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Len Sipes: From the nation’s capital, this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host, Leonard Sipes. The topic of today’s program, ladies and gentlemen, is Police-Probation and Parole partnerships. The question is whether law enforcement agencies cooperate with parole and probation agencies. We have two guests today. We have Bitna Kim. She is an Assistant Professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Department of Criminology in Indiana, Pennsylvania. We also have Adam Matz. He is a Research Associate with the Council of State Governments, the American Probation and Parole Association. – And to Bitna and to Adam, welcome to DC Public safety.
Dr. Bitna Kim: Thank you for having me here.
Adam Matz: Yeah, thank you.
Len Sipes: I’ve in the criminal justice system for 42 years, and I had 6 years of law enforcement, and in the 6 years of law enforcement, I do not ever recall ever having any contact with a parole and probation agent, and it really strikes me that parole and probation and law enforcement have been behind a line. They really haven’t talked to each other that much. They really haven’t cooperated with each other all that much. Now within the course of the last 5 years, we see some real interest from the research and from the practitioner community as to law enforcement getting together with parole and probation agencies, sharing information, looking at re-entry, looking at making sure that people who come out of the prison system do as well as humanly possible so they don’t re-enter the criminal justice system. Adam, I’m going to start with you. The American Probation and Parole Association has taken the lead in all of this.
Adam Matz: Yes, and actually what’s kind of gotten us sort of interested in the partnership specifically is we have various sort of grant projects that we work on for the Bureau of Justice Assistance, and one of those programs is Project Safe Neighborhoods. Now Project Safe Neighborhoods or PSN has been around for a while, since 2001, but the interesting thing about that is that it’s heavily influence by prior programs, and one that stands out is the Operation Ceasefire that a lot of folks have heard of or are familiar with from Boston. Part of that Ceasefire or that gun project that happened there was really one of the first formalized partnerships between probation and police officers, and it was known as Boston’s Operation Night Light, and that’s really where we kind of tie together and that’s where APPA’s interest has really grown even more. – And then also IACP, International Association of Chiefs of Police, we’ve worked with them and they’ve had various focus groups on this topic as well.
Len Sipes: But the American Probation and Parole Association, certainly that’s the organization that has taken the lead in not just police and parole and probation cooperation but has taken the lead in terms of virtually anything involving parole and probation agencies throughout the United States, correct?
Adam Matz: Yeah, that’s true. APPA is a national and international organization. We have a membership of over 35,000 members. It’s comprised of probation and parole officers and executives from all over the country. We do two annual institutes, a lot of trainings, a lot of grant-based projects, so definitely a very big organization.
Len Sipes: All right. The website for the American Probation and Parole Association – www.appa-net.org. Bitna Kim, Assistant Professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania there at the Department of Criminology, you were involved in research in terms of police officers and parole and probation agencies working closely together, correct?
Dr. Bitna Kim: That’s correct.
Len Sipes: And can you give me a sense as to what your research had to say?
Dr. Bitna Kim: Okay, so our research is – first I have to admit our limitation of the study so we focused on only probation-police partnership in Texas so it’s really hard to generalize what is involved in the United States however this study can be one of the good examples as the need for more research. So in terms of the research findings, what they found is – so this study generally test how police officers or the leaders from the police office or sheriff department, how they think about the partnership with probation or parole, so whet we found is actually they are very positive in their relations or positive experience with the probation and parole, the officer. That’s the good side for future. However the negative finding, what we found is most of the partnerships we found in Texas is that they are informal.
Len Sipes: Is what now?
Dr. Bitna Kim: Informal – so in other words, the partnership is never formalized across the agencies. This is based on just the individual personal relationship between police officers and probation-parole officers. The problem is even though sometimes we really needed those informal partnerships however once those key people in the agencies retired or moved to another agency, the partnership is gone as well.
Len Sipes: Okay. So in other words, what you found was more of an individualized approach between the parole and probation agents and the police officers in the state of Texas rather than an organizational approach.
Dr. Bitna Kim: That’s true. So what we found is actually we surveyed the random sample of almost 700 police office agencies. Among them, over 75% of the agencies had just the informal or no partnership at all. Only a few agencies had established the formalized the partnerships so that is one issue we need to look at for future study. So what they found is again the consent is the police are leaders. They think we need those partnerships between police and probation-parole however the current status of partnership what they have is informal.
Len Sipes: Okay. Well, let me see if I can summarize. You took a look at 700 law enforcement agencies in the state of Texas and you found that 70% of those agencies had an informal relationship with parole and probation, and about 30% had formal relationships, say even memorandums of understanding, and that it really comes down to the leadership of both the parole and probation entities and law enforcement as to whether or not these were really viable, working relationships.
Dr. Bitna Kim: That is correct, but once they have – so those who had the formal partnership, they dearly enjoyed the partnership. They think that they got a lot of the good relationship with the probation and parole agency.
Len Sipes: Okay.
Adam Matz: Yeah, actually if I can add just a little extra context too that’s been kind of interesting is when you try to look at, okay, ones that are formalized, sort of why are they formalized, and what you’ll find a lot of times is that there was some sort of federal funding, grant funding that supported that sort of formal partnership. So a lot of those maybe are left over, and I know Dr. Kim can speak to it more with Texas, but they had the Project Spotlight there for a while which sort of motivated those agencies to develop these formalized partnerships. Now we’ve talked about the Night Light in Boston when it originated in the early ’90s, that was considered the first formalized partnership, but when you think about informal, there’s been these sort of individual associations between officers for, you could probably stretch if back to the ’50s or something. So these always been these sort of informal networks that kind of occur in just a natural sort of organization setting but it’s really the past sort of 15, 20 years where we’ve started to see these formalized partnerships, and that’s really important for a couple of reasons. One is if you’re going to evaluate it and determine what kind of impact it has, it has to be formalized. It has to have some sort of logic model, if you will, to go with that.
Len Sipes: Well, but it strikes me as something that is fairly recent, I agree with you. It’s probably been on an informal basis between individual police officers and individual parole and probation agents, but you know here in Washington, D.C., we have an extraordinarily highly-structured relationship with not only the Metropolitan Police Department. We have it with the U.S. Park Police. We have it with the FBI. We have it with the CIA. We have it with the Secret Service.
We have all of these very specific involvements in terms of them and us, and when I say all these other agencies it’s 80%, 85%, 90% going to be with the Metropolitan Police Department. We meet with them on a leadership basis. Our top leadership meets with their top leadership. Our people in the field, branch chiefs meet with commanders of police districts, and there is also, I’m very proud to say, a lot of interaction because of the fact that there’s leadership from the top, a lot of interaction between individual police officers and individual community supervision officers. That’s what we call parole and probation agents in Washington, D.C. So in D.C. it’s very structured, it’s very robust, but I just get the sense that outside of the District of Columbia, there’s really not a lot of agencies that have this type of formalized structure in terms of the relationship with law enforcement and parole and probation. Am I right or wrong, either one of you?
Dr. Bitna Kim: That’s correct.
Len Sipes: Okay. And why is that, Dr. Kim? Why is there a reluctance of law enforcement and parole and probation to sit down at the same table and to forge these cooperative understandings with each other?
Dr. Bitna Kim: Actually, that’s the need for future research. We did not find what prohibit the formation of a formal partnership so in the near future I hope we can initiate more research. However I can say what we found is those who had the formal partnership had a strong organizational culture within the agency which emphasized the importance of working closer with the other agencies, recognizing parole or probation as an integral part of the larger community rather than simply threat to public safety, the single greater predictor for success for police-probation-parole partnership. And also the other important thing is implementing formal partnership requires strong leaders endorsement to change the organizational culture or implement the formal partnership, nurture them, grow, and be successful over the long-term.
Len Sipes: Well, that was the key finding, I think, out of the first summation that you gave of your research in the state of Texas, that it really was the leadership between law enforcement and parole and probation that really kicked off on these 30% or so of formal relationships and 70% informal. It was the leadership aspect of that that really propelled these formal relationships.
Dr. Bitna Kim: Yes.
Adam Matz: I think that’s right too. The leadership aspect is really important. There was qualitative research actually where there were some interviews done with not only police chiefs but also probation chiefs to get an idea, and also the officers within those organizations, and what kind of came out of that research was basically that if you didn’t have the support from the top, then those partnerships were never going to develop, and I think that matches with Dr. Kim was saying. The other thing too, to think about the police organizations and Dr. Kim mentioned culture. If you think about sort of the community policing movement that happened kind of in the ’90s, that really kind of opened the door for more dialogue between police and probation and parole.
Len Sipes: Agreed.
Adam Matz: That really kind of made police a little bit more flexible, a little bit more – what’s the word – accepting of the probation and parole officer’s sort of mission which is to help. I mean, on one point it’s accountability but on the other it’s also helping these folks kind of get their lives put back together, and so that’s a big part of that. – And I think what’s interesting with these informal and formalized partnerships, the formalized are kind of concentrated in more urban areas also; and then if you think about what sort of agencies are more likely to have sort of a community policing drive to it versus maybe militaristic – and there are still a lot of militaristic type of police agencies out there that may or may not be sort of willing to partner with probation and parole, or at least not in the aspect of re-entry as we think about it typically.
Len Sipes: Well, there is also a lot of parole and probation agencies that are organized amongst law enforcement lines. They are police officers, they carry guns, so there’s a lot of parole and probation agencies that fall into that category as well.
Adam Matz: That’s exactly right, and that’s exactly a good point, and that was my thought. You took it right out of my head. You’re exactly right on that. There is a lot of diversity in probation and parole across the country. There are some places that do have a law enforcement orientation whereas others have more of a social work orientation, and I’m not sure there’s any research that really gets at which one of those two sort of camps are more likely to partners. It’d be interesting to find that out.
Len Sipes: Yeah, I’d love that, because it would strike me that those parole and probation agencies with the law enforcement orientation would cooperate on a greater degree with the law enforcement agencies because the missions become very similar, and that’s what I want to get into in the second half but I’m going to reintroduce both of you with this whole question as to how good are these partnerships, and how good are these partnerships for people coming out of the prison system, and how well people on probation do but let me reintroduce my guests one more time. Bitna, she is Bitna Kim, Ph. D., Assistant Professor, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Department of Criminology, www.jup.edu. Adam Matz, a Research Associate with the Council of State Governments and the American Probation and Parole Association, the leading agency in this country representing parole and probation issues. Adam’s website is www.appa-net.org. All right, so the question now becomes we have law enforcement and parole and probation cooperating with each other. You know, from the standpoint of warrant service, from the standpoint of enforcement, from the standpoint of GPS, from the standpoint of accountability, that part of it I get and that would flow back-and-forth. We work with MPD all the time on all those issues if there’s a high-risk offender or individuals under GPS supervision. By the way, the folks from the Metropolitan Police Department can track our people on GPS through their own computers in their own cars. So from the law enforcement end of it, that I get; but from the reentry and from the assistance end, I mean it’s pretty clear from the research that successful parole and probation is one part accountability but a second part of treatment so I’m not quite sure that our law enforcement friends are going to be that supportive or that understanding on the treatment side of it. Now, am I right or wrong?
Adam Matz: You know, that’s actually a really good discussion point and it’s a really broad discussion so it’s kind of tough to kind of narrow that down, and I think to just back up just a second too, there’s multiple different types of partnerships and multiple ways to even think about this. One of them is enhanced supervision which is a joint patrol, and that’s really where you get the police officers and the probation-parole officers who go out together to do these house visits and kind of –
Len Sipes: That’s what we do in D.C., yes.
Adam Matz: Yeah, with the accountability tours, I believe.
Len Sipes: Yes, and very successful.
Adam Matz: Yeah, and I think in that sort of example if you can get the police officers, their presence kind of does help to provide a sense of accountability. It also helps to reinforce the probation’s authority, I guess, with the offender, or the probation or parolee, and that’s probably where I would see more of the assistance in terms of the reentry as well. There were some anecdotal accounts when it came to Boston that having the officer there, they could maybe help coordinate services, suggest services for folks, also with the families in those areas. But it’s never really clear on anything that’s been documented so far how far that really goes, and obviously I think that’s the area that needs a little more examination because, like you said, it’s very clear that accountability, the police are used to that, and probation and parole working with police on that is really probably the easiest part of it, and a lot of that can be done just with information-sharing which is another type of partnership.
Len Sipes: Well, here’s the conversation I had with a friend of mine in the Metropolitan Police Department here in D.C when we had an offender who got himself into trouble. They said, “Well, he had several drug positives, why didn’t you revoke him?” – And my response was that if we revoked everybody with drug positives or if we revoked everybody who had problems under supervision, we would revoke a lot of people. We involve intermediate sanctions where we get in, and we are progressive in terms of how we respond to an individual in terms of what we have that person do, all the way from community service work to going to a day reporting center to putting the person under various forms of GPS, and those forms of GPS can be tightened and tightened and tightened. And what we do is we take a behavior that is inappropriate or drug-positives, and we try to fix that problem. He’s not going to work and he’s not looking for work so fine. He’s going to be on GPS until he finds a job. We find that many people come under compliance pretty quickly once they’re on GPS, and they suddenly go out and get that job, so this whole concept of intermediate sanctions is something that is hard for my friend in law enforcement to grasp but intermediate sanctions is part and parcel to good parole and probation within this country, correct?
Dr. Bitna Kim: That’s correct, I think. I agree potentially between the police and probation-parole agency offering new, really good benefit and opportunity but also both sides of the practitioner agree there are lots of challenges. One of the one is I think, as you mentioned, that this is a mission distortion which means the given professional orientation becomes skewed by the influence or ideology of the particular agency. So law enforcement and correction agencies share the common goal which is the public safety by the crime reduction however each pursue this goal from the different perspective. So police agency takes the full concern being enforcers, protecting the community by the arrest of criminal suspects in traditionally. Probation-parole agency on the other hand, is expected to both protect the community, and they heavily tag offenders by monitoring offenders and guiding them through treatment to service. Probation-parole officer especially receptive to adapting a law enforcement orientation where official focus solely on the role of the enforcement as the opposite to the probation-parole reintegration need, although by say that police-probation partnership are anticipated to result in stronger mission distortion among probation-parole officer than among police officer. Working with the probation officer within the active partnership also entailed the risk of law enforcement officer suffering from role confuse.
Len Sipes: Suffering from what, now?
Dr. Bitna Kim: Suffering from what kind of a role they have to play, in other words they’re confused in terms of their role. So I think the original research found, they examined the implementation of police-probation partnership and found that the police officer involved in the program, the partnership, they felt what they should do by this the partnership.
Len Sipes: I would imagine a lot of this is going to be an opportunity for the parole and probation agent to explain to the law enforcement officer what his or her job entails and what’s important to them, and the fact that the offender under supervision successfully completes supervision, that is extraordinarily important to the parole and probation agent. I would imagine to the police officer, he just does not want that individual to engage in any law-violating behavior at all. So it’s an opportunity for both to sit down and explain to the other person what their jobs are and the fact that those jobs mesh in terms of the long-run, which is public safety, but in the short-run requires a bit of understanding from each other.
Adam Matz: Yeah, and I think you’re right about the communication part there and the two agencies. They have to communicate which each other’s mission is, for one. I mean, they have to have some sort of inner-agency meetings to basically get to know each other and understand what the goals are. – And you mentioned intermediate sanctions, graduated sanctions, those strategies that probation and parole uses, well, the police officers are not going to be aware of that, and there’s going to be certain aspects of probation and parole that simply police just aren’t going to be in tuned to, and that’s where that communication is really important. And part of the thing, and it’s kind of an interesting dynamic, is that for probation and parole, when you increase supervision, particularly if it’s not necessary, if it’s low-risk type offenders or moderate, however, you basically increase the odds that you’re going to revoke or there’s going to be a new offense, etc., and it’s sort of ironic in a way that if you do too good of a job, you actually make things worse for those offenders because when you revoke them, you put them back in prison, it’s like starting over, and you have to go through the whole process all over again.
Len Sipes: For those lower-level offenders in particular, yes.
Adam Matz: Yes, yeah, and that’s something I don’t think the police officers – I know they’re aware of it because there’s all kinds of examples where they’re frustrated with seeing the same folks go in and come back, go in and come back, the revolving door. You know, police officers talk about that pretty regularly, and I don’t think they quite understand everything from the probation and parole perspective on that, so really that’s just I think the communication between the two. But I think if it’s communicated effectively, the way that the police officers can really help probation and parole – and this has been sort of talked about and written about – is really sort of functioning as extra eyes on the street because the reality is probation and parole, they’re not on the street. They do home visits somewhat regularly but it’s not every day, it’s not every week. It may not even be every month in some cases. So the police officers, if they communicate with probation and parole, they’ll know who these folks are, and they’ll be able to reinforce with the probation officer so if they see someone out, they don’t necessarily act on it but they can report that back to the probation and parole agency, which is very helpful.
Len Sipes: Let me toss something out, and again I’m going back to the fact that I was a law enforcement office for six years and I was a spokesman for law enforcement agencies as well as correctional agencies. The Maryland Department of Public Safety was both Corrections and Law Enforcement. The average police officer wants to see the average person coming out of the prison system or the average person on probation, he or she wants to see them succeed, and will report to the parole and probation agent, “Look, Benny’s been hanging out on the corner, and we’re getting complaints from the neighbors that he’s being loud, and I suspect that he’s smoking pot again, possibly being involved. I’ve got intelligence that he’s involved in other things as well. You need to intervene in this person’s life and intervene quickly because I think we’re going to lose him.” I think in many cases, that’s not an abnormal interaction with law enforcement officers. The vast majority of them, virtually all of them, want to see these individuals succeed under supervision and so they communicate strategies and issues to that parole and probation agent so that parole and probation agent can take the action necessary to get the person involved in treatment or at least, if nothing else, to get them off the corner.
Adam Matz: Yes.
Len Sipes: Am I right or wrong?
Adam Matz: No, I think you’re right on that, and I think in most places that’s the interaction you’ll see. Obviously if the communication is there and they know who those offenders are – there are some places in the country where there’s no communication. They don’t know the difference between people who are on probation and those who are not.
Len Sipes: Right.
Adam Matz: So for those jurisdictions where they know that and they have that information, you’re exactly right. That’s exactly what I’ve seen and that’s exactly the kind of feedback that I’ve gotten.
Len Sipes: Well Bitna, from your research, are we to be encouraged by these burgeoning relationships? Is this something that is in the best interest of public safety, the best interest of the offender? Is this within society’s best interest? Do you think these have a way of increasing and getting better?
Dr. Bitna Kim: I think. I think because state and local government across the entire United States facing reduced budget so law enforcement agency, correction agency, experience residual effects by staff reduction or declining research. However community expectation do not decline with the economy, as you know, so because of that, agencies are challenged to find a new and creative way to more with less. One way, one best way is to share resource and drive control together. I think the answer is the partnership between police and community partnership. Definitely that can be one solution what we can do more with less.
Len Sipes: Well, I agree with you there. The fact that budgets are being cut throughout the country, they’re being cut everywhere, and at parole and probation agencies as well as law enforcement agencies, that’s one way of dealing with the budget cuts, that they’re talking more and they’re creating a more effective environment for public safety, and hopefully they’re creating a more effective environment for the individual offender. If the that offender, the person under supervision, if he or she knows that they’re being carefully watched by law enforcement, I’m going to guess and suggest that they’re going to be more careful in terms of being involved in anything nefarious. Adam?
Adam Matz: Yeah, I think, well, the budgets and everything, it seems like a few years back, it was particularly bad. It seems like –
Len Sipes: A couple of seconds left.
Adam Matz: — things have been improving but yeah, I would say particularly what’s focused here and where these partnerships can really be beneficial is with your sort of high-risk folks, and where these programs are really paying off with this is when they’re doing these sort of inner-city urban gang problems, street gang problems. That’s where I really see this coming together and [INDISCERNIBLE 00:29:16].
Len Sipes: Okay. So ladies and gentlemen, our guests today have been Bitna Kim. She is an Assistant Professor, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and Adam Matz, Research Associate with the Council of State Governments, the American Probation and Parole Association. Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your criticisms, we appreciate your comments, and we want everybody to have themselves a very, very pleasant day.