Weapon Crimes Involving Juveniles On The Rise Says Tulsa Police
TULSA, Oklahoma - Just a few days ago, Tulsa Police responded to a call of shots fired at Woodland Hills Mall involving several juvenile suspects. Those three boys are still on the run but TPD says they've been responding to a lot of violent crimes lately involving teenagers.
Specifically, TPD says they are seeing an increase in weapons crimes involving juvenile suspects.
"They’re so young that they really don’t appreciate the value of what they’re doing to themselves," said Sgt. Tuell.
When Sargent Shane Tuell started at the department 20 years ago, he says it wasn't uncommon to go on calls involving juveniles but now it just seems more prevalent.
"It hurts to see that its involving kids that don’t need to be growing up that fast," said Sgt. Tuell.
On Monday night, TPD responded to a shots fired call at Woodland Hills Mall involving several teens. They say the suspects got into an argument with mall security and one of them pulled out a gun and fired several shots.
"The mall should be a safe place, but now we have these youngsters that are taking matters that bother them into their own hands and in the form of a violent act," said Sgt. Tuell.
Statistics from the Tulsa Police Department show 97 juvenile suspects have been arrested and charged with crimes involving weapons so far in 2018 compared to 82 last year. TPD says they haven't seen this a number this high since 2009 when they had 108 weapons charges. That year there were 10 teens charged with murder.
"The guns haven't changed. The knives haven't changed and the act itself hasn't changed but the player involved has changed," said Sgt. Tuell.
The Tulsa County District Attorney's Office says they are constantly working with local law enforcement agencies to get these numbers down because those committing violent crimes when they're young are most at risk of committing more crimes as adults.
"The idea is to cut that off at the beginning, so you won’t see them long term in the system," said First Assistant DA Erik Grayless.
Grayless says over the past year they have targeted the prosecution against gang members and they believe that is contributing to the lower overall homicide rate Tulsa is seeing this year and they believe targeting youthful offenders will have the same impact.
"Our hope is that if we can intercede when they are still juveniles that we can break that cycle of / criminal behavior," said Grayless.
2018 isn't over yet but Robbery and Burglary calls where a juvenile suspect was arrested and charged are down significantly in the Tulsa area from last year.