Bulletproofing


Jennifer Waindle (B.S. '05) keeps firearms out of the reach of domestic abusers.

When Jennifer Waindle graduated from Georgia State with degrees in psychology and sociology, she landed a job as a probation officer in DeKalb County. Initially, she hadn’t considered this career path but found it was a “unique blend of social work and law enforcement,”she said, and thus “a perfect fit.”

Waindle1About a year later, Waindle was also able to provide support for victims when she moved into a special division to monitor domestic violence offenders. She became the lead officer of that unit, and she is now the supervisor for DeKalb County State Court Probation. A key part of this role is victim safety, as well as accountability.

As Waindle transitioned into her role, she saw several cases of domestic homicide in the news and in her own work where the perpetrators used guns. A federal law prohibits convicted domestic violence offenders from owning firearms. Waindle figured that simply informing probationers of this law might help to curb repeat offenses and homicides.

“I felt it was important not only that we inform probationers of the firearm ban, but that we notify the court that we informed them,” she said, “the same way the attorneys do when they are informed of their rights in court on a written document that they acknowledge by signature.”

Two years ago, Waindle implemented the first formal probation firearms protocol in Georgia on a misdemeanor level for the purpose of enforcing that federal firearms ban. It’s been praised by the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, Georgia Commission on Family Violence and other organizations as a recommended practice for other agencies. This summer, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal firearms ban for people convicted of domestic violence offenses.

Now, when someone who has ever had a probation case in DeKalb County attempts to purchase a firearm through a dealer and submits the buyer’s information to the FBI, Waindle’s team is notified. This doesn’t prevent offenders from purchasing firearms through other channels, but Waindle believes this approach to public safety rests on the principles of accountability and consistency.

Waindle said she’s in the business of “homicide prevention,” and her goals are simple: she hopes to see victims protected, probationers reformed and communities safeguarded.

Photo by Ben Rollins