The total number of juvenile offenders charged with crimes in Dakota County decreased by almost 8 percent last year, dropping from 1,445 in 2010 to 1,334 in 2011.
“It is a good sign that the number of youth charged with a crime in our community continues to drop,” Backstrom said in a new release issue earlier this week.
This is the ninth consecutive year Dakota County has experienced a decrease in the overall number of juveniles prosecuted for criminal acts.
The decrease countywide is also reflected by a local drop in juvenile crime; 191 juveniles were charged with crimes in Eagan in 2010. Only 169 were charged in 2011.
Neverthless, in 2011, Eagan experienced the highest number of juvenile burglaries in Dakota County by far. 10 out of 31 burglaries countywide took place in Eagan.
Eagan was also the site of five of the 18 juvenile thefts that took place in Dakota County in 2011. The city was the location of the highest number of juvenile gross misdemeanor charges as well. 16 of the 85 total countywide gross misdemeanor charges occurred in Eagan.
One of Dakota County’s more notable crimes in 2011 also took place in Eagan. A 17-year-old male was charged with, and pled guilty to, breaking into several Eagan homes and, in one home, assaulting a 17-year-old female.
This incident is indicative of the countywide increase in charges for violent juvenile offenses. In 2010, there were 320 such charges. In 2011, there were 383 charges, an almost 20 percent increase.
However, Dakota County also experienced a decrease in the number of juveniles charged with felonies. In 2010, 203 juveniles were charged with felonies. In 2011, 192 were charged. This is a drastic drop in felony charges from 2001, where 420 juveniles were charged.
Backstrom credits county prevention and early intervention programs for the felony decrease. These programs, which are coordinated by the Dakota County Attorney’s Office, include youth accountability programs for first time offenders and more intense programming for second time users of alcohol or marijuana. The programs include activities such as community service work and writing letters of apology.
The county attorney’s office is also presenting an anti-bullying initiative. So far, the initiative has been presented to over 15,500 students, staff and parents.
“Educating students on the potential dangers of bullying, harassing or aggressive behaviors, and the dangers associated with ‘sexting’ and how this conduct could lead to criminal charges is important in our efforts to keep our kids safe,” Backstrom said in the news release.