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LePage takes over St. Lawrence County probation

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CANTON — Incoming St. Lawrence County Probation Director Timothy P. LePage’s goals are to lower caseloads, complete pre-sentence investigations quickly and protect the staff.

Mr. LePage took over as head of the department Dec. 23 from Edward C. Gauthier, who retired.

A 1987 graduate of Massena High School, Mr. LePage has degrees from SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam. He intended to become a teacher, but could not find a job.

Instead, he worked for 2 years in the county Department of Social Services’s Child Protective Services unit before moving to Probation in 2000. He became a senior probation officer in 2007 and a supervisor in 2010.

He was among three candidates from the department considered for the job.

“I like being the go-to guy,” Mr. LePage said. “I always set goals for myself.”

Among the goals he has set for Probation and its 36 employees are to try to reduce caseloads, which average 60 to 70 per worker.

The state recommends a maximum of 55 cases, Mr. LePage said.

“Massena and Potsdam are high right now,” he said. “Massena’s had a lot of issues with drugs.”

Mr. LePage hopes to tweak the ratio of cases among probation officers.

“It’s just shifting things around,” he said.

For a time after the department lost a position to budget cuts, completion of pre-sentence investigations lagged.

Since the position was reinstated, the department has focused on first completing pre-sentence investigations for prison-bound inmates so they can be shipped out of the county jail as quickly as possible.

“We’re averaging three weeks on those,” Mr. LePage said.

Pre-sentence investigations for those not prison-bound still average five to six weeks, but not all of those defendants are in the jail.

Unlike Mr. Gauthier, Mr. LePage is not as opposed to a return of electronic home monitoring, but a county application for a grant that would have paid for equipment was not approved.

“It would be costly to get up and running,” Mr. LePage said. “If used properly, I like electronic home monitoring. I think it’s a good tool.”

Officer safety is a priority for Mr. LePage, especially because certain drug dealers who have come to the area are connected to gangs in New York City and Buffalo.

Mr. LePage said he believes in defensive tactics training and encourages field officers to go out in teams.

“Another set of eyes doesn’t hurt,” he said. “Home visits are probably the worst part of the job because you never know what you’re going to find. It seems right now everything revolves around drug use or sale.”

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