The Clarksville Police Department recently welcomed in a new initiative to its already extensive outreach program list. The initiative is officially named the Juvenile Engagement Team (J.E.T.), which is directly aimed to serve the juveniles within the Clarksville community. J.E.T. was introduced to the Clarksville Police Department through the Community Orientated Policing Services Office in 2020. This grant allowed the department to hire nine additional officers who are tasked to engage the juvenile community within Clarksville; which ties directly into both their mission statement and team goals.
Their mission is to work citywide in the hopes of preventing juvenile crime and violence by building stronger relationships between local youth, law enforcement, and the community through positive interaction and engagement. J.E.T. Officer Tajee Moore explained, “I feel it is extremely important for me to give the youth all the tools I have learned growing up so they can be successful. I grew up in Clarksville, going to middle school and high school here, and I see that there are people I grew up with that were desperate for help and unable to receive it as children. As adults, those same individuals are stuck in a never-ending cycle of not actually pursuing what they dreamed of, and forced to live a life where they regret not chasing those dreams and goals they once had. I feel that it is my calling to build relationships with the children of our community and impress upon them that there is way more to life than what you see other adults doing. I am here and the J.E.T is here to help them reach their goals.” J.E.T. Officer MarShun Cox added, “We are interested in regularly meeting with youths and or juvenile offenders in our community suffering from substance abuse, mental health issues, behavioral or conduct problems and dealing with anger management. Reaching out to our various local facilities with Juvenile groups and clients seemed like a great idea to me. I want youths to be more comfortable with law enforcement and feel like they can rely on us no matter their situation, background, or what they’re dealing with in life.”
With engagement plans and ideas already underway, J.E.T. aims to achieve set goals that are already in place. Their three areas of focus are to reduce juvenile crime, recidivism in the court system, and victimizations. These goals were decided upon both as part of the, COPS grant that was granted to CPD by the Department of Justice, and the command staff of CPD. “Research has been done regarding the trends in Clarksville in reference to juvenile crime. It has become obvious that most juveniles involved in criminal activity are a victim of one crime or another before they are ever a suspect in a crime. It is upon the J.E.T. officers to reach out to these children that are victims at a young age and show them there are people in their community that care about them, there are people that want them to succeed and grow and be happy. This is what the J.E.T. team is all about, making the youth in Clarksville safer, happier and more successful overall,” J.E.T. Officer Colin Adair shared.
Some might consider the task bestowed upon the Juvenile Engagement Team as an impossible feat. Not only are they starting from scratch, with a newly formed team and a new set of goals and mission to follow, but they are tasked with solving an ever-growing problem within the Clarksville community. However, the officers for the J.E.T. team were not only appointed, but they were selected based on set criteria and their willingness to serve the juvenile community. “I do believe that the youth is our future and that we as the older generation have to do our best to not only mold them but to support them and show them that this community is a place they want their future children to grow up. There was an interview process conducted by members of the command staff after which I was selected to be the team supervisor and the other officers were appointed,” Sergeant Arthur Bing, J.E.T. Supervisor explained.
Officers within the J.E.T. team are eager to hit the ground running. Officer Anthony Rodriguez shared, “I want the readers to know that J.E.T. is here to make a difference and change the way the youth is being handled. We are excited to work with youth from all walks of life and we are all prepared for the challenges we may face moving forward. All that we ask is for the support of the community and the parents to help us reach out and influence these youth.”