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September 20, 2014

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Boulder City program sets example for other areas

A youth crime diversion program started in Boulder City has gained statewide attention, and now one police representative is taking that show on the road to Nevada's capital.

Carson City Sheriff's Office plans to model a program after Boulder City Police Department's Juvenile Conference Committee, an alternative to taking children 8-18 to court for misdemeanor or status offences so they escape a mark on their criminal records.

On Friday, Pat Spero, coordinator of the JCC and Chief Thomas Finn's executive assistant, will explain the system to the sheriff's office in Carson City.

Laughlin Police Department has already implemented a similar program, and Mesquite Police Department plans to do the same, Spero said.

Started in 1993, the program allows officers who bust first-time offenders of alcohol, curfew, skateboard or destruction of property rules to refer some to the program. Officers decide who would be right based on attitude and severity of the crime.

Instead of going to juvenile court, community volunteers hold a hearing for the offending youth and typically impose sanctions like community service, reimbursement for destruction, or letters of apology.

Spero, who has run the program for nine years, said generally, kids are appreciative and cooperative.

"They can eliminate starting their life off with a record," she said.

The state's Enforcing the Underage Drinking Laws program is paying for Spero's trip to Carson City, she said.

Spero said the police department has a collection of videos about drugs, alcohol and bullying designed to prevent teenagers from involvement. Any parent or teenager can request a screening of any video without having committed a violation first.

Cassie Tomlin can be reached at 948-2073 or [email protected].

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