MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Murfreesboro Police Department is putting an emphasis on youth programs after 2020 data revealed an increase in crimes involving teen suspects.
“The major of crimes that many of the teens will commit usually involve property crimes,” said Sgt. James Abbott, of the Crimes Against Persons Unit of the Murfreesboro Police Department.
Sgt. Abbott says the department is seeing growing numbers in drug and weapons charges.
“We’re seeing robberies… increased robberies,” Abbott explained. “They’re able to get firearms… a lot of them are posting photographs of themselves with the firearms.”
Murfreesboro saw robberies involving teen suspects quadruple since January 2020 compared to the same time frame last year.
While no research can definitively pinpoint a cause, Abbott says the department is considering COVID-19 as a primary issue.
“You take them [kids] from their school environment where there’s at least that 8 hours of control. And then, there’s these environments where parents have to work,” Abbott explained. “Services and other things that used to be provided for these young people are no longer available. It’s put a lot of young people out there on the streets in the evening.”
While Murfreesboro Police has long partnered with various community programs, the department is putting more emphasis on things like Student Resource Officers and character-building programs in schools.
“We have a community engagement team as well,” Abbott said. “The big thing is: we’ve got to find that intervention before it gets even more serious.”