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SUBMITTED BY the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives–Public
Affairs Division
Used with permission

WASHINGTON—The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and Hart Middle School, Washington, DC, today announced the graduation of 40 Hart Middle School students from the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Gang Resistance Education And Training (G.R.E.A.T.) Program as the program marks its 20th anniversary. ATF Acting Assistant Director Audrey Stucko, Office of Human Resources and Professional Development; Hart Principal Billy Kearney; Assistant Chief Rodney Parks, Metropolitan Police Department, Washington, DC; representatives from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), DOJ; and others provided remarks.

ATF is proud of its 20-year involvement with the G.R.E.A.T. Program and its efforts to teach youngsters to avoid gangs and peer pressure, said ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson. G.R.E.A.T. has touched the lives of millions of young people across this country as ATF agents and other G.R.E.A.T. instructors have taught them to set goals, make appropriate decisions and become productive citizens.

At the request of Hart Middle School, an ATF special agent taught G.R.E.A.T.’s 13-week curriculum to seventh-grade students after a former G.R.E.A.T. student and current VISTA coordinator at Hart cited a need for the Program. G.R.E.A.T. middle school lessons are designed for sixth- through eighth- grade students as they form new peer groups, and become more susceptible to peer pressure and delinquent behavior.

G.R.E.A.T. lessons provide life skills that teach students to avoid using delinquent behavior and violence as a means of resolving problems. The Program is taught in classrooms by ATF agents and other federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement officers. With prevention as its primary objective, G.R.E.A.T. is intended as an immunization against delinquency, youth violence, and gang membership.

G.R.E.A.T. also teaches a six-week curriculum for fourth- and fifth-grade students that is designed to foster positive attitudinal and behavioral changes. A six-week G.R.E.A.T. Families program engages parents and their children in cooperative lessons that strengthen families, facilitate open communication, and enhance family decision-making skills. G.R.E.A.T. summer programs vary from community to community and add structure to the summer months, while reinforcing the G.R.E.A.T. message. The various components build upon each other and result in more success when students are exposed to more than one component.

Since 1991, G.R.E.A.T. has graduated more than 6 million students and certified as G.R.E.A.T. instructors more than 12,000 law enforcement officers and professionals from 2,400 agencies. Across the country, during the 2009−2010 school year, more than 1,200 G.R.E.A.T. instructors from 528 cities and towns reported more than 375,000 G.R.E.A.T. graduating students.

The G.R.E.A.T. Program was developed in 1991 through the collaborative efforts of ATF and the Phoenix Police Department. The Program began as an eight-lesson middle school curriculum and trained its first G.R.E.A.T. law enforcement officers in early 1992. In 1998, four law enforcement agencies were added to assist in the administration of the Program: La Crosse, Wisconsin, Police Department; Orange County, Florida, Sheriff’s Office; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Police Department; and Portland, Oregon, Police Bureau.

Currently, G.R.E.A.T. has four regions and training sites: Southeast—Metropolitan Nashville, Tennessee, Police Department; Midwest Atlantic—La Crosse, Wisconsin, Police Department; Western—Portland, Oregon, Police Bureau; and Southwest—Phoenix, Arizona, Police Department.

In 2004, by an act of Congress, administration of the G.R.E.A.T. Program transferred from ATF to the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). In October 2004, BJA awarded a grant to the Institute for Intergovernmental Research to provide national training coordination services and related tasks. ATF also partners with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to achieve the goals of the G.R.E.A.T. Program.

Other federal and local partners in attendance included representatives from OJJDP, the Phoenix Police Department, the La Crosse Police Department, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, the Portland Police Bureau, and the Institute for Intergovernmental Research.

For more information about the G.R.E.A.T. Program, visit www.great-online.org. More information about BJA is available at www.bja.gov and about ATF at www.atf.gov.

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