Youth Crime Declines in ND, Nationwide

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Bismarck's Police Youth Bureau says youth crime went down 24 percent between 2009 and 2014.

The numbers for 2015 aren't ready just yet, but the bureau says it appears to be a national trend.

Diversion programs for juveniles in the criminal system have become more available and utilized by families in Bismarck and Burleigh County, and it's not just a local trend.

Jason Stugelmeyer says the purpose of a school resource officer isn't to arrest children when they act out.

"It doesn't necessarily mean that just because we have a contact with with a kid that did something wrong that they should be cited," said Stugelmeyer, Police Youth Bureau director.

Stugelmeyer says putting greater emphasis on diversion programs for youth in the criminal system has helped lower the number of juvenile citations.

"On average we had 1,691 citations in 2009 and in 2014 we had 1,219 juvenile citations," Stugelmeyer said.

He says mentoring provided by the bureau and other youth agencies helps in the long-run by finding out why the child is acting out. Cory Pedersen with the Juvenile Court says diversion programs can also save the state money long-term.

"It is a lot of money saved if you put the money on the front end for kids and families, to help prevent them from going deeper in the system, or as adults being put into jails and prisons," said Pedersen, Juvenile Court Director for the South Central and South West Juvenile Courts

Pedersen says that while Bismarck has programs, many smaller communities in the state struggle to maintain youth services.

"Williston, Devils Lake and Jamestown regions, those services aren't as readily available," Pedersen said.

Pederson also points out the goal of the juvenile court is to keep children as close to their families and communities as possible while in the system.

The Police Youth Bureau says in particular the number of minors with alcohol has decreased for Bismarck and Burleigh County, with the number cut almost in half from 2009 to 2014.