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One for the Congressional Record

In honor of the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the G.R.E.A.T. Program, Oregon Senator Wyden recognized G.R.E.A.T. and its 20 years of success on the floor of the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, May 24, 2011. His speech is copied below from the official transcript of the proceedings in the Congressional Record:

(Senate - May 24, 2011)

[Page: S3265]


Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, I ask the Senate to join me in honoring the 20th anniversary of the Gang Resistance Education and Training--GREAT--Program and to commend law enforcement agencies across the nation for their dedication to educating America's youth in gang resistance.

Founded in 1991 with the support of Congress, the GREAT Program is a school-based curriculum led by law enforcement officers to instruct students on effective ways to avoid gang involvement and prevent youth violence and delinquent behavior. This program provides elementary and middle school students with the information and skills necessary to say no to gangs, to resolve conflict without the use of violence, and to set positive goals for themselves--helping America's youth take important steps in creating a future for themselves that does not include gangs or violence.

With western roots, the first GREAT classes were taught in Phoenix, AZ, in September of 1991. Over the past 20 years, GREAT has trained more than 12,000 law enforcement officers and nearly 6 million children have been educated in gang resistance and violence prevention. The program has also built key partnerships with nationally recognized organizations, such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the National Association of Police Athletic Leagues. These partnerships encourage positive relationships among the community, parents, schools, and law enforcement officers and help America's students build positive ties with law enforcement officers.

In March of 1994, my home State of Oregon received its first GREAT classes at Parkrose Middle School in Northeast Portland. Since its inception in Oregon, Portland Police Bureau officers have taught over 1,400 GREAT classes with nearly 43,000 graduating students. Portland Police Bureau officers have strengthened families [too] by participating in the GREAT families program, which has educated over 80 families integrating nearly 300 family members.

Additionally, I would like to recognize that the Portland Police Bureau was chosen by the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms as headquarters for the GREAT Program's Western Region, which [was] one of five regional training sites.

I am proud to honor the GREAT Program's 20th anniversary, the thousands of lives it has touched, and share its ongoing commitment to strengthening our communities through youth-violence prevention.


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