In 2012 the Gloucester Township Police Department created Project MARRS (Missing at Risk Response Strategies) which is a comprehensive approach to missing persons and runaway youth. MARRS acknowledges that today’s missing child is tomorrow’s victim – a victim often of drug abuse and violence. A study of 239 juveniles reported as missing to the Gloucester Township Police Department found that juveniles leave the home because they are witnessing substance abuse and violence or are even the victims of violence and sexual abuse. Failing to address this issue is failing to prevent young people from becoming criminals and leaving them in a vulnerable atmosphere. MARRS redefined the department’s procedures and now carefully screens every juvenile who has left home (run-away) and then returns. The components of MARRS identifies early at risk youth and offers both the services associated with Project CASEY (Community Actions Steps Engaging Youth) and also notifies school officials of every juvenile who has left home so that they may be offered in-school services.
An essential component of GT VISION is the involvement of networking both within the community and with the Gloucester Township Police Department. Each week the department’s juvenile detectives and School Resource Officers meet to share information about youth and all known contacts with police. This meeting is entitled the Juvenile Unit or “JU” Huddle. This meeting is also attended by the Community Relations Bureau Commander, DARE Officers, Operations Commander, and Investigations Bureau Commander. During the JU Huddle all contacts with juveniles are discussed, reviewed, and referred to the appropriate police or in school program.