U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Threat of Mission Distortion in Police-Probation Partnerships

NCJ Number
Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management Volume: 30 Issue: 1 Dated: 2007 Pages: 132-149
David Murphy; John L. Worrall
Date Published
18 pages
Based on interviews with police and probation officers in Spokane, WA, this study examined the potential for the abuse of authority and confusion in the respective functions of police and probation officers in the operations of formal police-probation partnerships.
The study found that the respective mission orientations of both police officers and probation officers have expanded to the point that they are a potential threat to the civil liberties of probationers. Probation officers are required to take the "lead" position when conducting a warrantless search of a probationer's residence or other areas where probationers' have a legal expectation of privacy. Police serve as backup. Police-led searches, on the other hand, require probable cause and a warrant. In practice, searches that target probationers are often led by police for safety reasons, particularly when probation officers are limited by strict firearms policies or are unarmed. This raises issues about the legality of warrantless searches when police and probation officers act together. The practical benefits of collaborative home visits, searches, etc., are obvious, so it is reasonable to expect that untrained police-probation teams will take full advantage of any discretion they are allowed in detecting and collecting evidence of probationer's probation violations or crimes. It is essential for agencies with formal working police-probation partnerships to clarify special responsibilities for each team member. Performance measures must also be clearly stated. Otherwise, team members are left to devise their own methods and techniques of operating. Ten police officers and 13 probation officers (all personnel participating in partnerships at the time of the study) were interviewed about their experiences in their partnerships in terms of their roles, working relationships, and individual tasks within the partnership. 44 references