Task force panel discusses juvenile crime
Published: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 1:24 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 1:24 p.m.
Gainesville Police Chief Tony Jones announced that GPD has received a $25,000 grant to participate in the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Children's Law and Policy's Racial and Ethnic Disparities Reduction Project.
Jones made the announcement last Wednesday at the end of the June meeting of the Black on Black Crime Task Force, which featured a panel discussion about how to help young people succeed in school and avoid the juvenile justice system.
Jones said the grant will be used to cover costs associated with implementing strategies to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system.
Jones said GPD took the lead in writing the grant and will be assisted by the Alachua County Sheriff's Office and the School Board of Alachua County in reaching the goals of the grant.
"We applied for a disproportionate minority contact grant and we just got word two weeks ago that we were awarded that grant," said Jones as the more than 75 people attending the meeting applauded. Jones, who said it was the first time GPD has received a grant from the Center for Children's Law and Policy, said representatives from the organization will be coming to Gainesville within two weeks.
"These people are about results and follow-up and everybody in this room here is about the same thing," Jones said.
Before the announcement by Jones, the panelists shared their thoughts on how to combat juvenile crime and increase success in school among black youth.
The Rev. Freddie Hickmon, senior pastor of Miracle Temple Church in High Springs, said parents need to discipline their children and get them involved in church. He said children who are trained how to act in church and at home will act the same way in school and in public.
He also said he does not trust teenagers and has a hard time trusting some young adults.
"I don't trust teenagers," he said. "I might not trust them even when they grow up and finish college."
John Alexander, executive director of the Reichert House, an after-school program for male boys and teens, who served as the moderator of the panel discussion, posed several questions to the panel. One of the questions was why are black students suspended from school more than other students.
Jeff Parker, the football coach and the 11th- and 12th-grade dean at Eastside High School, said it is because of a lack of parent involvement.
"The reality is there is no push from home," Parker said. "Schools can't raise the kids. I've been in Alachua County for five years and this is a county-wide problem."
Alexander said juvenile crime is down by 40 percent since 2006 in Alachua County, adding that any juvenile crime is unacceptable.
"The fact that we have juvenile crime is too much," Alexander said. "We have too many kids in our courtrooms and only 30 percent of them might show up there with a parent."
The task force meets at 5:30 p.m. the first Wednesday of the month, usually in the Alachua County School Board Conference Room at the Kirby Smith Center on E. University Avenue.
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