Two recent crimes by juveniles in the Omaha area have a lot of people worried: first, a group of teenagers carjacked a grandmother’s car in the Goodwill parking lot near 72nd and Ames, attacked her, sped off, crashed the car, crashed into several other vehicles, and ultimately several people had to go to the hospital. Three suspects were arrested: ages 18, 14 and 14.
Then last week, a 17-year-old Ralston High School student shot four times at a Nebraska State Patrol trooper during a 90-mph car chase in a stolen car in western Douglas County. It took the law enforcement helicopter to catch him, only to find out that he had been in Juvenile Court on mostly the same charges just last October.
It does appear that we have an ineffective revolving door shuffling juvenile offenders between ineffective juvenile courtrooms, ineffective alternative school classrooms, and intervention programs that don’t successfully, well, intervene.
It is obvious that our public schools are not equipped to handle the educational needs of teenagers who are doing crimes of that magnitude. It makes you wonder how much good, if any, is being done for these kids in the alternative schools in Omaha, or what kind of return on investment we are getting from the numerous nonprofit and governmental programs operating in the area in an attempt to keep kids away from crime and violence.
It would be great if educators and education advocates could attend meetings such as the 10 a.m. March 6 one coming up in Grand Island at the Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center, 3600 N. Academy Road. There, the Nebraska Commission on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice will hold a Crime Commission Funding Panel.
That’s where questions should be asked, and answers given, before much more money is distributed, as a matter of public safety, and in the name of improving the way we respond to juvenile crime more effectively in Nebraska.