Probation and Parole Officer Career in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

With more than 1.2 million residents, Allegheny County is the second most populous county in Pennsylvania and home to its second largest city Pittsburgh. Probation and misdemeanor parole supervision is conducted by the Allegheny County Adult Probation Department (ACAPD).  The 174 member department received a budget of $22 million in 2011 to supervise 25,862 offenders.  Of these almost 18,000 were on probation, 1,100 on parole, 1,250 on intermediate punishment, 4,600 on Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition and 451 on Probation without Verdict.

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In 2011, the ACAPD supervised almost 275 DUI Court offenders, 242 Drug Court Offenders, 151 Domestic Violence Court Offenders, 259 Sex Offenders and 425 Mental Health Court Offenders.  The Sex Offender Unit is comprised of four probation officers and a supervisor, each with specialized training in management of sex offenders.  These officers ensure that each sex offender is registered according to the stipulations of Megan’s Law and that they meet their treatment obligations.  Any violations receive a speedy response and stiff sanctions.

In 2004, Pennsylvania enacted the DNA Detection of Sexual and Violent Offenders Act which requires fingerprints and DNA samples from certain offenders. In Allegheny County the ACAPD collects these samples and submits them to the Pennsylvania State Police.  Any supervisees who fail to provide this evidence is summarily charged with a probation violation and required to immediately appear before a judge.

ACAPD has also adopted a program that is intended to provide more mobile and responsive supervision through its Mobile Probation Officer initiative.  PPOs use laptops to obtain information about specific offender supervision plans and engage with offenders, their families and treatment providers.

How to Become a Probation and Parole Officer in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

Probation and parole officers must possess least an associate’s degree plus two years of community supervision experience or a bachelor’s degree.  Degrees may be obtained in the following subjects:

  • Criminal justice
  • Law enforcement
  • Social work
  • Sociology
  • Legal studies
  • Psychology

Many candidates experience advantages to obtaining an advanced degree like a J.D. or a Master of Social Work.  Candidates can also bolster their applications with prior experience working with offenders through trainee programs, internships or volunteer work.

Applicants should also possess the following qualifications:

  • Possess a valid PA driver’s license
  • Be a PA resident
  • Ability to pass a background investigation, urinalysis test, medical exam and psychological evaluation

In 2011, ACAPD hired ten probation and parole officers.  This department complied with state regulations and ensured that staff officers met all new and ongoing training requirements.  New officers attended the Basic Training Academy and completed the three week introductory training course.  Courses included

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  • Advanced aids
  • Interstate Compact rules
  • Use of force training
  • Firearms qualifications
  • Self-defense
  • Interview techniques

New officers must also complete the Basic Firearms Course which is 31 hours of instruction.  Senior PPOs completed 40 additional hours of training annually as required to maintain certification.  Officers also must re-qualify with firearms annually.

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