TAVARES – The Lake County Work in Lieu of Arrest (WILA) program was recently highlighted by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice at the Florida Association of School Resource Officers annual conference.
This juvenile civil citation program, which is a joint effort between the Lake County Board of County Commissioners and the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, was recognized for its unique, collaborative nature, as well as its successful implementation. It gives first-time juvenile offenders who commit misdemeanor crimes an alternative to arrest, while still holding them accountable for their transgressions.
"I am excited that our program was one of four civil citation programs chosen to present at the conference," said Stephanie Glass, Program Specialist in the County’s Probation/Teen Court Division. "It is a testament to the commitment and collaborative efforts of our Commissioners and Sheriff, to be recognized as a program worthy of duplication after only seven months."
Those who take part in the program must complete 20 community service hours of supervised work detail with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, which could include community clean-ups, work in a community garden, beautification and painting at County parks, assisting homeless veterans, work at the landfill or packaging meals for Kids Against Hunger.
The civil citation process helps keep non-violent juvenile offenders out of the justice system and reduces the amount of tax-payer dollars spent on processing misdemeanor offenses, ultimately allowing law enforcement to focus its resources on more serious crimes.
Started in January 2012, the WILA program has had 38 youth complete a total of 760 hours of community service. The civil citation process has also recently expanded to road deputies and the City of Eustis.
For more information about the program, call the Lake County Conservation & Compliance Department at 352-742-6509.