Portland police Sgt. Tony Passadore got “ticked off” when he’d run into youths causing trouble on the street, then learn they were on probation and violating their conditions. Calls to their probation officers wouldn’t result in immediate action. Police supervisors and prosecutors began to meet with juvenile justice officials to find a better way to hold these kids accountable and keep them from getting into further trouble, The Oregonian reports. They came up with Project Safe Streets. It started in February as a pilot program to target high-risk youth, and now police, prosecutors and juvenile justice leaders have agreed to extend it for one year, through June 2010.
The pilot gave a limited number of police supervisors the power to bring a youth to the Donald E. Long Juvenile Detention Center, if an officer had probable cause to believe the youth was violating probation. Kathy Brennan, who is in charge of juvenile custodies for the county and has worked in juvenile detention for more than 20 years, had her doubts. “As a social worker type, I was very worried handing carte blanche access to custodies to police,” she said. She also was concerned the police might unfairly target minorities. Now, she is one of the program’s biggest supporters. “This program works,” she said.