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Metro Police Hope Summer Camp Keeps Children Out of Gangs

Submitted by WorldNow and WKRN
Used with permission.

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE—The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department has created a summer camp to keep kids out of trouble.

Police said the boredom from being out of school can be the perfect catalyst to ease some children into gangs.

Metro police have created a Gang Resistance Education And Training (G.R.E.A.T.) camp, hoping to keep children out of violence in the present and future.

“We try and get to them early where we can influence their minds and hearts early on before they reach other people in the street that might try to influence them as well,” Metro Officer Harold Wells told Nashville’s News 2. “We try and get them to make better decisions regarding their futures—gangs and drugs and that sort of thing.”

Bishop George Price of North Nashville’s Bethesda Church of God, who is a police chaplain, said that when he is on call, it is not a question of if he will get called, but when.

“I know I’m going to get five or six calls a day or a night where some kid has been shot, and something has happened I got to respond to,” Price told Nashville’s News 2.

Price agrees that youth have to be mentored early, even as young as 5 years old, in order to keep them out of gangs. Price said camps like G.R.E.A.T. are too few.

“It gives them mentorship,” Price said. “It gives them a sense of activity, whereas you got them just floating from place to place, corner to corner. And you got the gangs saying, ‘Nobody loves you—we’ll be your friends.’”

Around 100 children are taking part in the police summer camp, and the Metro Police Department hopes that means 100 children will turn their backs to a life of violence.

“Our overall objective is to form a positive relationship with the young people here so they can look at us in a much more positive light, so if they need something they can come to us,” Wells said.

At the camp, children also take life skills courses, perform community service, and go on a field trip.

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