After School: Still the Prime Time for Juvenile Crime in Arizona
Afterschool Fights Crime in Arizona
The more than 5,000 law enforcement leaders around the nation who are members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, have long known that the hours immediately after school lets out, when parents are likely not available to supervise, are the prime time for juvenile crime. Over the past 20 years, law enforcement leaders across the country have relied on high-quality afterschool programs to provide supportive, stable, and enriching environments with caring adults that keep children and youth out of trouble and safe, while supporting their academic success, and social and emotional development.
The Prime Time for Juvenile Crime in Arizona
In Arizona, juvenile crime peaks from 2 to 6 p.m. on school days, with about 25 percent of all juvenile crime on those days occurring during the hours following the last school bell.
Program Highlight: DRAGG, Phoenix
It all started with a 2006 Mustang, decked out to look like the Oxnard Police Department patrol cars. Through their work with the Police Department in Oxnard, California, Sergeants Charles Woodruff and Dan Shrub had recognized the need for positive mentors for youth in their community and decided to take action. Woodruff and Shrub obtained permission from the local school district, found funding and volunteer instructors, and opened a shop up to house an afterschool program called Drag Racing Against Gangs and Graffiti (DRAGG).
Nearly 9 years later, at-risk youth participate in the program twice a week, for three hours a day, learning anything from basic automotive repair to creative car customization through hands-on experiences, special guests, presentations, and field trips to local body shops or racing events. This model was so successful while Jeri Williams was Chief of Police in Oxnard that she decided to bring the program with her when she was hired as the Phoenix Police Chief. Based at Trevor Brown High School, DRAGG-Phoenix has been in operation since 2017. Students attend the program twice a week, for three hours a day, learning about the different aspects of the automotive industry alongside supportive mentors from the Phoenix Police Department and local automotive professionals.
This model was so successful while Jeri Williams was Chief of Police in Oxnard that she decided to bring the program with her when she was hired as the Phoenix Police Chief.
The main goal, according to program co-founder Charles Woodruff, is really exposure and mentorship: the automotive skills the teens learn are important, but more so are the opportunities to develop professional skills they will need regardless of the field they enter and the support systems they form through positive connections with adults who are committed and invested in their wellbeing. The one-on-one connection with youth is beneficial for the officers as well, reflects Woodruff, giving law enforcement a deeper connection with the community they are working in and the chance to make a personal, tangible impact in some of those community members’ lives. “Yes, the cool mustang gets the attention of kids, but it’s when you get them in the classroom after school that you can really start to teach them, and that’s when you can really make a difference.”
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