Juvenile crime down in Grant Co.

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Juvenile Crime 2007–2012

EPHRATA - Juvenile crime in Grant County has seen a 25 percent drop in the last four years, according to Grant County Prosecutor Angus Lee.

Since increasing by 3 percent from 2007 to 2008, there has been a steady decline in juvenile crime each year. The largest drop occurs most recently from 2011 to 2012 when there was a 13 percent decrease.

"Juvenile crime has always been a priority for me," Lee said recently. "In 2009 we started prosecuting with a focus on preventing future crime by making sure there were swift and certain sanctions for juvenile offenders."

In 2008, there were 1,123 requests to file juvenile charges. Four years later, that number dropped to 836 requests for juvenile charges.

Violent crimes involving juveniles are also trending down.

Lee stated there were only 25 violent felonies in 2012, down from 43 in 2007 and 2008.

Lee attributes the drop in juvenile crime to effective policing by law enforcement and improvements to the juvenile division of the prosecutor's office.

After an increase in juvenile crime in 2008, the size of the juvenile crime prosecution team was doubled.

Despite the prosecution team doubling, there was no increase in the budget. After he was appointed in 2009, Lee reorganized the prosecutor's office and freed up enough money for a second deputy prosecutor.

Lee believes that a major factor in decreasing crime is prosecuting proactively and hopes this approach will prevent juveniles from turning into career criminals.

Being proactive toward juvenile crime instead of reactive has also translated to the Grant County Sheriff's Office.

Grant County Sheriff Tom Jones stated his deputies have been diligently patrolling the streets and staying visible in the community in hopes of preventing juvenile crime.

However, these numbers only reflect juvenile cases where charges were filed and doesn't take into account investigations where no charges were filed.

According to Moses Lake Police Chief Dave Ruffin, the amount of juvenile cases in Moses Lake that were referred to the prosecutor's office in 2012 was 228. That number is down from 292 cases in 2011.

Even though there seems to be a decrease Ruffin cautions that these numbers do not tell the whole story.

"The unknown is what we have to be careful about," Ruffin said.

Ruffin explained that officers may get a vandalism call or some other crime that is most notably committed by juveniles, but police might never find a suspect so no charges are filed.

Quincy Police Chief Richard Ackerman said that he couldn't confirm if juvenile crime has decreased in the city because he didn't have the statistics in front of him. He said from what he has observed there seems to have been a decrease over the last few years.

Ackerman attributes the apparent decrease to the city's Parks and Recreation Department setting up youth activities.

Lee was unable to confirm if adult crime has decreased this past year because those statistics haven't been released yet.

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