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Luverne Police grant is GREAT

The Luverne Police Department received some "great" news last Thursday.

U.S. Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) announced last week that the U.S. Department of Justice would be releasing $4,613 to the LPD for the Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT) program.

"Our purpose for the GREAT grant is to educate the children in school," LPD Police Chief Bob Davis said. "It will help teach them the dos and don'ts on children who look to other children that lead them to problems, not with just their family, but with us as well. We also try to teach them about peer pressure and how to deal with certain people and how to say no. We look to the family to help us because if they help us in our goal to teach their child a little bit about saying no and about peer pressure because it will also help them at home. It's a two-fold situation. We teach the child and his or her family."

According to the Senate Office, the GREAT program is a life-skills competency program designed to provide students with the skills they need to avoid gang pressure and youth violence. The program's violence prevention curriculum helps students develop values and practice behaviors that will help to avoid destructive behaviors and activities. The program will train law enforcement officers to administer the curriculum to students.

"I am pleased to announce funding for this important program that will assist the important work being done by the Luverne Police Department and the GREAT program," Sen. Shelby said. "These funds will provide opportunities for law enforcement to create a comprehensive plan to prevent juvenile delinquency through education and encouragement."

The LPD's School Resource Officer Ed Billings, who's been with the department for five years, will be teaching the GREAT program, which is intended for middle school age children.

"When you actually see what he does, it not only has an affect on the teacher and the family, but you can also see it in the child," Davis said. "We just hope that the parents carries that on at home."

Billings also teaches DARE classes in the Crenshaw County School System.

Davis said the GREAT program would include hands on curriculum.

"We don't tell them, we let them have their own choices," Davis said. "We want them to know that the choices they make will have an affect on them tomorrow. The tools we use are tools they can actually see and experience hands on learning processes."