Reviews | What do the teenage police know? Not enough.


The results of Tippecanoe’s efforts have been spectacular. In 2010, 334 county teens were admitted to a secure detention center, according to Ms Humphrey. By 2019, that number had fallen by 71%, to 98. (The number fell even further in 2020, but Covid-19 lockdowns likely played a role.)

Needlessly provocative encounters between police and youth are common in the United States, said Lisa Thurau, founder and executive director of the nonprofit Strategies for Youth in Cambridge, Mass., Which created the training program. . These encounters can result in arrests, which disproportionately affect youth of color nationwide. A 2014 report from the Sentencing Project, an advocacy group based in Washington, DC, found that black youth are twice as likely as white youth to be arrested.

According to the Department of Justice, tens of thousands of teenagers are arrested each year for the vague offense of misconduct. And 42% of them are black.

Strategies for Youth has conducted training sessions in 21 states, including the Albany and Newburgh, NY Police Departments. Some jurisdictions have had results as powerful as those in Tippecanoe: arrests of minors in Charlottesville, Virginia, fell 59%. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, arrests for petty offenses have fallen by 70%, according to Thurau.

Still, many police departments who contacted Strategies for Youth were hesitant about the price: $ 21,500 for a two-day training session and almost $ 35,000 for a four-day training of trainers program for services police can do their own training. The cost is particularly difficult at a time when cities are strapped for funds. But the alternative, detaining children who don’t need to be there, is also costly. It’s about $ 140 a day in Tippecanoe, Ms. Humphrey said.

More importantly, unnecessary detentions have serious consequences, Ms. Thurau said. Children in detention miss school, which can hamper their ability to graduate. Having a record “can affect a child’s ability to find a job or go to college,” she said. Being removed from a home can cause trauma to the adolescent and their family. And the financial costs of court fees and attorneys can be difficult for a family to bear.

The County of Tippecanoe also offers “Parenting the Teen Brain” for parents, so they can better understand their child’s actions and avoid unnecessary calls to the police.


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