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Lansing police chief says juvenile arrests are declining partly due to youth engagement programs

Posted at 9:39 AM, Jun 30, 2022

LANSING, Mich. — Lansing officials say the number of juvenile arrests in the city has been declining over the last few years and there are a number of factors contributing to the downward trend.

"What we've seen since 2018 is a slight decrease in our juvenile arrests and offenses. I think some of the reasoning behind that is that some of our youth engagement is working,” said Lansing Police Chief Ellery Sosebee.

In 2018, the juvenile arrest count was 196. That number dropped down to 130 in 2019.

In 2020, the juvenile arrest count was down to 88, and last year, it dropped to 73.

Sosebee says there's no magic formula for combating youth arrests and violence in the city, but a police program that puts officers into schools and teaches kids about avoiding gangs and other pitfalls seems to be making a difference.

"We've been back out in the community since COVID at events. We're back into the schools. Our GREAT program is back into the high schools and lower level grades too," Sosebee said. "Like we've said before, we want to be the violence interruption before it happens."

The chief says his department is also looking at how some surrounding cities handle interactions with young people, and what kinds of programming they have in place as alternatives to making arrests.

He's working with the Board of Police Commissioners to research the issue and hopes to present his findings soon.

"We've all been there. We've all made bad decisions. Are we affording them the opportunity they deserve for that mulligan to not go down the wrong road and to give them some guidance and leadership instead of just arresting them,” said Sosebee.

FOX 47 News also reached out to the board for comment on the decline in juvenile arrests, but we haven't received a response.

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Tianna Jenkins

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