New Chief of Alternative Sentencing named

Life just might slow down a bit for Brian Percival.

His new post as chief of the Department of Alternative Sentencing for Carson City Justice and Municipal Court will allow him to take fewer midnight calls to deal with probation violators in Carson City, a job that kept him busy as the assistant chief.

As a father of four, the 31-year-old said he hopes he can spend more time with his family. Even so, working as an officer of the court and enforcing judicial orders is a 24-hour-a-day job.

"They don't just get in trouble 8 to 5," Percival said. "We are on call 95 percent of the time. There is no time of the day or day in the year that we won't respond."

The courts' aggressive attitude toward enforcement of probation, community service and bail orders has translated into fewer violators and more compliance over the past two years.

"I love the diversity," Percival said. "Every day is different. I feel like we're actually changing people's lives."

Percival, who was officially named as chief of the department by city supervisors Thursday, replaces outgoing chief Matt Fisk. Fisk was recently appointed as court administrator.

The men worked together for two years. They have been best friends since high school, both graduating from Carson High.

Percival went on to graduate with a degree in criminal justice and a minor in psychology from the University of Nevada, Reno. He also speaks fluent Spanish.

After starting work in the courts as a bailiff in 1999, Percival was transferred to the Department of Alternative Sentencing in 2001. As an officer, he is a certified peace officer carrying a firearm, handcuffs and pepper spray and is equipped with a bullet-proof vest.

The department currently oversees 273 people on probation, mostly as a result of drug or alcohol violations. Others were involved in theft, disorderly conduct, drunken driving or domestic violence.

Percival and Fisk began developing a system of reporting that placed a more aggressive focus on home visits and communication with other agencies.

Parolees now send in written reports within a certain deadline each month. The reports are reviewed and checked against reports from counseling and community services. Results from a recent study shows 78 percent of probationers in the system are in compliance with their court orders.

The survey also showed 96 percent of those under the department's supervision report each month on time, up from 60 percent in 2000. Only 16 percent of probationers committed violations in any given month this year so far, compared to 56 percent in 2000.

This year, 76 percent of probationers had completed their community service order, while 44 percent had completed orders three years ago. The department has also had better success with collecting court fines and restitution.

Percival cites cooperation with local agencies and law enforcement as a big part of the success, combined with the aggressive home visits and follow-up.

Officers now carry portable drug tests and can test probationers or enter a home without a warrant.

"It has had dramatic results," Percival said. "Probationers know if we see 'em, we test 'em. But just because a person tests positive, doesn't mean they go to jail. We will bend over backwards to get that person help."


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