Mobile police officers make themselves part of the classroom setting to teach a curriculum designed to prevent youth crime, violence and gang involvement. Since 2015, officers have presented the Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) program to elementary school students, majority fourth graders.
This year, the kickoff event for the G.R.E.A.T. program is Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 9 a.m. at Morningside Elementary School located at 2700 Greenbrier Drive South.
G.R.E.A.T. is taught to children before they reach the prime ages for introduction into gangs and delinquent behavior. The lessons cover important topics such as understanding how decisions affect outcomes, communicating messages clearly, controlling anger and respecting others. Students learn through discussions, role playing and group work.
Fourteen Mobile police officers are certified to teach the G.R.E.A.T. program. As an evidence-based program, it allows law enforcement the opportunity to foster stronger relationships with students as well as with their schools.
Participating schools include Spencer-Westlawn Elementary, Maryvale Elementary, Gaillard Elementary, Morningside Elementary, Craighead Elementary, Ella Grant Elementary, Eichold-Mertz Elementary, Dodge Elementary, Howard Elementary, Holloway Elementary, E.R. Dickson Elementary and Kate Shephard Elementary.
Last year, approximately 1,000 Mobile County Public School System elementary students graduated from the G.R.E.A.T. program. The Mobile Police Department Office of Strategic Initiatives implemented the program to be taught in the elementary schools and oversees it each year.