All probation services in St. Joseph County, Indiana operate out of one office, located in the county seat of South Bend. As one of the largest probation offices in the state, St. Joseph County employs more probation officers than most of Indiana’s other 91 counties. Both juvenile and adult probation services in Indiana are divided by county. This allows the probation office to be tailored specifically to the needs of the community. All probation offices are supervised by the Indiana Judicial Center.
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Probation officers in St. Joseph County are not considered peace officers, which means they are not permitted to arrest probation violators and are not permitted to carry a firearm while on duty. Some probation offices in Indiana do allow probation officers to carry a firearm, but none of the county offices make it a mandatory part of the job.
Education and Experience Requirements
When considering how to become a probation officer in St. Joseph County, an applicant must first meet a set of standard requirements related to both work and education experience. The requirements and qualifications are the following:
- Must be at least 21 years of age
- Must be a United States citizen
- Must live in St. Joseph County
- Must have a valid drivers license
- Must have a bachelor’s degree in sociology, psychology, criminal justice or a related field
Applicants who have work, volunteer or internship experience with law enforcement, criminal justice, counseling or social work are given special consideration when applying, as are those with a degree higher than a bachelor’s in any field of study (although it is preferred if it is related to the duties of a probation officer in some way or another.)
Application and Examinations
If an applicant meets the requirements and qualifications, they are then required to complete an application and take the probation officer certification test. The examination includes multiple choice, true/false, short answer, as well as definition and essay portions. In order to receive certification, an applicant must score at least 70-percent to move on in the hiring process. The certification can only be obtained through the main Indiana Judicial Center office, which is located in Indianapolis.
Training and Orientation
If hired, new employees with the St. Joseph County probation department are required to complete 12 hours of continuing education credits, and are required to attend a week-long training orientation meeting in the Indianapolis metropolitan area. The orientation focuses on issues concerning both adult and juvenile probation practices, and it is required that all new officers attend the orientation within the first year of employment with the department, but it is recommended that new officers attend the meeting within the first six months. The 12 hours of continuing education credits are required every year that an officer is employed with St. Joseph County.