December 31, 2011 – In more and more counties across the United States probation officers are being asked to setup shop in local schools to help ensure those students on probation stay in school, and abide by the rules.
One of the newer counties in the Unites States to employ this model is that of DeKalb County in the state of Georgia. The program was implemented in 2010. Probation officers are often offered offices and also patrol the campus on foot.
In the case of schools in Dekalb, probation officers drop by and visit the school on average about 3 days a week. Roughly 15 probation officers participate, and monitor 386 students who have been placed on probation for offenses ranging from minor to more serious.
Dekalb county was inspired to implement the program based on the success that other counties across the United States have been having; especially that of Pennsylvania. Allentown, Pennsylvania has had probation officers in their schools since 1990. Supporters of the program say the program has resulted in safer schools, and improved attendance by the students. The program has also resulted in fewer students being placed on probation and fewer offenses committed by those that had been on probation.
The probation officers wear normal street clothing when working at the schools, and let the school police officers enforce school policy, however the probation officers chat with students, and not just those that are on probation. The officers serve as good role models for the students by serving as good listeners, and by providing students with sounds advice.
Proponents of the program to have officers in schools say it makes sense because kids spend a majority of their days in school. Probation officers are able to spend more time with more kids at school than if they had to make individual house calls, after school empties out in the late afternoon. Not only does it seem to make more sense for these reasons, but is also more cost effective. A juvenile probation officers entire case load could possible be contained in one large school, that he/she visits.