Local law enforcement planning new approach to combat juvenile crime

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Local law enforcement are looking outside the Quad Cities to combat juvenile crime. 

A few top cops traveled to Colorado a few weeks ago hoping to learn about a new approach to the issue. 

Officers in Scott County are considering a Juvenile Assessment Center. It’s a facility that would work with kids to not only address the offenses themselves, but work to understand why they’re committing these crimes to begin with. 

Since being introduced last year, Scott County’ Juvenile Detention Diversion Program has proven to be successful, but Scott County Sheriff Tim Lane says that program is primarily aimed at helping “entry-level” juvenile offenders, or kids who are committing misdemeanors. 

Sheriff Lane says the Assessment Center would be geared toward all juvenile offenders, and provide more options for “mid-level” offenders, or kids committing more serious crimes. 

He says it would also serve kids who have not committed a crime, if they need the extra resources, as a preventative measure. 

Sheriff Lane says it can be frustrating for local law enforcement, especially when it can seem like a never-ending cycle. 

“It makes it hard to see that you’re making progress with an individual when you’re finding that they’re just going right back out,” he said. 

Now he says this is an issue that will take more than police officers to make a difference, and says juvenile crimes are reaching new records in the area.  

“We’ve had more juveniles in the adult system than we’ve ever seen before,” said Lane. 

Officers say police may not have all the answers, but they’re hopnig to bring in the professionals who do.  

“We can bring the kids to the table, but once we bring them there who is gonna talk to them, who is is gonna be that professional to help them out?” said Scott County Chief Deputy, Shawn Roth. 

Roth was one of several people selected to visit the Juvenile Assessment Center in Colorado, hoping to get a better idea of what to expect in Scott County. 

Detention Youth Counselor, D.J. Echols, works with troubled kids on a regular basis through the Detention Diversion Program. Echols says most of the time, kids in the program want to turn their lives around, they just don’t know how. 

“The biggest thing is th kids care,” said Echols. “Kids care and we’ve learned that a lot of the families care, they just didn’t know how to go about implementing structure and discipline and things like that.”

Echols says the key is creating programs outside the detention, to insure structure once they leave the program. 

Now through a community effort, Scott County officials are looking to find the answers these kids desperately need, and think a Juvenile Assessment Center could do just that.  

“So they’re going to look at the why behind this, more than what law enforcement does,” said Roth. 

They say the Assessment Center captures a bigger picture, looking into aspects such as a kid’s home life, education and mental health.   

“There’s plenty of resources here in the Quad Cities, I think there’s plenty of resources here, but not all the time are we putting all those resources together under one roof,” said Roth. 

And Deputy Roth says it’s been a game changer in Colorado. 

“Talking to the cops out there, they wouldn’t know what to do without it,” he said.

Now police and other experts are working together to find ways to get to these kids before the system does. 

“It’s time we do something,” said Sheriff Lane. 

Officials who went to Colorado to see their Juvenile Assessment Center are expected to meet on Tuesday. Sheriff Lane says they are hoping to find a non-profit organization to oversee the potential facility, and need to do more research in regards to funding. 

Expanded coverage

From the streets to the beat: Scott County deputy shares his story
RI County juvenile delinquents sent to Knox County
Kids in Crisis: Juvenile Crime

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