New probation and parole executives from across the country met at the College of Criminal Justice in September to learn management techniques and discuss common issues. Ideally, each executive has been in their position for a year or less.
The training, which is held biannually, was designed for chief probation and parole officers at the county and state levels. It is a joint initiative among the National Institute of Corrections, the National Association of Probation Executives and the Correctional Management Institute of Texas. Among the states represented were Texas, California, Arizona, Montana, Virginia, New York, Wisconsin, Colorado and Washington. Fourteen officials attended.
In addition to listening to presentations from top experts, participants got a chance to share ideas and experiences in their own states. This training allows top officials in the field to mentor one another and to exchange information on programs that worked or didn’t work.
"It’s having peer coach and people you are comfortable with who are in the same position as you are," said Dorothy "Dot" Faust, Director for the Second Judicial District in Ames, Iowa. "You can call and talk to them, safely and confidentially."
Marty Krizay, a chief probation officer who served in Yuma, Arizona and now Imperial County, California, covered evidence-based practices, media relations and ethics. He discussed the latest research and how an organization can implement programs using evidence-based strategies. He also provided tips on handling the media, particularly during a crisis, and how to be proactive in educating the community about probation and parole. Finally, he talked about the ethical dilemmas that face executive leaders and employees on a day-to-day basis.
"They are in a position of leadership in a publicly-funded operation," said Krizay. "The stakes are pretty high because it involves public safety."
Faust discussed evidence based practices and data driven management. She provided strategies, tools and strategic planning to help implement programs at the local level.
Other presenters included Marcus Hodges, Chief Probation and Parole Officer for District 21 in Fredericksburg, Virginia and Rocco Pozzi, Commissioner for the Westchester County Probation Department in White Plains, New York.
Hodges covered power mapping, change management and organization climate and culture. The participants were able to share information about themselves and their agencies as well as outside and inside pressures that influence their decisions. Hodges also discussed life cycle of typical change initiatives, and feedback was provided to executives on style of emotional intelligence. Hodges also addressed how to deal with negative influences that impact an organization’s culture.
Pozzi addressed individual problems, the political environment, personnel issues and presentation skills. Each executive provided three specific areas they wanted to address, which allowed participants to find common issues and solutions. Pozzi also discussed how to be an effective leaders in the political arena, how to overcome barriers and how to network with other agencies and leaders. Another hot topic was human resources, and the group learned about policy and procedures, unions and contracts, discipline and Equal Employment Opportunity issues. Finally, the last assignment given to the executives was to write a press release and present the statement on camera. After all the participants completed the taping, the class shared in peer critiques.