Implementing a G.R.E.A.T. Program in a community requires careful consideration and planning. The success is founded on the mutual commitment of law enforcement and educational agencies, united in a common goal to:
- Provide youth with the skills necessary to combat the stresses that set the stage for gang involvement.
- Provide youth with accurate knowledge about gang involvement.
- Help youth understand the need to set realistic goals.
Here are three important considerations and requirements for establishing the G.R.E.A.T. Program in your community:
- Officer Selection
- Agency Commitment
- Law Enforcement and Educational Agency Agreement
The selection of your G.R.E.A.T. instructor is an important part of your program’s success. The Program is very intensive, and great care must be exercised in the selection of your officer.
- Personal characteristics
- Enjoys working with children
- Comfortable talking with a group of children from diverse backgrounds
- Desired background
- Exemplary work record
- Positive role model
- Well respected by others
- Well respected by agency management
- Able to grasp concepts and effectively communicate them, both to children and adults
- Able to relate well to people, both children and adults
- Able to respond well to impromptu questions
- Program involves a great deal of personal commitment
- Requires out-of-classroom preparation
An essential ingredient to the Program’s success is the law enforcement agency’s commitment to allow the officer to take time for teaching the G.R.E.A.T. curricula.
- Following the training
- The agency must allow the officer to begin instructing the curricula during the current or next school semester. If the skills are not utilized shortly following the training experience, they will be lost.
- Assignment of the certified G.R.E.A.T. instructor to teach the G.R.E.A.T. curricula must happen within 12 months of the training, or certification will be withdrawn.
- Your officer is about to embark on a rewarding assignment. It will demand a great deal of physical and emotional energy.
The success of the G.R.E.A.T. Program largely depends on the commitment of the local law enforcement agency and the local school/school district working together to combat the gang problem through prevention. It is important that this commitment be formally established in writing. A formal agreement must be in place prior to sending an officer(s) to training to ensure that the newly certified instructor will be able to teach as soon as possible.
The Law Enforcement and Educational Agency Agreement is a commitment to work together to provide the G.R.E.A.T. curricula to the youth of your community.
This agreement is good for one year, for each agency.
Very few programs can be implemented as inexpensively as G.R.E.A.T. Once in place, G.R.E.A.T. can be operated with few or no necessary costs. Following is a breakdown of potential costs, as well as what is provided at no cost to the implementing agency.
Instructor training is provided to qualified criminal justice professionals through a federal government grant, so the only costs to attend the training are lodging, travel, and meals.
Everything needed for an instructor to teach the G.R.E.A.T. curricula is provided at no cost through a federal grant. Classroom materials include the G.R.E.A.T. student handbooks, family letters, Extended Teacher Activities, and graduation certificates ready for personalization. Certified G.R.E.A.T. instructors can order these materials online, using their Instructor/Applicant Resources account. Motivational items—such as T-shirts, water bottles, pencils, and pens imprinted with the G.R.E.A.T. logo—are used to encourage students to participate in the lessons and help them develop a positive identity with the G.R.E.A.T. Program. These items are optional and can be ordered from G.R.E.A.T.-authorized vendors by the G.R.E.A.T. instructor’s agency, if funds are available. Once officers have completed the G.R.E.A.T. Officer Training, the basic classroom components can be offered at little or no cost to the agency, above the cost of officer time to deliver the lessons.
As with most projects, personnel costs are often the biggest obstacle. Since the G.R.E.A.T. Program is officer-instructed, an officer (or officers) must be made available to teach the lessons.
Because being in the classroom and school setting may take the officer away from other duties, it may be necessary to add personnel or use overtime to cover the G.R.E.A.T. instructor’s other responsibilities while he or she is in the classroom. Some communities have been able to minimize staffing problems by utilizing school resource officers to deliver the G.R.E.A.T. lessons in their assigned schools. Depending on their duty assignments, they may be able to work the classes into their existing schedules without the need for additional coverage. When necessary, additional personnel costs may be covered by certain federal grants or through state or local resources.
The other components of the Program, the G.R.E.A.T. Families and G.R.E.A.T. Summer Components, are likely to entail additional costs for items such as food and transportation. Both the families and summer components are optional, and it is not necessary to offer either of them in order to implement the school-based curricula. Agencies that do utilize them often do so in partnership with other community agencies, such as Boys & Girls Clubs of America, which helps to spread both the responsibilities and the expenses.