The probation office in Minnesota partners with a trucking school connecting people under supervision to training that can help them earn a commercial driver’s license.

Probation and pretrial services officers play a public safety role, monitoring individuals under supervision and ensuring they follow court orders. But unlike traditional law enforcement officers, they also focus on rehabilitation, a job that requires constant collaboration with non-profit organizations, local businesses, and government agencies.

“It takes more than just the probation office,” said Chief Probation Officer Kito J. Bess for the District of Minnesota. “We’re working with community members because, as the old saying goes, it does take a village.”

Highlighting how these offices and their community partners are stronger together is the goal of this year’s National Pretrial, Probation, and Parole Supervision Week, which {is being} had been observed from July 16-22 this year.

The goal of probation officers is to help individuals who have been convicted of federal crimes to fully reintegrate themselves into society. Many face a wide range of needs, including employment, mental health treatment and even getting a driver’s license after spending time in incarceration.

Bess said community partnerships start with identifying, sharing, and building on resources that are already available and can help people under supervision.

“We don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” Bess said. “There are a lot of resources out in the community, and we need to be able to tap into them.”

Working with community partners, the Minnesota district’s probation office connects individuals to peer-to-peer mentoring, substance use treatment, psychological care, and job training.

“We’re being part of the change process, not just supervising a defendant,” Bess said. “People under supervision are getting the support that they were lacking before, and that can make all the difference in the world.”