Ohio law enforcement calls for change to juvenile justice system

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — After two stolen car crashes in Franklin County in just 48 hours, local law enforcement is calling for change at the community and criminal justice levels.

The 14-year-old driver in one of those crashes in Clinton Township was also involved in a deadly stolen car crash just two weeks ago.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office said that 14-year-old boy is facing a fourth-degree felony delinquency charge of receiving stolen property.

Jeff Simpson, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge Nine, said in order to put a stop to juvenile crimes, change will have to happen on multiple levels.

“Sometimes it takes the time it takes to do it right the first time, to send a message to discipline these kids appropriately within the law and you probably won’t see them back again if they have something to home and talk about with their parents and say ‘Whoa, I never want that again,’” Simpson said.

Simpson said according to Franklin County Court records, 75 percent of released juveniles become repeat offenders in just 55 days.

Simpson said it’s scary to see how many kids are involved in crime, let alone repeat offenders, and that officers are doing everything they can, but the job isn’t just up to them.

“There are simply no consequences for bad behavior,” Simpson said. “They are juveniles committing adult crimes. You watch those videos, and they are laughing. They are ramming those police vehicles with the guys that have the guns on their side. There is no respect for their own lives, there is no respect for the officers’ lives, and there is no respect for the citizens they would hurt. And that needs to stop.”

Mike Crispen, the Whitehall Police Chief and Franklin County Chiefs Association President, said these incidents involving children aren’t easy for his officers.

“You can see it change on their body cameras to one of empathy, caring, and one of, ‘You are going to be OK, you’re going to be OK,’” Crispen said. “They do care about them, and they wish they would quit doing this.”

Crispen said there are four levels to the criminal justice system: the police, the prosecutors, the judges, and corrections.

He believes in order to stop these crimes, the system needs to evolve.

“Everyone is trying to do what they can within this particular construct that we call the criminal justice system, but it is completely broken,” Crispen said. “There is really no way to fix it within that particular construct. We have to rethink criminal justice.”

Crispen said this isn’t going to be fixed right now;  it will take everyone coming together to talk and figure out the next moves.

Simpson said another big part in making this change will be the community members speaking out as well.