December 13, 2013
A key member of the local justice system will work his last day Friday. After 36 years, the director of Court Services for Rock Island County, Dave VanLandegan, is retiring.
VanLandegan began working for the probation office in 1977 as a juvenile intake officer - it wasn't a career he trained for, but at the time it seemed like a job where he could use his psychology degree.
"Once I got in it and saw the rewards of making a difference, I just felt good about it. I'm one of those people who all these years has felt that this is a "calling" that I'm lucky enough to make a living at."
As director of court services, he supervises 34 probation officers, and currently they oversee 12-hundred adult felons on probation, 12-hundred d-u-i offenders, and 200 juveniles.
VanLandegan says technology has changed the job a lot, mostly for the better - electronic bracelets, computer logs, and d-n-a profiles make the "clients" more accountable and the community safer. But he also likes the change in attitude since the 70's.
"Understanding that locking people up, although there are those people who must be locked up. But there are so many others that if we can reach them we can make a difference through specialty courts, different treatment modalities, et cetera, we're making a difference."
One sign that it was maybe time to retire came recently when a new client told VanLandegan he had been his grandfather's probation officer, and recommended him to his grandson.
Starting next week, he plans to "sit back for a while" and then spend some more time with his hobbies, and do some volunteer work.