Description of Texas Department of Criminal Justice Parole Division Staff Perceptions Regarding Officers Carrying Firearms in the State of Texas.
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Parole and probation officers, traditionally viewed as social workers seeking to rehabilitate or reintegrate offenders in the community, have not carried firearms during the course of their duties. This view is changing toward a more active law-enforcement role in which officers are allowed to carry firearms. Reasons for this change include more violent offenders, youthful offenders, changing law enforcement relations and officer safety concerns. The current study looks at possible effects that implementation of firearms policy has on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice-Parole Division staff. The research purpose is two-fold. The first purpose examines safety perception changes of staff in the office and in the field. The second purpose examines officer supervisory style changes while supervising offenders. Project methods include focus groups and survey research. Findings indicate that officers carrying firearms experience increased safety perceptions; officers who choose not to carry and support staff experience no changes in safety perceptions. However, there is a difference between groups concerning the level of experienced changes in the workplace. The findings also indicate that, overall, there are no changes in officers' supervisory styles once they are authorized to carry firearms on duty.