Bethel police have identified five juveniles age 10 and 13, suspected of vandalizing preschool classrooms and smashing windows in more than a dozen cars owned by the Lower Kuskokwim School District. Charges are being sent to the division of juvenile justice.
Lieutenant Joe Corbett says this is not the first time police have dealt vandalism in the school, which has high quality cameras that were rolling.
“We put the images around the police department, we put them in front of school administrators to try to get those kids identified. It normally doesn’t take us very long.”
The damage was discovered Sunday morning and closed the preschool this week. Corbett says the investigation is not entirely complete.
“The first confession isn’t always the entire truth. We need to work it from every angle and make sure that what we’re being told, the confession we did obtain are accurate, consistent, and make sure there is no one else out there who could be escaping punishment on this, if we’re to get all of the kids that were involved.”
The preliminary damage estimates exceed $50,000 for the vehicles and at least $50,000 to the preschool.
“This amount, this level of damage is certainly out of the ordinary. But property damage from kids in this town has been a problem for a long time, and a lot of this is about parental supervision.”
Going forward, Corbett says the police will be enforcing a zero tolerance policy on the city’s curfew rules.
“It’s never been enforced at that level, we’ve always left that up to officer discretion. But when a problem’s been identified, it needs to be addressed. We clearly see there is a problem here. It’s our tool to address it, but it’s not the only tool that the city and citizens have. If you have responsible parents involved in what their children are doing… That’s the best tool of them all. Then we don’t have to write tickets.”
Parents can be fined up to $250 for curfew violations.