By ANGIE HAFLICH
Every job comes with its own frustration, but in Terri Knight's case, it has never caused her to stop loving her job.
"I plan to do it as long as possible. I like it. I really do. I like my job; I just don't like the politics. I get frustrated at clients and stuff, but I have never really not liked this part of my job," said Terri Knight, Court Services Officer II at Court Services, 4086 N. Eighth St.
Knight has been a probation officer, starting as a juvenile intake officer in 1989. She became a probation officer in 1992, later becoming one of two supervisors at Court Services. While she works with adults, Knight's heart is with juveniles.
"Everybody kept trying to talk me out of it. I love little kids too, so I went to school to become a teacher, but that's not really where my heart was," she said. "So when the juvenile intake job opened up I jumped on it."
Knight said her approach with the youth varies depending on the individual, the type of infraction that person has committed. Her sense of humor goes along way in helping her deal with the frustration she encounters. She has a clay jar in her office that says, "Ashes of Obnoxious Teenagers," on it.
"I had one kid say, 'Well there's nothing in that jar,' and I said, 'Do you want to be my first,'" she said and then laughed.
Knight said she tries help the kids see how their choices affect their lives and the lives of others.
"I try really hard to just encourage the kids to look at what they did and why they did it, because, let's be honest, they don't know why they did it," she said. "I try to ask them what choices they could have made, should have made, what would have been the better thing and I ask them, 'What if you were the victim? Would you like that to happen to you?'"
Knight said her biggest frustration is having youth who repeatedly get into trouble.
"I have seen — we sometimes call them frequent flyers — but I have seen where people just continually come back and back and back and back," Knight said. "For me, I really see that prevention is a big thing. We really need to work on prevention. ... Yes, we need to punish people for doing something wrong, for violating the law, but we need to figure out what to do to help them, whatever we need to do, so they don't come back."
She said in many cases, she speaks to parents to give them some ideas on ways to help keep their kids out of trouble.
"I wish parents would realize that they need to be a parent first, before they're their kids' friends. There's nothing wrong with caring about your kid and wanting to do things with them but you need to be the parent first and then be their friend. I always say, 'When they're 25, be their friend, but not when they're 10, not when they're 15. You need to be the parent, you need to be the one in control,'" she said.
Knight's normal caseload is from 65 to 80 cases per month. On top of that, she supervises three of the other six probation officers at Court Services and handles some of the administrative duties of the office. Chief CSO Craig Aronson manages the other three probation officers and prepares pre-sentencing reports for the courts.
Aronson, who has worked at Court Services for approximately 20 years, said Knight is very good at what she does.
"She's very knowledgeable. She's been here the longest, so she pretty much knows every aspect of the job," Aronson said.
Ryan Wiesner, CFO, said Knight is invaluable in terms of giving the less experienced probation officers direction for any given case.
"She's always there to give directions, to answer questions. If we have any questions on how a certain statute or law pertains to an individual situation, she's always there to interpret that for us and guide us through that," Wiesner said.
Knight and her husband Chip Knight, a former police officer and probation officer, have a 27-year-old son, Josh Knight, who lives in Philadelphia, Penn.
In her off time, Knight enjoys spending time with her two dogs, Nero and Leika. Nero is from the same litter as Aronson's dog.
"Everybody in this office is a dog lover. Every last one of us has or has had a dog. We all love dogs," Knight said.
She also enjoys arts and crafts, and runs the sound system and projector on Sunday morning at First Christian Church, where she is a member.