen participation.

Ridley-Thomas pointed to “deep and … entrenched challenges in the Probation Department,” calling the issues “so systemic that they really do impede the department from doing its work.”

In addition to years of court-ordered federal monitoring triggered by reports of abuse of juvenile offenders, the Probation Department has also been the subject of more than a dozen audits in recent years. The department was found to have mismanaged cash and trust funds, among other lapses.

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