Colorado currently supports 2,170 probation officer jobs that pay an annual average salary of $54, 130, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Colorado Judicial Department oversees 22 judicial districts, which include 23 probation departments and 50 offices. Probation guidelines are published by the Division of Probation Services, but each district is able to implement a customized probation program sufficient for their needs.
In 2012, 30,739 convicted criminals were sentenced to probation, which resulted in almost 46,000 probationers under supervision during the course of the year. Of this number almost 67 percent successfully completed their probation. Colorado also utilizes an Intensive Offender Program, which is co-managed by the state’s probation and parole officers. Intensive programs provide enhanced supervision which monitor high risk offenders and was utilized with 2,170 mentally ill or high potential recidivists in 2012.
Becoming a Colorado Probation Officer: Education Requirements
Colorado judicial agencies are permitted to hire only professionals who have graduated from a four year institution with a bachelor’s degree. Applicants with advanced degrees like a J.D. or Master of Social Work are likely to experience competitive advantages when applying for a job or seeking promotion.
Most jurisdictions provide some type of salary bonus for individuals with advanced degrees. Degrees should be one of these areas:
- Social work
- Criminal justice
Although there are no specific physical requirements for most probation officer jobs in Colorado, candidates should be of sufficient physical fitness to complete the mandated Defensive Tactics course that all probation officers must pass. This includes oral communication skills, near normal hearing and vision, and ability to stand and reach with arms and hands.
Applications for those interested in how to become probation officers in Colorado are usually found at the probation offices for each judicial district or upon their websites. Supporting documentation should be submitted along with the completed and accurate application. This may include
- College transcripts and diploma
- Employer letters of recommendation
- Military service documents
- Correction officer records
Probation Officer Training in Colorado
Upon hiring, new officers are required to attend Mandatory New Employee Training provided by the Colorado Judicial Branch. They must also complete introductory Probation Academy along with the Defensive Tactics courses offered by the Division of Probation Services. In each of the first four years, probation officers must attend a training program managed by the DPS, and a 75 percent or higher must be achieved on all post-training examinations. Throughout the first six years, probation officers will be increasingly assigned a greater workload until they have a caseload of at least 50 percent of the maximum permitted.
Outsourcing Probation Services in Colorado
Colorado also employs private and public organizations to manage probationers. Each judicial district has the option to contract out supervision of low risk probationers to other entities. In 2012, 12,634 offenders were sentenced to supervision by a private probationary organization. Almost two thirds of these offenders were serving a sentence related to DUI.
Some of these programs are currently under review after a series of high profile murders occurred in the state in 2011. Colorado’s probation system has come under scrutiny from state legislators who opine that arming Colorado probation officers would improve the ability of officers to use surprise visits as a monitoring tool, and enhance public safety. Currently most probation officers request police accompaniment during surprise visits, but this can limit the number of visits and visit times.