A recent conversation with a metro police chief opened my eyes to how failing to provide resources to officers dealing with troubled youth makes policing much harder— the results much less positive.
The chief was clear about his commitment to (and understanding of) best practices in dealing with at-risk youth. He has participated in multiple community programs that work for seriously troubled kids. He radiates his genuine desire to make policing a solution for kids and not another link in the path to prison. He has helped launch youth skill-building options and other positive approaches law enforcement can employ to meet the ever-growing need of solutions for at-risk kids.
Without these tools, many of these children become longtime state wards while making our city streets uncomfortable and unsafe, filling jails and prisons instead of classrooms and jobs.
Here’s the reality: politics and a public’s desire to punish can exceed its desire to understand and to heal.
This is a bitter pill for a concerned police chief always hoping for better outcomes. Without quality alternatives available, officers are forced to be just one more link in the chain, dragging juveniles into the criminal justice system and a dysfunctional life.Details