Fifth-grade students at Keyport Central School celebrated the completion of their L.E.A.D. (Law Enforcement Against Drugs) program with a graduation ceremony on June 12, 2017. The program is sponsored by local businesses such as Texas Roadhouse in Holmdel.
"In today's society, police are placed in a negative light and many children are taught not to trust the police. Programs like L.E.A.D. allow officers, like Officer Cassandra Aumack, to not only teach the children about the negative impacts of illicit substances, but to have a positive impact on their impression of law enforcement and acclimate them to interacting with law enforcement both in the classroom and on the street,” said Lieutenant Mark Hafner of the Keyport Police Department. “Any time we can be a positive influence to the children in our community, we strive to make that difference.”
Through a practical approach that integrates well within the classroom environment, L.E.A.D. IN THE CLASSROOM is an evidence-based K-12 interactive program using games, role-plays, and thought-provoking activities to bring the skills and concepts to life to help kids resist the pressure to drink, smoke and take drugs. The program also teaches life skills such as conflict resolution, decision making, and effective communication.
“I see the L.E.A.D. program as a door-opener for conversations in the future,” said Aumack. “I enjoy getting to know the kids. And, outside of work, when the kids come up to me and we start talking…well, it really reinforces the positive relationships developed during the program.”
Officer “Cassy,” as she is known to the kids said that she and her students have very active conversations. “The kids ask lots of questions, and, it’s amazing how the most shy, reserved kids become the most avid volunteers,” said Aumack.
Students were asked to write a letter on what L.E.A.D. meant to them. “Every single one of the students’ letters was powerful, but I thought an acrostic poem summed things up,” said Aumack. Marcelo Erazo-Kase wrote, “Lead taught us how to handle certain things in life. Everything it educated us about will help us someday. An example is how to combat the influence of drugs. Done with the year now, we will use what it taught us to help us in life.”
“Our goal is to provide a proven and effective program to help kids develop their skills to effectively communicate when dealing with conflicts which ultimately helps them make the right decisions when faced with drinking, smoking and drugs,” said Nick DeMauro, Executive Director and CEO of L.E.A.D. “I had the opportunity to read some of the letters, and it is quite exciting to hear that we are helping create a dialogue which is making a difference in their lives.”
After the ceremony, students gathered on the front lawn for pizza, ice cream, and gift bags filled with t-shirts, bumper stickers, and pencils. Special thanks to the Mayor and Council of Keyport, Keyport Municipal Drug Alliance, and Texas Roadhouse in Holmdel for their support.
L.E.A.D. (Law Enforcement Against Drugs) established in 2014, includes IN THE CLASSROOM and ON THE STREET initiatives with a mission to prevent drug abuse, deter drug related crimes, eliminate violence and bullying, and promote law enforcement. Supported by dedicated law enforcement, L.E.A.D. officers are committed to protecting youth and communities by collaborating with educators, community leaders, families, and L.E.A.D. support organizations.
L.E.A.D. is the only law enforcement-focused 501(c)(3) charitable organization using proven effective evidence-based ATOD (alcohol, tobacco and other drugs) K-12 curricula in its IN THE CLASSROOM program. We do this in partnership with the Mendez Foundation and its Too Good For Drugs and Too Good For Violence family of curricula. These scripted lessons help develop students’ prosocial skills as well as skills to resist pressures to use alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. The program also teaches life skills such as conflict resolution, decision making, and effective communication. Our ON THE STREET program gives law enforcement evidence-based information and skills providing officers best practices to bring back to their respective agencies to support community prevention programs creating safer and healthier communities free of drugs, bullying, and violence.