‘It’s certainly disheartening:’ Juvenile crime surging in Rockland
It is a problem police say has gotten worse in recent months.
ROCKLAND, Maine (WABI) - For months, police in Rockland have been dealing with juveniles committing crimes, such as theft and assaults.
In the latest incident this week, officers responded to a business in town to find fire coming from a public trash can and a group of juveniles attempting to flee the scene.
One juvenile was charged with arson, trespassing, and disorderly conduct.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office is now investigating.
TV5 to officials Wednesday about what is being done to help these kids, many of whom are dealing with severe trauma.
“These are kids who have survived probably some of the worst trauma that children that live in the state of Maine can survive,” said Knox County District Attorney, Natasha Irving. “They’re going to lash out at whoever is there to hear it and receive it.”
We first told you about Rockland Police dealing with a number of crimes committed by juveniles back in November.
It is a problem police say has only gotten worse.
“Many of the kids that we are dealing with in these instances are not going to school. They are couch surfing. They are using drugs. There have been many reports of them overdosing, and thankfully, were revived, but at 13-years old, that is a problem,” said Interim Deputy Chief of the Rockland Police Department, Alex Gaylor.
Over the last two years, Rockland police say they’ve issued over 75 juvenile criminal and civil charges, with most of those in the last six months.
“If we confront them at all and try to correct their behavior, it’s a physical altercation with vulgarities, name calling, throwing things at us, and everything else,” said Rockland Police Chief, Tim Carroll.
“It’s certainly disheartening and frustrating when we get into these altercations and officers get injured, and then the juvenile is released before the officer can even heal from the night before,” said Gaylor.
Officers have responded to calls with these individuals who have committed thefts, assaults, alcohol violations, and vandalism.
Last week, the vandalism involved swastikas, as well as homophobic and racial slurs.
Several vehicles parked just off Main Street were targets.
Leah Ondra, proprietress of Clementine, walked out to find red and white painted stripes along her car.
Rockland police say several juveniles were involved in this incident, including one as young as 11-years old.
“I want these kids to have a much better situation because that’s not a good situation to be wandering around just drawing on cars with spray paint,” she said.
“In a situation like this where these children are not conforming with the law, we are not able, legally, the court is not able to detain them and put them in jail, put them in the children’s prison for the reason that they cannot be adequately cared for and supervised,” Irving said.
Irving commends Rockland Police and other departments around the state dealing with similar incidents for being so patient.
She believes many of these kids are hurting and have ultimately been left behind by the state.
“Again, this is the last thing we want. What we want is an investment in mental health facilities, substance use disorder facilities, but as a last resort, we are seeing the consequences of losing those tools,” she said.
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