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!
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Natasha recommends the following next steps:
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.