The ultimate goal of any probation department is to successfully rehabilitate offenders.
That might make Adolfo Gonzales, San Diego County’s new chief probation officer and a career law enforcement officer, seem an unusual choice. He was a San Diego police officer for 26 years before being hired as National City’s police chief in 2004. In 2013, he went to work for District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis as the head of the DA’s Bureau of Investigation.
Voice of San Diego sat down with Gonzales last Friday — his one-week anniversary on the job. When asked how his background in policing and prosecution might influence his new role, he said his focus has always been on “intervention and prevention before suppression and enforcement.”
He grew up in Otay Mesa and knows what it’s like to be a kid in a tough neighborhood. “I started as a low-rider,” he said. He and his friends would often get harassed by police. That’s the reason he got into law enforcement, he said — he wanted to find a better way to do things.
Gonzales takes over a probation department that’s been criticized for conditions in its juvenile halls, including reports about the excessive use of pepper spray and room confinement. Just last month, Disability Rights California released a report on the county’s two main juvenile lock-ups, describing an “atmosphere of violence and intimidation” at the facilities.
Gonzales said he plans to review all of those issues.
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This sounds like more of the same from Mr. Gonzalez. Too bad he didn't do a little more homework and see for himself what the problems are with the juvi facilities. His approach seems to be "don't rock the boat" when bold leadership is what's needed.
It's unfortunate how our whole justice system is geared more towards vengeance than rehabilitation. I think we could save a lot of money and reduce crime if criminals were released from prison not when they've "repaid their debt" (whatever that means) but when they've been properly rehabilitated, not a day later and not a day sooner. Can you think of a more powerful incentive to become a better person as quickly as possible?
Just curious: what makes someone who clearly had a positive impact at National City PD, and is a true advocate of community policing principals, decide to go the DA's office as a mere investigator?
@DavidM That was part of Bonnie Dumanis' "Latino Initiative" to staff her office with as many Latinos as she could ahead of the election.
@DavidM He was not a mere investigator he was the Chief of Investigation. It is a countywide position and has a significantly higher salary than the Chief of Police in National City.