CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - This summer proved to be one of the busiest for police when it came to arresting young kids and teenagers who are out of school.
Officers made about 20 more arrests for 8 and 16-year-olds these past few months compared to 2016, but it's not all bad. Forsyth Park is one place where we saw a huge reduction in crime this summer. Metro's interactive crime map around Forsyth Park shows it.
In 2016, more than a half dozen robberies and assaults happened around the park; this year, there wasn't a single robbery reported in the park. Now more than ever though, the community has to help police when it comes to cutting down on juvenile crime.
To some, police playing basketball with neighborhood boys and girls may not mean much. To officers, though, it's a positive activity keeping them busy.
"Children just sitting around, they're going to find something to do, and generally when they find something to do where they don't have constructive going is generally turning to a life of crime and that's what we want to avoid with them," said Corporal Lorenza Baker Jr. with SCMPD.
Corporal Baker is a juvenile officer for Metro. His job is to get out and interact with teens and young children like this every day.
"We're not the enemy. We are exactly who we say we are. We're here to help. We're a public service, and we're here for them," said Baker.
Their goal is to give them something positive to do. If they're doing something like that, they're less likely to be in your neighborhood committing crimes.
"What it means to us is basically a reduction in the property crimes, a reduction in houses being broken into and a reduction of crimes committed by juveniles period," said Baker.
Police can't do it alone though. Help from the community is necessary. One organization helping is Horizons Savannah. The free summer camp targets teens and young kids in poorer families.
"The future of a community depends on the quality of the way we treat and develop young people and if we don't provide kids the opportunity, they're going to have a hard time reaching their full potential," said Scott Louretti, the chairman of the board for Horizons.
Robert Jordan is another person doing his part; his mentorship program at West Chatham Middle gives students a positive atmosphere during the school year. Students learn how to interact with adults. They take trips out of Savannah. They also take time to help the less fortunate in the community. He hopes others realize that anyone doing something makes our community safer.
"You don't have this grand platform in doing something. If you're mentoring and reaching one kid, that's you playing your part," said Jordan.
It's a part police say is necessary to see a meaningful difference in young people committing crimes.
Here's a closer look at juvenile arrests in recent years, broken down by age. The numbers are all over the place. However, they're all double digits.
In 2016 and 2017, as age goes up, so does the number of arrests. In those two years, 16-year-olds have been arrested more than any other age. In 2015, more 15-year-olds were arrested.
All of this data came from Metro police, recorded from May first through July 25.