Authored by Kari Larsen, Youth Services Juvenile Receiving Center – F.A.S.T. Case Manager and Carol Hendrycks, Youth Services Communications 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.
On March 2, 2017 Youth Services hosted its annual law enforcement luncheon and heard from keynote speaker U.P.D. Chief Jason Mazuran. His message to over 30 attendees and Youth Services staff was that of that of being an example of approachable, kind and offer best customer service practices. He explained that people remember kindness and being genuine in every or any situation. And as a youth he experienced wonderful examples of kindness from family members and friends. When he decided to become an officer it was those great examples that he carries out into the workplace and has contributed to a successful career. He encouraged officers to remember this as they build relationships and trust out in the community.
We also heard from guest speaker Moises Prospero, who is a research consultant, youth advocate and member of the advisory board for Magna/Kearns Youth Peer Court. Speaking with him was Ricky Vigil, SLCo Youth Services Afterschool Program Coordinator who also serves with Moises and talked about how peer court serves as early intervention, diverts youth from juvenile court and youth panels provide guidance to youth participants. Peer Court is based on restorative justice and helps youth learn accountability, teaches youth the value of community services and helps with skill development.
JD Green, SLCo Youth Services Crisis Shelter Care Program Manager also spoke to the audience. He oversees the Juvenile Receiving Center (JRC) and helps with outreach 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.
Youth Services also offers prevention classes to youth and families. Officers are encouraged to make referrals to youth and families who are looking to strengthen their families by learning better communication skills and for youth who want to improve their social skills when it comes to self esteem and anger management. Cycles of free classes are available for free. Please call Youth Services for class schedule to sign up.
Youth Services is proud and grateful for the close relationships that we have with our local law enforcement and community youth advocates. Please take time out of your day to thank them, especially 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.