“As a lifelong Ramsey County resident, I care deeply about our county and the future of children. I have always and will continue to value youth and prioritize their well-being. The future of our communities is dependent on the success of our children.”
- Bob Fletcher
Prevention programs can help children succeed and keep adolescents away from crime. The Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office once led in the creation of youth crime prevention programs.
Unfortunately, the current sheriff’s administration has eliminated the youth crime prevention programs established under my previous time as sheriff. These programs included:
A literacy and athletics program that served at-risk children residing in public housing neighborhoods. This program provided the 40 key assets of healthy youth as identified by the Search Institute.
The Curfew and Truancy Centers. These centers served as an intervention to steer kids who were on the wrong path to the services and resources needed to keep them out of the criminal justice system.
An after-school program with ARTS-Us. The Sheriff’s Office helped staff this program that engaged youth to participate in physical and educational activities that taught self-expression and confidence.
Neighborhood Resource Centers. On Selby Avenue and Rice Street, neighborhood resource centers were available for those in need. The Sheriff’s Office hosted one center with Save Our Sons (SOS) to provide services and outreach to kids who had been in trouble with the law.
Summer field trips with at-risk youth. The Sheriff’s Office would actively seek and receive grants and outside funding to take inner city kids on field trips during school breaks when they may otherwise be home alone and unsupervised.
Sheriff’s Office staff also voluntarily coached several athletic teams. Training was provided to staff on a variety of community services available from government agencies, non-profits, and religious institutions so citizens could always get pointed in the right direction for services and help.
An indifference toward the success and future of children can have a lifetime of negative consequences. Public safety is a three-pronged strategy and crime prevention programs are critical in long-term crime reduction efforts. There are also cost savings associated with preventing youth from becoming involved in the criminal justice system. Preventing a youth from engaging in a life of crime reduces harm caused to everyone.
As Sheriff, I am committed to restoring prevention, early intervention, and educational programs for youth. To do this, we must make youth a priority and:
Start offering juvenile crime prevention programs. Starting on day one, the Sheriff’s Office will partner with schools, parents, and community organizations (including recreational centers, non-profits, and the faith community) as well as utilize data and research to implement structured youth crime prevention programs.
Support efforts to enhance the continuum of care for youth and families. Ramsey County is continuing to look at systems and processes that affect youth. The Sheriff’s Office will take an active role in these conversations and support efforts to improve prevention, early intervention, and wellness opportunities for all children and families.
Seek grants to fund youth programs. There is a cost to providing youth prevention and intervention services. Therefore, the Sheriff’s Office will seek public and private grant opportunities and partnerships. This will limit direct costs to taxpayers and allow the needs of youth to be met in a fiscally responsible and proactive manner. Within the first year, the Sheriff’s Office will secure at least $150,000 in grant funds to support children and their families.