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Jan 12, 2015

New Officers Receive GREAT Instruction

Belize has received top marks among countries in Central America for its success in the GREAT Program of the Central America Regional Security Initiative to curb crime in the region. The Gang Resistance Education And Training Program, with the support of the U.S. Government and the Ministries of Education and National Security, was introduced to Belize back in 2009. Since then, eighty officers have been trained as instructors and over six thousand students—from both primary and secondary schools—have completed the program. Today, another batch of officers began their training to become certified instructors or the program.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

The Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT) Program of the Police Department commenced a two-week training workshop today at the Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza. Approximately thirty-six officers from across the country are being taught the fundamentals of the program including the dos and don’ts when dealing with youths.

 

Ron Doyle

Ron Doyle, Trainer, GREAT Program

“We are training police officers to go into schools and work with children in their natural environment to learn what they need to do in order to avoid those problems. We use police officers because police officers have credibility when we are talking about things like crimes, violence and delinquency and gangs. And they work with these issues on a daily basis, they understand what the dangers are and they can communicate that well to the children.”

 

The GREAT Program is part of a larger scheme called the Central America Regional Security Initiative that is being done in collaboration with the United States Government. It’s an effort to have a grip on criminal and gang activity through advance community policing, gang prevention, and economic and social programming for at-risk youth and communities affected by crime. In Belize, over six thousand youths have been impacted by the GREAT program.

 

Douglas Hyde

Douglas Hyde, Public Relations Coordinator, Eastern Police Division

“We’ve seen some great successes, specifically in terms of behavioral change and also in terms of school participation because we also look at the area of school dropouts, kids who get in gang activities and gangs on a whole. So we look at that as a crucial success for less dropouts within the school.  We don’t offer these skills within the academy, but programs like the GREAT program offer the basic skills and the police officers who are selected participate on a day-to-day community and school—whether visits or approaches that they do—everyday so it is important that they learn and understand these basic skills.”

 

According to trainer Ron Doyle, there are several requirements that the officers must satisfy in order to be instructors to meet the demands of the schools that want to be part of the program.

 

Ron Doyle

“This is really making a difference in the behavior of those children—not only in the classroom, but also outside of school. I’ll give you an example that tells me how much difference it is making is because the schools, where the program is not being taught, are clamoring for it. One of the reasons why we are here to train more officers is we’ve only been able to train a few at a time and it makes it difficult to get it out to all the schools.”

 

Douglas Hyde

“The program has been asking, specifically the schools, have been requesting a lot for more police officers participation and the successes. The Ministry of Education is partnering with us and so we have many other schools, including high schools, have been requesting for our assistance within the GREAT program. What has happened to us is the human resources. We have a total of eighty officers nationally that have been trained over the years and so this thirty-six will join and compliment that eighty officers and so we realize that the program will be expanded to key villages that we’ve never expanded before and likewise within the north.”

 

At the end of the workshop, the officers will be certified as instructors of the GREAT Program. Duane Moody for News Five.

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