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Finding balance in the evolving world of community corrections

Self-help strategies to cope with high-pressure caseloads and changing technology


Taking the long way home and turning up the volume on your favorite song can help to cope with the stress of high-pressure caseloads.

It is easy for an officer in the world of community corrections to find themselves engulfed in their caseload and become prey to the high pressure that comes with time management and deadlines. Some officers will eventually find themselves unhappy with their careers, despite working hard their whole lives in a department. My brothers and sisters, let me be the first to tell you, it’s OK: there is light at the end of this tunnel.

Feeling lost

The job itself will always feel like a never-ending cycle of work. It is frustrating, I will admit it. There are times that we as officers can find ourselves engulfed with the job. It is not uncommon to feel a sense of loss, in both your personal life and in your ability to participate in the lives of those around you.

Our identities are highly influenced by our employment and by our agency. If you focus too hard on your career and your caseload needs, you could fall prey to issues such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse and loneliness.

Self-help works

It is critical that you check on yourself as often as you can. You need to find some free time each day to stop and smell the roses. Yes, breaks are important, and breaks with friends/coworkers are even more important. Learn to take these 15 minutes to recharge the brain and laugh. I am constantly preaching that we as a profession must learn to help each other. What better help can you get than a helping hand from a coworker?

Dealing with a bad day

I have had many bad days, and I am sure I am not alone. I have learned to deal with them through the years. I am not a phycologist, but I am an officer that works in your line of work. I have found a few things that help.

  1. Take a long way home and turn up the volume on your favorite song. The happiness from singing along to music makes me forget about the day that just happened. I have found this so useful in the past few months.
  2. Scream. I have at times, stopped in a parking lot, rolled up the windows and just released my frustration. It is equivalent to someone taking a massive weight off my shoulders. When the day just feels like it has been too much for me to handle, I have found this to be useful in the past 17 years.
  3. Put the badge away. I love the feeling that comes when I put my badge in a drawer; I feel like Batman taking off the costume. It is like my day has been restored, and I have a full reboot for the day. I started this small custom when I entered the world of administration, and it has proven to be very helpful to me these last 5 years.

Growth is unstoppable

Many probation officers with high-pressure caseloads find themselves working hard their whole careers trying to learn and master their craft. The world is constantly changing and evolving – technology will continue to advance with each passing year, and it is because of this evolution that we as a profession must constantly train.

That is the nature of our profession, there will always be some type of study being conducted in community corrections, and there will always be something new to learn. We just have to wait and see if the research and theory can improve the profession.

Our profession is a non-stop learning mechanism that will continue to evolve and grow with each passing year. The job will continue to be time-driven and difficult at times. You will encounter new documentation methods and new areas of concentration, with each new study that arises. You may master one thing after another, but one thing is for certain, you will have to learn something new again soon. We all must accept this because this is the way our profession works.

Finding peace

Will you ever find peace and happiness in your profession? The answer is yes. My peace came 5 years into my career. I bumped into an ex-client of mine, in a department store. He introduced me to his wife, and he introduced me to his little girl. When he told his little girl, “this is the officer that changed my life,” I almost broke down and cried. An amazing feeling came over me; it was as if all of the bad days had a purpose. It was at that moment, that I knew my profession in life had meaning and importance.

I hope I truly continue to learn and enhance my craft, as my years in the world of community corrections grow. And although I may never fully master my craft because of the evolution of science and theory, I can one day say that I spent my career fighting demons, but I learned to spot the angels, and those are who I helped.


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Leandro “Leo” Perez, Jr. is a Unit Supervisor for the Hidalgo County Community Supervision and Corrections Department. He received a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Texas-Pan American in 2004. He is also a 1999 graduate of the University of Texas at Brownsville Police Academy.

Before coming to the Hidalgo County C.S.C.D, he was employed as a Security Manager under the Federal Protective Services contract in the Southern District of Texas. He came to Hidalgo County C.S.C.D in September of 2005 as a community supervision officer. He served as a line officer for four years before being assigned to the United States Marshals Violent Offender Task Force.

He is the creator of the P.O.S.T (Probation Officer Safety Training), D.E.P.O.T (Developmental & Educational Probation Officer Training) and S.T.O.P (Safety Training for Office Personnel) training programs. His training programs have been presented at various conferences throughout the state of Texas. In 2003, he was one of the recipients of the Simon Property Rose Award for his role in the emergency evacuation of the La Plaza Mall Shopping Center, a 130,0000-square-foot shopping center located in McAllen, Texas. In 2016, he was the recipient of the Texas Probation Associations Judge Terry L. Jacks Award for his significant contributions to the community corrections profession. In 2023 he was the recipient of the Texas Probation Associations Sam Houston State University Award, for his scholarly contributions to the community corrections profession.