New position created to tackle probation cases

By Brandon Klein -

Delaware Municipal Court Judge Marianne Hemmeter spoke bluntly about the morale in the Office of Community Control last Monday.

City Council approved the reclassification of a position to become the deputy chief community control officer. Hemmeter said the court is “booming” with its 1,540 probation cases countywide.

“Where we see growth is on our intensive supervision caseload. These are the domestic violence cases, the repeat offenders, the stalking cases, the menacing cases,” she said.

“And quite frankly if we don’t do something soon we’re going to lose officers.”

There are six community control officers with each handling about 200 cases, some close to 300. But the 154 intensive supervision cases require more than one person to be “good probation,” Hemmeter said.

Such supervision would include multiple house visits each week, random urine analysis, and drug testing. But officers are usually chained to their desks three days a week during arraignment proceedings, a time when other cases visit them.

“We need a deputy chief to coordinate the home visits and to make sure the people on intensive supervision are getting the type of supervision that our community deserves,” the judge said.

The position will be within the same salary range so extra money is not required now.

“We’re asking somebody to step up to take on more of the administrative role and, quite frankly, the court thought it wasn’t professional to ask somebody to take on those responsibilities without a consistent job title,” Hemmeter said.

Prior to council’s meeting, the court had to get creative with the officers’ hours to allow them to enjoy weekends, she said. Plus Doug Staugler, the chief community control officer, would like to go on vacation sometime.

Staugler informed council there were five officers when he joined six years ago. They expect to hire a seventh officer by the end of this year.

“The caseloads aren’t getting any smaller,” he said.

By Brandon Klein

Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.

Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.