By Charity Jones
NCCU Staff reporter
the Durham VOICE
It’s an attention-getter.
And that is exactly what the Durham Police Department wants.
The all-white Cadillac Escalade has 24-inch spinners, six TVs, a Play Station 2, GPS navigation system and of course a custom paint job.
But this car is more than just eye candy. It is a teaching tool used by the Gang Resistance Education and Training program, or as GREAT.
“The program teaches children at a young age to make good choices in life by saying no to gangs and to use other ways to deal with anger,” said Officer Lawanda Mock, a GREAT teacher at Eastway Elementary School in Northeast Central Durham.
The GREAT program works with elementary and middle schools within Durham County.
“The program works with fourth graders here and it has always had a positive enhancement on the students,” said Star Sampson, principal at Eastway Elementary.
There are six components to the GREAT elementary school lesson plan.
These include “Loud and Clear,” which deals with controlling anger, staying cool when the heat is on, identifying the feeling of anger, recognizing that we’re all in this together and respecting others.
“The kids love the truck when we bring it out to the schools and it helps us spread our message about gang violence,” said Durham Police Corporal Daryl Macaluso, supervisor of the GREAT program.
Even though gang resistance is being taught in the schools, it still exists on the streets of Durham. Durham police have identified 20 gangs and 2,500 gang members.
“The youngest gang member I have seen can start at the age of nine and 10 years old,” said Macaluso.
Durham Police Officer Larry Watkins said, “The Durham community needs to be concerned about what ways we can prevent young kids from joining a gang before it becomes a major epidemic.”
The GREAT program already has produced successful graduates, such as Michael Johnson, a quarterback for the N.C. Central University football team.