Alumni News

February 12, 2018 at 3:47 pm

Happy Beginnings | Sociology Internship Led Kyle Edelbauer to Probation Officer Job

A smiling Kyle Edelbauer

Kyle Edelbauer

Editor’s Note: The Happy Beginnings series features recent College of Arts & Sciences graduates who are getting started in careers, graduate school and service.

Kyle Edelbauer ’15 is two months shy of his second year as a probation officer for the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court in Cleveland.

He likes helping people change their lives.

“It is an extremely gratifying feeling when someone actually takes the help you give them and applies it to their own life in order for it to do a complete 180-degree turn,” Edelbauer says. “That is why I love what I do.”

He became interested in the role of probation officer while he was an intern with this Common Pleas Court in 2014. He mostly did clerical work that summer, but when there was downtime, his supervisors would allow him to shadow the probation officers.

“From the first time I shadowed someone,” Edelbauer says, “it was definitely a job I could see myself doing in the future.”

After he graduated with his B.A. in Sociology-Criminology from the College of Arts & Sciences at Ohio University, there were no probation officer positions available. However, with the help of some great professional connections, he was back interning with the court for the last four months of 2015.

From Lab Monitor to Probation Officer

This time he was a “lab monitor” in the Probation Department’s Drug Laboratory. His primary task: sit in a chair in a men’s bathroom and collect urine samples from people who were on probation.

While he was interning, a probation officer position opened up, and he submitted his application. He had his first interview for the job in October 2015, followed by a second in January 2016. A few weeks later he got the call that he had the job.

A probation officer is someone who supervises defendants who were sentenced to probation (aka “community control”) at the disposition of a criminal case in which they were found guilty. The judge assigned to a defendant’s case sets rules and regulations, and it is the probation officer’s responsibility to make sure the defendant follows them. This is a different role than that of a parole officer, who is someone that supervises a defendant after release from prison.

During his first year as a probation officer, Edelbauer supervised a caseload of around 200 defendants who were on probation for failure to pay their child support, or in legal terms, “non-support of dependents.”

In this role, he met with clients monthly in his office to make sure they were paying the correct amount of child support ordered at sentencing by the judge. He also helped them find substantial employment if they did not already have it and performed random drug tests.

Those who paid on time, reported to him as directed, and submitted negative drug screens were a breeze. However, sometimes a defendant resists the parameters of probation.

Such a case goes to the judge for probation violation hearings. At these hearings, Edelbauer provided a report and outlined the alleged violations of probation that the defendant had committed. The judge then decided if the defendant would continue on probation or be sentenced to jail or prison.

Non-Support to Domestic Violence Defendants

Edelbauer dealt with the non-support defendants for the better part of a year. While he loved what he was doing, he wanted to deal with something more challenging. He took advantage of an opening for a lateral move to being a probation officer for people on community control for committing domestic violence offenses.

Since that time, he supervises a caseload of up to 75 people. He meets with them weekly or biweekly, and they have much stricter rules and regulations to follow than that of the non-support defendants.


“I have a much greater responsibility in this role to try and help my defendants learn from their mistakes and get back to leading law-abiding lives,” Edelbauer says.

He also hears from the victims in these cases and has the responsibility to see that they remain safe and are not abused again.

He sees his primary role as trying to help reduce recidivism by helping offenders take responsibility for their actions and learn how to lead more law-abiding lives.

He helps to address various criminogenic needs that each defendant may have, whether it be substance abuse, criminal thoughts, poor financial situations – to name a few. He refers them to programming or treatment that is appropriate for their needs.

Edelbauer continues, “Our county’s Probation Department uses an evidence-based practice model which implements rewards and sanctions for each individual defendant based on their behavior. The definition of evidence-based practices in my job can be simplified as a way of reacting appropriately to a defendant’s compliant or non-compliant behaviors to get them the proper help rather than returning them to jail or prison.”

The Best Parts

What he likes most about his job, first and foremost, is that he works with great people.

He felt like he was welcomed with open arms by his colleagues from day one. They were always willing to help with any situation he had and give him constructive criticism when necessary.

Secondly, he likes interacting with various people within the criminal justice system. He has met or spoken with judges, attorneys, police officers and victim’s advocates and has established great relationships and connections already.

Edelbauer also likes that every day is different.

He majored in Sociology-Criminology because he never pictured himself sitting behind a desk working with Excel spreadsheets or crunching numbers all day.

He likes that any given day, a new and exciting situation could arise, presenting a challenging opportunity for him to learn and grow.


“With the knowledge and experience that I have obtained thus far in my job as a Probation Officer,” he said in closing, “I hope to expand my search for future career opportunities and eventually one day work in law enforcement at the federal level.”

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