United States Attorney Joined by 17 Federal, State, and Local Law Enforcement Agencies
ALBANY, NY—United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian was joined today by seventeen other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to announce the initiation of the LEADership—Legal Education And Decision-making—Project in the enlarged City School District of Troy.
“The LEADership Project is a crime prevention program designed to reach the youngest members of our communities—all 5th grade students in the Enlarged City of Troy School District—and to teach them Legal Education And Decision-making skills, skills which will help them to avoid gangs, drugs and violence and lead productive, law abiding lives.,” said U.S. Attorney Hartunian. “With the LEADership Project we hope to accomplish two goals: first, to increase the awareness of our youth, specifically Troy’s 5th graders, about the dangers that gangs present to them and their communities, by discussing the myths of gang life, and letting them hear from a former gang member that gang life really amounts to ‘no life’. The second thing we hope to accomplish, in furtherance of Attorney General Eric Holder’s Smart on Crime initiative, is to build greater trust between Troy’s community members and the law enforcement officials who put their lives on the line every day to preserve public safety.”
Joining the U.S. Attorney in today’s announcement were the heads of the following agencies, all participating in the project:
- United States Attorney’s Office
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations
- Transportation Security Administration
- United States Coastal Guard- Sector New York
- United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement- Homeland Security Investigations
- United States Marshals Service
- United States Postal Inspection Service
- United Sates Postal Service Office of the Inspector General
- United States Probation and Pretrial Services
- New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
- New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
- New York State Police
- City of Troy New York Police Department
- Rensselaer County District Attorney’s Office
- Rensselaer County Probation Department
- Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Office.
Mr. Hartunian added, “It is our hope that by initiating the LEADership Project in Troy, and by continuing to support the Troy Peer Court, we can demonstrate our commitment to work with the community to reduce youth violence and the cycle of repeated criminal conduct. With the LEADership Project, we hope to start a respectful and inspiring conversation, which we will continue as these young people grow into what we hope will be our next generation of community leaders.”
Because of the commitment and participation of all 18 agencies, 36 law enforcement professionals have volunteered to be LEADership instructors and will –
- Meet with the 224 fifth graders in the Troy School District 4 times between now and the end of the year;
- Get to know the children in their classroom;
- Let the children get to know them as people, not just adults they see in uniforms or in the courtroom, but as individuals dedicated to keeping them safe, keeping their communities safe;
- Teach them about the criminal justice system, and how it deals with delinquency, criminal conduct and sentencing;
- Learn about victim impact panels and community accountability boards and the consequences of both good and bad decision-making;
- Hear from the children about how they feel and what they hope to become as they get older; and
- Foster relationships between our youth and law enforcement, while developing a sense of mutual understanding and trust in the communities we serve.
Why are we focusing on fifth graders?
- When this program was conducted three years ago in Albany, 84% of the fifth grade students said it was very important to them to have help to stay away from gangs.
- While 98% told us they were not in a gang, 14% said they had already been asked to be in a gang,
- and 73% have friends who are in a gang (post student survey 2011-12).
- Prevention research tells us that having friends in gangs is a risk factor for future involvement in gangs and delinquent behaviors (CDC and Prevention—Injury Prevention & Control: Division of Violence Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/youthviolence/riskprotectivefactors.html).
- Gang involvement is “knocking at their door” at this age, and we need to provide all the support possible to help them resist.
- Further questions may be directed to Marilyn Morey, Community Outreach Coordinator, at 518-431-0247.