Eight South Bend police officers graduated from a program designed to prevent youth violence and gang activity Wednesday.
It is called Gang Resistance Education and Training, or GREAT for short.
South Bend's police department has used it before, but dropped the program a couple years ago. A recent spike in youth violence made them decide to bring it back.
GREAT teaches officers how to effectively work in classrooms to prevent kids from getting involved in criminal activity.
“The bottom line is I expect this program to save lives, to save lives of young people in our community,” said South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. “To stop them from getting involved in violence and gangs before it happens instead of trying to deal with it afterwards.”
“Some of the big lessons are getting rid of the misconceptions about gangs and gang violence, teaching them about community,” said Antwon Jones of the SBPD Resource Office. “We have different lessons in the GREAT lesson plan that give the kids great opportunities to learn refusal skills.”
Officers will use the training to work with middle school age students.
Several Chicago police officers also came to South Bend for GREAT training.