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County Appoints Acting Chief Probation Officer

LaDonna Harris replaces David Muhammad, who is on leave due to sexual assault and harassment allegations.

By Bay City News Service

LaDonna Harris began work Monday as Alameda County's acting chief probation officer, filling in for , who was placed on leave last month after an employee accused him of sexually assaulting and harassing her.

Harris worked for the Alameda County Sheriff's Office for nearly 30 years before retiring as a division commander last year.

In 2003, she served as an assistant to acting probation chief Wayne Tucker for several months during a prior change in the leadership of the Probation Department.

The Board of Supervisors placed Muhammad, 38, on leave on Feb. 14 after a deputy probation officer filed a $1.5 million claim against him. In addition, the California Attorney General's Office is conducting an investigation to determine if criminal charges should be filed against Muhammad, who had only held the top job for a year.

After Muhammad was placed on leave, Dennis Handis briefly served as acting chief but he was only able to stay in the post for a limited time. 

In announcing that the board has appointed Harris acting chief, Board of Supervisors President Nate Miley said, "No new information is available regarding Chief Muhammad's status."

Attorney general's office spokeswoman Lynda Gledhill said the investigation of Muhammad is ongoing and it isn't known how long it will last.

In a memo to probation employees, Miley said, "The Board of Supervisors understands that the last month has been a challenging time for the leadership and employees of the Probation Department."

Miley said he appreciates the employees for their work in helping the county adjust to the state's public safety realignment program.

He told employees, "The Board of Supervisors is committed to the mission of the Probation Department and the dynamic changes necessary to implement new state-mandated programs.

Miley said, "Acting Chief Harris is ready to assume the interim leadership role and ensure continuity and support for the initiatives now underway."

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