MPD efforts reduce youth crime rates

UMPD juvenile arrests decreased by 53 percent within a decade.

MPD efforts reduce youth crime rates

Branden Largent

Increased police and community involvement thoughout the city has led to plummeting juvenile crime, including around the University of Minnesota campus.

University police arrests of juveniles has decreased by 53 percent from 2002 to 2011.

University police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner said the school’s statistics generally reflect the city’s. In Minneapolis, juvenile crime arrests have decreased by 43 percent from 2006 to 2011, according to the city’s data.

The University already sees very low amounts of this type of crime compared to other police agencies, since juveniles don’t make up much of the area’s population, Miner said.

“They are generally neighborhood youth coming to campus to commit a crime or passing through,” he said.

But Miner said the work done by the Minneapolis Police Department to address juvenile crime benefited the University.

 

A ‘holistic approach’

In 2003, Minneapolis police dissolved its Juvenile Division unit because of budget cuts. But it was quickly reestablished in 2006 after juvenile crime rose “quickly and sharply,” said Lt. Andy Smith, who is in charge of the unit.

“The juvenile unit coming back online in such a comprehensive fashion with so many people attacking the problems in so many different ways has helped significantly,” Smith said.

In the past five years — since the unit came back — police increased focus on community-based programming for adjudicated youth, said Kathryn Quaintance, a Hennepin County juvenile court judge.

Community-based programming is an alternative to placing higher-risk juvenile offenders in residential facilities for treatment away from their families, Quaintance said.

“We have pushed to have more and more kids remain in their home, because if you work with the kid and the family is not involved, then the kid may have made changes but the family hasn’t,” Quaintance said. “Then you don’t get good outcomes.”

The number of juveniles in pre-trial detention within Hennepin County decreased from an average of 90 at any given time in 2006 to an average of about 20 within five years, she said.

When police pick up juveniles for breaking curfew, truancy or other low-level crimes, they are taken to the Juvenile Supervision Center. The program is an alternative to the Juvenile Detention Center, which is used for higher-level crime detention, said Kate Tobin, Juvenile Justice Division director.

The center sees about 3,000 youths a year, assessing underlying issues and finding resources needed to stop illegal behavior, Tobin said.

“We’re trying to get them in and out and where they need to go,” she said.

The program often meets with the Juvenile Division, which is working to strengthen its connection between the police and Minneapolis youth.

“We try to have a very comprehensive approach when it comes to juvenile crime,” Smith said.

He added that the efforts of the schools, parks, courts and other agencies combined with the police’s approach has been successful in preventing youth crime.

Smith said, “It’s that holistic approach that really matters.”