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Apr 27, 2017

Belize and El Salvador Officers Conclude GREAT Training

Police officers from El Salvador were in Belize to take part in the GREAT program. They joined up with local police officers for a two-week training program that concluded today at the Radisson Hotel in the City. GREAT has had considerable success in gang and violence prevention. It has been implemented in Belize for years. The officers will now be deployed to classrooms to prevent youths from falling along the wayside. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Thirty-nine law enforcement officers, including fifteen policemen from outside of the country, have completed an intense two-week course in Gang Resistance and Education Training.  GREAT, as it is otherwise known, is an effective gang and violence prevention program.  It is designed for primary and high school students and aims to dissuade them from youth violence, delinquency and gang membership.  GREAT is also a key feature of community policing.

 

Elroy Carcamo

Insp. Elroy Carcamo, O.C., Community Policing

“As you know, we have had the GREAT program going on in Belize from since 2011 and several graduations [have been held] not only with youths but with police officers that have been trained to facilitate the program.  But this is the first time in the country of Belize when it comes to the GREAT program itself that we have international participants that are participating in the program.  Through this two-week training that they had, we had twenty-four officers that were from Belize and the other fifteen that are from El Salvador that came and participated in the GREAT program here in Belize and that’s what made it unprecedented that.  It’s the first time here that we are having it that way.”

 

GREAT is a rare program that tackles youth violence and gang prevention, in the sense that it has been scientifically evaluated.  The findings of those tests indicate that it has a considerable impact on the attitudes and decisions of students who participate in and complete the lessons.

 

Insp. Elroy Carcamo

“The GREAT training, like I mentioned the last time, is a very intense training and what happened is that we had to train, had these officers understand the difference that when they are out there doing police work to when they go into the classrooms to facilitate the GREAT programs.  And it’s a life skills program that they facilitate, so the training, first of all, we had educators who came in and taught them how to work around with the students within the classroom and thereafter they went into the life skills.  How to prevent the life skills training one step at a time.  How to follow the curriculum and ensure that they are executing what the curriculum directs them to execute and not [deviate] from what they need to do.  The GREAT program, like I said, does not only deal with the classroom setting, so these officers that are here that are graduating from this session will also be able to facilitate summer components.  So during the summer time they would be able to go into the community and formulate summer programs with the GREAT program life skills that they have learned to give it directly to the kids that are out there.”

 

It is the hope of the Belize Police Department that two additional officers will complete a group of six local team leaders.

 

Insp. Elroy Carcamo

“We have two more team leaders that went out to take the first phase of the training already, that they are already at level six of it.  We have one that the invitation has already been sent to us from the U.S. Embassy that will complete his seventh phase next month.  He will be going to Panama and he will be doing the shadow training.”

 

A female officer is among those being trained as team leaders. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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