Recent increased juvenile arrests, severity concern police, judge

Dayton Police have seen a dramatic increase in juvenile arrests this year and Montgomery County’s juvenile judge said he is concerned about the severity and use of guns in the alleged crimes across several area communities.

Just last month, Dayton Police arrested two juveniles in connection to a shooting inside a RTA bus downtown. In a second incident, a group of teenagers were charged with aggravated robbery and the murder of a Lyft driver in Dayton.

Dayton Police have arrested juveniles 158 times from Jan. 1 to Jan. 26 and about 6% of those arrests have been for violent crime. There were 34 juvenile arrests during that time span last year and in 2020, 63 arrests were made between those dates.

“The involvement of juveniles in criminal activity is always a source of concern for the Dayton Police Department,” Dayton Police Lt. Jason Hall said. “The incidents of juvenile suspects being arrested or summonsed for all types of crimes has shown a considerable increase over the past two years.”

“While the root cause or causes of these increases can be difficult to discern, the strategies for preventing juveniles being involved in criminal activity is a team effort involving the entire community,” Hall said.

Montgomery County Judge Anthony Capizzi said that his court has seen fewer charges against juveniles filed but he believes the cases, in general, are more severe when compared to years past.

“The level and severity of the crime is the challenge,” the judge said. “We don’t have the cases much anymore where the kids are stealing a bicycle. Where they break into a garage and take a lawnmower. What’s happening now is the level of severity of cases has skyrocketed.”

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He said breaking into homes to steal guns and stealing cars for joyriding is more common now. He also said kids steal expensive cellphones that can lead to serious charges because of the monetary value.

Two juveniles were arrested on Jan. 18 in connection to a shooting that took place aboard an RTA bus. Three people were shot, including a bus driver, and suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

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One teen boy was charged with felonious assault and a second teen boy was charged with tampering with evidence, Dayton Police said at the time.

Then on Jan. 23, police say four juveniles lured a Lyft driver to an area and attempted to rob him of his vehicle. The Lyft driver, Brandon Cooper, was shot and killed. The accused teens now face counts of aggravated robbery and aggravated murder.

Dayton Police reported that in 2020, 657 arrests were made of juveniles and 1,039 arrests of juveniles were made in 2021.

Capizzi said guns are more common in the juvenile crimes that come through his court and that can lead to more serious charges and punishments.

“I think neighborhood violence has escalated. I think there are so many guns on the streets these days and many young men that I talk to ... believe they are carrying weapons for defensive purposes,” the judge said.

The judge said children should not be carrying weapons.

“I just don’t think they understand the complexities of what it means to commit a crime,” Capizzi said. “There is clearly less parental oversight and more youth struggling...”

He said many children in the community suffer from trauma and other issues related to growing up in homes impacted by addiction. He said society needs to do a better job reaching out to those children before they end up in front of a judge.

Dayton Police juvenile arrests between Jan. 1 and Jan. 26

2020: 63

2021: 34

2022: 158

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