WASHINGTON—U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-08) today announced that the Township of Belleville has been awarded a $16,000 grant from the Justice Department’s Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT) program.
“Educating young people about gang activity is the best way to prevent this terrible scourge from reaching deeper into our communities,” stated Pascrell. “As a former teacher, city mayor and lifetime resident of Paterson, I know the insidious ways that gangs prey on young people. I fully understand the unique role that schools play in providing students with the skills they need to resist gang pressure and I applaud Belleville Township for taking this initiative.”
The GREAT program is designed to train criminal justice professionals to deliver a school-based curriculum that teaches life-skills competencies, gang awareness, and violence-avoidance techniques.
The Township of Belleville, through the Police Department will use the grant funds to provide the core and elementary school curriculum to approximately 980 students in an effort to promote the sprit of fellowship, positive interaction, and cooperation with law enforcement.
Through the grant, all fourth and fifth grade students in the township will receive structured lesson plans, taught by a school resource officer who is especially trained in community policing strategies that target youth and their families.
The city anticipates that this multi-faceted approach, which includes a strong alliance with the Board of Education, will prevent and reduce gang activity among area youth.
“The GREAT program is a proven success that allows law enforcement to apply that community-based approach to crime prevention that is missing in too many neighborhoods. Through this program, I am confident that Belleville’s students will benefit through new bonds they develop with teachers, community organizers and local law enforcement,” concluded Pascrell.