Berks County Chief Retires
On January 4, 2022, Robert (Bob) N. Williams retired as Chief Probation and Parole Officer in Berks County following over 40 years of dedicated service to Berks County and Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Justice System.
Bob began his juvenile justice career when he joined the Berks County Juvenile Probation Department in 1981. He initially served as a line juvenile probation officer progressing to intensive/aftercare officer and then intake officer. In 1995, he was promoted to Assistant Chief Juvenile Probation Officer, followed by his appointment to Chief Juvenile Probation Officer in 2005. His career continued to excel and in 2012 Bob was named Acting Chief of the Berks County Adult Probation and Parole Office. This was followed by his formal appointment as Berks County Chief Probation and Parole Officer in February 2013, overseeing both the juvenile and adult probation departments. In 2011, Bob was honored by the Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission as Chief Juvenile Probation Officer of the Year.
Bob was an original, integral, and longstanding member of Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Justice System Enhancement Strategy (JJSES) Leadership Team. He is well known for his passionate advocacy for evidence-based practices; always encouraging and educating that juvenile justice professionals can, and must, “do better” for the children, families, and communities we serve. Throughout his tenure on the Leadership Team, Bob led the advancement of behavioral change activities in Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Justice System and was intimately involved in all Stage 3 activities including behavioral health screening through the Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument (MAYSI-2), skill building and tools, cognitive behavioral interventions through Effective Practices in Community Supervision (EPICS), responsivity to include trauma screening for youth, evidence-based programming and interventions, service provider alignment through the Standardized Program Evaluation Protocol (SPEP™), and graduated responses. Through his dedication, Bob has made Stage 3 of the JJSES obtainable to every juvenile probation department across the Commonwealth. Furthermore, Bob also served as a member to the County Adult Probation and Parole Officer’s Evidence-Based Practices (EBP) Leadership Team.
Bob was also an enduring and passionate member of the Pennsylvania Council of Chief Juvenile Probation Officers. He joined the Council’s Executive Committee in 2005 and was energetically involved until the day of his retirement. Bob served as Vice President of the Executive Committee from 2012-2015. During his years
with the Council, he was engaged in the progressive work of various committees and provided leadership in the roles of Chair of the Ethics Committee and SOGIE Committee, and Co-Chair of the Balanced and Restorative Justice Implementation Committee. A fierce advocate of fundamental fairness, Bob was instrumental with the creation of a chief’s council committee focused on reducing racial and ethnic disparities that exist within the juvenile justice system.
Through his direction, the Berks County Juvenile Probation Department has developed a reputation for excellence and serves as a model for other juvenile probation departments. His department was the first in the state to open an Evening Reporting Center and implement a detention assessment instrument to seek alternatives to secure detention while protecting the community. Furthermore, Bob fulfilled the role of Pennsylvania Coordinator of the Georgetown University, Center for Juvenile Reform’s Juvenile Justice System Improvement Project (JJSIP) in 2010. The JJSIP was designed to assist states in improving outcomes for youth involved in juvenile court by translating existing research on evidence-based practices into policy and practice – an approach very consistent with Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Justice System Enhancement Strategy. Pennsylvania has since taken “lessons learned” from Berks County’s involvement in the initiative, with an eye toward statewide implementation of best practices.
Bob also received multiple Governor appointments and requisitions throughout his career. In 2008, Governor Rendell appointed Bob to Pennsylvania’s Council for Interstate Juvenile Supervision. He was invited to testify before the Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice in 2010. In 2011, Governor Corbett appointed Bob to serve as a member of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Committee (JJDPC) to which he continued to serve until his retirement in 2022. In 2014, he was appointed to the Pennsylvania Joint State Government’s Juvenile Act Advisory Committee, and in 2019, Governor Wolf appointed Bob as a member of Pennsylvania’s Special Council on Gun Violence. Locally, Bob was appointed a charter member of the City of Reading Mayor’s Youth Violence Coalition in 2009. He served as a member of the Berks Treatment Access & Services Center, Inc. Executive Board from 2013-2014, and was a board member of the Council on Chemical Abuse from 2015 until his retirement. Bob graduated from West Chester State College in 1980 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice. In 1980, Bob also received a certificate from the Philadelphia Institute of Paralegal Training in criminal law and earned his master’s degree in Public Administration from Kutztown University.
Congratulations Bob, and thank you for your remarkable contributions to Berks County and Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Justice System!