Earlier this week, TSEA staff met with Assistant Commissioner of Community Supervision Alisha James to discuss the many challenges facing probation and parole officers. Below is a recap of that meeting.
The overall demeanor of Assistant Commissioner of Community Supervision Alisha James was positive and candid. There was a clear readiness to discuss employees’ concerns and for management to take needed corrective action when warranted. Assistant Commissioner James has made communication a key part of her management style. James encourages employees to join her Facebook and Periscope conversations. These opportunities are available each month.
The Department is aware that, sometimes, caseloads are heavy and require overtime and flex time. That being said, employees should report to the department or TSEA any managers that are being unreasonable about awarding overtime and flex time so the department can address those issues.
There is also a clear understanding that officers should always be in pairs when sent on assignments. Any indication otherwise by management should also be reported.
The Department is also working to make sure training is more specifically focusing on the job responsibilities of Probation and Parole.
Employees may send concerns directly to the department by email to [email protected].
Up to 90 new positions will be available to help with need assessments and intakes. The intent is to shift to these new positions some of the responsibilities that officers now have. The department is aware of under-staffing and is working on hiring and retaining employees.
About 60 percent of all officers are now commissioned. Commissioned Officers receive a monthly pay supplement. Those that do not want to become commissioned will be placed in another Probation and Parole position. The Assistant Commissioner does not want to lose the valuable experience and skills that these employees offer the department.
Under-staffing is leading to caseload issues. There was a detailed discussion about the various classifications of offenders and the varying amount of time required for supervision based upon the classification. The Department seems to be genuine in their attempts to develop a “weighted caseload” system to help with the tremendous caseloads.
We also discussed the mentoring program for new officers and some confusion about when officers are allowed to take full caseloads. The department is attempting to use mentoring to make officers more comfortable with their new jobs and help with retention. Those concerns must be balanced with the need for new employees to begin carrying full caseloads to give relief to overworked staff.
Ill-fitting and the condition of vest was discussed. There is a system for replacement and maintenance of vest. The central office in Nashville will be happy to help with correcting any vest issues in the field.
The Department states that there are no plans for further privatization in the division. TSEA would, of course, oppose any such move.
We encourage our members to share this information with your co-workers.
If you have specific questions about other matters in probation and parole, please send them to [email protected].
Thank you for your service to our state and for being a member of TSEA.