Surge in Juvenile Crime Becoming Costly for Rockland Police, Taxpayers
It's something many of us have heard of being a problem, but maybe consider it an issue of "it's not happening here."
Well, it is happening here, and it's costing citizens thousands of dollars each time these situations come up.
The issue is kids causing problems in the hopes that they can either record themselves committing crimes, or record how the police react to these crimes, and ultimately end up going viral.
It's become such a problem in one Maine community that the police department has issued a statement breaking down what the situation is, from their perspective. And it's not pretty, nor is it an easy one to address.
I can tell you from experience, that I have found that when most law enforcement agencies issue any kind of statement, it is typically short, sweet, and to the point. For someone to have taken this much time to explain, in extreme detail, this issue---this is telling of just how big a problem this has become.
The Rockland Police Department put a lengthy statement out on its Facebook this week, chronicling an ongoing situation it says has unfolded with a group of kids in this community. It says a majority of these calls have come in the middle of the day when these kids should have been in school.
"Over the past three months, Rockland Police have responded to more than 95 calls for service involving issues with juveniles in Rockland. The vast majority of these calls involve a small group of approximately six juveniles, ranging from 12 to 16 years old, some of whom are in DHHS “custody” and refuse to return to their foster placement...These incidents have included assaults (on both juveniles and adults), public intoxication, verbal threatening, disorderly conduct, trespassing at businesses and theft (including alcohol)."
The post goes on to explain that while a number of the complaints have resulted in criminal charges, many of these kids are released shortly after they are picked up, only to turn right around and continue to commit crimes.
"...due to the lack of enforcement options and no controlled juvenile facility being available to law enforcement or DHHS, the criminal charges have only resulted in the issuance of paper summons, which has put the offending juveniles back on the street in a matter of minutes, only for police to be called to another incident involving the same group of juveniles."
The statement paints a picture of some pretty emboldened kids, who are apparently aware that the local law enforcement's hands are tied in these situations, and are exploiting that, both verbally and physically abusing cops who show up to deal with these situations. And the police department says it's costing the taxpayers dearly, each time they're called in.
Rockland Police Chief Carrol says "In total, the process of transporting one juvenile to Long Creek cost the City of Rockland over $1,000 in additional staffing and transport costs."
Chief Carrol says that many kids are often at the ready with cell phones recording these altercations to post on social media.
"They challenge us in hopes for it to go viral of the police grabbing and detaining these 'kids'."
In an attempt to come up with a solution to the uptick in criminal juvenile activity among this small group of kids in their community, Chief Carrol has organized a meeting of the Rockland Police Department, RSU 13, the Rockland Library and Flanagan Center, the State of Maine Department of Health Human Services, District Attorney’s Office, Juvenile Probation, and local City Officials. The hope is that officials will be able to come up with a plan for intervention so this issue that's become ongoing at this point will finally have some sort of resolution.