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New probation and surveillance officers sworn in
Two new surveillance officers and one new probation officer joined the ranks of the Yuma County Adult Probation Department Friday afternoon.
Christopher Winn, Steven Steenhard and Maria Vianett Rodriguez were sworn in during a brief ceremony at the Yuma County Justice Center officiated by Superior and Presiding Court Judge John Nelson in the Division 5 courtroom.
“I'm happy with all three hires,” said Chief Probation Officer Steven W. Hardy. “They are all very much hard chargers and very hungry to get after it. They are perfect for what we need.”
Hardy explained the probation department was at a point where he needed to fill some of its vacancies.
“They are coming in at a perfect time,” Hardy said. “The positions are very much needed based on our case load.”
The job of a probation officer is to monitor the activities of individuals convicted of criminal offenses who are sentenced to probation instead of prison. Surveillance officers assist a probation officer in enforcing the conditions of an individual's probation.
The job is a homecoming for Rodriguez, who is a Yuma native. It will be her second stint with the probation department. She had previously worked there until 2010, before leaving to take a job with Child Help in Phoenix as a forensic interviewer.
“She is coming back to us with some added credentials, so we are really pleased with that,” Hardy said of Rodriguez, who once was one of the nominees at the state level as probation officer of the year. “She obtained her master's degree and obtained some added experience by conducting forensic interviewing.”
Steenhard is a long-time county employee while Winn, a former Yuma Proving Ground employee, had previously worked with the department as a volunteer.
Rodriguez said even though her job in Phoenix was great, she missed Yuma.
“This is my hometown,” Rodriguez said. “I'm back home. This is where I feel like I belong.”
Rodriguez said she sees being a probation officer as a way to make positive changes in an offender's life, while at the same time still protecting the community.
“It's challenging, but at the same time there are also a lot of rewarding opportunities,” Rodriguez said.