With an estimated 539,832 residents, Summit County is the fourth largest county in Ohio. Home to Akron, the fifth largest city in the state, Summit County also presents many intriguing opportunities for prospective probation officers. Probation supervision is conducted through the Summit County Adult Probation Department (SCAPD) and is transitioning to Evidence Based Practices. This new methodology focuses on the particular needs of the probationer and allocating agency or community resources to meeting those needs in an effort to stem recidivism.
SCAPD is one of the first Ohio departments to embrace the new Ohio Risk Assessment System (ORAS), which uses tools developed at the University of Cincinnati to prescreen offenders. It is also one of the first departments to employ a full time Assessment Officer who conducts evaluations of offenders that meet minimum requirements on ORAS.
One of the most progressive elements of the probation system is the Employment Readiness Program which is staffed by four probation officers. This program empowers probationers by providing skills in personal appearance, resume writing, job search and vocational skill development. Although only in its initial stages, this program has already produced a greater than 65 percent success rate among participants.
The Kiosk Initiative is a new program that has place four computerized kiosks throughout the county so that low risk probationers may report without taking up the valuable time of probation officers. This innovative program is among the first in the state. Not only does this program allow the SCAPD to devote more resources to higher risk offenders, but it also limits contact between low and high risk populations, which ultimately improves rehabilitative efforts.
How to Become a Probation Officer in Summit County, Ohio
The minimum educational requirement for probation officers in Summit County is a bachelor’s degree in one of the following fields
- Behavioral science
- Social service
- Criminal justice
The number of probation officer positions in Summit County are limited, so prospective applicants are encouraged to obtain a master’s degree or other advanced degree in one of these fields to improve competitiveness. Although at least a year of experience in parole or probation supervision is preferred, it may not be required. Internships and training opportunities may be available through the SCAPD, US District Court of Northern Ohio or other agencies. In some cases, volunteer experience may be sufficient to satisfy these requirements.
Upon hiring, Ohio probation officers must complete training mandated by the Ohio Adult Probation Officer Training Committee within 12 months. All of the courses in the Probation Officer Training Catalog must be completed which includes course in
- Officer safety
- Assessment basics
- Case planning
- Professional written communication
- Due process and court functions
- Overview of the criminal justice system
- Courtroom presentation
- Probation officer authority
- Behavioral management
- Search and seizures
- Special populations
Following the first year, probation officers must complete 20 hours of additional training each year.