Expanding Supervision Capabilities in Probation and Pretrial Services
PACTS Mobile Expanded
For the past five years, the AO has supported (Probation and Pretrial Services Automated Case Tracking System) PACTS Mobile for BlackBerry devices, allowing officers' on-demand access to case information while working in the community. At the peak, PACTS Mobile supported over 5,000 BlackBerrys used by probation and pretrial staff. With the recent introduction of tablet devices, demand for business-friendly applications ("apps") has increased as well.
Probation and pretrial services officers are using tablet devices during court hearings, for interviews with defendants and offenders, and to access documents in the field. Several apps have been identified that demonstrably increase productivity.
Responding to user demand, the AO’s Mobile Technology Working Group suggested expanding the PACTS Mobile application to operate under Apple's iOS platform, for iPad and iPhone devices. This led to the development of iPACTS. The first production version, released in September 2012, allows for the display of case documents filed in PDF format. Additionally, officers are able to download and view another officer's caseload in the event out-of-office coverage is needed. Future enhancements will improve mapping capabilities, allow interview form completion and itinerary planning, identify offenders residing nearby, and integrate with ATLAS (Access to Law Enforcement System). With iPACTS, officers are able to sync their iPads with the PACTS case management system to obtain current data, eliminating the need for traditional field books, making officers more efficient. A version of iPACTS will be available for the iPhone in calendar year 2013.
Probation and Pretrial Services Tool Puts Clients on the Map
A software application introduced in 2012 gives probation and pretrial services officers a clearer and more meaningful display of information about their clients—criminal defendants and offenders. The Probation and Pretrial Services Clients Mapping Application can, for example, highlight on a map which offenders have been convicted of certain types of offenses, which clients are subject to a given type of supervision condition, and display offenders by the degree of risk they present for recidivism. Supervisors use the map when assigning new cases and take into account both the nature of the case and the location of the officer's existing cases. District and county lines as well as police departments and schools can be highlighted on the map, with offenders' locations superimposed.
Training Programs for Probation and Pretrial Services Officers
- National Training on Sex Offender Management: In 2012, following Judicial Conference approval of a new policy on sex offender management, the AO launched a national sex offender management-training program for probation and pretrial services officers. Developed by the AO’s Sex Offender Management Working Group and the AO Office of Probation and Pretrial Services in consultation with the Federal Judicial Center, the program addressed investigative and supervision skills, strategies, and techniques as well as core policy principles. In 2012 this training was delivered to approximately 450 officers who supervise sex offenders in the community.
- Expansion of Staff Training Aimed at Reducing Re-Arrest (STARR): In May 2012, the AO extended implementation of the STARR program, which provides training in core correctional skills, to 14 districts. Courts participating in this initial wave agreed to train all officers in their districts to use these core correctional practices in their interactions with defendants and offenders. AO staff will use the experiences of chiefs, managers, STARR coaches, and other staff in these pilot districts to refine the STARR curriculum. In July, the AO began offering coach training at the National Training Academy (NTA) in Charleston, South Carolina, for districts planning to participate in future waves of STARR implementation. More than 20 districts plan to participate in wave two.
The National Training Academy (NTA), through its partnership with the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Charleston, SC, offers training programs for probation and pretrial services officers.
- New Officer: NTA staff held several six-week comprehensive new officer training programs, training 164 new officers.
- Firearms and Safety: There were 415 officers certified or re-certified as officer safety and firearm instructors. Forty-four officers participated in the officer firearm skill-enhancement training program.
- Search and Seizure: The NTA trained 108 officers in this intensive two-week “train the trainer” program that equips participants to train and certify search-team members in their district on the Judicial Conference's search and seizure guidelines for probation officers.
- Post-Conviction Risk Assessment (PCRA): NTA trained 163 supervision officers on proper administration of the PCRA. This training prepares officers to assess empirically the risk of offenders under supervision.