The three primary questions Youth Services Officer Nancy Stanfield wanted to answer were: Where are juvenile offenders? What are they doing? How does the juvenile court system become more proactive?
Those questions are more readily answered thanks to an innovative idea coming from the staff at Bradley County Juvenile Court, but it took time and perseverance for it to bear fruit. In October 2010, Stanfield came up with the idea for a system that could “map” juvenile offenders.
“I wanted a system that would benefit youth service officers by knowing who their probationers lived near, and what types of crimes were being committed in those areas,” she said.
She also wanted a system capable of being used by other agencies to identify where juvenile offenders lived who had committed certain crimes and what crimes had been committed in certain areas of Bradley County.
Stanfield met with law enforcement officials at the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office to learn how their mapping system was used to track adults. However, the juvenile system could not be combined with the adult system because the two systems are separate entities, and juvenile records are confidential.
After observing the adult mapping and tracking system, Stanfield took her ideas back to Juvenile Court Director Terry Gallaher, who was very supportive of the idea. Together, they looked into available grant possibilities to help the idea move forward. The Tennessee Targeted Community Crime Reduction grant was the one Gallaher felt would be best used for a mapping system.
The three-year, $800,000 grant is funded by the state. Its purpose is to focus on crime in south and east Cleveland. Its mission is to gather support from a wide spectrum of the community and reduce crime related to the use of alcohol and drugs, and to break the familial cycle of incarceration and recidivism.
The grant began Jan. 1, 2011, and ends June 30, 2013. It funds two police officers, a patrol car, and services provided by Boys & Girls Club, Behavioral Research Institute, Bradley County Juvenile Courts, the city of Cleveland and the GRAAB Coalition (Going Respectfully Against Addictive Behavior).
At that time, a meeting was set up with members from law enforcement, school systems, City Manager Janice Casteel and nonprofit agencies where the idea of juvenile mapping was presented.
General Sessions Judge Daniel Swafford also expressed his support for the grant partnership.
“This program brought partners together in a cooperative effort to help our community,” the juvenile court judge said.
Stanfield received word in December 2010 the juvenile mapping program would be funded through the TTCCR grant and by January 2011, the equipment necessary for the program was purchased and installed. At that time, Ricky Tallent, juvenile court information technology director and Stanfield attended training for the software program and the idea was turned into reality.
The juvenile mapping program uses information based on the address of each juvenile offender in the system from 2001 to present day. Information is gathered from campus court, the Early Intervention Program, and the juvenile system through Bradley County Juvenile Court.
Stanfield input all of the information into a spread sheet, which Tallent then entered into the mapping system.
“The uniqueness of this program is that you can cross-reference these addresses with the offenses committed,” Stanfield said. “It will also allow you to look at graphs and compare information from one year to the next. This program is updated each week to reflect any new juvenile cases.”
She said the grant funds two officers who can concentrate on two particular areas, referred to as Sectors 1 and 2 by the Cleveland Police Department.
“Emphasis is placed on these two areas when looking at the maps; however, all of Bradley County is mapped in this program,” she said. “One advantage of having this mapping program is that it will show where services are needed for activities such as after school programs. It will also aid officers in knowing what areas need to be monitored.”
Tallent said, “This is a collaborative effort between several agencies and one that can be utilized by the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, Cleveland Police Department, Department of Children’s Services, as well as Bradley County Juvenile Court.”
Judge Swafford, who has been supportive of the program since its very beginning, encourages juvenile staff to utilize any program that will aid families in the community.
“The more information that we have on location and frequency of delinquent activity, the better we can allocate our limited services,” he said. “This mapping program allows us to look at the community as a whole, process where the crimes are being committed, who is committing those crimes, and act to input service.
“Nancy Stanfield and Ricky Tallent have been outstanding in the work that they have done. They both have taken this idea to help our community, and put it into action,” Swafford said.