LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - It may take up to six months, but sooner than later Angelina County probation officers will be armed on duty. In order to carry a weapon, those officers must be certified as an adult probation officer to carry a weapon.
"I think everybody would feel a lot more comfortable if they were armed," Angelina County Probation Officer Chris Harris said.
This is a common thought for many probation officers as they know have the right to be armed on duty in Angelina County all thanks to approval from county judges.
David Petersen, Angelina County Probation Officer, said, "I think it's great to be truthful about it. It's like you never know when you're going to need it."
There is one main reason behind arming these probation officers.
"It's to start a warrant team," Dustin Fore, Adult Probation Supervisor, said. "They won't be using the weapons when they go out on field visits or in the office."
The warrant team will be made of 6 male and 4 female probation officers. Many of them coming from military and law enforcement backgrounds.
Stephanie Hill, Angelina County Probation Officer, said, "It's not too different for females. It's the same. I mean we're all in this together. Just like with the military the females are on the front line. Why can't we be on the warrant team?"
The officers will go through a week long TCLEOSE course for certification that will include classroom, daytime, and nighttime shooting. While probation officers in Angelina County are just now getting their license to become armed, for more than 10 years probation officers in Nacogdoches County have been armed. Firearms officer Ken Brown said Nacogdoches County probation officers are armed all day and night while on duty.
Ken Brown said, "I think the importance of being armed is the fact that we deal with the same people that the police officers deal with and we carry weapons because we have to work in the field at night and sometimes we're out there all alone."
Brown said probation officers feel protected and safe when armed because their weapon might be the only thing that can help them in the field.
Both Angelina and Nacogdoches County probation officers are always assisted by police or sheriff's deputies to ensure safety when making arrest.
Dustin Fore said, "Our job I think is to do more of the leg work like finding the person, verifying they are where they say they are, then hopefully contacting law enforcement. We just go out with them and help assist in their arrest. That way where as you might have needed two or three officers to effect their arrest in the past maybe they can only send one out, and a few probation officers can assist them."
The recent shortage of ammo will play a big role for when Angelina County probation officers will start carrying weapons. Fore says for 10 officers they will need 6,000 rounds, which could take up to six months to get.