Some Missouri Department of Corrections probation and parole officers are arresting those who violate probation and parole rules. The state agency has a test program underway that allows the officers to arrest violators in St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia, Springfield and in northwest Missouri.
Director Anne Precythe tells Missourinet the officers are trained to handle some arrests.
“With a partnership from local law enforcement, who’ve been incredibly supportive and appreciative, we’re trying to help ease the burden of law enforcement by taking care of our own arrests in situations where it’s feasible,” she says. “So if we’re conducting an arrest in the office, out in the community, for people that are currently under supervision, our staff are now suited up and protected, and they’re able to conduct these themselves, and then take them to the local law enforcement agency for booking. And it’s been very well received.”
Precythe says she views the work of probation and parole officers like no other in the criminal justice system.
“My people are not law enforcement. They are smack dab in the middle between law enforcement and social work,” she says. “So if an individual needs treatment, they need to be able to stop provide the treatment resources that are necessary and make those referrals. If it’s a situation that involves officer safety, they need to be able to protect themselves as well as those around them. I really believe if they’re going to be in the community, we need to have our officers as safe as possible. The communities today are not like communities were 20 years ago. And if they’re carrying firearms, I believe they need to be protected. They need to wear a vest. They need to be able to go home every night – just like law enforcement officers want to go home every night.”
Precythe says her officers are not law enforcement – they are somewhere between law enforcement and social work.
“If an individual needs treatment, they need to be able to provide the treatment resources that are necessary and make those referrals. If it’s a situation that involves officer safety, they need to be able to protect themselves as well as those around them. They maintain a caseload. They still make court referrals. They make treatment referrals. They’re in the homes, helping to get people jobs, getting them into treatment,” she says.
The department began developing the effort in July of 2020 and launched the test program in January.
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