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Task force on community violence discusses possible Juvenile Assessment Center

KBIA file photo

Members of the Mayor’s Task Force on Community Violence discussed possibly bringing Juvenile Assessment Centers to Boone County at their meeting Wednesday night.

Juvenile Assessment Centers are designed help families with at-risk children get connected with services that can help their kids.

Second Ward Councilman and Task Force Co-Chair Michael Trapp said it provides options for families with troubled kids.

“It becomes an alternative way to provide access to resources to parents and kids who are struggling to help keep them on the right path,” Trapp said

Using a six-step process, workers at these assessment centers would work one-on-one with kids and their parents to create plans for them to follow to avoid getting into trouble.

Trapp said that all of the perpetrators of homicides in Columbia were committed by people with a criminal past, some of them extensive ones. He added youths in the juvenile justice system were more likely to end up in the adult justice system.

“Diverting those kids to other ways seems like a good use of community resources to try to intervene,” Trapp said.

Self-described “community serviceman” Alvin Cobbins attended last night’s meeting. He says he supports bringing an assessment center to the area.

“I’m for anything that’s going to help change the culture of young people so that as they enter into the community as adults that they’ll be productive,” Cobbins said.

Task force members agreed the idea was worth considering and would look into the possibility further.