To Stem Juvenile Robberies, Police Trail Youths Before the Crime

New York City has launched an exciting new program for reducing juvenile crime, built around the radical community-police approach pioneered by the Center for Crime Prevention and Control. The Center’s efforts have been hugely effective when targeted at gun violence and drug markets. Now N.Y.P.D. Housing Bureau Chief Joanne Jaffe has turned to them to address juvenile robbery.

New York’s Juvenile Robbery Intervention Program (J-RIP) focuses on “essentially staging interventions and force-feeding outreach” to young, group-involved offenders in the city’s most crime-stricken neighborhoods. Like the Center’s group violence reduction strategy (“Operation Ceasefire”), J-RIP both targets ongoing violence and intervenes to deter it. The program promises strict sanctions for future robbery offenses, and backs this up with tailored help from officers in the teenagers’ home and school lives, providing them real alternatives to criminal activity.

But, most importantly, the program seeks to reverse the toxic cycle of distrust between law enforcement and community members. Lieutenant David Glassberg, who runs J-RIP in Brooklyn, says that “he saw an opportunity to break the trajectory of those born into poverty and neglect, and winding up behind bars before their 18th birthday,” the New York Times reports.

J-RIP is a strong step toward allying police and community on this goal. Says David Kennedy, “I’m not aware of any police department nationally coming up with the same strategy or replicating what the N.Y.P.D. has done here.”