Carbondale police, YouthZone iron things out
CARBONDALE, Colorado ” The Carbondale Police Department and YouthZone are back on the same page when it comes to the handling of juvenile arrest cases, according to Carbondale Police Chief Gene Schilling.
“I feel we have opened up the communication, and you will see us moving forward in a positive direction,” Schilling said following a YouthZone presentation at a Carbondale Board of Trustees work session Tuesday night.
The meeting was arranged after Schilling expressed concerns about YouthZone’s response to a crisis evaluation request by police when seven teenagers were arrested in a Jan. 29 gang-style assault and robbery case.
Schilling told town trustees on March 3 that the crisis worker who was on call at the time “refused” to respond when asked to help determine if some of the suspects should be sent to a juvenile detention facility instead of being turned over to their parents.
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YouthZone, a Glenwood Springs-based nonprofit youth services organization, is responsible under state law with providing crisis screening in such instances. The organization’s executive director, Debbie Wilde, said at the time that their response depends on the information provided by police.
A March 26 meeting between YouthZone staff and Carbondale police was beneficial in clearing the air about working relationships between the agencies and the various procedures that need to be followed.
“During this discussion, it became clear to me that all entities use their best judgment during an incident to ensure that the problems are dealt with effectively,” Carbondale Town Manager Tom Baker wrote in a memo to town board members.
Wilde said during Tuesday’s presentation that YouthZone’s primary emphasis is on the prevention end, through youth development programs, parent support classes, and coaching, counseling and mentoring programs.
The more costly aspect of its services, however, involves court referrals and crisis help for juveniles as spelled out by state juvenile justice laws, she said.
When police call for an evaluation, YouthZone will not do assessments over the phone, preferring to conduct them in person.
“We assess what their needs are based on behaviors, body language, attitude, how they talk to their parents, things like that,” Wilde said. If a particular case warrants that a juvenile be sent to detention, then a recommendation to that effect is made. Still, it’s up to a judge to make that determination.
The Ninth Judicial District, which includes Garfield, Pitkin and Rio Blanco counties, has five secure juvenile beds at a detention facility in Grand Junction, although others may be freed up if a particular case warrants it, Wilde said.
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