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Letter: Probation officers have thankless jobs

Crime scene.

Crime scene. Credit: iStock

The news story “Probation officers missed DUI reports” [April 26] fails to adequately describe the daily duties of a probation officer. The responsibilities and requirements of the job are more challenging than people commonly know.

Probation officers have bachelor’s degrees and receive much of the same basic training as police officers. We carry firearms, and have dual responsibility for protecting the public’s safety and rehabilitating offenders.

Approximately 142 probation officers supervise more than 9,200 offenders in Suffolk County. We have state-mandated contact requirements in the form of home visits and community contacts with offenders, which are getting harder to comply with because of limited staff and resources. Our workforce is down 20 percent since 2011.

We are stretched at times to make very difficult choices in balancing what we need to accomplish in the office with what needs to be done in the community. When we succeed, there are few accolades or acknowledgements, but there is plenty of criticism when something goes wrong. We strive to get it right.

We are an effective alternative to the high price of incarceration, and we work hard.

Matthew Porter, Patchogue

Editor’s note: The writer is the unit president of the Suffolk County Probation Officers Association.