I just finished up another one of the great days of being a probation officer.
Many people feel that a probation officer gets more thrills out of revoking probation because of a violation and sending a person to jail.
I’ll admit, over the past 34 years, I’ve probably filed more arrest warrant requests for probation violation than any law enforcement officer around. I’ve been around so long that when I go to the jail, I know a huge number of people there. I always say it’s like I’m going to a family reunion, as my probationers seem to never forget me.
I also know that some people refer to our county as “Handcuff County.” I’ve also heard the slogan: “Handcuff County: Come on vacation, leave on probation.” I could probably make some money selling shirts.
Many folks think we are only out to get their money, or we just want to lock everyone up. That is just not true. I never get thrills from filing violations.
Still, for many people, probation is the best thing that’s ever happened to them. As an auctioneer, I can see in the eyes of a person getting excited and ready to bid at an auction; similarly, I can see in the eyes of an offender when he or she is ready to change.
Normally they first come in with a troubled and confused look. After a while, it’s like a light comes on. Their eyes and face light up. We talk about so many things, but the main ingredient for success is trying to get an offender (actually anyone) to obtain confidence in oneself. That statement sounds so easy, but accomplishing it is quite difficult.
I’ve called so many auctions that I know without a doubt, with one ring man, I could sit up there and sell with my eyes closed. I used to love to talk to my dad and now my son Kyle while I’m calling bids. I can throw in the words I want them to know and most people have no idea.
That being said, sometimes I get worked up and lose confidence in my ability. After a joke or two, that’s all gone, and I seem to regain that self-confidence.
I think we all go through times where we lose confidence. This is especially when our family, friends or even a probation officer become so valuable.
So what made my day one of the great ones? I filed a petition to terminate probation. Thank goodness I’ve filed many more termination requests than violation reports. I was able to tell the court that another probationer has paid all fines, court costs and restitution. He completed a substance abuse program and has been working full-time for an extended period of time.
This time, that troubled and confused look from three years ago is replaced by bright eyes of confidence. Yes, this guy has confidence in himself. That’s why we do the job.
Hopefully, like many hundreds of offenders I’ve worked with over the years, this young man will see me around town and know he has another friend, and I’ll continue to see that confidence in his eyes.
For this old probation officer, I have so many wonderful memories from former probationers who come and share their success stories. Many are doctors, lawyers, law enforcement officers, firemen, businessmen, nurses, preachers, you name it.
At one point in their lives, they seemed to lack confidence in themselves. Always remember we are all simply human. Treat people like you want to be treated; show respect and maintain confidence in yourself. That’s a sure recipe for success.
Wayne Addison is chief probation officer for the Hancock County Probation Department. Send comments to dr-editorial@greenfield reporter.com.