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Policy Implications of Police-Probation/Parole Partnerships: A Review of the Empirical Literature

NCJ Number
Federal Probation Volume: 77 Issue: 1 Dated: June 2013 Pages: 9-16
Adam K. Matz; Bitna Kim
Date Published
June 2013
8 pages
Following a summary of the history of partnerships between police and probation/parole agencies, this article discusses the various types of partnerships, their goals, the current climate of related research, and notable problems; recommendations for policy and practice are offered.
Boston's Operation Night Light, a component of a larger initiative known as Operation Ceasefire, is regarded as the first formal police-probation partnership. The basic regimen of the partnership consisted of probation officers selecting 10-15 of their highest-risk gang-related youths from among those between the ages of 17 and 25. Plain-clothes police and probation officers used unmarked cruisers in visiting each probationer at home, school, or workplace. The success of Boston's Operation Night Lights motivated other jurisdictions throughout the country to create partnerships between police and probation/parole officers. The most common police and probation/parole partnership involves joint patrols, with police and probation/parole officers riding together in making random visits to high-risk probationers/parolees. Another type of partnership model involves information-sharing through an automated information exchange. Through this exchange, participating State fusion centers are notified of probationers/parolees being transferred to their jurisdictions. Fugitive apprehension units are similar to information-sharing efforts, but focus on locating and apprehending absconding probationers or parolees. Specialized enforcement partnerships and interagency problem solving partnerships address the detection of and response to a given community problem. In terms of measurable effectiveness in reducing crime, police-probation/parole partnerships have not been comprehensively and systematically evaluated; however, consistent anecdotal evidence from practitioners indicates that these partnerships have several potential benefits. Stricter guidance at the national level specific to police-probation/parole partnerships would support formalization at the local level and provide standardization that would facilitate data collection for process and outcome evaluations. Research findings would then assist in moving toward evidence-based models for various types of partnerships. 7