Editorials

Probation officers face dangerous job with too many criminals to track

Chief Judge Andrew Gleeson on a possible probation officers strike

St. Clair County Chief Judge Andrew Gleeson discusses the intent-to-strike filing made by the union representing the probation officers. Paul Sullivan, the council president for the union, was unavailable for a video interview on Friday.
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St. Clair County Chief Judge Andrew Gleeson discusses the intent-to-strike filing made by the union representing the probation officers. Paul Sullivan, the council president for the union, was unavailable for a video interview on Friday.

Mike Rowe should bring his “Dirty Jobs” show to St. Clair County, more specifically to the probation department.

The officers work daily with the most dangerous people in our community, plus they are handling two to three times as many bad actors as the Illinois Supreme Court recommends. Their efforts keep those folks out of our overcrowded jail and prisons, meaning they save taxpayers $55 per day per offender.

But they are caught between our dysfunctional state and our dysfunctional county.

Illinois owes the county $5.6 million for the probation department. St. Clair County gets about $700,000 in probation fees and won’t provide an accounting of how the money is used.

So the probation officers are threatening to strike. What are they striking over? Money? In part. Benefits? Not really.

This potential strike is mainly about that dirty caseload.

Working double or triple the number of cases is dangerous to the officers and the community. They are bound to miss something.

Voters in April didn’t give the penny sales tax for police that would have allowed more probation officers to be hired. The state’s debt towards local probation services stretches back to 2010. The county has a long history of underfunding public safety, whether it be probation or the sheriff’s department.

Your taxes are higher, so where is the money going?

Maybe to interest on junk-bond rated debt and the nation’s best-paid state employees. Maybe to to local airport parking lots and jet bridges.

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