Juvenile diversion

MILFORD – The school board last week gave its approval for a juvenile diversion program for non-violent, school-based offenses.

Richard Addonizio, a Milford school resource officer, explained the whys and hows of the program to the board.

“We try to temper accountability” with the public’s desire to get juveniles on the right course,” he said. Offenses considered appropriate for diversion include criminal mischief (vandalism), theft, harassment, criminal threatening, drug possession and smoking or vaping.

“Not all juvenile offense are best addressed in court,” he said. Among the advantages are a shorter time between the offense and its consequences, first-hand guidance from the officer, improved relationships with officers and more direct reparations to victims. A good example, he said, is the case of a 16-year-old who accidentally drove over the middle school lawn who had no prior offenses and no school disciplinary issues. It was arranged for Bill Cooper, the director of buildings and grounds, to show him how to re-seed the lawn. “It was all done in a week, from Monday to Friday,” he said, and through the courts, it would have taken weeks.