We all create the person we become by our choices as we go through life. In a real sense, by the time we are adults, we are the sum total of the choices we have made.
-- Eleanor Roosevelt
To help combat the problem of harmful youthful behavior, the Floral Park Police Department has developed the Setting Adolescent Values through Education and Deterrence (SAVED) Program. The intent of this program is to prevent adolescents from involving themselves in destructive behavior. The program is based on three principles:

Accountability: The foundation of the program is accountability. Often, unlawful and destructive behavior of juveniles and adolescents is either considered too trivial to initiate official police action against, or offending youths have their parents advised of such behavior with the anticipation they will take proper corrective action. Being that some parents have difficulty controlling their children's behavior, or are frankly poor parents, some problematic youths are never held accountable for their actions. The problem is aggravated when police, unaware of a youth's problematic history, might be unlikely to follow-up on minor infractions committed by such youths. The child learns that delinquent behavior has little or no consequences, and may be more likely to repeat such behavior, or commit more serious offenses. Therefore, not only must the adolescent be held accountable for targeted behavior, but parents and the police department must ensure that they have taken necessary steps to prevent an "at risk" youth from becoming a casualty of their own poor choices. As "young starters" are the most likely to be recidivists, it is important to maintain databases that track the history of problematic youths. According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) comprehensive strategy, risk assessment tools "should be employed to determine the most appropriate sanction for each youth" . Each youth must be treated as an individual, and when dealing with them the following should be taken into consideration:

1. The type of offense committed;
2. Past criminal or delinquent behavior;
3. The effectiveness of previous interventions; and
4. An assessment of special treatment, counseling, or training needs

Education: Through educational programs coordinated with the local schools through our School Resource Officer, the Floral Park Police Department aims to bridge the gap between youth and police through presentations that not only instructs them on how to avoid common pitfalls typically faced by adolescents, but also establishes a rapport and opens up a dialogue with this group. Parents are also advised through the school PTA about various laws that effect them and their children such as the Nassau County Social Host Law. It is the goal of the police department that through education, "at risk" adolescents will be made aware of all consequences for their poor choices, legal, social, mental and physical. The objective being to have as many youths steer away from harmful or destructive behavior by giving them information to make better choices.

Deterrence: However, knowing that some youths will ultimately still involve themselves in destructive behavior, efforts will be made to identify adolescents that are at risk of involvement with such conduct, and to take appropriate and effective corrective action should such associated actions come to the attention of the police. The program aims to develop a systematic program related to the collection and analysis of accurate data regarding police interaction with juveniles and adolescents, sharing information and cooperating with local schools, and parents, in an effort to better prevent harmful youthful behavior by identifying potential problem individuals and taking corrective action prior to such behavior escalating into criminal or destructive activity. With this in place, types of activity can be prioritized and progressive steps of intervention instituted. Those committing more serious actions, and individuals exhibiting chronic patterns of problematic behavior, would be given a weighted response fitting both the individual and the conduct, these may include:

1. Parental notification
2. Meeting with parents
3. Notification and involvement of school officials
4. Holding irresponsible parents accountable for juvenile's actions, when possible
5. Filing of PINS Petition
6. Walk-through of arrest conducted with problem youth
7. Custodialization or arrest of the juvenile or youth, with consideration of referral to Youth Court based on seriousness of the offense, and the youth's prior history.

As the program develops, the goal is to have the police department, working in partnership with school officials and parents, to act more as first preventers rather than first responders. The Floral Park Police Department will continue to monitor youth activity in the village. With youth related crime such as acts involving criminal mischief and graffiti down significantly from their record levels, it is a high priority of the department to remain vigilant in this area and to continually monitor the effectiveness of the program.

It is well known that juvenile and adolescent criminal activity is a serious challenge facing the law enforcement community throughout the country. News reports are filled with stories regarding violent crime arrests of juveniles, the proliferation of gangs, drug and alcohol abuse, and juvenile victims of crimes and abuse (especially involving internet harassment). It is statistically well established that among all males, the probability for violent behavior begins to rise after age 8, peaks at about age 17, and begins to level off again after age 24. The village of Floral Park, though far from the crisis levels facing many less fortunate communities, is neither immune nor without symptoms related to these issues.
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