Sacramento County probation department loses chief to job in L.A.

bbranan@sacbee.comNovember 20, 2012 

Don Meyer, Sacramento County's chief probation officer, is taking a job in Los Angeles, leaving county probation without a permanent director even as the department faces major change.

In recent years, the department has lost about a third of its staff, down to about 600.

The department has also been on the losing end of budget requests to handle new demands created by Assembly Bill 109, a state law that gave counties responsibility for lower-level offenders once handled by the state.

Meyer said he has been frustrated with the budget, but that isn't the reason for his departure, which will happen Wednesday. He said Los Angeles County made him an offer he couldn't refuse.

Meyer will become assistant chief probation officer, making $204,000 a year salary. That's more than the $180,000 a year he makes now, plus he will be able to collect his Sacramento County pension.

He will take over a juvenile division that has been under federal scrutiny for a number of problems. He will have three juvenile halls and 12 ranches/camps under his command.

"I've only got a couple more years of work left," said Meyer, 68. "It's an opportunity for me to do some good work."

Meyer said Suzanne Collins, now an assistant chief probation officer, will become acting chief while county supervisors conduct a search for his replacement.

Meyer said he has gotten to know Los Angeles County's chief probation officer, Jerry Powers, from his work with the state chief probation officers association and from Powers' earlier work for Stanislaus County.

Meyer will cap a 40-year career for the county when he leaves, having worked for county probation for 37 years before a prior departure to work elsewhere. He came back to the head the department, which he will have done for three years.

The Probation Department has opened an Adult Day Reporting Center to provide rehabilitation for some of the offenders released in the last year under AB 109. Meyer said he is proud of the "evidence-based" programming at the center, but the county continues to receive criticism for not providing enough rehabilitation under the law.

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