GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Teenage violence: these crimes are making headlines in the Triad nearly every day, and most times, guns are involved.
FOX8 took a deeper look into youth violence and how Greensboro police officers are actively trying to combat it.
On Tuesday, Greensboro police showed up at the Harrison Memorial Apartments and found bullet holes in one of the buildings.
It turned out to stem from a robbery.
“[They] appear to be all young females,” said one person to 911 dispatchers.
“They’re all like 16. They’re all teens,” said another caller. “They jumped on him, punched him, and pulled out a gun.”
Police have been hearing those types of calls, day after day.
“We take it personally. We’re parents. We’re connected to children,” Capt. Stephanie Mardis said.
She heads up the Criminal Investigations Division of the Greensboro Police Department.
It’s a priority for her team to try and connect with teenagers.
“We want juvenile offenders to know they have to be accountable for their actions, but in the same breath, we want to provide them with the resources and opportunities to learn from those mistakes and turn the page,” Mardis said.
School resource officers at local schools, different community programs, and the new 500 “Jobs for Teens” initiative, give these kids a chance to do that.
“It gives teenagers an opportunity to learn life skills, learn responsibility. It redirects them from having idle time and allows them to network and create opportunities for themselves,” she said.
The department’s efforts are working.
Youth crime has dropped in the city of Greensboro.
In 2018, officers charged 856 teenagers with serious crimes, like robbery and homicide.
In 2020, the number dropped to 709.
So far in 2021, 152 have been charged.
It’s a start, but Mardis told FOX8 there’s a lot of work left to do.
“If we were fully staffed in a utopian society, it would give officers the downtime to be able to get out on foot patrol, and not be running from call to call,” she said. “It’s the personal interactions we have, the one-on-one interactions we have with people that make lasting impacts.”
It also is important for the community to help.
“Hold each other accountable, to be responsible for our youth falls prey to. That’s the first step,” Mardis said.
Officers told FOX8 teenagers are using stolen weapons in many of these crimes, so they’re urging people who own guns to lock them up and keep them in safe places.