Authored by Kari Larsen, Youth Services Juvenile Receiving Center – F.A.S.T. Case Manager
Salt Lake County Youth Services works closely with local law enforcement and specifically with the Salt Lake County’s Sherriff’s Department. Youth Services appreciates its close partnership with the Sheriff’s Department. Every day of the week there is an officer from the Sherriff’s Department on location at Youth Services. The role of this officer is to help maintain the peace and keep all youth, staff, volunteers, and members of the committee safe. The officer is on location from 3:00pm until 11:00pm at our North Office/Main Campus. These are typically the busiest hours at Youth Services as group home youth are back from school, groups are being held throughout the campus, and other youth in the community are coming home from school which can lead to conflicts within the family if it was a bad school day, and then they too end up at Youth Services. The Sherriff’s Department officer does more than keep the peace. The officer on location, whoever he or she may be, interacts with the youth in non-crisis moments to help build rapport and trust for when those crisis moments do arise. Moments of escalation can easily be defused if there is established trust between the officer and the youth.
The Juvenile Receiving Center (JRC) interacts multiple times a day with School Resource Officers or SROs. There is an SRO assigned to every school in Salt Lake County. Sometimes these officers may cover several schools at any one time. SROs are present to help support school personnel as needed and keep our school safe. The JRC will often see SROs come through the doors when a student has been disruptive to the learning process at a school and a parent cannot be found, or is unable to pick the student up from school at that time; usually due to work. The SRO will bring the student to the JRC in his or her squad car. The JRC has established a quick intake process for the SRO so he or she can quickly get back to the school(s) they are assigned to serve and protect. The JRC will then conduct a secondary and more thorough intake and work on getting in touch with the parent(s) or legal guardian(s) and arrange a pick up time that is more conducive to their schedule. The JRC staff is also afforded the opportunity at that time to offer crisis counseling, make referrals for long term counseling, and get youth on waiting lists for prevention groups. Some typical reasons that a SRO may bring a student in to the JRC are, but not limited to: fighting, destruction of property, acting out in the classroom, drug possession, possession of drug paraphernalia, truancy, possession of tobacco, etc. Sometimes these youth are formally charged and will have to go before a judge and other times they are not.
The JRC is also involved with local law enforcement is with patrol officers through the Sheriff’s Department, Unified Police Department, and other local city departments. These officers are the ones that are called to homes for ungovernable or out of control youth. These are officers who are called for assistance when a youth is caught shoplifting, trespassing, intoxicated, or are involved in any other delinquent or illegal behavior. Just as with the SROs, the patrol officers have a quick intake to complete at the JRC so they can be back on the road and keeping our communities safe.
With the rest of the community, Youth Services is saddened by the recent loss of Officer Doug Barney. Officer Barney served as a SRO for Eisenhower Jr High before taking time off to battle cancer. He then joined the Unified Police Department when he was well enough to return back to work. There is no doubt that Officer Barney had come through the JRC doors at some point at time and we were privileged to meet and know him. Youth Services is also very proud of another officer recently in the news: Officer Brandon Sulich of Unified Police Department. Officer Sulich was assigned to work at Youth Services through the Sherriff’s Department until about a year ago when he left to join Unified Police Department. Officer Sulich was on his way to Officer Barney’s funeral when he heard a call come in over the radio. He was not on duty but he was nearby and instinctively went to a home that was on fire. Officer Sulcih was in the process of assisting an elderly couple out of the burning home when West Valley City officers who were covering that area for the day arrived on scene. They were surprised to see him there and already helping. Officer Sulich can be seen leaving the scene on police video camera as soon as the couple was out of the burning home and in the hands of other first responders. Officer Sulich still made it to the funeral on time.
Youth Services is proud and grateful for the close relationships that we have with our local law enforcement. Please take time out of your day to thank our men and women in uniform for the excellent service they provide in keeping our campus safe and our communities protected. For more information about Salt Lake County Youth Services please call 385-468-4500.