BISBEE — When it comes to education excellence, the Cochise County probation officers’ firearms instructors are right on target.

The team of four has just received statewide recognition for its dedication to professionalism and quality teaching. The Arizona Chief Probation Officers Association selected the team to receive its Firearms Excellence in Education award, beating competition from Pinal, Pima, Maricopa, Santa Cruz and Mohave counties.

Instructors Mary J. Anderson, James Brt, April Saathoff and Eric Stewart, who are also probation officers, were recognized for several reasons, including their abilities to provide colleagues with a strong sense of being well-trained, prepared and vigilant.

“Officers feel safe and comfortable with the firearms instructors and ask questions to gain more knowledge about the correct handling of weapons, and they use the valuable feedback provided to improve their technique,” said Patricia Munoz, director of Adult/Juvenile Probation. “I’m very proud, and they are excellent instructors. They always put safety first, and it’s wonderful to see how they interact with the officers.”

Additionally, three other members of the county’s probation team have been spotlighted as the department’s Employees of the Year. They include Pat Dunbar, who is the overall Employee of the Year for Adult/Juvenile Probation and Juvenile Court Services.

In the past 12 months, Dunbar has taught weekly art classes to youths at the juvenile detention facility in Sierra Vista, leading to some very positive results.

“For the first time in the history of the center, three youths entered their completed art projects in the Cochise County Fair, and all three won first-place ribbons,” Munoz said. “Pat’s heart for sharing her passion with the youth is incredibly moving. She is a cherished asset for the Juvenile Court.”

Dunbar said, “It is such a pleasure to see at-risk youth come into the system and have them come out the other side a better citizen in the community.”

Adult probation officer April Scriven was named Line Officer of the Year, thanks to her integrity, self-motivation and work ethic. During her time as a juvenile probation officer, she developed a workbook called “Roadmap to Success,” a visual guide to help young people achieve their goals while in the probation system. She modified the guide when she moved to adult probation, and it is now being used across the department.

Supervisor of the Year Sarah Graves is the county’s only juvenile probation supervisor, overseeing four satellite offices as well as court operations. In addition to these duties, she also conducts training classes, does public outreach presentations and reviews case files. She was also recognized for her ability to motivate staff and for her willingness to implement progressive ideas.

“April represents the very best characteristics hoped for in a probation officer, and Sarah has the best qualities we would like to see in a probation supervisor,” Munoz said. “I’m very happy to have them, and Pat, on the team. They all go above and beyond.”

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