Durham loses gang prevention program in city schools

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — The City of Durham has discontinued its gang awareness program within Durham city schools.

The effort is a program which has been operating for at least 15 years.

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The change comes down to the need to shift resources within the police department, officials said.

Durham city officials say they were forced to pull from the Gang Resistance Education and Training, or G.R.E.A.T.

On July 1 the Durham City Police Department discontinued the program.

G.R.E.A.T. was a classroom curriculum which taught grades between four and six how to stay out of trouble and stay out of gangs.

City manager Tom Bonfield said in an email, due to Durham public schools request for school resource officers, the G.R.E.A.T program would see a change in resources.

So now, the Durham police officers, who once taught young children how to stay out of gangs, will monitor five middle schools as resource officers.

CBS North Carolina sat down with Durham Public School officials to see why they were asking for the change.

Tina Ingram with Durham Public Schools said: “I think there was discussion of how we better call the program what it is, and look at what the duty and the responsibilities of the officers are”

Ingram is the director of security for Durham Public Schools.

She says the officers who were in the G.R.E.A.T program were already working as school resource officers on top of their duties.

Ingram says conversations started between the school and the city about providing titles for the officers that were more appropriate for those duties

Ingram says Durham Public Schools did not ask for school resource officers — even though that is now what they have and the G.R.E.A.T within Durham City Schools has been discontinued.

Durham Schools outside of the city will still have the G.R.E.AT. program because those programs are run by the sheriff’s department instead of the city police.

There is no set plan to bring back the G.R.E.A.T. program, but police and school officials say they are talking about possibilities.

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