News & Events

David Dyess: Partnership helps foster positive path for youth

David Dyess is chief of police for the city of Stuart.

How can we keep our community’s youth on a positive path toward becoming law-abiding, tax-paying, productive citizens here in Stuart and throughout Martin County?

How can we keep our neighborhoods safe?

One clear way to achieve these goals is to come together to support our youngest residents, especially those who need it the most. The Stuart Police Department is proud to be a partner in this mission, and our work couldn’t be done without the support of the Children’s Services Council of Martin County. The Council, a dedicated source of ad valorem taxes to fund children and family programs, has been the backbone of our successful collaboration in East Stuart for more than a decade.

Known as the East Stuart Youth Initiative, this partnership consists of the police department, along with the city of Stuart’s Community Service Department, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Martin County, and Tykes and Teens. These agencies work together to provide a variety of low-cost services under one roof (the East 10th Street Recreation Center) to children and families living throughout Martin County.

This is a unique, holistic approach to meeting the needs of our entire community. With the substantial oversight and guidance provided by the Children’s Services Council, this partnership is a model for success.

Along with low-cost programs to keep kids engaged, and learning and growing while school is out, this initiative includes mental health services, a voluntary program for suspended students, gang prevention programming and positive adult role models. There are anti-drug programs, sports and art programs, cultural diversity initiatives, homework help with certified teachers and, what I am most proud of, the Youth Intervention First Offender Program.

This program accepts juveniles who are non-violent, first-time offenders who commit misdemeanor crimes. The program imposes sanctions without involving the criminal justice system, saving taxpayers thousands of dollars per child. Our success rate is very high  the vast majority of participants never re-offend.

With Council funding as a vital part of the process, we see results. In the 2012-13 Council grant year, we served 500 youth in the East Stuart Youth Initiative. More than 95 percent of those participants were not involved in the juvenile justice system. This reduces our overall tax burden by allowing our police officers to focus on other areas of the community and keep our kids out of the criminal justice system.

Stuart is safer, and our kids are more likely to reach their full potential.

I am proud to be a part of a police department  and community  that values and prioritizes prevention programs to keep our children on a path to becoming productive adults. The Children’s Services Council is crucial to our success. Without the Council, our ability to provide this path for Martin County’s youth would not exist.

This November, all Martin County voters will decide whether to reauthorize the Children’s Services Council. I hope you will join me in supporting this successful agency.