Starting October 1, Law Enforcement Against Drugs & Violence (L.E.A.D.) will be taught as part of the Bridge Program, an after-school program at the Franklin County Prevention Coalition. Archie Custer and Paula Rhodes, the Bridge Facilitator and Bridge Program Coordinators, respectively, will teach the program to students at the elementary, middle and high school levels.
“It’d be an understatement to say that Paula and I are looking forward to teaching the L.E.A.D. program to our county’s youth,” said Custer. “Getting exposure to the L.E.A.D. curriculum will be a great way for elementary, middle and high school students in Franklin County to end their school day.”
L.E.A.D. has a proven effective, law enforcement-focused anti–drug, anti–violence curriculum for K-12 students in the U.S. It provides services “on the street” and “in the classroom,” bringing communities and police forces closer together. There are 3000 trained instructors in 41 states that teach the “in the classroom” program, which is taught over the course of 10 weeks to educate students on how they can make smart decisions without drugs or violence.
In addition to their involvement in the Bridge Program, Custer and Rhodes will begin teaching the curriculum in several elementary and middle schools, such as Rock Creek Elementary School, Cowan Elementary School and South and North Middle School, sometime around the middle of October or beginning of November.
As a police officer for 17 years and now a drug and danger child coordinator, Custer is excited that L.E.A.D. will allow him to change the trajectory of children’s lives.
“It’s usually a misconception when kids are portrayed in a bad light based on the choices they’re making. Usually, they just haven’t been given the conventional tools to make wise decisions for themselves,” said Custer. “The program will give me the chance to identify these children early on, and I’ll be able to help them move into a positive direction.”
Education regarding the negative effects of alcohol, drugs and violence often isn’t as stressed as it should be, says Custer, and he believes that L.E.A.D. is helping to fill that gap.
“It’s crucial that kids are informed about the impacts dangerous substances can have on their lives now and in the long term,” he said. “L.E.A.D. will allow us to accomplish this as they’re entering the next stages in their lives, and I look forward to building relationships with the students along the way.”
Custer remembers the impact that being educated on the harms of drugs and violence had on his life when he was just a kid and hopes that L.E.A.D. will have the same effect on the students he’ll teach.
“When I was entering my teenage years, I often dealt with friends trying to pressure me into engaging in activities I wasn’t interested in,” said Custer. “Some of the kids in the program will surely be dealing with similar situations, and I know that L.E.A.D. will help guide them in the right direction.”
L.E.A.D. provides the leadership, resources and management to ensure law enforcement agencies have the means to partner with educators, community leaders, and families. L.E.A.D. succeeds by providing proven and effective programs to deter youth and adults from drug use, drug related crimes, bullying and violence. L.E.A.D. is committed to reinforcing the mutual respect, goodwill and relations between law enforcement and their communities. For more information, visit https://www.leadrugs.org/.