Rick Stout, Chief Probation Officer

A probation officer is an officer of the court who works closely with both the courts and the individuals who have been charged with committing a crime. He or she works exclusively with either juveniles or adults. A probation officer's work is likely to involve investigating offenders, working with the community, testifying in court, and interacting regularly with convicted criminals.

Part of a probation officer's job is to interrogate recently charged offenders to determine their motives and whether they are likely to commit additional crimes. During this process, the officer is required to thoroughly investigate the offender's background and interview the offender's family, friends, and work associates to gain a better understanding of the offender's history, personality, and behaviors. The probation officer uses this information to make a pre-sentence assessment that will help the court determine whether the offender should serve prison time or probation.

This career path involves enormous responsibilities. Probation officers must protect the public from offenders, but when possible, they suggest rehabilitation for offenders instead of prison. The decisions probation officers face are often difficult and can have negative consequences.