For immediate release: Thursday, August 9, 2012
NEW YORK STATE HONORS INDIVIDUALS FOR OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTIONS TO COMMUNITY CORRECTIONS
Probation, Social Services officials from Erie and Schenectady counties recognized for service, collaboration at annual New York State Probation Officers’ Association Conference
New York State today recognized the Erie County Probation Department’s Warrant Squad and the Schenectady County Probation and Social Services departments for outstanding contributions to community safety and interagency collaboration at the annual meeting of the New York State Probation Officers’ Association.
The Erie County Probation 18-member Warrant Squad received the 2012 Award for Outstanding Service by a Probation Officer(s), while Schenectady County Probation Supervisor Timothy Ferrara and Social Services Family Assessment Supervisor Susan Farstad shared the 2012 Award for Outstanding Collaboration between Probation and Social Services for their work at the Schenectady County Center for Juvenile Justice.
Both awards were presented by Robert M. Maccarone, Director of the Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives at the state Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), during the conference, which was held at the Hotel Albany in Albany. Probation officers from across the state attended the three-day conference, which wraps up tomorrow. There are approximately 3,100 probation officers in New York State.
New York’s Deputy Secretary for Public Safety Elizabeth Glazer said: “Probation officers supervise more than 118,000 adult and 15,000 juvenile probationers across the state, ensuring that those offenders are held accountable for their behavior while at the same time, providing support that allows them to become productive, law-abiding members of their community. The work they do, in cooperation with law enforcement and social services professionals, enhances public safety by changing lives.”
Added DCJS Executive Deputy Commissioner Michael C. Green: “Interdisciplinary collaboration and cooperation among all law enforcement and social services professionals has quickly become the rule, rather than the exception. Police, prosecutors and the criminal justice system have come to understand that probation officers and probation departments play a key role in our efforts to make our communities safer. We need to continue to embrace comprehensive initiatives that address the root causes of crime, not just the end result.”
Director Maccarone said: “These honorees represent the creativity and commitment of probation, community corrections and social services professionals throughout New York State. Their hard work and collaboration with other law enforcement agencies and social services have made a significant difference to community safety. By honoring these individuals, we shine a bright light on the important role probation plays in keeping New Yorkers safe.”
The 2012 Award for Outstanding Service by a Probation Officer is presented “in recognition of exceptional service, dedication and professionalism by a probation officer.”
The Erie County Probation Department’s current Warrant Squad began operations in 2008, and consists of 18 specially-trained probation officers with full-time caseloads. The officers, each of whom volunteers to be a squad member, complete training in firearms and defensive tactics that is more rigorous than usual, and also participate in exercises involving searching for, and apprehending, suspects.
When the squad began operations there were 845 outstanding probation warrants; since then, the squad has served 487 warrants. Typically, there are two warrant details a month that are staffed by eight officers. In addition to the warrant details, officers regularly participate in the Buffalo Police Department’s Operation Clean Sweep and in collaborative ventures with other local, state and federal agencies.
“Prior to the creation of the Warrant Squad, a probation warrant had no teeth,” Erie County Probation Director Brian McLaughlin said. “We had to depend on the various police agencies to pick up probationers who had warrants issued, and those agencies didn’t have the resources to do that. Now, thanks to the members of the squad, we go get them ourselves. The willingness of the Warrant Squat officers to take on the dangerous and necessary task of executing warrants, in addition to their regular full-time work as supervising probation officers, makes all the difference.”
The 2012 Award for Outstanding Collaboration between Probation and Social Services is presented in recognition of a collaborative partnership that has “significantly contributed to the field of prevention and juvenile justice to strengthen a county’s ability to improve outcomes for youth and families through evidence-based practices and programs.”
The Schenectady County Center for Juvenile Justice was created in 2003 by the county’s Probation and Social Services departments to meet the increasing needs of the Persons in Need of Supervision (PINS) population and to develop effective community-based programs.
Staffed with 20 full-time probation and 11 full-time social services employees, the center oversees a variety of programs designed to support at-risk youths and their families, including a partnership with the Schenectady Job Training Agency’s Summer Youth Employment Program; a collaboration with the Schenectady City School District to create Collaborative Assistance Teams to address truancy and behavior issues of youth perceived to be at risk in an effort to reduce the need for – or prevent deeper involvement – in the juvenile justice system; and creation of a new truancy initiative that targets two schools, one elementary and the other middle, that serve at-risk children.
Schenectady County Probation Director Joseph Mancini said: “The Center has implemented several evidence-based and innovative programs to meet the needs of at-risk youth and their families. Through the program expertise and experience the Center gained in working with PINS cases, it expanded its target population to include youth charged with juvenile delinquency offenses. This partnership has provided us with the ability to address the unique challenges of juvenile delinquent youth and families through the development of an array of graduated interventions that balance the need for services for youth and families with public safety. The energy and innovation that the team brings to the Center every day is a privilege to watch.”
Added Social Services Commissioner Dennis J. Packard: “The staff at the Center for Juvenile Justice are very active in schools and other community agencies, with the recognition that the challenges generated by this population require the need for outreach and effective working relationships with all youth and family serving agencies. I am proud to acknowledge the service the staff at the Center for Juvenile Justice provides to this community.”
In addition to their supervisory responsibilities, probation officers confirm the addresses of nearly 5,000 sex offenders under supervision every quarter, which helps ensure the integrity of information available to the public through the state’s Sex Offender Registry; monitor 26,000 convicted drunk drivers, including those who are required to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles pursuant to Leandra’s Law; and partner with local law enforcement through Operation IMPACT, the state’s program to fight and prevent violent and gun crime.
Probation officers also play a key role in ensuring that probationers who are required to provide a DNA sample after being convicted of a qualifying offense comply with those requirements. In 2011, county probation departments collected 34 percent of the 42,071 DNA samples obtained statewide, the most of any contributing agency.
The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (www.criminaljustice.ny.gov) is a multi-function criminal justice support agency with a variety of responsibilities, including collection and analysis of statewide crime data; administration of the DNA Databank and criminal history files; administration of federal and state criminal justice funds; support of criminal justice-related agencies across the state; and administration of the state’s Sex Offender Registry and a toll-free telephone number (1-800-262-3257) that allows anyone to research the status of an offender.