FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT: Peter Van Delft
SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT ROLLS OUT CIVICS COMPONENT FOR CHOICE PROGRAM
Under the guidance of Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea J. Cabral, the Sheriff’s Department has implemented a civics component into the Choice Officer program for the 2007–08 school year.
Spearheaded by the Department’s Director of Legislative Affairs, Matt O’Malley, the new component is designed to supplement the existing civics curriculum in the Boston Public Schools (BPS) and reinforce the positive impact that children can have on their neighborhoods with public participation and community responsibility.
With training in the new civics component, which began in the summer of 2007, the Department’s twenty–three Choice Program officers have already begun incorporating into their presentations such topics as: the branches of government, state and municipal functions, voting and elections, and several other important civic themes.
While some schools in the BPS may already feature varying levels of civic awareness within their overall curriculum, the civics component presented by the Choice Program officers is designed to augment, not overlap, any existing lessons.
“We’re not looking to supplant any teacher’s curriculum,” said O’Malley. “We’re looking to supplement it. Being a good citizen has a direct affect on whether some of these kids end up in the criminal justice system. If they realize that they’re part of something greater, it may have the effect of empowering them to take a more active role in political office and possibly run for office themselves someday.”
“It’s important for kids to understand that they have a stake in our government,” O’Malley continued. “By teaching civics, our officers are relaying information about how these kids can fit into the larger picture of good government and good citizenship.”
Assistant Deputy Superintendent and Director of Training Yolanda Smith concurred.
“The addition of a civics piece fits well into what the Choice program is all about,” said ADS Smith. “We encourage kids to begin making the right choices in their lives so that they can be successful into the future. Understanding the impact of things like voting – making choices that can affect the future – is just as important.”
Upon completion of one of the recent civics trainings, several of the Choice officers expressed their views about the new feature.
“I think it’s important that we teach kids at an early age about how to participate in the community and about civics,” said Corporal Helena Roberts. “There are adults who grow up not really knowing much about voting and how the government works.”
“There are people who believe that voting doesn’t make a difference or that their vote doesn’t count but that’s obviously not true,” said Deputy Paul Darcy. “Your vote does count.”
Deputy Anthony Andrews agreed and added that, when it comes to being a responsible citizen, you’re never too young to start learning.
“It’s extremely important that we do this,” said Deputy Andrews. “Kids need to get into the process early and learn about how the government works. And it’s never too early to begin learning about civic responsibility and working to make your community better.”
For Officer Elaine Morbi, the new component was yet another tool in the Department’s belt to use as they work to help stem the tide of youth violence and criminal activity.
“This is just another part of our overall effort to get children involved in the world they live in,” said Officer Morbi. “We want to make sure that they know about all of the options they have and about some of the consequences of their actions, both good and bad.”
The Choice Program, started in January of 2006, is designed to encourage children to respect themselves and others while preparing for their futures. Officers participating in the program talk with youths about the dangers of drug use and gang involvement, stressing the fact that each and every one of the choices that they make has consequences that will ultimately affect their lives.