LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – More than a dozen officers from around Michigan and the country wrapped up a week-long training on Friday that aims to help their departments better connect with their communities and teach kids skills to keep them out of youth violence.
“It feels good to have completed the program and really have a baseline on the things that we can apply to them and things we can teach them to help them out for their futures in elementary and middle school through adulthood,” said Lansing Police Officer De’Jeeiare “DJ” Davis.
Davis was only in elementary school when he sat in on a violence prevention class being taught by Drew Macon. Gang Resistance Education and Training or, G.R.E.A.T for short, is a US Department of Justice-backed program aimed at teaching skills like conflict resolution to kids.
12 years later, Macon is still teaching Davis new skills but now it’s how to be a teacher for his own class.
“I’ve been doing this quite a while but it’s something I have a passion for and to see DJ go through, this is very humbling,” said Davis.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said a study on the evidence-based skills course found a 39% reduction in odds that children who went through the course would get involved in gang activity compared to kids who didn’t.
Program instructors said similar training sessions are scattered throughout Central America and the US. Some officers came as far as California and even Turk and Caicos to earn their certification.
“We see also that there is familiarity with what’s happening even though it’s overseas and in the United States, it works well with us. We are able to communicate with people and work well with what we’ve been taught,” SGT. Damien Mitchell of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force.
Lansing Police said they hope to host the certification program again in the next two or three years.