Youth crime has decreased in the Danbury area between 2019 and 2021


Not only did the Danbury area see an overall decrease in violent crime last year, but an overall decrease in youth crime, according to statistics from the Crime Analysis Unit of the Department of Emergency and Rescue Services. public protection.

According to the data, 171 incidents of youth crime were reported between Danbury and the neighboring towns of Bethel, Brookfield, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield and Sherman in 2021, compared to 174 in 2020.

While some municipalities like Danbury and Bethel saw an increase in youth crime between 2020 and 2021, according to the data, the number of arrests of minors in the nine communities last year was down from those reported in 2019. .

Of the towns, Danbury had the highest youth crime rate last year with 120 arrests reported in 2021, which is an 18% increase from 2020 but a 59% decrease since 2019.

John Krupinsky, president of the Connecticut Fraternal Order of Police, said he believed the 2022 data would show a dramatic year-over-year increase in crime, including acts committed by minors. A high-profile incident involving young people this year is a 16-year-old charged with a shooting outside Chili’s Restaurant in Danbury in March.

“We don’t have numbers on what’s going on right now, but crime is up everywhere right now,” said Krupinsky, who is also a Danbury police sergeant.

Juvenile criminal cases

While most juvenile crime arrests in the Danbury area between 2019 and 2021 were for offenses such as disorderly conduct, vandalism, assault, drug possession and theft, there have also been homicides .

15- and 16-year-olds have been charged in connection with the fatal stabbing of 21-year-old Willy Plasencia at the Danbury City Center Skate Park in March 2020. In the same month, a 16-year-old in Bethel was killed. shot a family member in the chest with a BB gun.

Bethel – which had the second-highest youth crime rate of the region’s nine cities – saw its youth crime rate double between 2020 and 2021, but the 20 arrests of minors last year reflected a 38% decrease compared to 2019.

A number of violent incidents in Danbury – including the fatal attack at the skate park in March 2020 – have been linked to an ongoing feud between two groups of young people that dates back to a January 2019 shooting near Hospital and Ellsworth avenues . The accused shooter was 15 years old.

Since then, police said members of the two groups were “shooting, assaulting, threatening and killing each other”.

The June 2021 drive-by shooting death of 18-year-old Yhameek Johnson in Mill Ridge was one such incident and led to the arrest of 17-year-old Elvis Agramonte of Danbury, along with a young un identified as 17 years old. of Stratford.

There have also been non-fatal incidents involving minors and firearms, such as the August 2021 shooting at the Danbury Fair shopping center that injured a 15-year-old girl and sent shoppers fleeing and hiding in fear , and the shooting at Chili’s Grill & Bar last March.

Danbury Police Chief Patrick Ridenhour said in August that acts of youth violence are not taken lightly and that the police service’s approach to addressing it is through community relations, as well as by demonstrating and supporting youth programs like the Danbury Police Explorers.

But Krupinsky said today’s young offenders are “blatant”.

“They know we can’t do anything. They know they can’t be held longer than six hours, so they know they’re going out,” he said. “The miners were the ones in Danbury stealing all the cars – and they’re the same ones doing it. They would steal a car, go out, steal another car.

He said it’s a statewide problem and suggested Connecticut should eliminate a 2007 law that extended juvenile jurisdiction to 16-year-olds from 2010 and 17-year-olds from 2012. .

Krupinsky said raising the age at which individuals can be tried and punished as adults to 18 “has destroyed the ability to hold anyone accountable.”

“At 16 and 17, you know right from wrong,” he said. “There is no accountability for youth crime now.”

Improvement at New Milford

Of the nine towns in the region, New Milford had the third highest youth crime rate last year – but unlike Danbury and Bethel, the town has seen a gradual decline in the number of child arrests, from 54 in 2019 to 47 in 2020 and 18 in 2021.

City Police Chief Spencer Cerruto attributes the drop in the youth crime rate in part to the New Milford Local Juvenile Review Board.

Juvenile Review Boards are diversion and prevention programs designed to help local law enforcement agencies deal with juvenile offenders who serve as an alternative to criminal court.

Cerruto says serious cases are still referred to juvenile court, but many local juvenile issues are handled locally through the New Milford program.

“It’s a community-based approach that holds the minor accountable for their actions, allows for victim involvement with options for restitution, and provides various services to address the root cause,” he said.

The program has been coordinated by the city’s youth agency since 1994, according to Stacey Kabasakalian, intervention manager for the New Milford Youth Agency and case manager for the juvenile review board.

She said the program’s restorative justice approach examines who has been harmed and the best path to healing.

“The benefits of having a JRB (are that) young people are held accountable for their actions and the needs of victims are taken care of,” Kabasakalian said.

The program is generally offered to first-time offenders in New Milford, who are under the age of 18 and are willing to take responsibility for their actions.

“They are summoned by the New Milford Police Department Juvenile Officer for admission (and if) their family agrees to the program, the family meets before the Juvenile Review Board and an agreement or ‘contract’ is written for the youngster to complete it,” Kabasakalian said.

As a case manager, Kabasakalian says she helps the youngster through the process.

If the family doesn’t agree or the youngster isn’t cooperating, they said the young offender is sent to juvenile court – but if they go through the program, fix the damage they’ve done and completes the program successfully, he can “go forward without a juvenile file”. ”

Cerruto said the program has been “very successful” and that he and the department support it.


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