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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
August 17, 2007

CONTACT: Steve Tompkins
(617) 961-6650


CHOICE OFFICERS GO BACK TO SCHOOL


Now that summer is behind us and children are preparing to head back to school, so are the Sheriff’s Department Choice Officers. The twenty–one officers in the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department Choice Program are ready to head back to school this fall to visit classrooms throughout Boston, Chelsea, Winthrop, and Revere.

The Choice Program, created by Sheriff Andrea J. Cabral in December 2005, is designed to encourage children to respect themselves and others while helping them to prepare for their futures. Officers participating in the program speak with youths about the dangers of drug use and gang involvement, as well as the consequences of criminal activity.

“We’re always working to reduce the rate of inmate recidivism, but with the Choice Program, we stress prevention and keeping kids from ever coming to stay with us,” said Deputy James Cochrane, Instructor for the Choice Program Officers. “When you consider that we can positively influence kids, this is a very important program.”

Three months ago, a total of eleven new officers joined the existing 2005 class and are now part of the twenty–one officers available to visit schools this fall.

Said Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Kevin Hayden of the Choice Program, “I think what the Choice Officers do is great. We see with everything that’s happening on the streets in the neighborhoods that more intervention is needed in the lives of young people, not less.”

“I requested the opportunity to come to the Choice Program so I could speak to kids about the importance of making the right choices, getting good grades in school, and resisting peer pressure to use drugs and join gangs,” said Deputy Gioacchino Curiale, one of the newest additions to the Choice Officer cadre. “I really think that we can make a positive impact in their lives.”

For Assistant Deputy Superintendent Yolanda Smith, Supervisor of the Training Division, the willingness and dedication shown by the officers exemplifies what the program is all about.

“The Choice Program offers hope for children,” said Smith. “This is an all–volunteer program – the officers made the decision to come to training and become Choice Officers. They have real compassion for the children and it really means a lot for them to be able to go out to the schools and neighborhood events and speak to kids about making smart decisions and being good people.”

The work of the Choice Program has also received statewide recognition; a Community Service Group Award was presented to the Choice Program Officers at the Annual Correction Officer of the Year Awards Ceremony at the State House, in June. Presented by Secretary of the Executive Office of Public Safety Kevin Burke, Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea J. Cabral, and Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, the Choice Program Officers were recognized for the outstanding dedication and service they provide the youth of Suffolk County.

“We’re eager to come out and talk to the kids about making the right choices in school and in life,” said Deputy Abe Ayuso, the External Affairs Officer in charge of the Choice program. “In light of the violence in our communities, this program is needed now more than ever. We’ve expanded our program to include additional Choice Officers and we’re always interested in adding more schools to our list for visits.”

To contact Deputy Ayuso about bringing the Choice Officers to your school in Suffolk County, call (617) 635–1100, ext. 3156.


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