Blog | October 16, 2019

After School: Still the Prime Time for Juvenile Crime in Michigan

Afterschool Fights Crime in Michigan

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 Michigan

2 to 6pm: Still the Prime Time for Juvenile Crime in Michigan

In Michigan, juvenile crime peaks between 2-6 p.m. on school days, with about 27 percent of all juvenile crime on those days occurring during the hours following the last school bell.

Program Highlight: Police Athletic League, Detroit

The Detroit Police Athletic League (PAL) works in partnership with the Detroit Police Department to bring afterschool and summer programming to more than 14,000 children each year. The program is a priority of Chief James Craig, who has seen how effective such programs can be in reducing crime in targeted areas. Him and his team understand the connection between youth self esteem, staying active, and being successful in school. The Detroit PAL aims to invest in that self esteem. The program primarily consists of large athletic and leadership programs to develop character. But it also includes programs like “Team Up” in which police officers teach a class on critical thinking, time management, and empathy. A tenet of the program is the belief that music and sports can bring all kids together. Often, these programs lead to others, like robotics. They even bring parents to the table and get them more involved in their child’s success. All of these activities strive to bridge the gap between law enforcement and community.

As Chief, I support high-quality afterschool programming because of the many proven outcomes for at-risk youth. To continue Detroit’s success, we need to invest in our children, and give them the tools needed to succeed as adults.

Fight Crime: Invest in Kids member James Craig, Detroit Chief of Police

To make all of this possible, the department adopted a middle school in Detroit and brings together police officers, religious leaders, and other youth programs. School districts often have a tough time funding these kinds of programs and PAL has been able to step in to provide accessible services when other community centers close. They have seen much success. In one case, attendance increased over 65% for children who were not succeeding. And for some middle schoolers who were previously struggling academically, over 20 were recently accepted into premier high schools in the city. Routinely, Deputy Chief Bettison says that he sees more kids staying in school, improving their grades, and generally having more hope and direction for their future. One factor that sets this program apart is how the police department is able to provide officers to participate daily, which leads to greater respect for the police.

We need to invest in programs like the Detroit Police Athletic League because of their proven ability to reduce crime and improve students’ behavior, academic performance, and graduation rates. As a law enforcement leader, I view this as critical.

Fight Crime: Invest in Kids member Todd Bettison, Detroit Police Deputy Chief

Program Highlight: Our Community’s Children, Grand Rapids

In Grand Rapids, Michigan, close to 2,500 students attend an Our Community’s Children (OCC) Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELO) endorsed afterschool program. Through the various programs, students have the ability to connect with nature through an equity lens, gain presentation and leadership skills speaking directly to leaders in the community about issues relevant to them, and immerse themselves in experiential learning opportunities to prepare them for college and the workforce, such as interview practice, site visits to local businesses and colleges, and resume and cover letter writing workshops. OCC was established in 1998, growing out of recommendations from a Child Well-Being Task Force that was set up in 1995, and is a public/private partnership between the City of Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Public Schools, and community partners.

Less than 1 percent of students engaged in Our Community’s Children ELO endorsed program have been the subject of a police report.

Based on data collected from the Grand Rapids Police Department, students engaged in OCC’s ELO endorsed afterschool programs are staying out of trouble with law enforcement. Among these students, less than 1 percent (.1 percent) came to the attention of the police through a police report. Additionally, students participating in an ELO endorsed afterschool program were much less likely to be chronically absent from school compared to non-ELO participating students, with 8.2 percent of students participating in an ELO program chronically absent from school compared to 17.7 percent of their non-participating peers.


  1. Michigan