Tracking trouble |

Tracking trouble

Crisis team sees rise in serious juvenile crime

Although the number of juveniles in a local justice program fell in 2005, the crimes that landed the juveniles in the program were more serious, officials said.

For the Moffat County Crisis Intervention and Community Evaluation Team, the increase in serious juvenile crimes — such as assaults and drug violations — meant an increase in the team’s workload.

The team works with the courts to keep tabs on juvenile offenders who are awaiting trial. It also brings children to area detention facilities for Craig police.

The five-person team is on call 24 hours a day for families with emergencies, such as runaways and out-of-control children.

The number of cases the team handled fell in 2005 compared with the previous year. But because of the seriousness of the crimes, the team’s workload grew, said Kelly Updike-Goodwin, the team’s director.

This year, the group handled 122 calls, compared with 137 in 2004, or about a 10 percent decrease.

The team’s workload inc–reased in its youth-tracking program, Updike-Goodwin said.

While juveniles await trial, team members check in on them through the program.

The team handled 31 juveniles in the tracking program this year, down from 35 last year.

But despite the decrease in the number of juveniles in the program, the amount of hours team members spent on the program grew substantially, Updike-Goodwin said.

Because more of the juveniles in the program were there for serious crimes such as drug offenses and assaults, team members had to check on them more frequently, Updike-Goodwin said.

Instead of talking to juveniles three or four times a day to make sure they’re going to school and staying out of trouble, team members checked on them seven or eight times a day.

Team members checked on the juveniles more because their crimes are becoming more serious, Updike-Goodwin said.

Drug violations, assaults and criminal mischief charges have replaced lesser charges such as petty theft, Updike-Goodwin said.

Methamphetamine use among juveniles also is more common, she said.

Craig police Chief Walt Vanatta said he doesn’t doubt that the number of juveniles involved in serious crimes is on the rise.

The Crisis Intervention and Community Evaluation Team has been particularly helpful for the police department in the past year with juveniles who need to go to detention, Vanatta said.

When juveniles need to be detained, the team places them in a detention center for police.

Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or

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