Erie County Chief JPO Retires

Chief Robert (Bob) J. Blakely retired from the Erie County Juvenile Probation Department on June 17, 2019, after 38 years of service. Bob began his career as a Juvenile Probation Officer on February 23, 1981. He was promoted to supervisor on January 14, 1991 and to Chief Juvenile Probation Officer on April 15, 1999. It was at this time that Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ) evolved and Bob actively promoted the institutionalization of BARJ into the work of Erie County Juvenile Probation. Bob earned his master’s degree in Administration of Justice from Mercyhurst University in 1992.

For the last 20 years as Chief, Bob was active in Erie County’s Juvenile Justice becoming a driving force in collaborative efforts with all local agencies. Bob fostered a positive relationship with Office of Children and Youth (OCY), breaking down barriers and improving communication. He received the James V. Kinnane award in 2008 for being outstanding in the Criminal Justice field. Of great significance was Bob’s involvement with the McArthur Foundation’s Models for Change Initiative. Just one result of his work being the creation of a structured approach to screening and assessment involving juvenile probation and local mental health providers. To date, stakeholders meet weekly to arrange mental health and/or drug and alcohol evaluations and make referrals for appropriate services at an expedited speed.

Bob “just a few things” Blakely was active with the Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission (JCJC) and Pennsylvania Council of Chief Juvenile Probation Officers (PaCCJPO) for many years. He served as the Chair of the Awards and the Planning Committees. In his role as Chair of the Planning Committee, Bob facilitated quarterly Probation Only Meetings to provide an opportunity for juvenile probation departments to have open dialogue. Bob was always a supporter of the Juvenile Justice System Enhancement Strategy (JJSES) initiative and, as a result, Erie County Juvenile Justice has made efforts to integrate these philosophies in all areas of practice. Furthermore, the department has partnered with the Mercyhurst Civic Institute to collect data to examine trends and help develop program policies.

A well-attended retirement party was held for Bob on June 13, 2019. The number of people who attended reflected the respect Bob earned in Erie County and statewide. Bob was always willing to talk to anyone or help with any issue that arose. He was a level-headed leader who cared about the welfare of everyone. Bob is looking forward to retirement and spending time with his wife Pam, tending to his tropical fish, hunting, and perfecting the miter cut. Additionally, he continues his involvement with Mercyhurst University as an adjunct professor of Juvenile Justice. 

Congratulations Bob !