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New leader takes the reins of DeKalb County's drug court program

Published: Friday, June 27, 2014 5:03 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, June 27, 2014 11:57 p.m. CDT
Danielle Guerra - dguerra@shawmedia.com Newly appointed DeKalb County drug court program administrator Michael Douglas puts a drug testing patch on an out-of-county drug court participant in his office at the DeKalb County courthouse in Sycamore on Friday. Douglas was the drug court probation officer for the past 2 1/2 years. There are four people currently in DUI court and 23 people in the county's drug court program.

SYCAMORE – Michael Douglas has had a busy but smooth transition into his new role as administrator of the DeKalb County drug program.

Douglas took over May 22 after Marilyn Stromborg retired. Stromborg was involved in forming the drug court program, which National Association of Drug Court Professionals recognized as one of the top programs in the country.

"It's nice to walk into a program that was already smoothly running," Douglas said.

Douglas graduated from Illinois State University in 2009 with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and became the sole probation officer for DeKalb County drug court about 2 1/2 years ago. As a probation officer, his job duties included conducting home visits, office visits and drug tests.

"I really like helping people," he said. "It's a good opportunity to connect the services available with people who need it, especially with people with drug addictions."

For the time being, he'll have the same duties as before in addition to leading the program. When Douglas left his position as probation officer, it remained vacant for more than a month. However, drug court officials recently hired a new probation officer who will start July 11.

In the current fiscal year, the drug court program has budgeted $152,400 in total revenues and $232,200 in total expenditures.

Some DUI/drug court participants said Douglas was the only person who could take over after Stromborg retired. Richard Niemi has known Douglas since he entered the DUI court program in July 2013.

Niemi described Douglas as a laid-back disciplinarian who he could trust. Niemi said everyone is excited to see how Douglas will improve the program.

"He's open and willing to help," Niemi said. "His personality is to not make people feel judged or make them feel less than anyone else.

"He's helped me by just being who he is."

Douglas has also helped drug court participant Jason Raymond, who has been in the program since June 2013. The two would talk for about 20 minutes about personal matters, such as Raymond's doubts about completing the program successfully.

Douglas gives drug court participants good advice on how to handle their issues, Raymond said.

"Sometimes things get rough," Raymond said. "He says to never give up and to have faith in the process."

Douglas said he has the same bond with the drug court participants since transitioning from probation officer to drug court administrator.

"I'm just another ear to listen," he said. "It's important to be available."

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