ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Missouri juvenile courts use a point system to determine whether a juvenile gets locked up for a crime. Many felony crimes do not reach that level.

North County Cooperative Major Ron Martin said, “These individuals are stealing cars. They’re armed with automatic weapons.”

It’s not enough to take a juvenile into custody, according to Missouri’s current point system.

North County police departments and leaders met with juvenile court officers Tuesday. Fox 2 was granted exclusive access.

The North County Police Cooperative’s Dellwood Precinct Commander exclaimed in the meeting that he took a minor to juvenile detention and that, “two or three hours later, he’s in Berkeley caught in another stolen car and my thing was ‘what the hell is he doing in Berkeley? He should be in juvenile [custody]?!’”

Under Missouri’s juvenile detention point system, it takes a score of 15 points to get locked up. Most felonies are 11 points, 12 if it’s against a person. A probation violation is one point.

North County Police Cooperative Major Ron Martin said, “The point system, I believe was established about a decade ago. We’re going off the same types of points of things that have happened a decade ago, but times have changed.”

He said the current point system is outdated, adding, “Look, the kids nowadays are not doing what they did ten years ago. It’s far removed.”

Vinita Park’s Mayor James McGee said, “We have to do something to save our community.”

McGee says he’s working with St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell to propose modernizing the point system, while also looking deeper. McGee said, “We need go that extra step further, call the parents and let the parents know what their child got into. A lot of times the parents don’t know.”

Juvenile court representatives listened to concerns, also discussing alternatives to incarceration. St. Louis County’s Chief Juvenile Officer Rick Gaines warned, “Once a minor hits my juvenile detention center, the risk of them being incarcerated as an adult increases.”

Everybody in the room seemed to agree it’s crucial to find the right balance, while also unanimously agreeing we’re not there now. We’ll continue following the coming solutions.