Minneapolis is becoming more aggressive in its treatment of juvenile criminals, a policy change that attempts to address the city’s 19 percent increase in violent crime this year, reports the Star-Tribune. More than 150 chronic, sometimes violent teen offenders who have been arrested in the seven months since police formed a juvenile criminal apprehension unit, one of the first in the nation. Police have arrested 2,559 juveniles since May over truancy, petty crimes and curfew violations — more than double the tally last year.
Even before crime spiked, local officials were searching for new ways to deal with troubled teens. Some are studying juvenile justice makeovers in Portland and Chicago–places that now lock up fewer kids by figuring out which ones pose risks to society. “It is bigger than the Police Department,” said Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan. On Friday, the Minneapolis City Council declared youth violence a public health crisis requiring an ambitious community effort to steer kids away from gangs, guns and crime.