The Community Liaison Officer developes and maintains effective working relationships with community leaders, law enforcement, victim services, businesses, and community agencies. The assigned Juvenile Probation Officer strives to educate the community regarding its role in a balanced and restorative juvenile justice system to encourage and support the community in delinquency prevention activities. This Officer oversees special initiatives (below), grants, and coordinates training opportunities.
Disproportionate Minority Contacts (DMC)
The DMC mission is to eliminate the over-representation of youth of color in the Juvenile Justice System by advocating strategies for policy changes, education programs, funding and technical assistance at the local and state levels. Locally, the Luzerne County DMC work group is focused on advocating for more informed, respectful interactions between youth and law enforcement ultimately leading to fewer arrests. 28 community stakeholders representing probation staff, law enforcement, system providers, and community members were trained to facilitate the DMC Youth / Law Enforcement Curriculum which encompasses the following goals:
- To ensure equal and fair treatment for every youth in the Juvenile Justice System regardless of race and ethnicity.
- Reduce the number of volatile interactions between youth and officers on the street, to decrease arrests of minority youth, and to diminish the chance of injuries to officers and youth on the street.
- Host forums which provide an opportunity for youth and officers to be heard and to consider each other’s views without endorsing either side as completely right or wrong. The forums are divided into four modules: Module 1 is a facilitated large-group panel discussion; Module 2 breaks participants into small-groups for a continued discussion of topics introduced in the large-group setting; Module 3/3A splits the group-law enforcement officers learn about adolescent brain development, trauma, and youth culture; youth learn about adolescent brain development, perspective differences and safe stops/interactions; Module 4 brings the groups back together to role-play exercises intended to review the lessons learned from the previous modules.
- Youth / Law Enforcement Forums began in November 2016 through a grant funded by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
Impact of Crime Class (IOCC)
The class is facilitated by probation officers who are trained in the Impact of Crime Curriculum developed by the state. The four hour class instructs juveniles in the concepts of balance and restorative justice (BARJ), victim empathy, types of feelings and emotions their victims may go through, how to write a proper apology letter and the ripple effect of crime encompassing the victim, their families and the community.
Juvenile Court Restitution Fund (JCR)
The Luzerne County Juvenile Restitution Fund was established in January 2009 for the benefit of juveniles, who are deemed responsible for providing financial reimbursement to the victims of delinquent behavior. The JCR Fund is supplemented by assessed Juvenile Court fees and non-payment of fines collections. Eligible participants complete required community service hours and payments are made directly to their respective victim(s). Since the inception of the program, over $123,000 has been paid to victims.