Scott County plans to add Juvenile Assessment Center to help fight crime

Scott County leaders hope to build a “one stop shop” juvenile assessment center that could provide long term solutions while fighting juvenile crime.

DAVENPORT, Iowa - Leaders in Scott County say a new center could help tackle the issue of juvenile crime in the Quad City area.

After months of research and assessment, Davenport Mayor Frank Klipsch  led a press conference announcing new plans that leaders hope will bring long-term solutions to the issue of teens stealing cars, among other issues with juvenile crime.

Now, a "one stop shop" juvenile assessment center is an idea that leaders hope will provide long term solutions.

It has two purposes.

The first will be to reduce the burden on law enforcement by speeding up court process and helping to get officers out of court and back on the street faster after an arrest is made.

The second purpose focuses on more preventative measures. These measures include providing resources that can be used to intervene with bad habits and concerning behavior in any young person, even if they have not yet committed a crime. The goal is to help school districts, parents, and police step in before kids even enter the justice system.

Juvenile crime in Davenport

During the press conference, it was stated several times that juvenile crime is actually down 32% in the community since 2013. Still, officials acknowledged that detention centers are full and car thefts are actually up 212%.

Both the mayor, and the police chief also acknowledged the dangerous cycle kid criminals often get stuck in.

"Many kids just don't have any hope." said Klipsch. "They don't have resources, they don't have role models, they don't have strong influences in their life to give them an alternative (to the criminal lifestyle)."

Often the kids are caught in a costly game of catch and release. Kids caught stealing cars are arrested, and then released and back on the streets - only to get caught again.

"In many cases, we have found and heard from both the judges and the police as well, that (the kids) may cause four or five more crimes while they're waiting to face the accountability they need to face in the long run."

In Scott County, these crimes are already taken very seriously. Any person who steals a car is charged with a felony and must face a judge.

"If we don't get in there and offer these youth something that they can walk away with, and that they can feel like its their ticket back into society, then we will be having (a meeting about fighting juvenile crime) again in 10 or 20 years," said Scott Hobart, Director of Juvenile Court Services.

"It starts today," said Klipsch. "More importantly, continues today."

All of these efforts are to cut crime and save the futures of the kids who will, someday, become the future of the Quad Cities.