by Photo courtesy of San Diego County

For the first time in history, the San Diego County Probation Department will welcome its first woman Chief to take the lead. 

Tamika Nelson will be the first woman to lead the county’s probation department by the end of this month. She is leaving her post as Assistant Chief Probation officer in San Joaquin County, where she managed a department with over 350 sworn and non-sworn personnel. 

Nelson is the second Black person to lead the Probation Department in recent years. Mack Jenkins led the department for eight years until his retirement in 2016.

The San Diego County Probation Department includes 1,009 employees with a budget of $236 million and is a part of the County’s Public Safety Group. The department works with about 7,500 adults who are on probation and 500 juveniles.

As of June 2020, over half of the department's 775 sworn probation officers were female, according to the county. 

Assistant Chief Nelson helped deploy evidence-based case management approaches to increase public safety and reduce recidivism. She helped expand transitional services such as behavioral health services, community-based support services, and educational services to youth and families to improve the lives of justice-involved clients. She also led a committee to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in San Joaquin County.

In a statement, the chair of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors Nathan Fletcher said the county is “reimagining the services we provide to youth, opening new facilities that align with our goals, and we’ve hired new leadership to help us drive change in the probation department.”

“I look forward to working closely with our new Chief Probation Officer Tamika Nelson, her background, experience rehabilitating justice-involved youth, and values align with the new direction we are taking our county,” Fletcher said. 

“I’m humbled and honored by this opportunity to serve the community of San Diego as the Chief Probation Officer,” Nelson said. “I’m excited to bring my experience with nurturing collaborative relationships, evidenced-based practices, and data-driven decision making to a highly motivated and innovative team. I’m looking forward to furthering collaborations with stakeholders and the community to do our part in pursuing public safety."

Tamika Nelson attended the University of California, San Diego, and earned her Juris Doctor from the Humphreys School of Law in Stockton. 

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