Young and in trouble

WARREN – Tina Milner said she found it disheartening earlier this summer to read reports of crimes involving teens in the city.

During one weekend last month, police dealt with reports of a 19-year-old being shot, a 16-year who was cut in the chest and a 17-year-old who was jumped and pistol-whipped.

City officers noted crime among youths typically goes up in the summer when school is out and, although it might seem it’s on the rise in general, data gathered by the Warren Police Department do not necessarily support that.

For example, in 2008 there were 190 juveniles processed through the system and 161 in 2012. The number of charges filed against juveniles dropped from 249 in 2008 to 239 in 2012.

Warren police Lt. Martin Gargas said city police officers have contended with juvenile crime for a long time.

“But do I think it’s any worse now than before? Not necessarily,” he said.

During a five-year span – from 2008 to 2012 – tracked by the Warren Police Department, incidents of juveniles carrying concealed weapons dropped from nine in 2008 to two in 2012.

However, cases in which students were caught with weapons in school went from zero in 2008 to 11 in 2012.

In 2008, there were 48 cases of unruliness / curfew violations and 49 in 2012, with a high of 100 in 2011.

Milner, who helped establish and continues to assist with the Warren Citizens Police Academy, is among residents who hope to see crime among juveniles decline.

“It’s all just very sad,” she said. “You hear all of the negative and you wonder what are these kids thinking. Everything they do can have such a big impact on their lives. It can affect school, what kind of jobs they are able get. It follows you. I just wish they would think about that.”

Statistics show that there are more charges filed against male juveniles than females. However, between 2008 and 2012, the number of charges filed against males decreased from 146 in 2008 to 122 in 2012 compared to 44 charges against females in 2008 and 49 in 2012.

Warren police Sgt. Geoff Fusco said one way police and community members can discourage crime among juveniles is to encourage them to move to “the other side.” For example, he and Milner encourage teens to participate in the citizens police academy, which is scheduled to start up again next month.

Individuals younger than 18 can participate in the eight-week course with parental consent.

The program is starting its third year. Classes are held from 6 to 8 p.m. each Wednesday at the police station. The next session is set to start Sept. 11.

Milner said about 15 area high school students have already gone through the program.

“Once you find out how something looks from the inside, it can change your whole perspective,” Milner said. “It’s important for kids to have a good rapport with police officers, teachers, any adults in authority.

”Ultimately, it starts at home. Parents need to be involved in what they’re kids are doing, know where they are and what’s going on with them.

”But I think the more kids are involved in positive things the more positive they become about themselves, their future, other people. As a community we need to also do what we can to support that,” Milner said.