Juvenile Services hosts a broad series of programs that covers early intervention programs, investigations, school violence prevention, and juvenile diversion. It also includes outreach and community forum programs that inform parents about issues they may find beneficial.
Juvenile Services is overseen by the South Patrol Bureau Commander, and includes two sergeants, three deputy sheriffs, and juvenile investigators and investigative assistants from each of the Sheriff’s Department Contract City partners and unincorporated areas. It further includes the contract partnership with Pepperdine University for the PRYDE (Pepperdine Resource Youth Diversion and Education) program that brings diversion programs and clinicians from the university to address early intervention and mental health issues.
School Mobile Assessment and Resource Team (SMART)
The School Mobile Assessment and Resource Team is utilized in school situations and incidents related to violence, threats, possession and/or use of weapons, unstable behaviors, and suicidal actions or tendencies. SMART works collaboratively in conjunction with school officials, the Probation Department, the District Attorney’s Office, and the Heath Care Agency to help resolve safety issues and concerns involving all personnel associated to schools. SMART is comprised of a sergeant, an investigator, three deputies and a clinician from the Orange County Heath Care Agency. The team responds at the request of law enforcement personnel or school administration to provide services and resources, including threat assessments, criminal investigation, case management and referrals to mandatory counseling, where deemed appropriate. The goal of SMART is to evaluate and assess each incident individually, to effectively resolve the matter through the least intrusive means available (while still maintaining safety and security to the school), and ultimately return the staff and students to their daily routine. For the years 2018 and 2019, the SMART team has conducted 305 threat assessments, made 74 arrests, and confiscated 88 weapons.
Juvenile Services Bureau (JSB)
The Juvenile Services Bureau (JSB) works to provide comprehensive investigative, counseling, rehabilitation and referral services to area youths that come in contact with law enforcement. In concert with the goals of the Juvenile Court System to rehabilitate youthful offenders, the Juvenile Services Bureau of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department works in a collaborative effort with the Orange County Juvenile Probation Department to divert selected juvenile offenders away from the criminal justice system into alternative programs.
The JSB Sergeant acts as a program coordinator for the School Resource Officers throughout the Orange County Sheriff’s Department operational areas county. SRO’s collaborate on ongoing student trends, problems at schools, and efforts to provide appropriate service to the student and administrative customers they serve.
JSB staff work hand-in-hand with probation officers, the juvenile court, and psychologists from Pepperdine University’s Pepperdine Resource Youth Diversion and Education (PRYDE) program. The JSB sergeant operates as the liaison between the PRYDE Program and the Sheriff’s Department. The sergeant also coordinates Sheriff’s Department efforts with the Orange County Department of Education, Juvenile Justice Commission, and several local school districts on a variety of projects, issues, and programs.
Each juvenile case assigned to the JSB, is tailored based on the nature of the crime, background of the offender, school attendance, grades, family issues, and other considerations. The case is then assigned to an investigators or one investigative assistant for review.
Cases that meet the criteria necessary for diversion are referred to the PRYDE Counselors for review and possible follow-up. Cases that are not referred for diversion are generally crimes of violence, cases that involve a pattern of criminal history, or cases wherein the juvenile offender has already participated in the PRYDE Program on a prior case. Cases referred to PRYDE diversion may be rejected due to non-compliance with PRYDE Counselors recommendations or treatment plans. Cases that are rejected by PRYDE or ineligible for diversion due to the nature of the offense, are returned to investigations staff, completed, and petitioned to the Juvenile Court for Prosecution.
The Juvenile Services Bureau’s area of responsibility extends to all areas of Sheriff’s jurisdiction throughout Orange County. The Juvenile Services Bureau program is housed at the Sheriff’s Southeast Station.
Pepperdine Resource Youth Diversion and Education (PRYDE)
In an effort to divert first-time juvenile offenders from the impacted Juvenile Justice System, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department is proud to announce its ongoing partnership with Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology. The PRYDE Program prevention, intervention, and counseling programs are available at no costs to at-risk youths and their families in all cities and unincorporated areas of Orange County. The program focuses on providing services and resources that help youth and their families make positive changes in their lives. PRYDE emphasizes education, family involvement and community support to give youth the tools and opportunities to accomplish their goals.
Juveniles can enter the PRYDE Program through one of three ways; The first is through a law enforcement contact that would normally result in the teenager’s referral to the Juvenile Justice System. Teens who are eligible for the program are generally first time offenders for non-violent crimes such as theft. The other two ways that juveniles can enter the PRYDE program are through a referral from a school administrator or teacher, and by referral from their parents. All three different methods by which juveniles are referred to the program begin with a comprehensive intake assessment. During the intake, PRYDE’s diversion specialists determine the appropriate services to provide or recommend to the juvenile and their family. Some of these services might include counseling, legal awareness or substance abuse education, or communication and problem solving training to name just a few. PRYDE also maintains an active list of other services and resources that may meet an individual or family’s needs.
School Resource Officer Program (SRO)
The School Resource Officer (SRO) Program places uniformed officers within educational institutions to meet a variety of needs. Although the SRO’s are predominantly assigned to Middle or High Schools that are located in the Sheriff’s jurisdiction of Orange County, they also respond to elementary and private education institutions within their areas. SRO’s meet many needs including strengthening relationships between youth and law enforcement, forging cooperative relationships with school staff to meet a variety of student needs, and augmenting existing safety and security planning at our schools. SRO’s handle criminal as well as social problems that occur with our youth and regularly attend sporting events, school functions, and parent meetings while still enforcing criminal laws. An SRO’s average day might include:
- Driving to the home of a student who hasn’t attended school in several days
- Presenting a class on teen violence, bullying or drug education to students, parents or staff
- Attending administrative meetings with school staff on a variety of topics from current trends to upcoming school events
- Reviewing school site safety plans for accuracy or potential issues
- Mentoring a student on a variety of topics including family problems, to career opportunities, or solutions to deal with interpersonal issues within their peer group
- Conducting initial criminal investigations of school related incidents
- Responding to actual criminal acts occurring on or surrounding the campus
Throughout all their activities, the fourteen senior patrol deputies assigned to the program provide a much needed partnership relationship between the individual school districts, school staff, and the students within the institutions. In their unique position side-by-side with educators, the SRO’s have the opportunity to act in a proactive way to defuse some incidents prior to them becoming significant or before they even occur.
The SRO Programs day-to-day management is handled by patrol operations and it is coordinated by the Juvenile Services Bureau Sergeant. SRO’s are assigned throughout the Sheriff’s Jurisdiction from San Clemente in South County, to Villa Park in the North.