Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A 'Legend' Retires from Parole Office; after 35 Years on the Job, He's Seen Everything

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A 'Legend' Retires from Parole Office; after 35 Years on the Job, He's Seen Everything

Article excerpt

Byline: JENNIFER CHILDRESS, Staff writer

After 35 years, a Westside man is hanging up his hat -- and his gun belt.

Since joining the Department of Corrections -- then called the Florida Parole Commission -- in 1969, Cecil Snellgrove has kept tabs on some of Jacksonville's most notorious criminals.

Snellgrove's retirement may be one of the biggest events the Southside corrections office has ever seen. In addition to spending his last week driving to the Southside and Beaches homes of people in his cases to say goodbye, he had a chance to bid farewell to more than 100 past and present colleagues at his recent retirement party.

Although they wished him the best, his co-workers were reluctant to let him go.

"Cecil is the most well-loved probation officer in Jacksonville," said Jamie Walker, a fellow corrections officer. "This guy is a legend around here; his sense of humor and smile never go away."

Snellgrove said he has to keep a sense of humor to stay sane in his line of work. He monitored people on parole and probation and did pre-trial investigations for the court system. In an average day, Snellgrove could be found at his desk counseling a sex offender, in court testifying, or even in the back alleys of the city's seediest neighborhoods.

In the 3 1/2 decades at his job, Snellgrove said he saw just about everything.

"You run into some funny things," he said. "Years ago I worked with the vice guys and they were chasing after this guy on the Westside. They chased him up four flights of stairs and when he ran he fell right over the banister and fell to the bottom."

He also said that while many situations were "typical movie script stuff," criminals tended to get caught for something mundane.

"I've had literally thousands of cases over the years and they always get arrested on the most insignificant charge you can think of," he said. …

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