Maine State Police Sgt. Kristopher Kennedy leads members of the Auburn Boys and Girls Club through a tour of the Evidence Response team truck in Auburn, Maine, Tuesday morning, July 23, 2019. Credit: Andree Kehn | AP

Kids in Maine are among the more than 11 million children nationwide who do not have adult supervision during the afterschool hours, with about 20 percent of them unsupervised after school.

Coincidentally, juvenile crime peaks in the hours between 2 to 6 p.m. immediately following the end of the school day, with about 29 percent of the crime occurring during the hours following the last school bell, a national study released Wednesday found.

That’s why it is important to invest in high-quality afterschool programs to give kids productive activities and to reduce crime, according to a finding in the study.

The study, “From Risk to Opportunity: Afterschool Programs Keep Kids Safe,” was released by the Council for a Strong America, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group composed of more than 5,000 police chiefs, sheriffs and prosecutors across the country.

The Auburn Police Department examined four years of crime data and found that 23 percent of all crimes committed by youth offenders and 28 percent of all youth victims of crime in Auburn took place within an area of less than half a square mile.

“I want to see these kids learning to cook or being tutored in math, not in the back of my squad car,” Chief Jason Moen of the Auburn Police Department said in a prepared statement. “As a police chief, I support high-quality afterschool programming because of their many proven outcomes for at-risk youth.”

To help turn around the crime statistics, the Auburn Police Department established the Auburn Police Activities League in the spring of 2013 in the heart of the ½-square-mile area identified by crime data.

The center provides educational and athletic activities for kids after school and during the summer, plus positive interaction with police officers. One program in collaboration with the Auburn School Department, “Science through Cooking,” is run for students from Franklin-Merrill Hill Alternative School.

The center has offered free breakfast and lunch each morning for the past three summers in partnership with the Auburn School Department.