Arrests Down for Columbia Minors But Still Make Up 25 Percent
COLUMBIA - According to numbers from the Missouri State Highway Patrol Statistical Analysis Center, crime rates for males 18 and under in Columbia decreased since 2011.The number of arrests fell to 821, from more than a thousand back in 2011.
Columbia Police Sergeant Joseph Bernhard said while the number decreased, those arrests are not a small factor.
"I think our crime rates for juveniles have generally gone down, but that's still the biggest category," Bernhard said.
Numbers showed even children under 10 years old in Columbia were arrested in 2013 for anything from theft to non-aggravated assault. In the past year alone 45 children under 10 were arrested, 23 of which were simple non-aggravated assaults.
Both males and females 18 and under in Columbia made up 24.6 percent of the total arrests. The males themselves contributed to more than 16 percent of the total arrests. That's much more than the females their age. Females 18 and under contributed to about 34 percent of the arrests their age.
Deronne Wilson, the vice president of operations for the Boys and Girls Club of the Columbia Area, was surprised by the numbers, but said he sees how males would be arrested more.
"So many of our males have so much adrenaline and it's not always positive," Wilson said. "Sometimes it's negative, or negative emotions, that they're so impulsive that they just react and don't always think about the consequences."
The five highest categories of arrest for males ages 18 and under were theft, non-aggravated assault, possession of marijuana, runaways under 18, and an all other offenses category. Bernhard said the all other offenses category is an arrest that doesn't fall directly in one of the other 37 categories.
Cindy Garrett, chief juvenile officer for the Boone County Juvenile Office said the goal is to decrease the number of arrests, even though some arrests are inevitable.
"You'll always have people that make poor decisions and are going to be arrested. I think that's reality. That's why law enforcement's out there," Garrett said. "Do I think it's a goal that we should keep decreasing? Absolutely, and I think that's the whole point of trying to make sure we have the right programs available for the kids."
Wilson said providing a support system for youth in Columbia to prevent things such as arrests is a priority. He said he hopes the community can come together to find new ways to keep lowering the number of arrests.
"The community needs to talk about what can be done, to help our youth, to keep them off the streets to keep them on a positive track, and to provide positive role models for them," Wilson said. "I think it's a combination of the community, the schools, and then of course after school programs like the Boys and Girls Club all working together."
To see a full report of arrests for any particular year, you can visit the Uniform Crime Reporting Statistical Analysis Website.