Parents Worry Over Parole Office Move

7 years 10 months 1 week ago Tuesday, October 12 2010 Oct 12, 2010 Tuesday, October 12, 2010 9:32:41 PM CDT October 12, 2010 in News
COLUMBIA - The Office of Probation and Parole (OPP) will move across the street from its Heriford Rd. location to the Columbia Resource Center. In the Center are a number of state offices, including the Division of Family Services (DFS). Every day a long line of families wait for service and advice.  Many of these families say security is never a huge concern, even though only one unarmed guard patrols the Center. But when told that parolees and former criminals could be mixing with them, many of these parents voiced their disapproval.

"With children and parolees I don't think that's very safe.  With them just getting out of prison and things like that, I think that's kind of strange for little kids.  You never know what they were arrested for or anything like that," said mother Kariella Hunt.

Hunt says she visits the Resource Center every day and worried about bringing her son along with her.

"I just don't think it would be safe," she said.

Department managers expressed concerns as well, but they refused to be interviewed for this story.  But, not every person at the Center was worried. Bill Neal has owned and operated the building's 1-Stop Snack Shop for 11 years.  And during this time, he says he has seen little to no violence.

"I have a video surveillance system that pretty much lets me know what's going on," he said.

Neal says he's actually looking forward to having the parolees come into his shop--because it means more business.

"I don't know, I sincerely don't think there will be any problems," he said. "But I'm in the minority."

After two days of calling by KOMU, there was no comment from neither the Office of Probation and Parole nor the Division of Family Services. The Office of Administration for Missouri, however, did release an official statement to KOMU. In it, Public Information Officer Wanda Seeney calls the OPP move an "overall leasing production plan." Seeney did not say if there will be added security in the Center, however.


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