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TRAINING

The importance of comprehensive and current training for community corrections practitioners cannot be overemphasized. NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services, Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives (OPCA) educates and trains probation officers and other community corrections professionals in line with the best interests of public safety and the reduction of crime. The OPCA provides virtual and live training to all levels of community corrections practitioners within our funding umbrella. OPCA works with members of a Statewide Training Committee, made up of probation professionals from across New York State, in the development, design and delivery of training curricula and the promotion of evidence based practices. OPCA also provides ongoing leadership and standards for required training of probation practitioners provided in regional locations.

Probation Officer Qualifications and Training
Qualifications for Probation Officers - The qualifications and training requirements for probation positions are regulated by the NYS Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives. Probation Officer exams are given periodically. For testing and employment opportunities contact the appropriate county department of civil service. Probation Officer positions are open-competitive civil-service positions in New York State. Each candidate must meet the minimum requirements of a graduate degree in many of the social sciences, or a bachelor's degree plus two years experience in counseling or casework. Promotional opportunities are regulated by Civil Service and OPCA Rule as well.

Probation Training in New York State
The qualifications and training requirements for probation positions are regulated by the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services, Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives (OPCA). In collaboration with counties, OPCA provides a variety of professional development opportunities for new and experienced probation officers.

Within the first six months of employment, probation officers are required to complete a two week classroom program: the Fundamentals of Probation Practice (FPP). In New York State, all probation officers are peace officers. Peace officer training requires a complete week of basic peace officer training. Probation Officers must each obtain 21 hours of approved continuing education annually after the first 12 months of employment.

Fundamentals of Community Corrections (FCC) Training for ATIs
The Division of Criminal Justice Services, Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives provides a complete training curriculum designed especially for community correction’s professionals.   This 28 hour training is the first of its kind and was developed through the efforts of a statewide workgroup comprised of the Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives (OPCA) staff and Alternative to Incarceration (ATI) program professionals.  The National Institute of Corrections (NIC) also provided technical assistance to New York State in the development of this program.  This training captures the most innovative approaches and best practices in the field today.  It incorporates evidence-based practices and will teach participants the skills required to assist offenders in changing their behaviors and in leading law-abiding lives.  The FCC is accredited by the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) and endorsed by the International Community Corrections Association (ICCA).  

Specialized Training

Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Project - In support of the Governor's policies promoting a coordinated criminal justice response to domestic violence, and with federal S.T.O.P. funds made available through the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), OPCA has collaborated with the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence to implement this joint project that includes probation officer training and advisement in response to domestic violence. OPCA has a highly involved statewide network of Probation Domestic Violence Liaisons (PDVLs) from each county probation department. OPCA provides and encourages agency-wide, consistent, coordinated training. OPCA has made significant progress in engaging the probation system to develop policies and procedures in each county. County probation departments play a key role in the coordinated criminal justice response to domestic violence.

The Probation Officer Safety and Survival Training (OSST) was developed by the NYS DCJS Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives, the NYS Probation Officers Association, the NYS Council of Probation Administrators and the NYS Division of Parole. This particular safety training was awarded the “Systems Approach Award” from the International Association of Correctional Training Personnel at their annual training conference in November of 2003 in Philadelphia, PA. The OSST is a three day program. Day one and day two are designed for all probation officers and topics include Mental and Physical Conditioning, Department Safety, Planning and Preparation for Field Safety, Tactics for Field Safety, and Critical Incidents. Day three is designed for officers who carry firearms but participation is open to all officers whether they carry firearms or not. The topics included in day three are: Arrest Process, Transportation of Prisoners, Using Aerosol Spray, and Firearm Safety and Storage.

Motivational Interviewing - Motivational Interviewing (MI) is an evidenced-based practice that can be utilized by probation professionals in their efforts to reduce recidivism through positive offender change. It is an offender-centered approach that seeks to bring about change through the reduction of ambivalence and resistance to efforts that promote such change. This important training provides participants with an understanding of the spirit and method of Motivational Interviewing, as well as an opportunity for practical experience in implementing the skills that are learned.

Executive Leadership - This advanced leadership session is designed for both new and experienced agency directors and those they rely on to carry out policy decisions. This one-day program is conducted by the Director and staff of the Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives (OPCA). Topics include budget and fiscal services, state Rules and Regulations, the Annual Probation Program Plan, automation, peace officer policies, and instruction on Critical Incident Management.

Interstate Compact Training - OPCA regularly conducts regional interstate training for local interstate staff and probation directors to ensure compliance with the Interstate Compact, state laws and applicable regulations and to encourage best practices.

Pathways to Employment -The New York State Department of Labor (DOL) and the Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives (OPCA) are partners in a new initiative directed at providing tools for unemployed probationers in order to secure gainful employment. The criminal justice literature is clear that gainful employment is part of the pro-social bonding needed to stabilize criminal offenders. OPCA's goal through this initiative is to increase the number of probationers who are employed and able to support their families, as well as pay restitution to victims and fees to supervising counties. We know that employment helps to reduce probationer recidivism and enhance public safety. (More Information)