Mono County Chief Probation Officer retires after 33 years
Standing at about 5’3” or 5’4”with a cute blonde bob, Beverlee Bryant isn’t very intimidating at first glance … a trait one might expect would be necessary as Chief Probation Officer of Mono County.
“You don’t have to be intimidating,” Bryant said. “You just have to use verbal judo. Be calm and use your people skills. If you aren’t angry back, it’s hard for the clients [probationers] to stay angry. Sometimes people just need to vent.”
And she should know. On Sept. 9, Bryant will retire after 33 years of working for Mono County.
She began her county career in July of 1978 as a Social Worker, but has ties to the area going back much further.
“My dad relocated the family to Mammoth in 1957,” Bryant said. “He had vacationed here and always wanted to move here. He was able to get a job as the Deputy Sheriff in Mammoth. We lived in Mammoth until 1960 when my dad became the Undersheriff of the County and we moved to Bridgeport.” He later went to the District Attorney’s Office and retired a D.A. Investigator.
With her father policing and her mother the Court Clerk, it’s no surprise that Bryant was always interested in law enforcement. Unfortunately for her, but fortunate for Mono County in the long run, when Bryant began her career in the 1970s, there weren’t many opportunities for women in the law enforcement field.
She did land an internship at the Riverside Sheriff’s Department and was there when equal opportunity hit.
“They wanted me to stay on and fill their quota, but I was engaged to Bill by that time and he was working for the Forestry Department; there isn’t much forest in the city,” Bryant said.
So she married Bill Bryant and the two moved back to Mono County. He was born and raised here, and the two had actually known each other from school, but hadn’t started dating until later.
After a seven-year stint with the Forest Service as Fire Clerk, Beverlee gave birth to their first daughter, and since Fire Clerk hours were not conducive to raising a baby, Beverlee found the County Social Worker job. After nine years in that position she became the County’s Deputy Probation Officer in 1987, and Chief Probation Officer in 2003.
Since then she has led the department of four Deputy Probation Officers and Assistant Probation Officer Tracie Neal.
“The best part about the job is seeing the clients that succeed, that successfully turn their lives around,” she said.
According to Bryant, most cases the Probation Department handles are drug and property (burglary and theft) related.
“There are more substance abuse issues with kids than ever before, and there has been an increase in violent crimes such as stabbings in the last five years,” Bryant explained. “However, we still don’t have the issues that large counties do.”
The most challenging parts of the job, according to Bryant are adapting legal changes to a small county and competing for grant dollars. Recently, however, the state has been convinced that if it provides more funding for juveniles at probation department levels, it can cut down on the number of prisoners in state penitentiaries.
“Fifteen thousand prisoners being put into jails each month are just there because they violated their parole,” Bryant said. With the new programming, expected to come online this October, probation departments will take over some of the state’s functions. With funding and risk assessment programs, probation departments will have the tools needed to truly assess probationers and develop specific programs for each individual.
“We’re breaking out of the cookie-cutter mold,” Bryant said.
Which makes the timing of her departure a little bittersweet and emotional.
“We have been working on this for so long and now we are going to have the tool we need,” explained Neal, who will take over as Interim Chief Probation Officer on Sept. 12.
“But there’s always going to be one change or another,” Bryant said while dabbing her eyes. “If you wait for no change, you’ll never leave. My two goals were always to get the County on an automated system and to get a risk needs assessment for clients.” Both have happened.
So, Bryant will head out on new adventures with husband, Bill that will definitely include golf.
“About eight years ago we took up golf and now we are avid players,” she said. The couple purchased a home in Arizona near a golf course and plan to spend their winters in the warmer climate.
“I’m tired of the snow and ice,” Bryant said. “But we are keeping our home in Bridgeport and will be back here in the summer because you can’t beat summers in the Eastern Sierra.”
Obviously a people person, her co-workers and clients will be what Bryant misses the most.
“The County has fantastic department heads and workers,” Bryant concluded. “And it’s always nice to see the clients and their successes even if you had nothing to do with their particular case. You can never give up hope on people because they can turn their lives around.”