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Cops on the hunt for class cutters
Columbus police officers are on the hunt for neighborhood kids cutting school.
According to Sgt. Joseph Horton with the Columbus Division of Police, Chief Walter Distelzweig has ordered the formation of a truancy unit on the city’s Westside.
“There hasn’t been one here for the past year, maybe two,” said Horton, adding that the Westside hasn’t been a problem area for truancy in the past.
“It’s a much bigger problem up north,” he said. “But the zone in the northeast has six high schools, where we only have two.”
“We don’t have the issues out here at West that they do in other areas,” Horton added.
The unit will consist of two officers, dedicated to the task of picking up truant students.
“It won’t be the same two officers every day and officers from other precincts are going to help out, too. This way, I’m not losing any officers,” said Horton.
On the first offense, students are picked up and taken to the truancy center, located at a YMCA downtown.
The second offense requires that both the parents and the student attend a class.
On the third violation, parents of the truant students could face misdemeanor charges and up to a $500 fine.
The problem with truant students, according to Horton, is not that they are missing school, but what they are doing while on the streets.
“The kids that are out cutting class, more than likely they’re breaking into cars, doing burglaries. They’re just up to no good,” he said.
Officer Ken Ramos, liaison officer with the Division, says the problems with truancy often start before students reach high school.
“The younger kids are in more of a dangerous situation because they’re vulnerable,” said Ramos.
While some students, such as those being home schooled, are permitted to be out during restricted hours and carry written permission, Ramos says he rarely needs proof of who’s out to cause trouble.
“The way they answer your questions, you can tell right away,” said Ramos, adding that kids who are not breaking the law are always more respectful to officers.
The truancy unit kicked of Aug. 31 and will continue throughout the school year. There have already been some offenders caught.
“I just got my first one yesterday,” said Horton.
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