Wednesday, October 22, 2014
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Grady County probation and parole officer Josh Smith relocated to the Sheriff’s Department’s north annex office to better serve offenders in the northern part of the county. (Staff photo by Jeff Harrison)
 
By Jeff Harrison
Managing Editor

The Grady County Sheriff’s Department has some new company in their north division office.
Last week, Josh Smith, a probation and parole officer with the county, relocated to the north annex to better meet the demands of a growing caseload in the northern portion of the county.

Smith says the move from Chickasha will increase communication with offenders, the public and local law enforcement and cut costs.

“It had just gotten to a point where for me to be in Chickasha didn’t make much sense,” Smith said.

Smith’s caseload includes 75 offenders who live in Tuttle, Minco, Amber, Pocasset, Blanchard and Bridge Creek. He still travels to Chickasha for court, but expects see a drop in travel expenses for both the county and those on probation and parole. The move is also a plus for Smith who lives in Yukon.

“Most of our offenders are on a fixed income or low income, so coming up with transportation or gas to get to the office becomes one of their most difficult tasks,” Smith said. “And it’s a two way street for us. We’re in a better spot to monitor what’s going on in their life and they’re able to have someone to talk to or see that’s a lot closer them.”

Sheriff Art Kell applauded the move. He said the addition of Smith helps bolster communication and accessibility between the two departments.

“We work real well together because he has all the information on all these people on probation or parole,” Kell said. “And when we run across these people, we can just check with him and he’ll tell us what we can do. And if he hears one of his people have done something wrong through law enforcement it’s easier for him to check up on it.”

Kell said the sheriff’s department can also provide assistance when Smith visits those people on parole and probation.

“Just recently a probation officer in Midwest City was killed and that’s one of colleagues,” Kell said. “Those guys can deal with some hardened criminals so sometimes it can be very dangerous. So when he asks we will go with him.”

The sheriff’s department added the north annex in 2009. Kell said he offered to let other agencies use an open office in the building. Two OSBI agents used the space for a little while, but it was vacant when Smith tossed around the idea.

Smith said the probation and parole department will hire a sixth officer in July and was looking for a new office. They scouted other locations in Chickasha, but he suggested the office at the Sheriff’s Department. The extra office space was previously used by OSBI agent, but was now vacant.

“I told them I’d move to the Chickasha Police Department, but it wouldn’t help anything because everyone is still in the northern hemisphere of Grady County,” Smith said. “I told them there was a vacant office in this north annex building and I don’t think I even had to say anything to the Sheriff. He said it was available right away.”

Smith, who has worked with the department for 5 ½ years, said the move makes a lot of sense in Grady County, but it’s not a common one statewide. Comanche County also has satellite offices, but both are located in Lawton, the county seat.

“It’s very rare to have a satellite parole and probation office and I believe Comanche County is the only other one that has it,” Smith said.

The move should also help improve communication with local law enforcement agencies.

“The great thing about being up here is we’ll have better communication with Tuttle and other police departments,” he said. “I know Minco is really excited and I’m sure Tuttle Police Department will be too. There are several offenders in this area, so I’m looking forward to building bridges here with those departments.”

Smith also wants to improve communication with the public.

“I’d like the public to keep me informed about what’s going on,” he said. “I really want to know. And people can call anytime here.  I have an answering machine and return all my calls,”

Josh Smith can be reached at (405) 381-5150, by email at joshua.smith@doc.state.ok.us or fax at (405) 381-3110. The office is located at 2623 E. Highway 37 in Tuttle.




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