With caseloads for Hall County Probation Services growing steadily, the department is looking to add two more officers to “get things back into perspective,” Hall County Court Administrator Reggie Forrester said.
“The (increased) caseload is causing our officers to struggle to adequately supervise the probationers under their supervision,” according to the request to the Hall County Board of Commissioners. “Inadequate supervision causes a lack of adequate face to face time with the probationer. This lack of time causes us to be prone to errors and slows down the work of the courts.”
The department is asking to increase the number of probation officers from eight to 10. An officer currently faces 342 cases on average, more than 100 cases above the probation agreement with the state of Georgia, according to the request.
“The root of the probation growth lies in the caseload of the State Court of Hall County,” Forrester said.
State Court Judge Larry Baldwin II took to the bench as the third judge in 2008, when State Court criminal cases peaked at 8,942. Through the Great Recession, the numbers dipped by roughly 2,000 cases. In 2014, however, the number surged back to 9,133 cases.
“I think it’s the activity of our law enforcement officers all the way around — the sheriff, state patrol and (the Department of Natural Resources) and a lot of folks are actively enforcing the law and making cases — and I think the economy had a lot to do with it,” Forrester said.
Forrester said there is no leading cause in terms of the increase when looking at offenses.
According to the service agreement, the department needed to maintain a caseload of 175 to 200 active probationers per officer.
Forrester said the hope is that if the two officers are approved, it will bring the average down to 250 cases per officer.
The County and Municipal Probation Advisory Council performed a compliance review for Hall County in April 2015, which examined procedures and functions of the department.
Among the eight probation officers and a supervisor, the ratio of caseworker to cases ranged between 1 to 310 and 1 to 480.
The Hall County commissioners moved the item to the consent agenda during a work session Monday afternoon.