Longtime probation officer stepping down
David Colon and his wife, Patricia, came to South Lake Tahoe in 1966 with the intention of “staying two or three years and then moving on.”
Thirty-two years later, Colon is preparing to retire from his job with the El Dorado County Probation Department, having spent every minute of his working life at Lake Tahoe.
“It’s a dynamic job, and in a lot of ways I’m going to miss it,” said Colon, 57, the Deputy Chief Probation Officer for South Lake Tahoe. “But I also know that it’s time to move on.”
When Colon joined the county staff in 1966 as a Deputy Probation Officer, the Lake Tahoe branch office had three staff members, including one clerical worker. Today, the Tahoe office has 15 employees, including 12 sworn officers and three clerical staff.
Colon has presided over all of that growth, including the transformation of South Lake Tahoe from a sleepy backwoods community where crime was rare to a place which now presents many big-city problems.
“Our office had grown tremendously over the years, as has the demands of the court and the community,” Colon said. “Our probation officers are armed now; that’s something that I never would have guessed would be necessary when I started.”
Even though times have changed, Colon’s enthusiasm and passion for his job has not.
“It’s somewhat sad in a way to see the end of Dave’s era,” said Superior Court judge Suzanne Kingsbury. “He was one of the first persons I met when I started here. I worked with him up through the times I was a prosecutor, a public defender and then a judge. He has been an institution around here. Whoever his successor may be, I hope he possesses the same qualities that Dave has.”
Colon officially announced his retirement on Tuesday, and the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors responded with a resolution to honor his term of service to the county.
But no resolution could adequately recount the tremendous amount of dedication that Colon has committed to South Lake Tahoe – where he serves as probation officer for both adult and juvenile offenders in the South Lake Tahoe jurisdiction.
Colon was instrumental in development of community programs including the Juvenile Court Work Project, the Teen Court, Family Solutions and the drug task force. He has also served as Lions Club president, a member of the Kiwanis Sunrisers and a member of the board of directors of the Boys and Girls Club. He and his wife have two grown children, Michael and Laura.
“One thing I have regretted over recent years is that I don’t get to work more directly with kids,” Colon said. “When I first started, we were able to provide more direct supervision.
“But caseloads have grown,” he said. “Today, youngsters are involved in more serious offenses, at a younger age. Back when I started, a marijuana bust was a serious thing for a kid. Now, we’re involved frequently in drug and weapons cases. There are so many different issues now.”
But Colon is for the most part optimistic.
“There’s always been a great need for a juvenile hall up here, and that (state grant proposal) was denied the last time around,” he said. “But there are enough interested people up here who want to pursue this that I know it will get done.
“We also now will have a day treatment center here, where counseling and other services will be available to kids. That’s an important step forward.
“That’s the thing about my job,” he said. “There’s always something new and challenging happening.”
Colon will keep busy managing his rental properties and engaging in his hobbies of woodworking and traveling. He officially retires at the end of December. The county is currently searching for a replacement.
“I’m looking forward to traveling and staying busy,” he said.
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