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Jun 30, 2015

GREAT Program Graduates 400

The Police Department held a graduation ceremony for its GREAT Program students today at the Bliss.  The program, which official got underway in 2008, is operated under the umbrella of the Community Policing Unit. The initiative is used as a tool to prevent violence and its curricula is taught by law enforcement officers. Over thirty-two schools and thousands of students in the city have matriculated from the program. Today, more students were recognized and an update on the progress of the program was provided. Andrea Polanco attended the graduation and has the story.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Criminal activities linked to inner city gangs continue to be one the challenges for local law enforcement, and it also puts a strain on the public health system. For that reason, the Belize Police Department started the Gang Resistance and Education Training, better known as the GREAT Program.

 

Elroy Carcamo

Sgt. Elroy Carcamo, GREAT Focal Point

“Law enforcement intervention and suppression efforts alone are not sufficient to solve the youth gang problem we are facing in our society. Preventing young people from joining gang in the first place is crucial to realizing a significant and lasting reduction in youth gang activities. In order to do so, our youths need to know how to make good decisions that will be beneficial to them in the future. These are life decisions which do not occur frequently but have huge consequences. The Gang Resistance and Education Training Program is a community wildlife skill program which combat youth involvement in gang related behaviors. GREAT allows police officers and children the opportunity to interact with each other in a more positive way. Basically, it gives the officers the opportunity to change the life of a child or influence the life of a child decision to better the community. The mission is to prevent youth violence and gang involvement.”

 

And today, over four hundred Belize City primary school students who trained in the GREAT Program received their certificates of completion of the GREAT Program. Today’s cohort joins thousands more who have graduated since the program started in 2011.

 

Sgt. Elroy Carcamo

“Since then we have ninety four trained police officers and have graduated, with you all who will be graduating today, we will have eight thousand, five hundred and forty five youths from across the country that have went through the GREAT Program, both through the middle school, elementary and summer component. For the school year, we are looking at roughly two thousand students that have participated across the country. Within Belize City itself, four hundred and sixty four and within the rural we have three hundred and fifty seven.”

 

The program has four core areas.

 

Sgt Elroy Carcamo

“Personal skills, resiliency skills, resistance skills and social skills. The objective of the program is to alter the perception about gangs and to develop social competency skills, foster empathy for victims, encourage pro social affiliation and promote social responsibility.”

 

Brent Hamilton

Sgt. Brent Hamilton, O.C., Community Precinct 2, Eastern Division

“As the students have learned in the GREAT training, how to deal with several challenges in life and just to mention a few, of bullying and self esteem. But it is very important whenever student goes through these challenges, there is someone that they can lean on and they are our police officers. That there is someone that can help them to be a better person for tomorrow.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Andrea Polanco.

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