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Smith County Adult Probation Honors Employees of the Year

Daniel Blackburn was surprised to learn that his co-workers in the Smith County Adult Probation Department voted to name him the Officer of the Year.

“It was pretty shocking,” he said. “I didn’t know my peers thought that much of me. It was nice to see that.”

The Smith County Community Supervision and Corrections Department, commonly referred to as Adult Probation, honored Blackburn as Officer of the Year during a recent department meeting.

Keith Westbrook was named Support Staff Person of the Year.

“Daniel Blackburn and Keith Westbrook are great assets to the Smith County CSCD,” Adult Probation Director Joe Heath said. “They were nominated by their peers for Officer of the Year and Support Staff Person of the Year, respectively, because of their job skills and hard work. They have earned the respect of their co-workers and the management team, as well as the probationers our department serves. They are very deserving of these awards.”

Blackburn came to work for Smith County as a jailer in 2009, and has worked as a probation officer for five years. He works with people serving probation to ensure they comply with the judge’s orders, that they do not reoffend, pay restitution and remain drug and alcohol free.

“You get to impact people’s lives. That’s really why I do it,” Blackburn said when asked what he likes most about being a probation officer. “People have told me I’ve been the most positive influence on their lives … because I give them stability.”

Westbrook said being named Support Staff Person of the Year meant a lot to him because his friends and co-workers voted on the award.

Westbrook worked as a field officer for the Adult Probation Department’s Alternative Incarceration Center for about seven years before becoming Community Service Coordinator for Adult Probation about a year ago. He facilitates orientations for new probationers, works with nonprofits and other counties to verify and enter hours probationers have completed, and creates and builds relationships with nonprofit organizations so probationers can complete community service.

“It’s always busy,” Westbrook said of his schedule.

What Westbrook likes most about his job is the opportunity to work with the public and with his co-workers. He said having those co-workers all vote to name him Support Staff Person of the Year means more than if a supervisor had given the award to him.

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