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Early Intervention, Early Rescue

A Juvenile Review Board was approved for Trumbull.

Social Worker Sharon Stoyer and Police Officer Doug Woods both work in Bridgeport and officers Bobby Burroughs and John Policano both work in Stratford. But their stories are the same.

They all deal with youths ages 9-16 charged with first-time, non-violent, non-serious crimes, and the officers want to see them avoid the court system through a Juvenile Review Board. They convinced the Trumbull Police Commission to create a panel too.

“I think it’s a great program. Juvenile court is overburdened. Let’s be real,” said Police Chief Thomas Kiely.

The review board, which would handle an estimated 25-30 cases a year, is especially useful for Trumbull because the panel reviews crimes including shoplifting. Trumbull has two malls.

The process starts with the child, said Stoyer, who manages the program, which is part of the Regional Youth Adult Substance Abuse Project (RYASAP).

"The child has to take responsibility for their actions," she said, adding that clients perform community service.

She recalled four boys who broke into a Bridgeport school gym to play basketball one Saturday. They all received community service and had to personally present letters of apology to the police chief in his office.

The punishments usually fit the crimes, such as performing community service in a store from which an item was stolen, Stoyer said.

Commission Member Anna Henry wondered about the program's effectiveness.

"Have most of the kids done well and not repeated?" she asked.

"I would say 92 percent tend to do better," Burroughs said.

One troublesome issue is truancy, which takes more time to address, he said.

The system works, added Woods. "[In] some of the kids I've seen a remarkable change. This is a very good tool," he said.

Bridgeport's and Stratford's boards have about 30 members each, ranging in background from business owners to teachers and ex-offenders, officials said. They meet once a week with about five members depending on the nature of the charges, Stoyer said.

All the police officers said they are school resource officers who deal with juveniles daily.

The next step is to set up the board, which could take as much as a year. Commissioners said they were thinking about asking the to participate.

"If you catch them early enough, we have a very good success rate," Woods said.

Tom Kelly February 20, 2011 at 05:53 PM
I think this is a great program and glad to see it coming to Trumbull. If it makes the difference in the life of one person, it's well worth it.
Cindy Penkoff February 20, 2011 at 08:46 PM
Tom, I agree whole heartedly. Sometimes this is all it will take to change the direction of a child where the court system can be scarry and sometimes make the problem worse. There has to be consequences for inappropriate behavior, but many times the legal system doesn't have those options and is restricted to extremes.
Magda Lowenberg February 21, 2011 at 10:36 PM
I agree that this program will come in handy over the next few years. With all these budget cuts coming down hill from our representatives (i.e Washington & Hartford) and of course our own small town politican's budget cuts, it seems that our children are part of the new buzz word "shared sacrifice" and with all these educational cuts, it is reassuring to know that a program such as this will be in place to help Trumbull children in the future.
Cindy Penkoff February 21, 2011 at 11:22 PM
That is by far the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Yes let's blame budget cuts for the bad behavior of children with perectly good parents. Why don't we just elliminate all personal responsibility? WOW.
Magda Lowenberg February 22, 2011 at 12:08 AM
I am not sure what you mean by WOW?, but ok. I am amazed at the fact that a town BOF alternate is allowed to comment on citizen's posts calling them ridiculious and would have expected a professional response from someone who service the town. Have a splendid night:)
Cindy Penkoff February 22, 2011 at 12:33 AM
I'm not sure by what you mean "allowed". I am a private citizen and my comment has nothing to do with the BOF. And even if it did, no one decides what I may or may comment on. Or any other boards members for that matter. WOW equates to one of the most far reaching of associations making no sense and devoiding people of person responsibility I have ever seen. That is wanting to lash out at the administration in a very desperate way and blame them for just about anything that may go wrong in the future. Parents are responsible for their children behavior. Not budget cuts. I hope that clarifies WOW for you.
Magda Lowenberg February 22, 2011 at 12:47 AM
Thanks for the speedy response. No worries! Your responses and comments clarify alot:)
Patty Sheehan February 22, 2011 at 03:49 AM
I kind of get what you mean Magda. Less funding all over the state, so fewer after school programs or extra-curricular activities to keep kids busy and involved. Parents who may both have to work to make ends meet, kids with free time on their hands and perhaps a parent not around for a couple of hours...mischief happens. So it's good there will be a fall back for kids who may be at risk to really derail.
mary isaac February 22, 2011 at 08:35 PM
Additionally, relating this to the our own budget situation, the superintendent and BOE have plainly said that a cut of this magnitue to the TPS system will be felt in many areas - this may include specialists such as the intervention counselors at the middle and high school amongst other important staff members that work with students "at risk" or who need the help of these professionals.
Patty Sheehan February 22, 2011 at 11:34 PM
Perhaps that's part of the "shared sacrifice" we've been hearing be bandied about lately....

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