Seattle Police Detective Nick Bauer attributes a lighter juvenile crime caseload this summer to a push by police and prosecutors to focus time and resources on the county’s most prolific juvenile offenders, reports the Seattle Times. King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said the High Impact Offender Unit targets juveniles with the greatest number of arrests to ensure their cases are handled aggressively in court. Satterberg said the program is modeled after the agency’s highly successful crackdown on car thieves.
Police and prosecutors so far have targeted about 30 youths. Several have received the harshest juvenile sentence possible – incarceration until they turn 21. “While it seems we are being tough on the kids, it’s a bit of tough love,” Satterberg said. “It gives the community a break from an out-of-control teenage criminal.” The program aids cooperation beteen police and prosecutors. “There has always been an imaginary barrier between prosecutors and street cops,” Bauer said. “It was just habit. Now the High Impact Offender program has opened communication.” The Governor’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee says juvenile arrests across the state have declined more than 30 percent over the past decade. State authorities say there is no evidence that the High Impact Officer Unit has played any role in the overall decline in juvenile crime. “We believe Washington, for several years, has developed alternative ways of responding to juvenile criminal behavior,” said advisory committee Chairman Paul Holland. “Nobody can claim any direct link between any program and any decline.”