Monday, October 20, 2003

Good News

Police-youth partnership

We read plenty of stories about young people and crime and lives gone wrong. So we're pleased to tell you about a new partnership that's helping save some Cincinnati young people from that fate by intervening at the first signs of trouble.

The idea started with Col. Richard Biehl of the Cincinnati Police Department. Six years ago, he was introduced to a Boston program designed to reduce juvenile crime with early intervention by police and the social service system working together.

Four years ago, Col. Biehl and Bob Mecum, executive director of Lighthouse Youth Services, began working to make it happen in Cincinnati.

It finally was launched in May this year, starting as an experiment in Cincinnati Police Districts One and Four, which have high juvenile crime rates. Youths who are arrested and released to a parent or guardian without prosecution and who had no other delinquency charges against them, are referred directly to Lighthouse Youth Services.

Then a Lighthouse case manager and a Cincinnati Police officer go unannounced to the youth's home. They offer mentors, job placements, school representation and other services to help the youth stay out of the juvenile justice system and get on the right track. They encourage the youth's family to participate in helping. But it's all strictly voluntary.

The police on the street often are the first to see situations that can be linked immediately with local social service helpers.

In fewer than five months, this partnership program has received more than 300 referrals.

Lighthouse leaders say community support is also growing for the effort. More local merchants are contacting Lighthouse when they have job openings for either youths or their parents.

It's encouraging to see such teamwork by different people who are all committed to helping young people choose a positive path in life.

For more information, call Sharon Schnelle at Lighthouse at (513) 487-7102.

Good News: 'Outsider art:' Embracing difference
Good News: Police-youth partnership
Readers' Views