Struthers municipal court creates probation officer position, fund
By Graig Graziosi
City council has approved an ordinance created by Struthers Municipal Judge Dominic Leone to establish a probation-officer position and a probation fund.
Matt Glover will serve as the city’s first official probation officer in a part-time capacity until the probation fund generates enough money to move him to full time. Glover will be paid $12 an hour while working part time. Judge Leone said Glover will be bumped up to a “competitive” salary once he begins working full time.
Glover is a licensed social worker.
Creating the probation-officer position is Judge Leone’s first major change to Struthers Municipal Court operations.
“This is what we need to do first so that down the road we can start the veterans court and the drug court,” the judge said.
Duties normally undertaken by a probation officer were formerly the responsibility of a clerk in the city’s law office, though without the authority to approve terms and conditions for jail alternatives such as diversion or intervention programs.
“Having a formal probation program allows us to use the full authority granted to probation officers under the Ohio Revised Code to better serve people,” Judge Leone said.
Glover said that implementing diversion programs would be a step in the right direction for the court.
“Those programs allow us to keep individuals with minor criminal charges from getting their records muddied, assuming they go through the program,” Glover said. “For example, if someone comes in here with an underage possession charge and completes diversion, the charges can be dismissed.”
A probation officer also will allow Judge Leone to pursue another change in his court: implementation of video arraignments.
Judge Leone said video arraignments lower the risks associated with transporting inmates and helps to increase safety at the courthouse and in the community by not tying up police officers with prisoner transport.
In addition to creating the probation- officer post, the recently passed ordinance creates a probation fund. The money generated for the fund will come from fees imposed on probationers.
“The ordinance actually allows us to collect monthly fees, but we’re going to charge a flat $200 for a year of probation services,” Judge Leone said.
“A standard probation term is one year, though if they’re on a six-month program, then we’ll pro-rate the cost. It’ll actually save the city money in the long run because the court employees will be self-funding.”
Eventually the fund will be used to pay for Glover’s salary as well as the hourly rates for any additional employees brought on by the court. Since the beginning of February, the court has collected $400 in fees for the fund.