With an increased case load and a new division coming soon, Navajo County Superior Court Presiding Judge Dale Nielson decided to add the position of Juvenile Probation Director to the probation department. Arno Hall, who has been with the department for 20 years, was selected to fill the position.
"It has become too large of a department for one person to run," explained Hall, who stepped into the new position Oct. 15.
The probation department will continue to function as one department, but each director will be responsible for different services. Hall will oversee all matters relating to juveniles, including the juvenile restoration facility, and Chief Probation Officer Ted Ryersbach will handle all adult probation matters.
"In the past they were separate departments, but they were combined by Judge (Bret) Huggins," Hall said. "We will remain combined, but the responsibility will be divided. There won't be any major changes."
Ryersbach, who has been responsible for both adult and juvenile probation over the last four years, noted that he is glad to relinquish the juvenile probation program to Hall.
"This will free me up to concentrate on working on and developing programs for adult offenders that I've wanted to do, but haven't had the time to work on. About 65 percent of my workload was juveniles, now I can concentrate on the adult side," Ryersbach explained. "We're still going to be working very closely with each other, though, to make sure things go smoothly."
One program Ryersbach would like to see is adult drug court. Judge Nielson has been working hard to create one in Navajo County, and Ryersbach has also made it one of his goals.
"If it works, we may just try a juvenile drug court," he said. "It's not out of the realm of possibility."
Among Hall's goals for juvenile probation is to bring new programs into the juvenile restoration center. He noted that bringing a residential-type drug and alcohol treatment program into the facility is one of his top priorities. He also hopes to introduce positive reinforcement programs such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters.
In addition to overseeing juvenile probation officers, the restoration facility and staff, Hall will be responsible for the community advisory board, the Safe Schools program, acting as a liaison between Navajo County and the Arizona Supreme Court, and coordinating training for officers and staff members.
Hall has identified three components that he hopes to instill in the department: consistency in decision-making, equity for employees and clients, and good economics.
"These three things will play into all of the decisions I'll be making," he noted.
Having a wealth of experience with the inner workings of the county's probation department, Hall was a natural choice for the position. Throughout his career, he has served as acting director, intake officer, foster care coordinator, predisposition report writer, training coordinator, adult treatment coordinator, community service liaison, grant writer, court administrator and juvenile probation officer. Hall also worked to establish diversion programs, summer youth programs, and drug and alcohol prevention programs.
"He has a lot of experience, and I think he'll do a great job with juvenile probation," Judge Nielson remarked.