FAYETTEVILLE, NC (WNCN) — A program to educate youth on gun violence is receiving a lot of recognition. The program is called “Educating Kids About Gun Violence” or “EKG” for short.
Officers were trained on the program Wednesday when 64 officers from 37 agencies across the state attended the training. The six hour session took place at Fayetteville’s Special Operations Museum.
EKG’s mission is to inform young people of the legal, medical and emotional consequences of gun violence.
Sgt. Myron Irving of Wilmington Police said “I think it’s gonna be a very beneficial program that Wilmington will be able to go back and use in our very own community.”
EKG was created in 2012. Since last year, uniform police officers have offered the training to 7th and 9th graders. Students create life goals, learn about decision making and consequences of negative actions.
“We reached a little over 7500 students last year and we were in 464 classrooms,” said Lisa Jayne, EKG Program Director.
A key program tool is a short film called “Decision Points”. It features a promising teen whose life is dramatically changed after a gun gets him in trouble. Program coordinators say the film is a wake-up call when youth see it.
Jayne said “some of them are very emotional about the movie, a lot of things are hitting home with them, they’re seeing their friends or family members portrayed.”
Police say there are many benefits to the program, most of all, they’ve seen a decrease in crime since the program’s inception.
“Since we implemented this last school year, we haven’t had any juvenile shootings or victims,” Jayne said. Captain Robert Spatorico is among 40 officers throughout Cumberland County that currently teach the class.
He says the training also builds trust for students as they encounter officers on the street. “That relationship bridge that we’re building, I can’t put a value on it,” Spatorico said.