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Preventing youth crime, gang involvement and violence

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Heather Metcalf

Posted: Monday, May 23, 2011 12:00 am

There are three full-time Lodi Police officers who hold special assignments as school resource officers and are GREAT-trained.

Officer Raul Trevino, a 22-year veteran officer, has taught GREAT for the past three years in addition to his duties as a school resource officer and involvement in the Special Investigations Unit (gang and narcotics unit) during school breaks. His last graduating class was at Leroy Nichols Elementary School on May 5. He reminded the kids to take the lessons forward with them into middle school, high school, college and their adult lives to be better people, to better their lives and the lives of those around them.

With Officer Trevino’s rotation back to patrol, we will miss his humor in the classrooms and amazing ability to play the roles of counselor, father, police officer and friend that he shared with thousands of students during the past five years as an SRO.

In his absence, we welcome Officer Gary Fauth to the unit.

GREAT is designed for fourththrough seventh-graders. In a perfect setting, we would be in the schools teaching and building relationships with all grade-level students at every elementary, middle and high school within the city limits.

While the LPD would like to bring GREAT and other programs to as many students as possible, having three to four GREAT-trained officers who take on teaching in addition to countless responsibilities as SROs are the resources we have at this time.

The program also incurs financial costs for student supplies (T-shirts, name tents, and a small amount of goodies at graduation with cupcakes and juice). At a time when schools and businesses are trying to preserve their very existence, it can be a stretch for PTAs, civic groups and local businesses to donate.

From experience, we have learned that to make the biggest impact with limited resources, we hone in on our students entering middle school, our sixth-graders.

Overall, I am extremely impressed with the content of the program, how it is implemented, and how well it is received. I have not heard from one student, parent, teacher or principal that the program was a waste of time. In fact, students are usually sad to see it end, and ask when they will see their GREAT instructors again or when they will get another LPD officer into their classrooms to teach.

It is a worthwhile program and here’s to another successful school year of teaching GREAT in our terrific Lodi schools.

The SRO unit would like to thank the Lodi Unified School District, Lodi Police Department and Lodi News-Sentinel for their continued support, and area businesses such as Walmart, Clayton’s Barber Shop and Rancho San Miguel for their generous donations this past year to help make this program possible.

During the past three years, SROs have taught and graduated more than 600 Lodi students from GREAT.

For more information, please visit www.great-online.org.

Any comments, questions or advice for Behind the Badge can be e-mailed to Jeanie Biskup at jbiskup@pd.lodi.gov; mailed to Lodi Police Department, 215 W. Elm St., Lodi, CA 95240; or asked by phone at 333-6864.

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