This summer, two initiatives led by Tippecanoe County’s Juvenile Court will emphasize the importance of interactions between authority figures and youth in our community.
The first initiative is Community Policing, a concept based on building relationships to encourage active participation in community safety. The initiative involves off-duty law enforcement officers from the Lafayette Police Department visiting neighborhoods throughout the city just to engage with youth and families. Captain Kurt Wolf of the Lafayette Police Department states, “We are looking forward to just dropping by to talk to kids and families in non-crisis situations. This will provide us an opportunity to build relationships. Ultimately, we want kids to learn to run to us, not from us. That step alone will improve outcomes for everyone.”
Teaching the Teen Brain, the second initiative, resulted from a collaborative meeting between juvenile justice professionals, school officials, and other community members. Dr. Brandie Oliver, Assistant Professor in School Counseling of Butler University, developed a training curriculum focused on adolescent brain development, the impact of trauma, and strategies to strengthen brain development. The initiative is funded by United Way. Lafayette School Corporation and Tippecanoe School Corporation educators will attend the first Teaching the Teen Brain training on August 7th learning interventions and methods of engaging youth based on the adolescent brain. Additional sessions will be offered throughout the year.
These initiatives derive from Tippecanoe County’s involvement with the overarching Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) funded through the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute and the Department of Correction. JDAI is a statewide juvenile justice reform effort. Tippecanoe County is one of three early JDAI pilot sites in Indiana. Tippecanoe County’s involvement has resulted locally in a 56% reduction in secure detention admissions from 2010 through 2014 while continuing to maintain community safety as evidenced by a corresponding 20% decrease in juvenile arrests during that same time frame. Further financial support for these programs has been provided by Jessie's Kids Foundation.