Currently, the Parole Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice employs parole officers in Plano, but this is poised to change in the near future. A legislative committee in the Texas Senate has proposed that the Board of Pardons and Paroles should take over the entire parole supervision process. In part, this is being done in an effort to minimize confusion and contradictory policies that have been present in the parole system since 1989 when the parole system was merged with the corrections system.
This sweeping change could provide much needed improvements in Plano’s parole system. Officers currently at work in Plano have long complained that the starting salary of $34,572 is too low to attract the qualified professionals necessary to effectively manage a population of more than 87,000 offenders around the state.
With the number of parole officer jobs in Plano expected to increase by 30.4 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the Texas Workforce Commission, a change in management and supervision strategies could help create a much more satisfied and effective workforce.
Training for Parole Officers in Plano
Eligibility for formal training in Plano requires applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree (at minimum) in a relevant field such as behavioral science, counseling, criminal justice or law.
The Parole Division develops and administers all training courses for parole officers and supervisors. These courses include:
- Parole Officer Training Academy—This is a six week program that introduces new officers to many of the concepts and principles of parole supervision.
- Specialized Officer Supervision School—This training program provides advanced training for use in programs like Sex Offender Supervision or Super Intense Supervision Program.
- In-Service Training—Parole officers must obtain at least 20 hours of training after the first year.
- Unit Supervisors Course—This course prepares supervisors of parole units and must be completed within six months of promotion.
- Parole Supervisors Course—Parole supervisors are secondary supervisors who must complete this course in middle management skills within one year of promotion.
All new parole officers must also complete the course on the Texas Law Enforcement Telecommunications System, which is administered by the Department of Public Safety, within six months of hiring.
Prospective Changes in the Parole Officer Profession
Among the changes that current parole officers would most like to see is the granting of arrest authority. Because parole officers in Plano are not commissioned peace officers, they must currently request that local law enforcement perform arrests. Currently some offices have security guards who may help detain offenders until police arrive.
Parole officers are trained in self-defense but the Use of Force is only authorized when the threat of bodily harm is present. All parole officers are trained in hand-to-hand combat and the use of pepper spray, but these techniques are restricted to situations where verbal commands are no longer effective. Deadly force with a firearm is limited to situations where all other remedies have failed.