Probation officer lauded for work

Tioga County commissioners and the Probation Department recognized Haley Stager (center) for her work in de-escalating a potentially dangerous situation on July 1. Presenting the certificate of appreciation are (from left) Commissioner Mark Hamilton, Chief Probation Officer Dave Stager, Commissioner Roger Bunn and Troy Freeman, Haley Stager’s supervisor.

WELLSBORO — July 1 was a night to remember for Tioga County probation officer Haley Stager.

“It was one of the coolest and worst things I’ve ever done,” she said Tuesday while being recognized by commissioners with a certificate of appreciation.

Stager, who recently completed her second year in the job, was the on-call probation officer that night. Around 5:30 p.m., she received an alert that a 29-year-old man on probation had gone to his father’s house, was barricaded inside with firearms and threatening suicide.

State police had been contacted and a SERT team was called to the scene in Rutland Township.

Stager began to call and text the individual. He responded to her messages with his own calls and texts. They continued communicating throughout the evening.

She credits her training in evidence based practice, which includes motivational interviewing.

“Because of my training, I helped him come up with his own motivation for not killing himself,” Stager said.

He wanted to talk with his daughter.

For the next five hours, Stager kept communicating with the individual on her phone. Using her husband’s phone, she kept the emergency dispatcher and state police up to date on the evolving situation.

“I rocked my kid to sleep while I was on the phone with him,” she recalled.

Around 11 p.m. that night, Stager and the man agreed that he would surrender to state police, walking out of the house with his cell phone in his hands, which he did.

Chief Probation Officer Dave Stager said he received calls from state police and emails from Tioga County District Attorney Krista Deats commending his officer for her role in de-escalating the situation. She showed “notable compassion, empathy and exemplary team unity” during the five-plus hours.

“It’s a good example of the way you react is how you train,” said Commissioner Roger Bunn.

In other business, the board:

  • Approved the termination of Jessica Wilcox as fiscal director and the promotion of Norine Moore to the position, both effective July 29.
  • Approved a proposal from Skelly and Loy at a cost of $3,950 for an environmental assessment of 20 acres in Delmar Township. The assessment is the first step in purchasing the property, a portion of which will be used for the Marsh Creek Greenway Trail.

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