ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Officers with the North County Police Cooperative say they’re arresting children for felony crimes, only to find them on the streets hours later.
The co-op brought in the courts, hoping to find a solution. FOX 2 was granted exclusive access to the discussion.
“We are headed in the direction of doubling the amount of juvenile crimes that we’re documenting versus last year,” Major Ron Martin, North County Police Cooperative, said.
NCPC Chief John Buchnannan said he’s had enough.
“We’ve got to do things to step up,” he said. “And we want to get it out there, it’s not law enforcement; it’s a whole system of things that we’ve got to get changed, so that’s why we’re doing this.”
Buchanan set up the juvenile crime roundtable for north St. Louis County stakeholders to meet face-to-face with representatives from the juvenile court system.
“We take them to juvenile and then they’re back out within an hour and in another stolen car,” Dellwood Precinct Commander Lt. Etheria Thompson said.
They discussed the point system, which, under Missouri law, means it takes a crime with a score of 15 points to get locked up; or several crimes that add up to 15.
Pagedale Interim Police Chief Anthony Huckleberry exclaimed that some offenders have “…reached that level several times!”
Lt. Huckleberry, along with the head of the NCPC Auto Theft Task Force, said they still don’t see juveniles locked up when they reach that point level.
“The continued frustration when you are dealing with juveniles: can you arrest them or can you take them out to St. Louis County? What’s the process?” Huckleberry said.
The court reps said they would make sure juvenile court employees take a report with an offender’s information, even if they were ordering a release. They said it’s how it should be done, adding to officers that they should also make sure to follow through with reporting those potential points under all circumstances.
“It makes me feel better that they’re hearing what we’re talking about and it’s a start,” Chief Buchannan said. “So, let’s see where this conversation leads us.”