Putnam County Sheriff H.D. 'Gator' DeLoach joined Flagler Sheriff Staly, St. Johns Sheriff Hardwick and Volusia Sheriff Chitwood along with Seventh Judicial State Attorney R.J. Larizza to talk about an initiative to prosecute violent juvenile offenders with the assistance of FDLE and ATF.
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In Putnam alone since May, the state attorney's office has tracked 29 juvenile offenders committed 87 crimes. When encompassing the three other counties, the number skyrockets to more than 570 crimes committed by juveniles.
Today's press conference showed a unified stand by the four sheriff's, FDLE, ATF and the state attorney's office to track firearms being used in violent crimes as well as a promise that juveniles committing these crimes will face adult charges and the prosecution will ask for harsher sentences. Media was also able to inspect and see a demonstration of the trailer which will be used by the sheriff's departments to trace firearms used in crime.
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Recently a juvenile was convicted of shooting two other juveniles in a drug deal gone wrong. At the time the crime was committed the juvenile was 15 years old.
"We've got juveniles who think they are adults and want to commit crimes as adults," Sheriff DeLoach said. "This is a systematic problem that spans generations. It wasn't our creation, but now we must work to find resolutions to keep our communities safe."
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Between Putnam, St. Johns, Flagler, and Volusia County, Operation Young Guns has amassed 200 plus cases circuit wide, more than 190 defendants and over 570 charges.
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