Smith County Juvenile Probation Officer Tariq Raza was honored Tuesday for 20 years of service to the county.

Raza began his career at the Smith County Juvenile Services Department, as a juvenile detention officer, in 1998. After a year and a half, he became a probation officer and has been working in that position for two decades.

This week, he will retire from the career he has cherished to move back to Chicago with his family.

“We are proud of you. We appreciate you,” Juvenile’s Deputy Director of Probation Services Gayle Hayward said to Raza as she recognized him during Smith County Commissioners Court on Tuesday. “Good luck.”

Raza said working as a detention officer before becoming a probation officer was an invaluable experience.

“I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work in both the detention and probation units,” he said. “It has been a truly rewarding experience for me, filled with challenges and success stories. As a juvenile probation officer, there is nothing more rewarding than having a positive impact on a juvenile and helping him turn the corner to becoming a more productive member of the community. I have always taken a tremendous amount of pride in establishing quality relationships with the families that I worked with.”

Ms. Hayward said Raza has done a great job for Juvenile Services.

Raza said his personal motto throughout the years has been, “anything for the kids.”

In 2011, Raza added training officer to his duties.

“Training has become a true passion of mine,” he said. “It has been a real privilege to train my co-workers, work at job fairs, and give lectures at local universities and high schools.”

After retiring from Smith County, he and his wife and daughter are relocating to Chicago, where Raza lived before moving to Tyler 30 years ago. He said leaving Juvenile Services has been a bittersweet decision.

“As my career here reaches a conclusion, it is filled with many wonderful memories that I will cherish forever,” Raza said. “I have worked with so many wonderful individuals and have grown not only as an employee, but as a person. It has been a tremendous honor to have worked at Smith County Juvenile Services. It will always have a special place in my heart.”

Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran said Raza is well respected by his peers.

“You would not believe the impact he has had on the lives of children over the course of his career,” Moran said.

Smith County Juvenile Services Probation Officer Karlon Jackson was also recognized Tuesday for 10 years of service to the county.

Jackson worked for one year for the Smith County Sheriff’s Office before transferring to Juvenile Services.

Ms. Hayward said Jackson mentors the youth housed in Juvenile Services’ residential program.

“We appreciate Karlon for 10 years,” she said. “We look forward to many, many more years of working with you.”

Smith County employees who also celebrated 10-year anniversaries with the county this month but who were not in court include: Adrius Ward, District Clerk’s Office; and Corey Cameron and Christi Pierce, Sheriff’s Office.