The Denver County Court Probation Department currently has 70 employees. This is comprised of 1 Chief Probation Officer, 1 Deputy Chief Probation Officer, 7 Probation Officer Supervisors, 1 Program Manager, 1 Program Administrator, 1 Business Operations Administrator, 1 Victim Advocate, 42 Probation Officers, 4 Forensic Peer Navigators, 4 DUR Navigators, 2 Wellness Connectors, and 5 support staff. The Department supervises approximately 3,700 cases assigned to 42 Probation Officers.
The Probation Department handles misdemeanor and city ordinance violations cases. The majority of cases referred to County Court Probation are for DUI (Driving Under the Influence), DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired), and DUID (Driving Under the Influence of Drugs). Persons convicted of these offenses are evaluated by using a validated risk assessment instrument. This instrument helps determine offender risk in certain areas relating to drinking, drug use, and driving. It also helps inform treatment referral decisions and sentencing decisions by the Judge.
In general, every probation client convicted of a DUI or related alcohol/drug and driving offense is required to attend education and/or therapy classes to assist them with addressing their drinking/drugging and driving behavior. Education is either 12 or 24 hours, depending on the level of service as determined by the offender’s specific case, including priors and blood alcohol concentration levels. Therapy can be anywhere from 42 hours to over 86 hours depending on the offender’s specific case. The risk/screening instrument administered by the Probation Officer determines the appropriate level of service for each individual offender. All treatment is provided at Office of Behavioral Health approved providers.
The other cases that make up Probation Department’s caseload include domestic violence cases, family violence cases, child abuse, weapons offenses, thefts, assaults, sex offenses, prostitution, shoplifting, and wrongs to minors. In addition, the Probation Department supervises juvenile city ordinance violators.
Probation Officers are also responsible for conducting pre-sentence investigations (PSI’s) on convicted offenders and completing PSI reports for Judges to provide information and sentencing and treatment recommendations to be used at the time of sentencing. Approximately 2,500 PSI reports are completed for the court each year.
The Denver County Court Probation Department is separated into specialized units:
General Supervision Unit. Probation Officers assigned to this unit supervise first-time DUI offenders, repeat DUI offenders, family violence offenses, child abuse and domestic violence offenses. Probation Officers assess their client’s risks and treatment needs, make referrals for treatment, inform them of conditions of probation, monitor their progress and compliance, address violations, and file petitions with the court to revoke probation when warranted. Offenders who have multiple DUI convictions often require more intensive supervision and treatment to address their habitual behavior. The Probation Officers in this unit receive specialized training in supervising these types of offenders. In order to minimize and stop repeat victimization by this type of offender, these Probation Officers work closely with law enforcement, treatment providers, the court, and the victim to ensure No Contact Orders are complied with, treatment is received, and the victim can be protected and/or offered services.
Sobriety Court: The Denver County Court was established in 2011 to address habitual DUI offenders. Offenders voluntarily agree to participate in this intensive program at the time of sentencing in order to receive a lesser jail sentence. In this program, Sobriety Court probationers progress through phases as they accomplish goals set forth in their case plans and treatment plans. Probation Officers collaborate with treatment providers, District Attorneys, Public Defenders, the Judge, and other agencies to provide intense supervision coupled with intense services to address the specific needs of each offender in the program. Sobriety Court probationers attend meetings with the judge on a regular basis to report on their progress and to receive immediate feedback for positive and negative behavior. Positive behavior is rewarded with incentives such as gift cards, reduced fines and costs, reduction on reporting requirements, and praise, to name a few. Negative behavior is addressed by the imposition of sanctions, to include increased drug monitoring and treatment, increased reporting requirements, homework assignments, move backwards a phase, and short sentences of jail time, to name some of the options. Probation Officers conduct home visits and other visits of these probationers in the community.
Sex Offender Management Unit: The Probation Officers assigned to this unit receive specialized training to supervise offenders on probation for sex offenses and with past histories of sex offenses. These Officers may restrict and monitor computer and internet usage, contact with minors, certain types of employment and geographical areas, and other types of behavior that normally isn’t associated with other types of offenders. These Officers may impose psycho-sexual evaluations, polygraph interviews, computer software monitoring, and special treatment for these types of offenders to assist them to change and contain their behavior.
Mental Health Unit: This is an intensive supervision unit for clients that have been diagnosed with a serious mental health condition that significantly impacts the client’s ability to comply with probation. The probation officers assigned to this unit have been trained in Crisis Intervention and Mental Health issues. They work closely with Phoenix Multi-Sports, MHCD and other providers to address the needs of these clients.
HEM (Helping, Engaging, Motivating) Program: Launched in congruence with House Bill 19-1263 on March 1, 2020. In general, HB 19-1263 changes the penalty for certain drug possession violations pursuant to the “Uniform Controlled Substances Act of 2013”; previously charged level 4 Drug Felonies will now be charged as level 1 Drug Misdemeanors. HEM is an alternative to incarceration initiative operating under the direction of the Denver County Court and inspired through a collaborative partnership effort. The program is designed to connect individuals to resources and services addressing needs that are potential underlying causes of criminal behavior.