Recent Trend of Jacksonville Teens Involved in High-Profile Crimes

“Juvenile delinquency has increased for about a year. And it’s more violent, “ex-Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office detective Kim Varner said.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla – A standoff in Southside on Labor Day ended with the arrest of four teenagers, two of whom were only 14, according to a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office incident report released Thursday . They are charged with breaking into a St. Johns County MPs car and stealing an AR-15, thousands of rounds and a bulletproof vest.

Four days after the standoff, another group of four teenagers from Duval County were arrested after leading officers in a high-speed chase through Camden County, Georgia. First Coast News learned during this investigation that three of the teenagers were wanted for murder.

The driver of the car was only 12 years old.

Both are two high-profile crimes that, for adults, could carry a severe sentence if found guilty and convicted.

However, there is a trend involving teens and crime that is starting to become much more noticeable.

“Juvenile crime has been on the rise for about a year and is more violent,” former Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Detective Kim Varner said.

He believes that there is less parental supervision and that the breakdown of the family unit is more widespread than ever. First Coast News crime and security expert Mark Baughman agrees this is one of the main factors contributing to the recent surge.

“They end up revolving around old people on the streets leading them down this path of violence, mostly getting into gangs. Sometimes it’s gang-initiation type activities: stealing cars, raiding homes, things of that nature… it’s very, very typical of gang indoctrination is to commit forced crimes.

The big debate really is: what will help trends move in the right direction? Changes in incarceration or intervention?

The two retired law enforcement officers find themselves on either side of the aisle on this issue.

Although Varner has, over the years, mentored misguided young people himself, he believes the law needs to be even stricter on minors for certain offenses.

“Because if they carry a gun, they learn to use it. They carry a gun because someday they’re going to use it, “Varner said.” So if we make the punishment more severe for just carrying a gun, to prevent them from carrying it, it will reduce some of the shootings and homicides of minors.

However, Baughman believes more funding is needed for intervention programs.

“Putting them in jail is not the solution. It’s the old saying, it’s much easier to educate a child than it is to care for an adult, ”Baughman explained. “We need to find those programs that are going to have preventative measures and mentoring programs, and support them as much as possible. . “

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