What approach is used by youth officers and YSBs to encourage patrol officers to refer to JRB rather than taking no action or referral to Juvenile Court?Patrol officers need to be informed that the JRB exists, how it works, what it does, who is eligible, how a referral is made and the benefits of the JRB over the court for first offenders who commit minor offenses for which they readily take responsibility.
Patrol officers have a lot of things to remember, particularly when it comes to juveniles because they don’t deal with juveniles every day and the laws, rules and procedures for handling juveniles differ greatly from adults so they are not as familiar with those applicable to handling juveniles. Also, the confidentiality of the juvenile justice system prevents the police from knowing what happens in a case they referred to the court. This fact often leads to the mistaken belief that “nothing happens in juvenile court.” Also, the juvenile laws have undergone significant changes in recent years and many officers are not yet comfortable dealing with juveniles.
If members of the JRB would make a brief appearance at roll call before each shift and produce a brief, easy to read brochure answering the patrol officer’s questions about the JRB, they are more likely to refer juveniles to the JRB rather than court. The JRB should also establish a single point of contact with the police where questions can be answered quickly and easily as they come up.
There is also a JRB referral ticket, similar to the Juvenile Summons form that can be used.
The idea is to make a referral to the JRB as easy as possible for the patrol officers and to encourage its use. You might also encourage patrol officers to sit in or even participate in a JRB meeting. Once they see how the process works, they will have a greater appreciation of the benefits of the program.
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