The third most populous county in Pennsylvania is Montgomery County, which has almost 800,000 residents. Its largest cities are Norristown and Lower Merion, but Montgomery County also serves as a suburban region for Philadelphia. The Montgomery County Adult Probation and Parole Department provide supervision of probationers and misdemeanor parolees in the county. In 2011, MCAPPD handled 14,359 cases with 65 probation and parole officers. Officers reported caseloads as low as a single case up to 150 cases.
How to Become a Probation and Parole Officer in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania
In order to apply to the Montgomery County Adult Probation and Parole Department, applicants must possess a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, sociology or psychology. Applicants must also have the following competencies:
- Effective verbal and written communication skills
- Investigative skills
- Supervision abilities
- Knowledge of the criminal justice system
Many of the candidates for these positions are likely to possess advanced degrees like a Master of Social Work or prior experience in community supervision. In order to compete with these strong candidates, applicants should consider seeking comparable degrees or obtaining some experience through paid employment, internships or trainee programs.
Applications along with a resume should be submitted directly to the MCAPPD.
Upon hiring, new officers must complete the three week training program at the Basic Training Academy which will include courses in
- Self defense
- Interview techniques
- Use of force training
- Interstate Compact rules
- Advanced aids
All new officers must also take the 31 hour Basic Firearms Course and qualify with firearms. Following the first year, officers must receive an additional 40 hours of training each year. Officers must also re-qualify with firearms each year or lose certification to serve as a probation and parole officer.
Job Duties of Probation and Parole Officers in Montgomery County
In addition to offender supervision, the Montgomery County Adult Probation and Parole Department also provides critical pretrial services. These services include investigations, biographical reports about offenders and recommendations about sentencing. These investigations often include collection and analysis of criminal, employment and school records as well as interviews with the offender, family, victim, and arresting officer.
MCAPPD administers the Behavioral Health Court, which allows non-violent offenders who volunteer for the program to obtain mental health treatment through community or government agencies. Established in 2009, the Behavioral Health Court seeks to identify seriously mentally ill offenders early in the judicial process, limit their time in detention and partner these offenders with effective therapies. Offenders who complete this program are eligible to have all charges dropped.
The Montgomery County Drug Treatment Court was established in 2006 to provide more progressive forms of substance abuse treatment. Using a system of sanctions and rewards, the program discourages offenders with serious addictions to refrain from drug behavior. A team that includes the presiding judge, DA, public defender, probation officers and treatment providers meet weekly to strategize about treatment strategies for each participant.