CITY OF MIAMI,
The Miami Police Department has successfully implemented the G.R.A.S.P. program in cooperation with our schools, and community to teach children about violence and crime. G.R.A.S.P. is a program designed to divert young people from joining gangs by providing supervised alternative activities in their neighborhoods. The Miami Police Department uses G.R.A.S.P. as a tool to steer youngsters into other programs such as, G.R.E.A.T.(Gang Resistance Education and Training), the Non-Violence Project, P.A.L.(Police Athletic League), and D.A.R.E., which are geared toward educating children of different ages about the dangers associated with crime, violence, and gangs. The goals of these programs are to develop a rapport with children, especially at-risk children, and teach them about more positive ways to handle conflict, and improve their quality of life. These programs are designed to influence youngsters through structured exercises and interactive approaches to learning. This program has been successful in reaching out to as many as 200 kids each year. In addition, we monitor their progress both in school and family life. The G.R.A.S.P. program also offers the participants who are tattooed the choice of removing their tattoos through a laser treatment offered by a medical doctor at no charge. This is a positive step taken by the participants in renouncing gang membership.
1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.
The G.R.A.S.P program is overseen by the Juvenile Investigations Unit. Officers from the entire department are allowed and encouraged to participate in this program. The officer contacts the participants in schools or areas where gang members hang out, and requests from the participant that he/she attend the G.R.A.S.P. program as his/her partner. The officer and participant will then attend a two-day bonding and trust development activity referred to as the Ropes course. The course consists of difficult challenges that require team work, communication, trust, and to accept help from others. This builds their self-esteem and communications skills, as well as develop a friendship with the officers. Follow-up activities include sailing, sports activities, attending Heat, Marlins, and Dolphins games, and participating in city projects, such as graffiti paint-outs. These activities will build a stronger relationship between the officers and participants, while exposing the participants to alternatives to hanging out.
2. When was the program created and why?
The program was created in 1995, as a means to address the ever growing gang population in the City of Miami. In particular this program was designed to target the "wannabes" and to intervene with ex-gang members. Low self-esteem, deficient communication skills, distrust of adults, and a lack of positive role models are factors that contribute to a "wannabe" becoming an active gang member.
3. How do you measure the programís effectiveness?
The programís effectiveness is evident by the number of youths participating in the program. In addition, a case manager monitors the participantsí progress by making home visits and monitoring their school grades and attendance.
4. How is the program financed?
The G.R.A.S.P. program is financed through an agreement entered into between the City of Miami and Metropolitan Dade County, through its Department of Justice System Support, which receives Federal funding.
5. How is the community involved in the program, if at all? How has the community responded to the program?
The community is involved by offering support and professional services at no charge for example, the doctor involved in removing tattoos. In addition, many community leaders have expressed support and assistance to the program. The community has accepted and expressed a willingness to support and continue this program. In particular the parents of the participants have continually praised the officersí commitment and dedication. The G.R.A.S.P. program has enriched their childrenís lives by affording them the opportunity to experience a more positive lifestyle.
6. Contact person:
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.