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Dakota County: Juvenile crime numbers down

The number of criminal charges against juveniles declined in both Farmington and Rosemount from 2012 to 2013.

Farmington saw the bigger drop between the two cities. There were 42 charges against juveniles last year in the city, down from 61 in 2012. That includes all levels of crimes — felonies, gross misdemeanors and misdemeanors. In Rosemount, the number dropped by just one, from 53 to 52.

The local numbers were in line with the countywide trend. The number of juveniles charged with crimes in Dakota County fell from 1,498 in 2012 to 1,119 last year. The number of juvenile offenders — some of whom are charged with more than one offense — dropped from 134 to 111.

85 percent of the charges filed against juveniles last year in Dakota County were for misdemeanor-level offenses.

There were 1,968 juveniles charged with crimes in 2000 in Dakota County.

“With the exception of last year, we have seen a steady decrease in the number of juveniles charged with felonies each year in Dakota County, which is remarkable given our size and growth over the last decade,” county attorney James Backstrom said. “I am proud of the work being done in our schools, law enforcement and community organizations and the partnerships we have developed to address these youth issues.”

Roughly two thirds of the charges filed against juveniles last year in Farmington were for misdemeanor-level offenses. In Rosemount, all but 16 of the 77 charges filed were misdemeanors.

Disorderly conduct — a misdemeanor — was the most commonly-charged offense in both cities, with 16 instances in Farmington and 27 in Rosemount.

Among felony-level offenses, drug-related charges were most common in Farmington with three individuals charged with three offenses. In Rosemount, burglary charges were the most common with two individuals charged with two offenses.

Backstrom credited early-intervention efforts like peer court for some of the decline. The programs for first- or second-time offenders charged with non-violent offenses offer an alternative to court and jail time. Farmington High School recently became a peer court location.

“I believe the most effective thing we can do to reduce crime in America is to invest our time, resources and energy in our nation’s children,” Backstrom said. “We accomplish this with effective and appropriate early intervention efforts aimed at preventing crime before it occurs and intervening quickly when problems arise.”

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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