Local News

Sheriff Says Gang Prevention Program Belongs in Cumberland County Classrooms

Posted October 24, 1999

— The Cumberland County Sheriff's Office has spent money and lots of time on gang prevention training. Problem is, the school system has not yet decided if that kind of program belongs in the classroom.

The program called Gang Resistance Education and Training, GREAT, is used in hundreds of school systems nationwide. Sheriff Moose Butler says it is a proactive approach to preventing gang violence. But school board members are not so sure.

Butler says GREAT needs a place in the classroom.

"The knowledge should be made available, and I think we are missing out if we don't take advantage of this program," says Butler.

Last year, the school's curriculum committee turned down the program when it was proposed by the Fayetteville Police Department. The program was designed for the entire seventh grade, one hour a week for ten weeks.

"We've had concerns about impact on how effective that would be, serving that many students over a short period of time," says Sara Piland, spokesperson for the school system.

So together, the sheriff and school superintendent are working to come up with a happy medium.

Sheriff Butler applied for the $112,000 grant and got it. They agreed to send deputies to training in the hopes they will come back with new ways to make the program more effective for a more selective group of students.

Parent Shea Emerson says the more support the better for her daughter.

"School and church can help her and I welcome that, but I feel the foundation should come from home," says Emerson.

The school curriculum committee will hear about the program again at their next meeting. The sheriff is hoping they will have a change of heart.

If the curriculum committee once again turns down the GREAT program, The sheriff would have to return the grant money, including $3,000 already spent on deputy training.


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