In September 1992 the Youth Services Unit was formed. This Unit is a section of the Criminal Investigations Division. It became apparent that the needs of the youth attending County schools, institutions and facilities dictated a specialized approach and a team effort under the command of the Criminal Investigations Captain. The model used, which was a new concept in 1992, was the Community Policing Model. This is still the Unit’s philosophy today. The community we serve is the clients, students, and participants of the various county agencies that serve the juveniles of Bergen County. The agencies included the two county school districts, the Bergen County Division of Family Guidance, Juvenile Probation and the Bergen Regional Juvenile Psychiatric Services. Family Guidance offers a multitude of services including residential programs. The residential programs run the gamut from one secure restrictive setting to one shelter care setting to three independent living settings. All of the above mentioned are served on a daily basis by the Youth Services Unit, effectively and within the legal/social guidelines of our times.
In the past years, the Unit has supported the needs of the juveniles in Bergen County in a variety of areas. This includes juveniles in crisis and cases of juvenile delinquency including victims as well as suspects. Crisis incidents demand sensitivity and expertise dealing in psychiatric and traumatic events. The Unit dedicates a substantial amount of time to officer education programs in the school districts. This includes the Bergen County Police Liaison Program and specialized education needed in specific areas like violence, domestic violence, bias incidents or any area that seems to involve juveniles as victims or participants in that type of delinquency. In this period the Unit has handled more than 3,500 events directly related to this juvenile population. This population numbers about 5,000 on any given day. The juveniles that are taken into custody by the unit have been involved in a variety of delinquency both violent and nonviolent. In most situations no matter how serious, the juvenile and the officer usually develop a rapport. The Unit has also developed long time relationships with the directors and staff of the county agencies. A sense of trust and partnership has evolved.
The plans for the future are to ratify the model agreement with the two school districts that are now under our umbrella. The model agreement is a contract that is in keeping with the Attorney General’s Directive of 1988 for drug free schools. The document has been expanded over the years to include Zero Tolerance Initiatives in weapons, bias incidents, and violence. The Unit strictly adheres to the model agreement and its provisions. The Youth Services Unit views this document, which is a partnership by the participants, as the essence of Community Policing.