A new captain has taken the helm at the Merced County Probation Department.
County officials and staff packed Department 5 at Merced County Superior Court on Monday to watch Scott Ball's swearing-in as the county's new chief probation officer.
Ball, 42, was sworn in by Presiding Judge John Kirihara. The former Stanislaus County juvenile field services director was hired Sept. 8 after undergoing panel interviews with county department heads and other officials.
He was joined at the ceremony by outgoing Merced Chief Probation Officer Brian Cooley, who's retiring after 37 years of working in the probation field.
Ball, who has been at the department for the past three weeks, thanked Cooley and others for helping with the transition to his new job.
"Everyone has bent over backwards to assist me," Ball said. "Chief Cooley stayed around to show me the ropes and introduce me to everybody."
Cooley spoke highly of his successor. "The department is in excellent hands. I truly mean that," Cooley told the audience.
Ball's career in probation began in 1991 with the Sacramento County Probation Department where he began as an on-call probation assistant. He became a deputy probation officer in 1996, serving in Sacramento County's juvenile field services.
He became a probation officer in Stanislaus County in 1998, supervising adult narcotic offenders. He rose through the ranks, working in the department's high-risk offender unit and serving as division director of the county's juvenile field services division.
Cooley, who served as Merced County's chief probation officer for five years, said he's planning to move onto his boat in Alameda County and spend his retirement sailing with his wife.
After Monday's ceremony, several well-wishers thanked Cooley for his service to the county. Before working in Merced County, Cooley had worked for probation in Siskiyou and Solano counties.
"I love the people in Merced," Cooley said. "They are just some really fine people."
As the new chief probation officer, Ball will receive an annual salary of $127,531.
Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or email@example.com.