CHARLESTON--Supreme Court Chief Justice Robin Jean Davis swore in six new sex offender intensive supervision officers during a ceremony today in the Supreme Court Chamber.
They will work in Region Two, which includes Monongalia, Marion, Preston, Taylor, Barbour, Lewis, Upshur, Harrison and Randolph counties.
The specialized officers are working under provisions of the Child Protection Act of 2006 (House Bill 101, passed June 14, 2006). The law requires extended supervision for sexual offenders, especially those convicted of crimes against children.
The officers' only duty is to supervise sex offenders. They work out of their cars, not offices. They work holidays, nights, weekends and hours in between to provide intensive supervision.
The officers also work with circuit court judges and treatment providers to make sure offenders are complying with court orders. The extended supervision includes polygraph examinations and electronic monitoring.
"This is a very, very, very important position from the Court's perspective. We see these horrific cases every day," Davis said.
Justice Menis Ketchum also attended the ceremony.
John McCoy, a former Monongalia County probation officer, will be the regional team leader. Preston County Probation Officers David Bailey and Bill Cobasky are transferring to this specialized sex offender unit. The three new officers are Jaime Jenkins, a former employee of the Division of Juvenile Service who is a certified sex offender treatment specialist; Neil Parsons II, a former employee of the Division of Correction and a former Parole Officer; and Angelia Pyles, a former employee of Appalachian Community Health, where she was a Children and Adult service coordinator.
The officers have been on duty since April 16.
The officers were the third group to be hired. The first were hired in November 2008 to work in Region Five, which consists of Boone, Cabell, Lincoln, Logan, Mingo, Putnam and Wayne Counties. The second group was hired October 1 to work in Region Six, which includes Fayette, Raleigh, Pocahontas, Greenbrier, Monroe, Summers, Mercer, McDowell and Wyoming Counties.
The officers working in the first two regions already have caught sex offenders who were planning to reoffend and have taken them back to court.
"We believe the program is working. It is making our communities safer and making our children safer. Our communities in Region Two will be safer and will be better places to live," said Mike Lacy, Director of Probation Services in the Supreme Court Administrative Office.
The supervision program is being expanded one region at a time throughout the state. A total of thirty probation officers eventually will be hired to carry out provisions of the law. They work under the supervision of Caren Bills, the Deputy Director of Probation Services.
The program was developed by Lacy and Davis when she was chief justice in 2006 and 2007. Her support was crucial in refining the vision of the supervision protocol. Her work was a continuation of her interest in protecting children in our communities during her "Year of the Child" in 2006 and "Year of the Child, Too" in 2007.
The Supreme Court is proud of West Virginia's Corps of probation officers, who are among the best in the nation, said Supreme Court Administrative Director Steve
"The 'special forces' within that elite group are the sex offender supervision officers," Canterbury said. "The reality is, most criminals have some skewed sense of logic when they commit crimes. With sex offenders, there is no logic. It is a force beyond logic."
That makes them especially difficult to supervise in the community, Canterbury said.
"You are the cream of the crop. We have the greatest expectations of you," he told the new officers.
"I'm impressed by them. I think we have a wonderful group of new officers," Lacy said.
Davis said Lacy also is one of the best directors of probation in the United States.
"On behalf of the Court, Michael, we thank you for all your work," she said.