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Commentary: Parents: Stay engaged with teens, keep talking

For most of our kids, school’s out for summer! And as a parent, do you know where your teen is?

As your police chief, I am becoming more and more concerned about the youth in our community. Being a parent myself, I know it’s never too early, or too late to talk your teen about what is going on in their lives.

For the most part, the majority of our youth are doing well and making good decisions.

However, there are a percentage of our youth facing unique challenges, either at home, or because they have made bad choices.

Some of these choices could impact them into adulthood. Even with good family situations, sometimes youth make choices that parents do not understand or approve of. What do parents do then? Don’t miss the signs — this is the time to get engaged. Even if you are not “sure,” take action because as parents we tend to notice the small changes.

Examples of poor choices by some of our youth just in the month of June included: disorderly conduct; resisting arrest; criminal mischief; theft; possession of marijuana; criminal trespass; reckless driving; reckless endangering; harassment; carrying a concealed weapon; theft of a firearm; unlawful possession of a firearm; and unlawful entry into a motor vehicle. In recent months there has also been an increase in alcohol and marijuana related charges with several situations requiring emergency medical attention.

There are resources here in the area to help with guidance and support. YouthThink is a community group of advocates and volunteers that offers a wide array of resources and opportunities. Its mission is educating our community to prevent and reduce youth substance use and other unhealthy behaviors.

I believe in Youththink and have observed Debbie Jones and her team and know they do great work. To reach out and find out information and ways to get involved, visit their website at YouthThink.net.

The Wasco County Department of Youth Services also supports parents with parenting classes and connections to other treatment resources.

We continue to partner with our youth services here in The Dalles and look forward to seeing the new youth center opening in the future. That said, we are failing our children if as parents, family members, friends, and even neighbors, when we see behavior or have concerns about youth in our community and don’t say something.

It’s all of our responsibility to take care of our youth.

If you suspect child abuse, report it. If you know of a family where parents are addicted to drugs and there are youth present, report it. Obviously, if you see youth breaking the law, report it. It doesn’t always mean that the youth will be arrested and incarcerated. We will work together with youth services to come up with good options to help the youth. Unfortunately there are times that incarceration is the only option.

Volunteer, get involved with our youth. I know there are many solid families in our community that could contribute in the many services our community offers our youth. Every kid deserves a chance to be successful, please get involved and do your part!

On to police business: I am extremely pleased to announce we have had two promotions processes within our department in the past two weeks. Sgt. Jamie Carrico will be promoted to captain effective Aug. 1. Officer Josh Jones and Officer Eric Macnab will be promoted to sergeant effective July 17.

We will be having a badge pinning ceremony for the three promotions for family, co-workers, and friends at the police department later this month.

I am also extremely pleased to announce we have made conditional job offers to two new recruit officers pending a psychological test and an extensive background investigation currently underway.

We are very excited about the future of your police agency and I believe there are many good things to come. We have a terrific group of officers and I believe we just added two more excellent candidates to our team.

I would like to thank Wasco County Juvenile Director Molly Rogers and Officer Joe Lick for their contributions to this article.

Until next month, be safe.

— Patrick Ashmore is the chief of The Dalles Police Department. He also spent many years in the Oregon State Police.

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