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January 4, 2006

CONTACT: Steve Tompkins
Emily Shortt
(617) 961-6682


Boston – The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department formally launched its Choice Program Wednesday January 4, training fourteen officers in December. The officers will volunteer their free time to go out to schools in Suffolk County and speak with the students about making smart choices.

The Choice Program is designed to encourage children to respect themselves and others while preparing for their futures. Officers participating in the program will talk about the dangers of drug use and gang involvement, as well as the consequences of criminal activity. The students, who range from grade five through nine, will also have the opportunity to address issues like peer pressure and the perception that going to jail is a rite of passage or part of growing up.

“The Choice Program is a necessity with the rate of youth violence rising again,” said Captain Yolanda Smith, who trained the Choice Program officers in December. “We need to get out and counter that negativity.” Captain Smith and Deputy James Cochrane, who also trained officers for the Choice Program, are former D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) instructors.

Deputies William Jackson and Anthony Andrews were the first officers to speak with students after completing a forty-hour training program. The remainder of the Choice Program Officers will begin seeing classes throughout the month of January, visiting English High School in Jamaica Plain, the Maurice J. Tobin School in Roxbury, St. Theresa Elementary School in West Roxbury, and Cummings Elementary School in Winthrop.

The officers volunteering their time to the Choice Program come from both the South Bay House of Correction and the Nashua Street Jail. Many of them have lived in Boston and neighboring areas their whole lives and welcome the opportunity to give back to their communities.

“Not a lot of people take time out to talk to kids and see what’s on their mind and what their concerns are,” Deputy William Jackson told eighth grade students at William Barton Rodgers Middle School on Wednesday, “But I’m here to help you and represent you.”

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