NUTLEY, NJ - During the first annual picnic celebration 6-9-2017 for Nutley sixth graders completing the Law Enforcement Against Drugs program, Katlyn, Julianne and Angelica all agreed: “We want more L.E.A.D. classes.” The students loved that the classes they attended once a month this school year ‘prepared us for the real world, where people will offer you bad things, like drugs.’

One of the strategies they were taught by their ‘favorite instructor’ Officer Tom Schenke is called ‘Broken Record’. When offered drugs students are taught to say “No. No. No. No. No. No. No…”

The program replaces the D.A.R.E program previously offered in the Nutley school district. Mrs. Maher, a 6th grade teacher at Washington said it is ‘a great program for the kids’.

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Michael Chieffo from DJMC Entertainment, Nutley, took requests from the students. When asked if there were any artists that were known for their ‘anti-drug’ messages he said that a group called ‘Daft Punk’ had good lyrics. However, “I’m looking at my list and there’s not one specific song that comes to mind.

Chieffo said recordings with an ‘ear’ symbol alerts parents and DJ’s at kids parties to ‘listen before you play.’

Sgt. Det. Mike Padilla served as the event organizer and Master of Ceremonies. Activities and contests included dancing, hoola hoops, tug’o’wars and shout outs.

Jianna Marie Padilla, Nutley High School class of 2015 graduate, was ‘home from college’ and attended with her Dad, Detective Sergeant Mike Padilla. Jianna said: “I think the program changes that have been made since I was in school are good.” She added that attendance at any drug and alcohol education at her college was ‘optional.’

Sgt. Det. Padilla said: “We are trying to expand the program, hopefully into the Middle School. All manpower for the program is police department funded and the curriculum is set by L.E.A.D.”  

He is part of the Juvenile Aid Bureau, and is on the L.E.A.D. National Training Advisory Board.  Padilla said that all L.E.A.D instructors for each of the elementary schools, completes a survey with program improvement ideas and suggestions that is sent to the national L.E.A.D. office. All 6th grade students and teachers also complete a program survey.

Padilla is also involved with PALS (Police At Lunch with Students) and the Junior Police Academy programs in Nutley.

JP Randall, Captain of the Nutley Emergency squad attended along with several of the squad. “Our participation for now is not direct. We are grateful to Sam Carella for inviting us and we are just learning about the LEAD program today and will be getting involved.”

Spring Garden students Gabriella, Patricia, Rebecca, Mia, Cameron, Javier and Erin were very enthusiastic about the program. All agreed the picnic was a great way to end the program. They liked that the schools had different colored shirts for the Olympics and same colored shirts for the picnic. “It shows that we all learned the same things in the program like ‘not to go with a bad crowd’; ‘find your true friends’; ‘how to use your refusal strategy’. The groups only request for next year’s 6th graders: more frequent L.E.A.D. classes.

Lincoln students Bobby, Evan, Ryan said the wanted more activities. “We always had a book and sometimes we did role-plays. The role-plays helped us learn and gave us hints about how to have a better future.”

Yantacaw’s instructor Officer Melilli said. “I was a student in the Nutley Schools when we had D.A.R.E. The new L.E.A.D. program is better and I wish there was one lesson for the students on the dangers of opiods.”

Municipal Alliance member Rob Melillo was “Leo the L.E.A.D Dog”. He said from behind his mask: “The students all seem to be happy to be here. I hope what they are learning will help them make the right decisions in High School.”

Municipal Alliance Coordinator and Assistant to the Public Safety Commissioner, Sandra “Sam” Carella, and Adam Jernick, Public Safety Clerk and Municipal Alliance member, served as hosts and chefs for the picnic. According to Carella, the Alliance pulled off the picnic after being contacted by L.E.A.D. only two weeks ago. Carella said: “We grilled 250 hotdogs and 250 burgers for the students. We love doing this for them.” The menu also included pizza, water and Rita’s Ice. 

For interested parents and citizens, the next meeting of the Nutley Municipal Alliance is June 22 at noon in the first floor conference room of the Public Safety/Police Building. On January 17 ‘17 the Board of Commissioners authorized the strategic plan for the Nutley Municipal Alliance grant for fiscal year 2018 in the amount of $21,780.00 for DEDR (Drug Enforcement and Demand Reduction), plus a cash match of $5,445.00 and in-kind grant of $16,335.00 a non-profit (501C3) organization, supported by dedicated police officers, committed to protecting our youth and communities from the proliferation of drugs, drug related crimes, peer to peer/cyber bullying and violence. It is based in Allentown, New Jersey Phone: 609-259-2500

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