Following increase of wrap around services for juveniles, county reports decrease in arrests

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — It can be tough for officers to place handcuffs on a juvenile and take them into police custody, according to Captain Jeff Rinaldo. He says it makes officers think about their own family members. And now, all around Erie County, fewer juveniles are finding themselves wrapped up in the system. 

“There’s a lot more emphasis being put on juvenile programs to help divert them out of the criminal justice system,” said Captain Jeff Rinaldo with the Buffalo Police. “I think it goes beyond just a police and courts issue. It is a service issue. What’s going on in the family, what’s going on at home that we can look at and fix.”

The captain says they’re beginning to offer more services to at-risk youth, like counseling.

“For some youth, this is the first opportunity they have to find some underlying issues,” said Dr. Peter Martin, a Clinical Assistant for Psychiatric Medicine at UB.

He says identifying what’s causing someone to have behavioral issues can save them from getting wrapped up.

“In the juvenile realm, there’s an increasing push to make it so that children and adolescents aren’t penetrating further into the system,” said the doctor.

Once someone winds up in the system, especially at a young age, it can be tough to break out of it. According to New York State records, the recidivism rates are pretty high. A juvenile who spends any time in a facility, has more than an 80% chance of being arrested again before they turn 28. And for young boys, there’s a 72% chance they’ll be incarcerated again before their 28th birthday.

The captain says they’re trying different tactics to reach youth in our community who are at risk.

“From community centers to after school programs, there’s a whole host of different avenues available to look at what can be done to best provide opportunities for this person,” said Rinaldo.

He feels their approach is working, as the numbers are dropping.

From 2006 to 2017, BPD reports a 58% decline in juvenile arrests.

And county statistics show the arrests have dropped from almost 1200 to just above 700.

“I think collectively all these ways of attacking the problem are leading to a reduction in juvenile crime.”

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