BELL COUNTY (May 12, 2013)--The number of juvenile court cases in Bell County has dropped nearly 40 percent in the last four years.
In 2009, there were 1,365 referrals to the juvenile court.
That number was short 284 in 2010.
The decrease continued through 2012 to 857 cases.
There are also about 25 percent fewer felony cases, from 202 in 2009 to 153 last year.
Bell County Judge Ed Johnson, who has seen juvenile cases for 27 years, said family relationships and community efforts have an impact on a juvenile's behavioral problems.
"In the last 20 years, they have also realized that soldiers with better family lives are better soldiers, and so they have also implemented a lot of family-based programs to provide support for these young families and their children," Judge Johnson said.
He also said the huge drop in referrals despite the county's rapid growth shows the community is doing something right.
"About 85% of the kids we see once," Judge Johnson said.
"We pick them up, dust them off, turn them around and had them back out in the right direction."
Judge Johnson added that the number of cases is fairly equal across Bell County: from east of the county to Belton to the greater Killeen-Fort Hood area.