U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Standards Relating to Police Handling of Juvenile Problems

NCJ Number
Date Published
171 pages
These standards apply to the role and authority of the police in handling juvenile problems, implications of this role for police organization and personnel, and the need for incentives and accountability in the police handling of juveniles.
The standards adopt the approach that police should continue to serve as the primary source of referral and diversion of juvenile problems away from the juvenile court. Even though the standards clarify and structure police authority and responsibility for handling juvenile problems, they also indicate that the police must continue to have discretion in how and when to respond to certain types of problems. The standards urge that police discretion be guided by police administrative policy. Use of the least restrictive alternative in handling juvenile problems is recommended, with alternatives to arrest suggested. The standards provide that the same constitutional restrictions imposed in adult criminal investigations should apply to juvenile criminal investigations. While recognizing that most juvenile problems will initially be dealt with by patrol officers, the standards urge the use of juvenile bureaus or juvenile officers to assist in establishing policies, serving as liaison with other agencies, assuming responsibility for followup work, and providing training support. Because of the pivotal role the police play in juvenile justice, the standards urge police administrators to speak out regularly on deficiencies and gaps in services to juveniles. Appended are a discussion of the role of the police in urban society and relevant standards from other volumes in the Juvenile Justice Standards series. A bibliography of 84 listings is provided. (Author summary modified)

Date Published: January 1, 1980