Thursday, March 24, 2011
Wichita has seen a spike in juvenile arrests this week. It's likely a result of spring break, but officers are trying to give kids an alternative to getting into trouble.
It's spring break and it's the first time a lot of young people have been able to get outside and play in warmer weather after the long winter. Unfortunately, with time off from school, a lot of kids get into trouble, too.
121307 - When you work with youth, introduce them to new things, it helps. 121310
Day camps like the one at North High School in Wichita offer kids something to do during the week long holiday. Unfortunately, we still see a spike in juvenile crime during this time every year.
Early this week, a 13 year-old was arrested after stealing her mother's car and leading police on a lengthy pursuit. On Wednesday, two young teens were arrested for breaking into the Planeview Community Church. they were intending to spray paint the inside walls. And an East Wichita neighborhood post office box drop was destroyed. Officers suspect a dry ice bomb placed there by kids exploded.
Kathleen Farris got her kids out of the house by taking them to the police department's baseball camp at North High.
"I believe in keeping them active," Farris said. "If they're busy, they're not going to be getting in trouble and they're going to be hanging out with kids that are busy, too. That's kinda my theory... keep them active and busy."
Lt. James Espinoza agreed.
"We have parents that like to come out and watch and those are parents we like to think that will always be involved," he said. "And again, they see police officers out here visiting and know that police are behind it."
Over the last two years of the program, Espinoza said officers have seen a sizable drop in juvenile crime during spring break.
"It shows that the areas we have our camps during spring break, winter break and also summer, crime has been reduced," Espinoza said. "42% over two years. That includes vandalism, auto theft, larceny and burglary."
At the end of the day, the kids get a lesson about doing the right thing and staying on the right side of the law. The aim of all this is that hopefully these kids will take the relationships they've made with the officers and not end up in handcuffs.