FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP)  — The long awaited Juvenile Intervention and Investigation Team got an early launch as Forsyth County and Winston-Salem respond to juvenile related crime at a rate that has not been seen before.  

The team, known as JIIT, was originally scheduled to begin on July 1.  

“We just want to reach that goal of changing a life, and preventing some sort of criminal act from occurring,” said Lieutenant James Rae, who helped create the team.

The team will work with a specific focus on stopping juvenile related crime.  

It will consist of six deputies, one sergeant, one corporal and one office employee who will work 24/7. 

They will respond to criminal calls and investigations that involve juveniles and will also accept referrals and tips regarding juveniles who may be mixed up with the wrong crowd.  

Rae said that communication and engagement on any level is the key for this team to be successful.  

“We need to provide the resources and the mentorships to these kids to give them an outlet, not to look toward the individuals on the streets who are flashy or might be providing all of this money or all of these opportunities that are leading them down the wrong path and give them places to go and opportunities to go down the right path,” he said.

City and law enforcement leaders have expressed concern over the increase in juvenile released crime.  

At a forum on gun violence in May, District Attorney Jim O’Neil outlined that most of the drive-by shootings that are under investigation are committed by juveniles.  

“The fact is, these shootings, the overwhelming majority are being committed by juveniles…this when school is in session. We are approaching the summer months. There is not a person on this panel. We are all worried about this summer,” the district attorney said. 

These deputies will work in tandem with the school resources officers that are currently inside of Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools and the district itself.

They will take those referrals of students who are at-risk and find a way to meet them and interact with them in a positive way.  

Rae explained that the approach will change depending on the situation and the child’s age.

They will also accept anonymous tips through their 24-hour hotline – (336) 917-7030. 

The team was created with roughly $2.2 million from the American Rescue Plan Act that was approved by county commissioners in March.  

It will fund the program through 2024.