Small Project Partnership Funding: Serving to Protect. Protecting to Serve.
Having the necessary equipment in our roles is so important. Agents need to feel safe, and these vests absolutely help our agents feel less vulnerable walking into a situation that might be dangerous. And by feeling safer, it often makes them more effective in their jobs.
Crow Wing County Community Corrections agents had a cumulative caseload that equaled well over 2,000 contacts in 2018 alone.
Oftentimes, cases necessitate residential visits, leaving probation agents vulnerable as they approach unknown situations with questionable outcomes.
“Probation agents have many different roles when working with clients who have been placed on probation by the courts,” said Crow Wing County Community Corrections Manager Krista Jones. “Assessing risk to the community and identifying needs of clients is essential in order to accomplish our goal to promote positive change in clients and enhance public safety.”
While in the line of protecting others, Community Services officials knew it was also critical to protect their own. Kara Terry, director of Crow Wing County Community Services, said her team had explored ideas and options to increase safety measures and ultimately arrived at purchasing bullet-resistant vests for each agent to wear while out in the field.
In 2018, Community Services was awarded $2,500 in Small Project Partnership funding through Sourcewell. With additional dollars contributed through the county, 11 vests were purchased.
“This had been an ongoing discussion for a while,” Terry noted. “We train on verbal de-escalation and other tactics; however, there may be times when this isn't enough. We wanted to make sure the agents had additional tools to help with their safety in the field.”
Jones says the vests provide peace of mind.
“Having the necessary equipment in our roles is so important,” Jones added. “Agents need to feel safe, and these vests absolutely help our agents feel less vulnerable walking into a situation that might be dangerous. And by feeling safer, it often makes them more effective in their jobs.”
Both Jones and Terry said the agents appreciate the vests and the additional tools to help keep them safe on the job. And while they know the vests are not the be-all and end-all, they are certainly another tool in being effective out in the field.
“Our agency takes the safety of our agents very seriously and we are very grateful to be able to provide this to our staff with the help of the funds we received from Sourcewell,” Jones said. “Our agents have also commented that they feel fortunate to work for an agency that takes this seriously and has taken steps to help enhance their safety.”
Sourcewell (formerly National Joint Powers Alliance) is a self-supporting government organization, partnering with education, government, and nonprofits to boost student and community success. Created in 1978 as one of Minnesota's nine service cooperatives, we offer training and shared services to our central-Minnesota members. Throughout North America, we offer a cooperative purchasing program with more than 325 awarded vendors on contract. Sourcewell is driven by service and the ability to strategically reinvest in member communities.