SEATTLE — Bremerton Police Chief Steve Strachan spoke at the National Conference of State Legislatures Legislative Summit Early Learning Fellows meeting August 2.
At the summit, the nation’s largest gathering of state legislators and staff, Strachan advocated for research-based home visiting programs and high-quality early learning programs as effective crime prevention strategies.
“As police chief, my number one priority is to protect public safety, but I know from personal experience that we can’t just arrest, prosecute and incarcerate our way out of crime problems,” Strachan said. “We have to implement strategies that keep people from turning to crime in the first place. Implementing evidence-based practices that help our children grow up healthy and well-rounded is one of the best strategies to keep kids from ending up in jails down the line.”
In his speech, Strachan highlighted research showing that children who are abused and neglected are twice as likely to commit a crime by age 19 and 29 percent more likely to be arrested for a violent crime as juveniles or as adults.
He urged the group of state legislators from around the country to support proven programs to prevent child abuse and neglect such as voluntary home visiting programs. In these programs trained professionals, including nurses, visit at-risk pregnant women and new parents to provide guidance and support during the age at which children are most vulnerable.
The Nurse-Family Partnership, one voluntary home visiting program, has been shown to reduce rates of child abuse and neglect by 50 percent and long-term studies have found that 15 years after the services end, both the mothers and children are 60 percent less likely to commit a crime than those in a control group.
Strachan also presented evidence on how high-quality early learning programs can prepare children for long-term academic success, thereby reducing the likelihood they will turn to crime in later years.
According to a Fight Crime: Invest in Kids report, one landmark study found that children left out of the high-quality Chicago Child-Parent Centers program were 70 percent more likely to be arrested for a violent crime by age 18, while those served were 20 percent less likely to have been incarcerated as young adults.
Strachan has been a longtime advocate for both early care and education programs and home visiting programs to help prepare all children for success in school and life. Just this year, Strachan was a strong supporter of the Early Start Act, a landmark early learning bill that passed with bipartisan support.
Strachan has more than 27 years law enforcement experience and has been a member of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids for seven years.