The Juvenile Intervention Program, started by the Baltimore Police Department in February, focuses on about 20 young boys accused of mostly minor offenses, says the Baltimore Sun. The teenagers were required to attend weekly Monday night sessions; to help with attendance, police commanders sent Police Athletic League vans to pick the boys up. The program is different from past efforts because of the broad exposure to different issues it gives the boys – and because some of the department’s officers were interacting with the offenders in nonconfrontational settings. Said Jim Green, the Police Department’s special-projects director: “The community doesn’t want to distance themselves from these kids. We’re trying to reach high-risk youths in a different way, by bringing them together in positive ways to do positive things.”
In one session, the boys and the officers engaged in “trust-building” and teamwork exercises, such as catching one another as they fell backward. Another time, they toured Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where many of the city’s gunshot victims are treated. In another session, the boys talked with relatives of victims of violence. The young offenders were ordered to participate in the program as part of probation. The program ended last week with a small graduation party. Of 20 initial participants, 13 attended each of the seven sessions and graduated – better than the minimum of 10 graduates that police had hoped to have. The department spent about $2,000 on the program – all from a discretionary account not funded by taxpayer dollars.