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Jonathan ShapiroAn Improved Police Response to Juveniles in Crisis

A Collaborative Approach

Program Overview and 12 month Data Analysis

Jonathan J. Shapiro


The following overview and analysis outlines a collaborative effort to develop an improved police response to juveniles in crisis. The result of this effort is a generic model based on pragmatics, existing local resources, and best practices. The final product of this collaborative project is a template that is available for adoption by police departments seeking to improve their response to service calls of this nature.

A juvenile in crisis is described as a juvenile under the age of 18 who displays disruptive, destructive, violent, criminal, self-harming, threatening, and/or assaultive behavior. The nature of the call requires a multiple domain response. This project delineates how shared leadership and collaboration facilitates a multi-systemic response to this growing social problem. The key elements of this collaborative project are the creation of a Police Juvenile Reporting Form (communication tool), comprehensive police lesson plan, and collaborative stakeholder agreements to facilitate the juvenile’s access/diversion to appropriate services. Both the reporting form and lesson plan are generated from multiple stakeholder input and were designed to enhance police understanding, effectiveness, and ultimate response to a juvenile in crisis incident.

The overarching process creates a system that improves early identification of juveniles at risk, tracks the juvenile in crisis, identifies needed social services, and assures the services rendered are appropriate and effective.

Police leadership possesses a wealth of potential to engage communities in collaborative partnerships for the purpose of resolving systemic community problems. The special standing bestowed on the police by society comes with a commensurate responsibility for the police to use their leadership in the most beneficial and effective manner possible. Unilateral and insular police action, although often appropriate in immediacy, is counterintuitive to finding long-term systemic solutions to complex social ills that plague our communities.

This initiative is an attempt to demonstrate the positive results of collaborative police leadership in forming a progressive group of stakeholders to tackle a most complex societal problem.

The following overview and analysis is a concise description of the program as implemented by Sgt. Jonathan Shapiro of the Maine State Police, Troop A (York County) in partnership with the York County Jurisdictional Team Planning Core Group and Crisis Services of York County. Following the program overview, the first 12 months of program data is presented and analyzed in the FULL REPORT. The FIVE YEAR TREND ANALYSIS follows up with an ongoing narrative of key components while the USE OF LAW ENFORCEMENT looks to understand why Maine's youth with disabilities are disproportionately arrested, criminally charged, and incarcerated.