5 answers

What do you wish you'd known when you were starting out your career as a probation officer?

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5 answers

Andy’s Answer

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Hi Samoa,

I am not a probation officer, however I have been in the law enforcement/security/corrections field for the past 17 years. In looking back on my career, one of the biggest things I wish I knew was your greatest tool that you have in your tool belt is your mouth and using it to speak to people. Having started my career in law enforcement in a desk position, then to patrol, and then to a corrections spot, I wish I had done it the other way around. In working the past 2 years in a variety of law enforcement positions within the county jail I work for I totally wished I had started my career in the jail first and then went out to the streets to work. You definitely learn quickly in how to talk to people when you only have handcuffs, a flashlight, and a radio on you and you are locked in a room with 48 men who are accused of all kinds of crimes ranging from unpaid tickets to Capital Murder. I also wished I had learned in the beginning not everything is solved with an arrest or citation, meaning sometimes you can solve things by thinking outside the box and helping someone out and truly succeed.
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Mark’s Answer

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Hi Samoa, Great question and a simple answer-WRITING!
Although I was not a probation officer, I was a police officer which includes a lot of the same responsibilities as a probation officer. I trained many cadets who graduated from the police academy and the number one tool that I thought was critical to being an excellent police officer and any officer in the law enforcement field, was having the ability to be A GOOD WRITER! Law enforcement, probation, any of these fields require exceptional amounts of report writing! And the report writing must be of great quality. There are so many levels where the written reports are read, analyzed and then used. For example, so many of my reports were critical in prosecuting an arrest case. In probation, reports were used to determine how an individual is sentenced, how he/she is responding to probationary requirements or how that individual is living a law abiding life after committing a crime.
I prepared myself by attending college, but I was shocked at the writing deficiencies of so many of the recently graduated police cadets upon graduating from the police academy. I blame it on text messaging, but I implore you to become a good writer if this is the field you'd like to become a part of. Acually, being a good writer is critical in almost every career there is. Being able to write a well thought out breakdown, report, or analysis in the field of your career will be critical to the success of your future. Best of luck to you!

Mark recommends the following next steps:

  • How do you become a great writer: READ! Books, magazines, articles! Not abbreviated text messages-Full Articles!
Mark, Thank you so much for answering. I have only focused so much on the learning side of things that I didn't really think that writing was that much needed in this field. Thank you again. I really appreciate it. Samoa S.
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Natasha’s Answer

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Hi Samoa - I am admittedly not a probation officer, but I did find a really neat article interviewing someone who is and she gives a lot of interesting advise. It sounds like it being a parole officer can sometimes be an emotionally taxing job, but also really rewarding. I hope you find time to read through her experience and get some answers to your questions:

Natasha recommends the following next steps:

  • Check out this article: https://www.theguardian.com/money/2010/aug/21/probation-officer-working-life
Thank you so much for suggesting that article. That was one AMAZING article on seeings things from the perspective of someone who is already working in that field. I was reading through her experience and it just made my decision to work in the same field more firm than ever. Thank you again. Samoa S.
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John’s Answer

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Interview the interviewer, know who you will work for and with, know the policies and procedures, know the political climate, do you get to have armor or gun. And given COVID-19 how are you protected in all ways. You'll want a union.
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DENNIS’s Answer

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Hi Samoa: I was not a Probation Officer. I was a lawyer in New York City. However, I agree with the answers above. Stay in school; learn how to communicate properly because there are tons of reports needed for the job; learn the law; take self defense courses for your own safety (not all your charges will be nice people); and be yourself! Remember working with people always takes a part of you. So stay in school, learn as much as you can then you will be able to relate to others from all backgrounds!
Thank you Dennis. I really appreciate your answer and the reminder that not everyone is nice. Samoa S.
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