Levitt Sample 30580 6

User Manual: 30580

Open the PDF directly: View PDF PDF.
Page Count: 24

Police and
The Police and Juvenile Crime
Police Roles and Responsibilities
Police–Juvenile Relations
Police Discretion
Race as a Factor in Juvenile Arrests
Alternatives to Police Arrest and Custody
The first contact that a young juvenile offender has with the juvenile justice sys-
tem is with a police officer. The nature and circumstances of this police contact
are likely to be significant and have a lasting impression on a young person. In this
chapter we examine police roles and responsibilities in general, and the unique roles
that police have when dealing with juvenile offenders. Children and juveniles are
involved in a variety of law violations ranging from status offenses to more serious
offending, and present special challenges for the policing function. We discuss alter-
natives to traditional law enforcement strategies, such as community- or problem-
oriented policing; curfew enforcement; preventive efforts such as D.A.R.E. and School
Resource Officers; police procedures for taking juvenile offenders into custody; legal
guidelines for interrogation and gathering evidence; and police officers’ discretion in
deciding whether to refer a case to juvenile court or to use other alternatives.
The Police and Juvenile Crime
For juveniles, the police role is considered especially important, because young per-
sons’ views and attitudes toward law enforcement are shaped by their first encounter
with a police officer. Juvenile offenders are involved in a disproportionately large
number of crimes relative to their percentage of the population, so they present a spe-
cial challenge for law enforcement. In 2005, law enforcement agencies in the United
States made an estimated 2.1 million arrests of persons under age 18. Juveniles
accounted for about 16% of all violent crime arrests and 26% of all property crime
arrests in 2005 (Snyder, 2007, p. 1).
The police role with juveniles is expanded because they handle many noncriminal
matters referred to as status offenses, including running away, curfew violations, and
truancy as well as nondelinquent juvenile matters such as neglect, abuse, and missing
persons reports. Most urban police departments have special police units or juvenile
bureaus for handling the increasing number of juvenile cases. Duties of special juve-
nile officers include taking missing children reports; examining runaway cases; inves-
tigating juvenile crimes; contacting and interviewing juveniles, their parents, school
officials, and complainants regarding the circumstances of an offense; maintaining
juvenile records; and appearing in juvenile court.
Juveniles are less predictable than adults, and often exhibit less respect for the
authority of officers. The immaturity of many children and youth means that they are
more susceptible to the dares of other youth, and they often engage in deviant behav-
ior when in the company of their peers. Many youth view the police officer on patrol
not as a deterrent to delinquent behavior, but as a challenge to avoiding detection and
confrontation while loitering at night or engaging in behaviors ranging from petty
mischief, to property damage and vandalism, to more serious crimes of theft and
assaults. The immaturity of youth coupled with limited parental supervision and neg-
ative peer influence presents special problems for police, who frequently encounter
juveniles with little respect for law and authority. Juveniles also present a special prob-
lem for police because they are less cognizant of the consequences of their actions and
of the effects of their delinquent behavior on their victims, their parents and families,
their peers, and themselves. Before discussing police roles with juvenile offenders, we
provide an overview of police roles in general.
Police Roles and Responsibilities
Police officers are the most visible officials in the criminal justice system. They intro-
duce citizens to the justice process. That introduction ranges from taking a report
from a victim or witness to a crime, issuing a traffic citation, to questioning or taking
into custody a suspect in a misdemeanor or felony offense. Police are charged with pre-
venting crime and enforcing the law. They are given the authority to make arrests, to
use reasonable physical force when necessary, and to take persons charged with crimes
into custody. Society entrusts a great deal of authority to police, but also expects a lot
from them. Police are expected to provide public order and safety; to prevent crimes
from occurring, and find and apprehend offenders when crimes occur; and to perform
a variety of law enforcement functions without violating constitutional rights. In real-
ity, traditional police patrol does little to prevent crime. Police in most cases react to
crime after it has already happened, responding to citizen calls, reporting to crime
scenes, conducting investigations, and tracking and apprehending offenders. The fact
that police are called upon for many services besides law enforcement makes their job
even more difficult.
Police officers actually perform three roles in fulfilling their law enforcement
responsibilities: law enforcement, order maintenance, and service (Wilson, 1968). The
public and the police themselves have viewed the law enforcement function as the pri-
mary and most important task, and little attention was given to the others, which were
considered less important, and not “real law enforcement.
Law Enforcement
The traditional law enforcement role of police is to detect and investigate crimes,
and to apprehend those responsible for committing crimes. Police attempt to detect
crimes through regular police patrols and by responding to complaints of victims and
statements of witnesses. The traditional law enforcement role gives police visibility to
the public as they “protect and serve. There are some additional challenges in polic-
ing crimes such as drug dealing, gambling, and prostitution, where there are no wit-
nesses or clearly identified victims. To enforce laws against the so-called victimless
crimes (or more appropriately termed consensual crimes, because persons involved are
willing participants), police work as undercover officers to detect the crimes and make
arrests. The law enforcement role includes enforcement of traffic laws and parking vio-
lations, and it is here that officers have the most interaction with the general public as
law enforcers. To finalize their law enforcement role and ensure that suspects are
brought to trial, police engage in interrogation of suspects, collection of physical evi-
dence at a crime scene, and presentation of the evidence in court.
Chapter 6. Police and Juveniles 103
Photo 6.1 A juvenile offender suspect awaits verification of
juvenile status and questioning by police.
SOURCE: © Ruaridh Stewart/ZUMA/Corbis.
Order Maintenance
The order maintenance function of the police involves crowd control during
events such as parades, large public gatherings, music concerts, sports competitions in
indoor and outdoor stadiums; patrolling on foot, bicycle, horseback, or in vehicles;
and patrolling on streets, sidewalks, and in public parks. The order maintenance func-
tion parallels the law enforcement role when officers intervene to control disorderly
behavior. The order maintenance role is less clear (both to the public and to many
police) than the law enforcement role, mainly because the behaviors being controlled
are less clearly defined. “Disorderly behavior, for example, generally refers to behavior
that disturbs the public peace, but the exact definition and an officer’s determination
whether the behavior warrants official intervention depends on the neighborhood
location and the time during which the disturbance occurs. The officer’s role may be
that of telling participants of a loud party to quiet down, or dispersing a group of juve-
niles who are loitering on a street corner or in front of a business establishment.
Service Function
The third role of police is that of providing services to the public. This may
include providing aid or assistance to persons in need, such as calling a tow truck for
a stranded motorist; transporting abandoned or neglected children to a hospital or
shelter facility; delivering a baby whose mother did not make it to the hospital on time.
The service function often results in a combination of functions, such as when one
officer transports abandoned children to a shelter, and another officer locates the
parent(s) and initiates a child abuse investigation (a law enforcement function). The
service function more recently has come to include an educational component, such
as when police are assigned to schools to assist in the education of children and youth
on the dangers of drugs and how to avoid drug abuse.
The three primary roles of police are very different on a number of dimensions:
criminal versus noncriminal, urgent versus routine, and dangerous versus relatively
safe (Dorne & Gewerth, 1995). Police officers generally view the law enforcement func-
tion as the primary role, while order maintenance and service tasks have been typically
regarded with mixed feelings, ranging from ambivalence to disdain (Moore, 1992).
Police officers hold varying opinions of the importance of each of the roles, and they
do not undertake these three functions with equal degrees of enthusiasm. They are
given considerable autonomy and independence in carrying out their law enforcement
roles, and are allowed to place greater or lesser importance on a given role depending
on their assigned patrol area and individual circumstances.
The service functions of policing take on a special emphasis in relation to juve-
niles. Police are expected to protect children and to prevent delinquency (Sanborn &
Salerno, 2005). Child protection may involve intervening in suspected cases of child
neglect (being left at home alone, or left inside a vehicle in cold or hot weather condi-
tions); endangering a childs safety (failure to use a car seat or seat belts); or child abuse
such as physical punishment that may involve serious injury or even death. Child neglect
and abuse have been shown to have a relationship with status offenses such as running
away, which in turn often lead to more serious delinquency. The primary reason for the
inclusion of status offenses in all juvenile statutes, in fact, is for child protection and
delinquency prevention. Laws giving police the authority to intervene in noncriminal
behaviors such as running away, truancy, and curfew violations are intended to protect
them and to prevent worse delinquent behavior.
Chapter 6. Police and Juveniles 105
Police officers have a number of alternatives available for handling situations that involve child abuse.
Officers must be objective and proactive in their investigations of abuse. Questions concerning who, what,
where, when, how, and why must be answered. It is important to remember that child abuse is a crime,
and law enforcement has a legal duty and responsibility to respond accordingly. Police departments must
establish policies and procedures to investigate child abuse cases, and they need to consider many impor-
tant factors:
When You Receive the Referral
Know department guidelines and State statutes.
Know what resources are available in the community ...and provide this information to the child’s
Introduce yourself, your role, and the focus and objective of the investigation.
Assure that the best treatment will be provided for the protection of the child.
Interview the child alone, focusing on corroborative evidence.
Don’t rule out the possibility of child abuse with a domestic dispute complaint; talk with the children
at the scene.
Getting Information for the Preliminary Report
Inquire about the history of the abusive situation. Dates are important to set the timeline.
Cover the elements of crime necessary for the report. Inquire about the instrument of abuse or other
items on the scene.
Don’t discount children’s statements about who is abusing them, where, how, or what types of acts
Save opinions for the end of the report, and provide supportive facts.
Preserving the Crime Scene
Treat the scene as a crime scene ...and not as the site of a social problem.
Secure the instrument of abuse or other corroborative evidence.
Photograph the scene and, when appropriate, include any injuries to the child.
Police–Juvenile Relations
Police officers encounter a wide variety of deviant and delinquent behavior among
children and youth, ranging from minor status offenses to serious crimes. The major-
ity of police encounters with juveniles are in response to minor offenses that involve
an order maintenance function of law enforcement (Friedman, Lurigio, Greenleaf, &
Albertson, 2004). Regardless of the seriousness of the behavior, however, the nature
of the police–juvenile encounter can make a significant difference on police–juvenile
Follow-up Investigation
Be supportive ...to the child and the family.
Arrange for a medical examination and transportation to the hospital.
Be sure the child and family have been linked to support services or therapy.
Be sure the family know how to reach a detective to disclose further information.
During the Court Phase
Visit the court with the child; familiarize her or him with the courtroom setting.
Prepare courtroom exhibits to ...support the child’s testimony.
File all evidence in accordance with state and court policy.
Unless they are suspects, update the family about the status and progress of the investigation and
stay in touch with them throughout the court process.
Provide court results and case closure information to the child and the family.
Follow up with the probation department for preparation of the presentence report and victim
impact statement(s).
SOURCE: Hammond, B., Lanning, K., Promisel, W., Shepherd, J. R., & Walsh, B. (2001).
Law enforcement responses to
child abuse: Portable guides to investigating child abuse.
Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice. Retrieved
September 3, 2008, from http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/162425.pdf.
Discussion Questions
1. Compare the guidelines above with the police roles in this chapter, and indicate whether child abuse reports
involve the police role of law enforcement, order maintenance, or service (or a combination of them).
2. Give an example of how police involvement in a child neglect or abuse case could involve both the
law enforcement and service functions.
3. Explain why many police officers believe that investigating a child abuse case is more difficult than
investigating assaults involving teenagers or young adults.
relations. Sherman (1997) noted that police themselves often create a risk factor for
crime by using “bad manners. Research evidence indicates that when police are less
respectful toward suspects and citizens in general, then citizens also tend to have less
respect for police officers and for the law (Sherman, 1997, p. 8–1). Juveniles are criti-
cal of police practices such as stopping to question them, asking them to “move on
and not loiter on street corners, parking lots, or in front of stores. African American
and Hispanic youth, and those living in urban areas, are more critical of police than
white students or those living in suburban or rural areas (Taylor, Turner, Esbensen, &
Winfree, 2001). Students often have ambivalent or mixed feelings about police. Taylor
et al. (2001) found that a majority of students in their study believed that police are
friendly and hard working, but they also believed that officers are racially prejudiced
and dishonest. They did not believe that police officers contribute directly to the neg-
ative feelings, however. The reasons for juveniles negative attitudes toward police are
likely the inevitable result of police officers fair but unpopular restrictions on young
peoples’ behaviors (Taylor et al., 2001). Lieber, Nalla, and Farnsworth (1998) suggested
that community policing practices and problem-oriented policing can positively influ-
ence youths’ perceptions of police, but Hurst and Frank (2000) have noted that
attempting to involve youths in community-oriented policing is a challenge because of
their negative views and disapproval of many police functions. Friedman and his asso-
ciates (2004) have noted that both police and youths demeanors affect the perceived
nature and outcomes of their encounters, so there is reason to believe that juveniles
negativity toward the police might have triggered officer disrespect, which in turn
feeds juveniles’ negative attitudes. In short, they believe that police–juvenile interac-
tions are a two-way street. Young people react to how police officers treat them, and
officers often respond in kind to juveniles’ disrespectful behavior. Working with juve-
niles is a challenge, and police departments do well to provide officers with cultural
awareness training to enhance their skills in working and interacting with juveniles
(Friedman et al., 2004).
Community Policing. A new approach and philosophy of policing was developed in the
1990s based on the concept that police officers and citizens working together can help
solve community problems related to crime, neighborhood decay and disorder, and
fear of crime. Community policing is based on the belief that crime reduction requires
police departments to develop a new relationship with the law-abiding citizens in the
community, seeking their input and involvement to improve the quality of life in their
neighborhoods (Trojanowicz & Bucqueroux, 1990). Community policing is a signifi-
cant change in the philosophy and structure of law enforcement in the United States,
and is defined by some new and innovative organizational strategies, including:
Community Partnerships: Collaboration between law enforcement agencies and the
individuals and organizations they serve to develop solutions to community problems
and to increase trust in the police.
Organizational Transformation: Realigning organizational management, structure, per-
sonnel, and information systems to support community partnerships and perform
problem-solving tasks.
Chapter 6. Police and Juveniles 107
Problem Solving: The process of engaging in proactive and systematic examination of
identified problems in order to develop effective responses (Office of Community
Oriented Policing Services, 2008).
The value of community policing and its potential for making a greater impact on
community crime than the traditional reactive style of responding only to dispatchers’
calls for service has been recognized by local police administrators and officers, and by
the U.S. Department of Justice. The Advancing Community Policing (ACP) Grant
Program was established by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
(COPS Office) in 1997 to help law enforcement agencies develop community policing
strategies in communities and cities throughout the nation (Schneider, 2003).
Two law enforcement initiatives that are applications of the community policing
approach and that have helped to improve relations between police and juveniles
include D.A.R.E. (Drug Awareness Resistance Education) programs and the emergence
of School Resource Officers (SROs) working in an increasing number of schools
throughout the United States.
D.A.R.E. Officers. The most prominent program involving police with children and
youth is the Drug Awareness Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program that has been
implemented in schools throughout the United States. Originally begun by the Los
Angeles Police Department, D.A.R.E. programs have been established in large and
smaller cities throughout the country. Special juvenile officers undergo several weeks
of training in order to be a D.A.R.E. officer and present the structured curriculum of
educational materials primarily to fifth and sixth graders. D.A.R.E. programs have oper-
ated in all 50 states and in six foreign countries (Rosenbaum, Flewelling, Bailey,
Ringwalt, & Wilkinson, 1994). D.A.R.E. is unique with its collaborative effort between
education and law enforcement, and for the use of trained, uniformed police officers
in the classroom to teach a highly structured drug prevention curriculum. The program
targets students in their last years of elementary school. The D.A.R.E. program is
focused on this age group because it is assumed that these students are most receptive
to antidrug messages and are entering the drug experimentation phase where inter-
vention may be most beneficial. Officers teach the D.A.R.E. curriculum in one-hour
sessions for 17 weeks. Teaching strategies include lectures, workbook exercises, ques-
tion and answer sessions, audiovisual materials, and role-playing sessions. The strate-
gies support the objective of D.A.R.E., to teach peer resistance skills by offering
students several ways to say “no to drugs. D.A.R.E. is a comprehensive program that
includes a variety of teaching objectives including the effects and consequences of
using alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs; media influences and advertising tech-
niques for tobacco and alcohol; and developing assertiveness skills and strategies for
resisting peer pressure to use drugs.
The results of studies evaluating the effects of D.A.R.E. programs do not show
them to have a consistent or significant impact on students’ drug use, however.
Michele Harmon (1993) examined the effectiveness of a D.A.R.E. program in South
Carolina and found that students in the D.A.R.E. group used alcohol less, had higher
levels of belief in prosocial norms, reported less association with drug-using peers,
showed an increase in attitudes against substance use, and were more assertive.
However, no significant effects were found for self-reported cigarette, tobacco, or
marijuana use in the past year; frequency of any drug use in the past month; coping
strategies, attitudes about police, school attachment and commitment, and rebellious
behavior. Susan Ennett and her associates (Ennett, Tobler, Ringwalt, & Flewelling,
1994) conducted a meta-analysis of several D.A.R.E. program outcome evaluations
representing six states and a Canadian province and found that the D.A.R.E.
programs had very little effect. Except for reduced tobacco use, the effects of the
D.A.R.E. programs were slight and not statistically significant. They noted that some
features of D.A.R.E. may be more effective in school districts where the D.A.R.E. cur-
ricula for younger and older students are in place; and its impact on improved rela-
tions with the community, schools, and students may have important benefits. The
results showing D.A.R.E.s limited influence on adolescent drug use behavior con-
trasts with the popularity and prevalence of the program. Ennett et al. (1994) cau-
tioned that proponents of the D.A.R.E. program may be overstating expectations that
it will change adolescent drug use.
Dennis Rosenbaum and his associates (1994) evaluated the D.A.R.E. program in
12 urban and suburban schools in Illinois, involving 1,584 students. A matched group
of 24 schools were selected for the study, 12 of which were randomly assigned to
receive D.A.R.E., and 12 that served as controls for comparison. The D.A.R.E. program
had no significant overall impact on students’ use of alcohol or cigarettes about one
year after completion of the program. The only significant effect of D.A.R.E. was on
perceived media influences regarding the portrayal of beer drinking: more of the
D.A.R.E. students’ recognized the medias portrayal of beer drinking as desirable. The
program had some effect on encouraging females to quit using alcohol but seemed to
have the opposite effect for males. The failure of D.A.R.E. to produce any measurable
differences in students’ attitudes and use of drugs raises questions about the commit-
ment of time and funds to D.A.R.E. programs. Rosenbaum et al. suggested that more
attention should be given in drug prevention programs to changing students’ inaccu-
rate perceptions about their peers’ supposed approval and use of drugs. There has been
an overall decline in the prevalence of drug use among U.S. students; and this raises
the question of whether factors other than school-based drug prevention programs are
responsible for the decline, or whether the evaluation measures are not precise enough
to detect the effectiveness of the programs (Rosenbaum et al., 1994). It is possible that
the decline in drug use may be due to the current emphases on the health risks of drug
use, declining social acceptance, and the fact that youth are getting these messages
from multiple sources, including the media, parents, family members, and their peers.
A review of D.A.R.E. programs also led Denise Gottfredson (2001) to conclude that
they do not work to reduce substance use. She suggested that the programs content,
teaching methods, and use of uniformed police officers rather than teachers might
explain the weak evaluations; and added that the D.A.R.E. curriculum is unlikely to
reduce substance use without instruction that is more focused on social competency
D.A.R.E. officers and schools have made well-intentioned efforts to prevent drug
abuse among youth, but research does not clearly show long-term positive results for
Chapter 6. Police and Juveniles 109
the programs. D.A.R.E. programs nevertheless are widely supported by educators, by
parents, and by police departments that sponsor the officers who conduct the courses.
The programs do have the potential for providing early drug education and awareness
for young people; they also serve the function of improving relations with children
and youth and are regarded as an important community policing component of law
enforcement agencies. For these reasons, there has been considerable incentive for
developing a new program. The new D.A.R.E. program is designed to keep students
away from high risk behaviors, and it focuses on teaching life skills and resistance to
drug use. New components of the revised program include new leadership, increased
research activities to maintain program effectiveness, and science-based curricular
components (Perin, 2008). The new program has a revised training model and
instructional methodology, and 10 lessons with a selection of enhancement lessons.
The lessons are now interactive versus a lecture format, and the focus is on applying
the D.A.R.E. decision-making model to real-life situations. The new D.A.R.E. has also
revised the original program to place more emphasis on the high-risk group of sev-
enth and ninth graders. Initial reports on the new D.A.R.E. program indicate that the
new curriculum is having a positive effect on participants’ normative beliefs and
refusal skills regarding drug use and on students’ awareness of the consequences
related to substance use (Carnevale Associates, 2005). Carter (1995) has noted that
integrating community policing with D.A.R.E. programs can better serve all citizens
because both initiatives are intended to establish effective communication links with
the community. D.A.R.E. supports the philosophy of community policing as a law
enforcement initiative that is designed to respond to changing social problems and
community demands.
School Resource Officers. Many school administrators have employed police officers
full-time or part-time during school hours. The practice is more common in inner-
city urban schools or in schools that have experienced an increase in juvenile crime
activity. The origin of police–school liaison officers has been traced to Liverpool,
England, in 1951. The concept was soon introduced to the United States as the Flint,
Michigan, school district hired police officers in 1958; schools in British Columbia,
Canada, began placing police–school liaison officers in many schools in 1972
(LaLonde, 1995). School liaison officers in Canada are not armed, and place more
emphasis on the crime prevention and educational role than on law enforcement and
patrol functions. School liaison officers may:
Counsel, advise, and talk informally with students
Teach classes on alcohol and drug use prevention
Advise school personnel and students on security precautions
Offer safety and crime prevention education to students, staff, and parents
Work to improve the safety and security of the school
Gain students’ trust and be aware of bullying behavior, harassment, alcohol and drug
use, and gang activities
Investigate, document, and record critical incidents
Serve as a liaison between the school and the criminal justice system (see LaLonde,
School police officers in the United States fulfill all of the above roles, but they are
now usually called School Resource Officers (SROs). The Omnibus Crime Control and
Safe Streets Act of 1968 (Part Q, Title I) defines the SRO as “a career law enforcement
officer, with sworn authority, deployed in community-oriented policing, and assigned
by the employing police department or agency to work in collaboration with school
and community-based organizations. In contrast with officers in Canada, SROs in the
United States generally focus on traditional police functions and are usually armed,
although not all officers may be in uniform. They patrol school grounds, parking lots,
hallways, stairways, and bathrooms; check student identification; handle trespassers,
class cutters, and truants; investigate criminal complaints; handle disruptive students;
and prevent disturbances at after-school activities (Blauvelt, 1990). Police assigned to
schools also provide services beyond traditional law enforcement functions. They are
available to counsel students and faculty on crime and security issues; they also
improve school safety and prevent crime through educational programs. Experts have
recommended that school administrators should carefully assess the frequency and
seriousness of crime and disruption in their schools before determining whether to
hire police or security professionals (Blauvelt, 1990). School administrators and police
officials generally develop mutually agreeable policies for the specific duties and
responsibilities of the officers. Larger metropolitan schools districts have developed an
independent school district police force (Dorn, 2004). Regardless of the exact struc-
ture of the SRO program, the important factor is the selection of highly qualified offi-
cers and proper training for working in schools. The U.S. Department of Justice
funded $68 million that would be awarded through the Office of Community
Oriented Policing Services (COPS) to hire and train 599 SROs in 289 communities
throughout the nation (Girouard, 2001). The special funding is in recognition that the
SRO’s multifaceted role as law enforcement officer, counselor, teachers, and liaison
between law enforcement, schools, families, and the community requires training
beyond that traditionally offered in police academies (Girouard, 2001).
School resource officers have been effective in helping to control disciplinary
problems and school crime. A study comparing incidents before and after the place-
ment of officers in schools showed a significant reduction in the number of crimes and
disciplinary infractions and in suspensions related to such incidents (Johnson, 1999).
Studies have found that SROs reduce the time and effort that school administrators
and teachers spend addressing illegal and disruptive behavior; they support educa-
tional objectives through classroom presentations (Atkinson, 2001); they counsel
students on behavioral and attitudinal issues relating to school security and delin-
quency prevention (Benigni, 2004); and they help provide a safe environment in
public schools (May, Fessel, & Means, 2004). SROs are instrumental in helping to
reduce the number of crime incidents in the neighborhood around schools, and dur-
ing nonschool hours. They have been able to obtain valuable information through
their communication with students that has helped in the investigation of crimes in
the community. The most effective programs emphasize close working relationships
between police, school staff, and students; and clear communication regarding the
police role, policies, and actions to be taken in crime incidents. SRO programs are
another law enforcement strategy for improving juvenile and police relations through
Chapter 6. Police and Juveniles 111
better understanding of police roles and functions. Funding provided by the
Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office has supported the development
of several School Resource Officer (SRO) programs throughout the United States
(Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, 2003).
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) conducted a study in an attempt to answer what contributing factors
influence public opinion on police. The survey, administered to Los Angeles residents in 2003, revealed a
number of important factors. The study reported that police can improve public opinion and increase
residents’ approval of their job performance by
Increasing their informal contacts with citizens
Participating in community meetings
Increasing officers’ visibility in neighborhoods
Talking with citizens
The survey also revealed that
Residents’ perception of the level of crime and disorder in their neighborhood was a significant fac-
tor shaping their opinion of the police.
Residents with informal police contacts had more positive perceptions than residents with formal
Residents’ opinion of police performance did not vary by race or ethnicity in disorderly neighbor-
Media [television and print news] did not affect residents’ approval of police job performance or
their perception of officers’ demeanor.
SOURCE: Maxson, C., Hennigan, K., & Sloane, D. C. (2003).
Factors that influence public opinion of the police.
Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice. Retrieved September 4, 2008, from http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/
Discussion Questions
1. How do the residents of your city view their police department? How do the young people in your
city schools view the police department?
2. What have the police in your city done to improve the local opinion of police?
3. What have the police in your city done in local schools that might influence students’ opinion of
Juvenile offenses and status offenses remain a problem in many major cities throughout the nation. To
combat such problems in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the Fort Wayne Police Department (FWPD) developed a juve-
nile interdiction sweeps program, nicknamed Operation Linebacker. Coinciding with a 1998 spring break,
Fort Wayne community schools and the FWPD initiated this program with four goals in mind: (1) to reduce
Curfew Laws. In contrast to D.A.R.E. and School Resource Officer programs that gen-
erally help to enhance police officers’ relations with juveniles, the enforcement of cur-
few violations tends to aggravate the relationship. Curfew laws have been challenged on
constitutional grounds, but the courts have generally upheld them as a tool in support-
ing parental monitoring of children and of delinquency prevention (Hemmens &
Bennett, 1999). Many cities have implemented curfew laws in an effort to get children
and youth off the streets at night, reduce their opportunities to get into trouble, and
therefore prevent delinquency. Curfew laws generally apply only to youth under the age
of 16, and the hours during which youth are required to be off the streets may vary
according to the age of the youth (the limit may be 10:00 p.m. for those under 14, and
11:00 or midnight for youth aged 15 or 16, for example). Violation of curfew laws is a
status offense, illegal only for those of juvenile age, and not punishable by referral to
juvenile court. Police responses to curfew violations vary, but may include a warning to
get home, telephoning the parents, delivering the youth to their home in a patrol car, or
bringing the youth to a shelter, where parents are asked to come to pick them up.
Evidence of the effectiveness of curfew laws varies, with some researchers claiming that
juvenile crime is reduced (McDowall, Loftin, & Wiersema, 2000); while others found no
evidence of crime reduction that could be explained by the curfew (Reynolds, Seydlitz,
& Jenkins, 2000). Curfew laws may have little effect on juvenile crime because there is
evidence that a significant proportion of juvenile crimes occur immediately after school
hours between 3:00 and 6:00 p.m. (Sickmund, Snyder, & Poe-Yamagata, 1997). Some
cities have therefore attempted to enforce day-time, after-school curfews, but these pre-
sent countless problems in intervening with youth who are not or would not engage in
criminal activity (Bannister, Carter, & Schafer, 2001).
Police officer responsibilities under D.A.R.E., as School Resource Officers, and
enforcing curfew violations fall under a service and order maintenance role more than
law enforcement. Under a community policing philosophy, however, these roles are
equal to that of the law enforcement role in terms of their potential for problem solv-
ing and improving police–community relations. Other juvenile problems that require
the special roles of police include truancy, gang activity, and firearm possession and
violations. These problems involve police officers in challenging demands for combin-
ing their order maintenance and law enforcement roles on a regular basis in cities
throughout the country.
Chapter 6. Police and Juveniles 113
Police Discretion
Police are permitted to exercise a great deal of discretion in their duties. That is, they
have the ability to choose between different courses of action, depending on their par-
ticular assignment. Individual autonomy and discretion is not unique to the police
role, but tends to get more attention than in other professions. Employees in many
organizations are given some discretionary authority and flexibility in carrying out job
functions. In most organizations, however, discretion among personnel at the lower
levels is very limited; and flexibility in decision making expands as one moves farther
gang violence, (2) to curb vandalism, (3) to decrease juvenile criminal activity, and (4) to act as an ongoing
deterrent during the spring and summer months. To accomplish these goals, the FWPD targeted status
crimes such as alcohol-related offenses committed by individuals under the age of 21, underage posses-
sion of tobacco products, and curfew violations.
Prior to the first Operation Linebacker sweep, the FWPD held a public meeting to explain the concepts of
the program. Concerned citizens, parents, and other interested parties attended the meeting and obtained
general information about the operation. Specific dates or times of the sweeps were kept confidential, so
as to not let juvenile offenders know the dates or times of sweeps. For two consecutive weekends teams
patrolled for juvenile crime. The patrols conducted the first weekend sweeps from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. and the
following weekend from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. During these first two sweeps, the teams arrested roughly 200
juveniles for various offenses.
The FWPD indicated that during and immediately following the sweeps, the calls for police service and the
number of criminal incidents declined noticeably. Vandalism, gang crimes, and juvenile violence were
reduced. Reports indicated that Operation Linebacker resulted in a dramatic and successful decrease in
crime and an increase in neighborhood safety. The police department indicated that the program was
implemented at little or no cost to the agencies and helped to combat crime and violence in Fort Wayne.
SOURCE: Girod, R. J. (1999). Operation linebacker: Using status offenses to reduce crimes in communities.
FBI law enforce-
ment bulletin 68
(7), pp. 7–9. Retrieved April 25, 2009, from http://www.fbi.gov/publications/leb/1999/jul99leb.pdf.
Discussion Questions
1. Are there juvenile problems similar to those in Fort Wayne, Indiana in your city, or a city near you?
2. Are there any programs similar to Operation Linebacker within your city, county, or region?
3. Imagine a program of similar law enforcement sweeps in your city during the late night hours. What
kinds of juvenile behaviors and activities might they detect and reduce with sweeps like Operation
up organization levels. In police organizations the opposite is true. Discretionary
authority among police is greater at the lowest levels of the organization, giving the
line-level officer on patrol a considerable amount of discretion in carrying out and
discharging his or her duties (Goldstein, 1977). In other organizations, the actions of
line-level personnel are under close scrutiny. In police organizations, officers on patrol
are out of sight of their superiors, and the low visibility means they are frequently
beyond the commanding officers’ control. Because of the considerable amount of dis-
cretion, much research and writing has been devoted to studying and understanding
police discretion.
The nature of police discretion varies with the different police roles. In law
enforcement situations, police must resolve whether a crime occurred and whether
there is sufficient evidence to justify stopping a suspect for questioning, taking the sus-
pect into custody, or making an arrest. Officers receive extensive training in the law
enforcement function, including thorough education on the legal statutes and the
appropriate legal interventions they are authorized to make for law violations. Order
maintenance situations leave more room for police discretion, as “public order” and
disorderly conduct are not so clearly defined. It is difficult or even impossible to
determine, for example, whether a loud exchange of words on the street, in a public
gathering, or in a home amounts to a violation of the “public order. It may depend on
the context and circumstances of the verbal exchange. Police decisions and discretion
in the service function are equally difficult. The police role in service situations has gen-
erally not been discussed in police training manuals, or in books and research articles
on policing (Moore, 1992). Many police regard calls for service, such as rendering first
aid or helping a stranded motorist, as a waste of time and interference with the real job
of policing. Some police would maintain that calls for service can be better handled by
other agencies and individuals.
A number of arguments have been made for reevaluating the negative attitude
toward the service function of police: (a) police response to requests for service might
result in more effective law enforcement; (b) response to such calls may prevent a
crime later; (c) response to service calls helps establish a positive community presence;
and (d) response to service calls helps enhance the flow of information from commu-
nity sources and aids in crime detection and prevention (Moore, 1992). The emer-
gence of community policing has diminished to a great extent some of the earlier sense
of frustration and resistance of police officers in fulfilling service functions.
Community policing includes emphases on police–community relations, citizen
input, team policing, crime problem solving, and crime prevention (Cordner, 2005).
With the emergence of community policing, officers have come to accept more read-
ily that order maintenance and service functions are important functions of law
enforcement. Police agencies that have adopted a community policing perspective
accept and recognize that all three functions are equally important in carrying out
effective police operations.
Police Discretion and Juvenile Offenders. Police can stop, question, and arrest juveniles
in every situation that applies to adults. Juveniles can be arrested for committing a
Chapter 6. Police and Juveniles 115
crime (misdemeanor or felony); for escaping and running away from a correctional
facility; or for violating a court order, probation, or parole. Unlike adults, juveniles can
also be taken into custody by police for status offenses such as truancy, incorrigibility,
and running away from home. “Status offenses” are not crimes as such, but are con-
sidered violations of the law based on the “status of the juveniles age as defined by the
particular juvenile code of each state (generally under the age of 18, but in some states
it is age 17 or 16). The inclusion of status offenses in juvenile codes is to protect juve-
niles from their bad judgment; to reinforce the authority of parents and legal
guardians; and because it is believed (and there is evidence to show) that status offend-
ers often become involved in delinquent behavior. Enforcement of status offenses is
therefore a delinquency prevention tool of police.
The question of how much evidence a police officer needs before arresting a
juvenile is not always clear. For crimes or delinquent acts, the standard used by
most jurisdictions since the Gault decision (discussed in Chapter 7) is the same as
for adults, which is probable cause. Some states, however, use a lesser standard of
evidence for juvenile arrest, using terms such as “reasonable suspicion, “reasonable
grounds, or “reasonable cause” (Sanborn & Salerno, 2005, p. 132). The lesser stan-
dards of evidence generally apply to status offenses or where the physical protection
and “best interests” of the juvenile are being considered by the police officer. Based
on the Gault decision, the higher standard of probable cause is necessary when the
arrest is for a crime (or delinquent act) that is likely to result in court referral that
may lead to institutional placement. The important point is that juveniles are
subject to police intervention for a broader array of behaviors than are adults. This
is often a point of contention for many juveniles and some parents, who may not
be aware of or may disagree with the intent of laws pertaining to status offenses
including curfew violations.
Police have considerable discretionary power in handling juvenile matters, rang-
ing from reprimand and release, to transporting a juvenile to detention and referral to
juvenile court. Discretion is important in police work, for the officer’s decision to
intervene in any suspected law violation is the first stage in the juvenile justice process.
Officers use their discretion in deciding whether or not to take official actions with
offending juveniles or simply order them to “move on, “break it up, or get on home.
Most police contact with juveniles is nonofficial; police make an arrest and take juve-
niles into custody in only a small percentage of cases. In a study of police responses
with juveniles in two cities, Myers (2002) found that police took juveniles into custody
in only 13% of their encounters with juveniles. Most of the police–juvenile encounters
involved noncriminal matters, such as public disorder (22%), traffic offense (14%),
nonviolent conflicts (9%), and suspicious situations (7%); and about one fourth
(27%) involved violent or nonviolent crimes (Myers, 2002, p. 123). In 2003, 20% of
juvenile arrests were handled within law enforcement agencies, 71% were referred to
juvenile court, and 7% were referred directly to criminal court. The remaining 2%
were referred to a welfare agency or to another police agency. The proportion of arrests
referred to juvenile court increased from 1980 to 2003, from 58% to 71% (Snyder &
Sickmund, 2006, p. 152).
Factors That Affect the Decision to Arrest. We noted above that “probable cause is gen-
erally required by police to meet legal grounds for stopping a person for questioning,
taking into custody, or making an arrest when there is clear evidence that the person
is a suspect in a crime. Examples of legal factors that may affect the arrest decision
include the following:
Factors related to the offense: type of offense, seriousness, whether gang related, use of
weapon, amount of evidence to prove guilt in court.
Factors related to the juveniles record: previous police contact(s), status offense(s), delin-
quent acts, whether on probation or parole, or escaped from placement.
Police discretion has been criticized because some believe that police abuse their
broad discretionary powers, and that they base their decisions on extralegal factors
other than the offense. Extralegal factors are those that have nothing directly to do
with the offense for which the juvenile suspect is being questioned, taken into custody,
or arrested. Several kinds of extralegal factors have been known to influence police
officers decision to make an arrest and referral to juvenile court (see Sanborn &
Salerno, 2005, pp. 134–139). Examples of extralegal factors that may affect the arrest
decision include the following:
Factors related to the offender: age, gender, race, social class, attitude, demeanor, condition
(drunk or high on drugs), belligerence, refusal to answer questions, or resisting arrest.
Factors related to complainant or victim: able to identify the perpetrator, desire to pros-
ecute, prominence in the community, social class, age, gender, or race.
Factors related to the neighborhood or location of crime: crime level, police patrol level,
socioeconomic level, disorganized or well-structured, offender is a community
member, bystanders present (especially if hostile).
Factors related to parent(s) or home: belligerent parental attitude, parent not home or not
located, parents or home present a problem, parent fails or refuses to appear at police station.
Factors related to the officer: age, gender, race, class status, training and experience, view
of juvenile system and diversion, previous contact with the accused, and officer’s work-
load (Sanborn & Salerno, 2005, pp. 135–139).
In summary, police decisions to arrest must be based on legal factors. Police dis-
cretion, however, does allow them not to make an arrest even when there are legal
grounds to do so. They may exercise their option to use a lesser alternative (discussed
below). Police are working in a “real-world” setting and their decisions are affected by
their judgment and perceptions of the degree of risk and threat to public safety—and
often by their personal judgments of the circumstances of the alleged crime. Police
arrest decisions based on “legal” and “extralegal” factors often have differential effects,
depending on the gender or the racial or ethnic group of the juvenile offender. Girls
are less likely than boys to be arrested and referred to juvenile court, but they are often
referred more than boys for status offenses such as running away or disobeying parents
(Armstrong, 1977; Chesney-Lind, 1977). Researchers have reported differing results
on the importance of race in police discretion. Some studies report few differences
when controlling for offense seriousness and prior record. African Americans and
Chapter 6. Police and Juveniles 117
other minority youths seem to be involved in more frequent and serious offenses than
whites, so it is difficult to determine whether they are singled out more by police for
official action. There is some evidence of racial bias, however, as minority youths have
often been targeted more by police for official intervention (Wolfgang, Figlio, & Sellin,
1972, p. 252). Some critics of police discretion also contend that lower-class youths are
processed into the justice system for the same offenses for which middle- or upper-
class juveniles are simply reprimanded and released to their parents. Police and juve-
nile officers justify this use of discretion on the basis that middle- and upper-class
youth are more likely to be corrected without referral to the justice system because
their parents have the resources to provide their children with the necessary supervi-
sion and corrective services. Merry Morash (1984) found that an older juvenile with a
prior record who fits the image of a serious delinquent is more likely to be referred by
police to the juvenile court. A juvenile’s demeanor and attitude make a difference in a
police officer’s use of discretion. A youth who is polite and respectful is more likely to
get off with a reprimand, while a negative and hostile attitude is likely to result in a
court referral (Piliavin & Briar, 1964; Lundman, Sykes, & Clark, 1990).
Yarborough v. Alvarado
This case raises several questions. Should police treat juvenile suspects different from or the same as
adult suspects when interrogating them about a crime? Are juveniles entitled to the Miranda warning?
If so, under what circumstances and at what point does that warning apply to police interrogations of
suspects? When deciding whether a suspect is “in custody” and therefore entitled to his Miranda warn-
ings, must an officer consider the suspect’s age and previous history with law enforcement?
Police interviewed Michael Alvarado, age 17, without his parents present at a police station about
his involvement in a crime. Police had not arrested Alvarado, and did not give him a Miranda warning.
During the interview, Alvarado confessed involvement in the crime. Based in part on these statements,
Alvarado was convicted of second degree murder and attempted robbery. His appeals in the California
courts and request for a writ of habeas corpus in federal district court in California were unsuccessful.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the criminal court decision. The Appellate Court recognized
the “in custody” standard to be whether a reasonable person would feel free to end interrogation, and
held that a juvenile is more likely to feel that he is in custody. Because Alvarado was “in custody, the
Fifth Amendment required that his rights under
Miranda v. Arizona
(1966) be read to him.
In a 5-to-4 decision written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the pur-
pose of the Court’s
decision was to provide an objective rule readily understandable by police
officers. When interrogating a suspect who is “in custody,” an officer must first read the suspect his
Miranda rights. Determining whether a suspect is actually in custody has always been based on objec-
tive criteria like whether he had been brought to the police station by police or had come of his own
accord. Requiring officers to consider individual characteristics of a suspect when determining whether
he is “in custody,” such as the suspect’s age or previous history with law enforcement, would make the
Race as a Factor in Juvenile Arrests
The issue of race is a concern in the criminal and juvenile justice systems. It is an
undisputed fact that racial and ethnic minorities (especially African Americans) are
disproportionately represented at each stage of the system: in police arrests, in jails and
detention centers, in courts, and in correctional facilities. Research studies are mixed,
however, as to whether that disproportionate representation is a result of racial bias in
police arrest, prosecutors decisions, and judicial sentencing (Conley, 1994; Wordes,
Bynum, & Corley, 1994). African American youth are overrepresented in juvenile
arrests when compared to their proportion of the population (i.e., racial disparity).
Black youth, who accounted for 17% of the juvenile population in 2005, were involved
in a disproportionate number of juvenile arrests for robbery (68%), murder (54%),
motor vehicle theft (43%), and aggravated assault (42%) (Snyder, 2007, p. 9).
The question is whether the overrepresentation of black juveniles in police arrest
rates is due to racial bias or to the greater involvement of black youth in violent
crimes. Violent crimes are more likely to be reported, detected, and result in a police
arrest. To answer this question, Pope and Snyder (2003) analyzed National Incident-
Based Reporting System (NIBRS) data from law enforcement agencies in 17 states,
with a large sample of 102,905 juvenile offenders. They found no significant effects of
race in police arrest decisions, and they were able to identify some characteristics that
Chapter 6. Police and Juveniles 119
test a subjective one that would be more difficult for officers to understand and abide by. Justice
Kennedy wrote that the
decision “states an objective rule designed to give clear guidance to
the police, while consideration of a suspect’s individual characteristics—including his age—could be
viewed as creating subjective inquiry.”
Yarborough v. Alvarado
541 U.S. 652 (2004).
Discussion Questions
1. What is your understanding of the “Miranda warning”? What does it state?
2. Michael Alvarado was being questioned by police at a police station but was not “Mirandized”
because police had not arrested him. Did the police have him in custody? What did the Court
say about his being “in custody”?
3. Do you believe police should question a juvenile without his or her parent(s) and or legal
guardian or an attorney being present? Is there a difference in police questioning a juvenile or
an adult suspect? Explain your answer.
4. What is the majority opinion of the Court regarding whether police should treat juveniles any
different from adults regarding the “Miranda warning” and interrogations?
differentiated the crimes of white and nonwhite juvenile offenders. Compared to non-
whites, white juvenile offenders were:
Less likely to have multiple victims
More likely to act alone
More likely to commit crimes indoors
Less likely to possess a nonpersonal weapon (firearm, knife, or club)
Less likely to offend against adults
Less likely to offend against members of another race
More likely to commit crimes against family members; equally likely to commit crimes
against acquaintances; but less likely to commit crimes against strangers (Pope &
Snyder, 2003, p. 4)
The findings revealed that the crime incident characteristics that increased the
odds of arrest for violent crimes were largely the same for white and nonwhite offend-
ers, with one important exception: victims race was correlated with arrest probability
for nonwhite juvenile offenders, but not for white offenders. A nonwhite juvenile
offender therefore was more likely to be arrested if the victim was white than if the vic-
tim was nonwhite. More research must be conducted on police arrest patterns, using
larger samples that are more representative of the nation. Arrest patterns may differ
among states, and within regions of states and the nation.
Race and ethnic background may be a factor in police decisions to arrest juvenile
offenders, but based on research evidence it is clear that several other factors also
Photo 6.2 Police arrest a suspected juvenile offender for drug dealing.
SOURCE: © Barry Lewis/Corbis.
influence officers decisions. In summary, the factors noted above that may affect
police officers’ decisions to arrest a juvenile or to take less formal actions without court
referral include factors relating to the following:
Offense (seriousness, type, time of day, gang related, use of weapon)
Youths record or status (prior police contact or arrest, school record, probation status)
Offender (age, gender, race, social class, demeanor)
Complainant (present at the scene, desire to prosecute, age, gender, and race)
Location of the offense (type of neighborhood, low- or high-crime area)
Parents (attitude, present at the scene or at home, concern and ability to supervise)
Officer (training and experience, view of justice system and diversion, workload)
Police department (enforcement policies, community policing, or problem-solving
emphasis) (Sanborn & Salerno, 2005, pp. 137–139)
Police discretion is necessary, and the juvenile justice system could not function with-
out some use of discretion. Juvenile courts in urban areas have a backlog of cases, probation
officers’ caseloads are too high for them to provide adequate supervision, and correctional
facilities are becoming overcrowded. The system must concentrate on those juvenile offend-
ers who pose the greatest risk and need official intervention to prevent further offending.
Chapter 6. Police and Juveniles 121
The Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) issues Crime Alerts via the Web when MPD notices a crime pat-
tern. MPD notes that the crime pattern may be specific to geographic area, a time-period, or specific
method of crime. At times, MPD issues Attention Residents Flyers to the public for less serious, yet impor-
tant crime prevention information. Crime Alerts and Attention Residents Flyers aim to provide accurate
information, increase the chance for arrests, prevent future crimes, and reduce fear. In addition, MPD con-
ducts free Personal Safety Workshops. The key part of the notices and workshops is crime prevention infor-
mation, and providing simple steps that persons can take to reduce victimization. The following is an
abbreviated posting of a Crime Alert issued by the MPD.
Minneapolis Police are investigating nine robberies of persons that have occurred since September 4 in the
area between East 42nd Street and East 56th Street, from Portland Avenue to Elliot Avenue. The neigh-
borhoods within the geographical area are Field, Regina, Northrop, Hale, and Diamond Lake. The two most
recent robberies occurred about 2 hours apart on Tuesday, September 23. About 6:00 p.m., as a resident
approached his home on the 4900 block of Park Ave., a young male confronted him with a handgun. The
robber took his briefcase, demanded his wallet, and then fled on foot. The victim described him as a thin
black male, 5’8” to 5’10, dark complexion, and a narrow face with some chin whiskers. He wore a black,
lightweight winterhoodie” jacket with the hood up. At 7:45 p.m., a resident was walking on the south
bike path by Minnehaha Creek east of 51st Street and Chicago Avenue. A male with a handgun
approached him from behind and demanded his wallet. The residents description of the robber was close
to that in the earlier robbery except he wore a gray hoodie and dark pants. Most of the other robberies
Alternatives to Police Arrest and Custody
A police officer may refer a minor offender to a youth services bureau, a community
agency such as a Big Brother or Big Sister program, or a similar delinquency preven-
tion program. In the majority of cases where police have reason to believe that a juve-
nile has committed an offense, the youth will be taken to the police department
juvenile bureau for questioning, may be fingerprinted and photographed, and then
taken to the intake unit of the juvenile probation department where a decision will be
made to detain the youth or release to the parents.
Questioning, Warning, and Release in the Community. The least severe sanction
is when an officer questions a youth for a possible minor offense, and gives a warning
and reprimand on the street without taking formal actions.
Station Adjustment. Police may take a youth into custody and to the station,
record the alleged minor offense and actions taken, give the youth an official repri-
mand, and release the youth to the parents. The parents are generally contacted first
and may be present when the youth is reprimanded. In smaller cities the youth may be
placed under police supervision for a short period of time.
Referral to a Diversion Agency. Police may release and refer a juvenile to a youth
service bureau (YSB), Big Brother/Big Sister program, runaway center, or a mental
health agency. Diverting minor offenders from the juvenile justice system to a YSB that
occurred between 4:45 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. Suspects threatened victims with handguns in several
of the robberies, but no one was injured. Suspect information was varied. Third Precinct officers,
investigators from MPD’s citywide Robbery and Juvenile units, and the Park Police are conducting
intense investigations.
SOURCE: Minneapolis Police Department. (2008, September 26). Robbers strike in Field, Regina, Northrop, Hale &
Diamond Lake.
Crime Alert Bulletin.
City of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Retrieved October 17, 2008, from
Discussion Questions
1. Access other recent crime alerts at www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/police/crimealert/. Note the race,
gender, and age of the alleged offenders. Do you see any patterns in suspected perpetrators, or in
the reported offenses?
2. Do an Internet search for similar “police alerts” in other cities. How are they similar to, or different
from, those of the Minneapolis police?
3. In addition to alerting the public to potential crimes, is it possible that police departments may get
assistance from the community in helping to detect and reduce crimes in this way? Explain.
4. Do “crime alerts” increase public fear? Or, might crime alerts increase public support and police
satisfaction? Explain your response.
provides counseling and social services is considered preferable for many first-time
offenders and troubled youth.
Issuing a Citation and Referring to Juvenile Court. The police officer can issue a
citation and refer the youth to juvenile court. The intake probation officer accepts the
referral, contacts the parents if the police have not already done so, and releases the
youth to the parents on the condition that they will report to the court when ordered
to do so. The intake officer then determines whether a formal delinquency petition
should be filed. In some states the decision is made by the prosecuting attorney
assigned to the juvenile court.
Taking to a Detention Center or Shelter Home. The police officer can issue a cita-
tion, refer the youth to the juvenile court, and take him or her to a detention center. The
intake officer at the detention center then decides whether to hold the juvenile or release
him or her to the parents. Juveniles are detained when they are considered dangerous,
when there is a lack of parental supervision, or when there is a high probability that
they will not report to the court when ordered to do so. If a detention center is felt to
be too restrictive, and an appropriate parent or foster home is not available, the youth
may be placed in a shelter care facility, which might be either a private home or a group
home. Most states now provide for a detention hearing within a day after the youths
referral in which a judge or referee must determine whether there is sufficient reason to
continue to detain the juvenile. In cities without a separate juvenile detention center,
juveniles who cannot be released to their parents are confined in a separate section of
the county jail, or may be transported to a juvenile facility in another county. There has
been a national effort to remove juveniles from adult jails. Removing juveniles from
their homes and detaining them in juvenile centers is considered a last resort.
In Chapter 8, we discuss the topics of Juvenile Court Intake, assessment, and the
temporary detention of juvenile arrestees (after a discussion of Due Process and
Juveniles Rights next, in Chapter 7).
The police role with juvenile offenders is especially important because young persons views
and attitudes toward law enforcement are shaped by their first encounter with a police officer.
Police face special challenges when dealing with juvenile offenders, because they must
enforce noncriminal (status) offenses in addition to criminal violations; because of
youths immaturity; and because of their susceptibility to group influence.
Police officers actually perform three roles in fulfilling their law enforcement responsi-
bilities: law enforcement, order maintenance, and service functions.
Community policing is a recent development in law enforcement that aims to involve
the citizens and community in crime prevention; police work together with the com-
munity in problem solving to reduce crime.
Community policing initiatives focused on children and youth include programs such
as D.A.R.E. and School Resource Officers.
Police discretion is a normal and necessary part of the law enforcement decision-
making process that is often influenced by extralegal factors; it may result in dispropor-
tionate processing of racial and ethnic minorities.
Chapter 6. Police and Juveniles 123
Research findings on police discretion show mixed results as to whether disproportion-
ate representation of minorities is due to racial discrimination in decision making, or to
the greater involvement of minorities in offenses that are more likely to result in court
processing and sentencing.
Police officers have a number of alternatives to arrest and custody of offenders, and
using these alternatives appropriately benefits the offender, the community, and the jus-
tice system.
Status offenses Service function
Law enforcement role Racial disparity
Order maintenance
1. Can you think of any experiences as a teenager when you or any of your friends had
any encounters with a police officer that were negative and/or created poor relations
with the police? Give an example.
2. Do you think police should spend much of their time responding to status offenses of
juveniles? Explain why, or why not. Do you think there is any relationship between
status offenses and more serious juvenile crime?
3. Can you think of any examples when you, your friends or family, or any neighbors
were affected or benefited by the police roles of order maintenance and service func-
tions? Give an example.
4. Have you had a personal experience with a D.A.R.E. program, or with a School
Resource Officer? Explain the effects of that program, from your perspective.
5. Have you or an acquaintance ever experienced police discretion, such as getting a
warning rather than a citation or arrest; or getting a citation or arrest when you believe
a warning was more appropriate?
The following Web sites provide information and discussion on the role of police in
the juvenile justice system:
Juvenile offenders and victims: 2006 national report: http://ojjdp.ncjrs.gov/ojstatbb/
Community-oriented policing: http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/
D.A.R.E. Web site: http://www.dare.com/home/default.asp
National Association of School Resource Officers: http://www.nasro.org/home.asp
Crime Alert Bulletins (City of Minneapolis, Minnesota: http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/

Navigation menu