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Seattle's Effective Strategy for Prosecuting Juvenile Firearm Offenders

NCJ Number
178901
Date Published
Author(s)
Scales, B., Baker, J.
Annotation
This Bulletin details successful strategies implemented by the Seattle Police Department (Washington) and the King County Prosecutor's Office (Washington) that improved the effectiveness of both the police investigation and the prosecution of juvenile firearm offenders.
Abstract
In 1994 the Washington State Legislature enacted a new law that makes it a felony for anyone under the age of 18 to own, possess, or control a firearm of any kind in Washington State. The law also increased the severity of consequences for gun-related crimes committed by youth. Following the passage of this law, the Seattle Police Department (SPD) and the King County Prosecutor's Office announced the implementation of the SPD Youth Handgun Violence Initiative (YHVI), a coordinated enforcement and prosecution effort to remove guns from the hands of Seattle's youth. YHVI activities include the establishment of School Enforcement Teams. All SPD personnel working in schools were organized by precinct to work in unison with school district administrators and security staff to develop enforcement projects as needed for identified "hotspots." Grant funds were used to purchase software and hardware for a new Crime Analysis System to provide youth crime targeting, mapping, and tracking capabilities and to support the activities of the School Enforcement Teams. The King County Prosecutor's Office focused on youthful offenders involved in weapons cases, creating a baseline database for tracking juvenile gun crime cases. SPD and the King County Department of Youth Services share information to improve the tracking of chronic juveniles offenders. In September 1996, representatives of SPD and the King County Prosecutor's Office implemented the new YHVI deputy prosecuting attorney (DPA) position in juvenile court, who is dedicated exclusively to the prosecution of juveniles who commit crimes using firearms. The DPA helps to ensure that juvenile firearm offenders are held fully accountable for their crimes. The strategies of the YHVI have proven highly effective in improving the prosecution of juvenile firearm cases. 6 figures and 9 references
Date Created: August 17, 2003