Delaware County commissioners unanimously approved a resolution Monday, July 16, to honor probation officers during Probation, Parole and Community Supervision Week.

Delaware County commissioners unanimously approved a resolution Monday, July 16, to honor probation officers during Probation, Parole and Community Supervision Week.

The board recognized officers in the adult and juvenile courts for "working endless hours to ensure offenders released into the community abide by the rules so that citizens ... feel secure and victims feel protected."

Probate and Juvenile Court Judge Kenneth Spicer said the stereotypical tough-guy parole officer only paints half the picture.

"The view of probation officers is that they force compliance and they're the hard-nosed enforcer of the law," he said. "And while it's true that's a big part of a traditional probation officer's job, they actually have what is a very difficult thing to accomplish -- that is, they are trying to ensure success on folks who maybe historically have not had a lot of success in their lives.

"A lot of their job is built on personal relationships and the respect that they have for the people they work with," Spicer said. "That is a very difficult dynamic. It takes a special person to accomplish it. I don't think I could do it. I couldn't fit in that role."

Chief Juvenile Probation Officer Dave Andrews praised his staff for their hard work.

"They work outside the scope of a 9-to-5 job. The phones ring all the time. Juveniles run all the time," Andrews said. "We have a good working relationship between the community and us."

The commissioners acknowledged probation officers "promote crime prevention, intervention and victim advocacy ... in support of community and restorative justice."

"Probation is a hard job," said Doug Missman, adult court services chief probation officer. "It's evolved into a very complex job that's getting harder all the time. The balance between the law enforcement and using the therapeutic modalities is very challenging.

"But research shows that's what works, not doing one or the other but doing both," he added. "That's what reduces recidivism. To find people who can do both is an incredible challenge. They go often into unsafe places. It's getting more and more dangerous. We're blessed to have these probation officers working for us."

Commissioner Tommy Thompson concurred.

"You've heard it and I've heard it: 'Why don't you just lock them up?' Well, no. That's costly and it's not productive for our society.

"The purpose is to create success (for ex-offenders), and it's cheaper to have them out and trying to be a part of a productive society than it is having them incarcerated."