Hartford Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts has reason to smile today.
The positive effect of his crackdown on truancy, announced at the beginning of the school year, is spreading throughout the city.
The police department's most recent sweep of students who habitually skip class netted only six truants, two of whom were arrested. Most of the students - some 7 percent of total enrollment - who on any given day are absent without a plausible excuse have decided to start showing up.
Chief Roberts should keep up the pressure.
Controlling truancy prevents crime because unsupervised students are likely to make mischief. It also improves the students' chances of completing their education.
On a broader level, the truancy sweeps make for healthier police-community relations because they send a message that the city cares about the future of its children.
Under the chief's truancy plan, detectives from the department's Juvenile Investigations Division first identify chronic hooky players from lists provided by the school system.
Officers then either take appropriate law enforcement action or, if the source of the truancy is emotional, they put the child in the hands of a community or social service agency equipped to handle the problem. Police can also impose sanctions against parents or businesses that knowingly harbor children absent from school.
Hartford parents should be particularly pleased with the truancy crackdown. When children are where they are supposed to be, learning happens and crime drops.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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