Increase in juveniles with guns, committing crimes, concerning to police

“It just seems like the issue is there’s no one watching these children,” police major says

The number of juvenile arrest charges has doubled this year in Dayton compared to last and police are concerned about an increase they’ve seen in teenagers carrying guns.

“The numbers concern me,” Dayton Police Department Major Brian Johns said. “Almost 1,000 crimes, and while most of those are misdemeanors, the gun crime is concerning because they have such tragic outcomes.”

There were 986 arrest charges lodged against children under 18 between Jan. 1 and Aug. 28, Dayton Police said. During the same time period last year, there were 446 juvenile charges and 459 in 2020. In 2019 and 2018, there were 899 and 1,021, respectively.

Dayton’s had several troubling incidents involving children accused of committing crimes this year. In January, authorities say teenagers shot and killed Brandon Cooper who was driving for Lyft. The Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office has filed a motion to transfer the case to adult court. An order issued Friday says Montgomery County Juvenile Judge Helen Wallace found probable cause in their cases and the teens are due back in court in November.

Also earlier this year, a teen was charged in connection to a non-fatal shooting inside an RTA bus. Prosecutors are trying to move that case to adult court and it is still pending.

There were a couple of serious incidents in August that involved juveniles. A teenager was charged with aggravated arson in connection to a house fire that took place on Rockcliff Circle and a 14-year-old boy was accidentally shot and killed by his 17-year-old older brother while taking photographs for social media, police said.

The prosecutor‘s office said the 17-year-old was charged in the case but has not entered a plea yet.

There have been 63 incidents where juveniles in Dayton were in possession of firearms this year, Johns said, which is more than this time in 2020 and 2021.

“We are seeing more (juvenile gun crime) and sadly we are seeing really bad outcomes from it,” Johns said.

Parents need to take more responsibility to prevent these types of tragedies, Johns said.

“It just seems like the issue is there’s no one watching these children or supervising these children, and I think that is a big issue that we have,” the major said.

He said in many cases, the kids are out and about without supervision and parents need to know where their children are and who they are hanging out with.

He also said locking up firearms is as important as ever because juveniles often obtained firearms that haven’t been stored properly.

“If you have a gun in your home please take proper protocols to secure the weapon,” Johns said. “At the Dayton police department, we have free gun locks that we give out to people and have so for years. You can lock your gun up so people, especially young people, can’t get a hold of them and hurt themselves or others.”

Along with the gun-related crime, police suspect teens have been more responsible for stealing vehicles this year. Johns said the juveniles will steal a car a do a number of things while they have it in their possession.

“A lot of times they find them and joy ride with them and drive them around or tear the car up or commit another crime with the vehicle,” Johns said.

Dayton Police said it’s working to address the increase in motor vehicle thefts in the city. It said that people should consider utilizing a wireless GPS fob or key finder.

“These are small devices that are typically placed on key rings or other valuables and can be used to track and find items usually through an installed app on your cell phone,” Dayton Police said. “In this case, it could be helpful to place one of these devices in a hard-to-find spot in your vehicle. In the unfortunate event that a vehicle is stolen, the owner can locate the vehicle through the key finder using the app on their cell phone.”

The number of arrest charges children have faced in Dayton between Jan. 1 and Aug. 28.

2022: 986

2021: 446

2020: 459

2019: 899

2018: 1,021

Source: Dayton Police Department

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