Folks in West Valley City are fighting teen crime by committee.
Church groups, schools, elected leaders and neighborhood patrols have teamed with law officers to foil crimes committed by young people, said West Valley Police Chief Dennis Nordfelt.It's apparently working. Juvenile arrests dipped 33 percent in 1995 from the previous year.
Police made 5,125 juvenile arrests in 1994. Last year, the number dropped to 3,374, according to West Valley police reports.
Juvenile aggravated assaults arrests decreased almost 75 percent, from 80 to 21. Fewer kids were nabbed with drugs or stolen property, and shoplifting arrests were down 43 percent.
No kids were arrested for investigation of murder last year.
"I think our citizens are coming out fighting, the populace is tired of crime and they're saying enough is enough," said Nordfelt.
The chief adds police are increasingly visible thanks to local schools. In the past, one officer was responsible for each West Valley high school and its feeder schools. Now all junior highs are assigned a full-time officer.
Civic leaders have also helped. In 1994, the West Valley City Council allotted funds to create the department's Special Enforcement Team, or SET. The five-officer team works exclusively on targeting chronic juvenile crime problems like drugs and gangs, said Nord-felt.
The city's Community Oriented Police program has also blossomed thanks to staff increases provided by Federal Crime Bill grants. "Community Oriented Police allows us to be more proactive, we're not just responding to crime," said Nordfelt.
More and more West Valley residents are becoming well-schooled in crime prevention, the chief added. Sixty neighborhood watch programs are organized and active in the city.
Fewer kids are also running away, said Nordfelt. Incidences of juvenile runaway's decreased 58 percent in one year, from 548 to 229.