COLUMBUS (WCMH) – As crime among teenagers rises, so does the concern from Columbus Police, but a group of judges is speaking out this week about Operation Game Over, an initiative the department announced weeks ago aimed at catching and stopping these teens, saying it might not be the best approach.
It’s now been two weeks since police have launched the initiative, which is a group effort between central Ohio police departments working to catch and stop these teens, which police said are divided into three groups of about 40 teenagers.
The groups are suspected of several crimes from car thefts to snatching purses.
“We don’t care if we get caught in Franklin Co. because we’re just going to get out and do it again,” said Columbus Police Commander Duane Mabry of the teens’ attitude toward committing crimes.
Despite efforts, police said those teens are being released as fast as they are caught.
Whitehall Police Chief Mike Crispen said many of those teens are repeat offenders and called on the county’s juvenile justice system to punish them more severely.
‘If we lock them up and before we can get back to the station and finish up our paperwork, they’re back out victimizing people?” Crispen said. “That’s a major, major problem for us.”
However, a group of juvenile judges said crime among teens was actually going down for years before the pandemic, and locking them up isn’t going to help stop these recent crimes.
“There are some things they must be held for, but based on the data and the statistics, if they are held for one day, it increases the rate that they will come back and be detained again,” said Franklin County Juvenile Court Judge Terri Jamison. “The less activity that they can have with the court, the better off they are.”
In a letter, the judges called the police press conference announcing the initiative “propaganda.”
When it comes to what judges are doing to address the crime, they said while they are aware of the trend, each case is decided on an individual basis and the circumstances each child has in their lives.