After a million-dollar renovation from top to bottom, the former Albany Police Department building has a fresh new look as well as new occupants.
The Department of Corrections’ Parole and Probation Department has leased the building next to the Linn County Sheriff’s Office and Jail from Linn County for about $120,000 per year. Linn County paid $1.18 million for the 10,323-square-foot building and 1,152-square-foot modular unit, and then spent another million renovating it.
Parole and Probation is a state service, but works closely with the Linn County Sheriff’s Office, Albany Police Department, Department of Human Services and Linn County programs.
“It’s very nice,” department director Maureen Robb said of the new office. “It’s very professional and we really needed the extra space.”
Parole and Probation was housed in a downtown Albany building for almost 30 years and had shared space with the Department of Human Services.
Robb said 29 staff members will work out of the newly remodeled building. They supervise 1,350 persons on parole or on supervision after being released from incarceration. Of that total, about 25 percent are female, Robb said.
Robb said the new building provides the department with a much-needed extra 3,000 square feet.
“We had definitely outgrown our other office,” Robb said.
Robb said most staff work with clients from 12 to 36 months, although longer for sex offenders.
Staff supervisors Greg Lay and Trisha Kenyon said that in addition to monitoring and working with parolees to keep the community safe, the goal is to “help set them up for success.”
The staff works with sex offenders, persons convicted of domestic violence, alcohol and drugs and property crimes, among others.
“It’s going to be nice that we are so close to the Linn County Sheriff’s Office and Jail,” Robb said. “Our staff can go into the jail and work with people as they get near to their release time. Plus, when they get out of jail, they don’t have to try to find a ride downtown to get set up with us. They just have to walk a few yards to our office.”
Clients can access a number of services at the office, such as cognitive skills groups, facilitated by Brent Nelson. The goal is to assist parolees in changing their behavior.
Clients work with their parole officers to develop their individual long-term plans, much like a medical doctor and a patient set up a long-term health improvement plan.
Robb spent 15 years a parole and probation officer, five years as a supervisor and five years as director.
She said staff share a common thread that they believe people should be held accountable for their actions, but clients can also make positive changes and become productive citizens.
Officers attend five weeks of Parole and Probation training at the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training in Salem, plus one week of firearms training and then spend 29 weeks working with other officers before being turned loose on their own, much like a community police officer.
Local staff have from about four months to more than 25 years’ experience.
Trish Kenyon has spent 25 years in law enforcement and said her job with Parole and Probation offers her “the best of both worlds. I like working with people and I like holding people accountable for their actions.”
She said the role of a parole officer differs from a community police officer in that parole officers work closely with someone for a long period of time.
“We are in this person’s life and get very involved,” Kenyon said. “We know their families, their children.”
That closeness has its good and bad points, she admits.
Kenyon said staff celebrate many successes, but they also have to be mentally prepared to deal with clients who fail.
“We have to be resilient and as a staff, we have to lead balanced lives,” she said. “We get to see the end of the story, which can be amazing.”
Plus, as members of the community, they have to learn to assess and deal with interactions with clients or former clients at local schools, churches or businesses.
The new facility provides a number of meeting and counseling rooms, in addition to individual offices.
Parolees are monitored through monthly visits to the office or visits by officers to their homes. Clients are also subject to drug testing, polygraph testing and treatment monitoring.
Field supervision caseloads are divided into geographic regions of the county, which helps facilitate partnerships, helps the parole officer be more familiar with particular communities and enhances community policing efforts.
Parole officers can also be assigned gender specifically or specialize in sex offender or domestic violence areas.
Staff members are especially pleased there is room for a clothes closet where female parolees can get outfitted upon their release from jail.
“Often, they don’t have anything,” Kenyon said. “This gives them a nice hand-up.”
The move includes about $100,000 in new furniture purchased through the Oregon Corrections Enterprises. A new metal detector and security cameras were also added, Robb said.
Skylights and new LED lighting give the building an open and airy atmosphere throughout.
Renovation of the building began in December 2017.
Linn and Deschutes are the only counties in Oregon that do not operate the Parole and Probation Office, according to Linn County Administrator Ralph Wyatt.
Linn County acquired the building as part of a $1.7 million package deal that included the Armory building near the Linn County Fair & Expo Center. The properties had an assessed value of $2.73 million.
The Albany Police Department had outgrown the old building and local residents passed a bond to build a new police headquarters.
“Maureen Robb is great to work with,” said Linn County Commissioner Roger Nyquist, “This is beneficial for all parties involved. It’s a strategic move that at the end of the day, we hope reduces recidivism by getting people closer to the services they need, when they need them.”
Nyquist said the county plans to use the modular unit for mental health and alcohol and drug service programs.
Visit the Parole and Probation website at https://www.oregon.gov/DOC/CC/pages/linn/welcome.aspx.
According to the Parole and Probation website:
• There are approximately 116,672 people who live in Linn County.
• There are approximately 1,600 individuals on supervised parole or probation in Linn County.
• There are approximately 225 people currently on parole or probation for sexually related offenses.
• There are approximately 827 registered sex offenders living within Linn County.