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Latino State News

Gang School Safety Team Aims to Help Students Resolve Conflicts and Avoid Gang Violence

Superintendent Jody P. Weis was joined by Gang Enforcement Commander Leo Schmitz and Sgt. Ken Boudreau in the announcement of a program today that aims towards the reduction of gang violence.  Experienced Chicago Police Gang Officers interact with teenage students and explore alternatives to the perils of gang involvement.

The Gang School Safety Team (GSST) is comprised of the collaborative efforts of Chicago Police Gang Enforcement Officers, Chicago Public School Officials, and Cook County Juvenile Probation. GSST has two purposes, first, prevention of gang crime through proactive measures and second, the suppression of gang violence through the implementation of communicative and conflict resolution strategies.

The program was successfully piloted in high schools on the South Side and has expanded to additional schools this fall.  To date, 375 intervention sessions have been conducted.  Members of the Gang School Safety Team have helped train 1,400 Chicago Public School Security Officers and 400 safe passage volunteers in the recognition of signs of gang membership and gang identifiers.

Ten gang officers assigned to the team voluntarily visit and meet with students who are seeking a way out of gangs or seek to express their concerns about becoming victims.

The dialogue offers a critical opportunity for officers to help at-risk adolescents seek rational strategies in settling conflicts and understand that gang membership is a dead end that leads to demise.  “Gang membership is a lifestyle choice that doesn’t reap great benefits for the participants- they either end up dead or in jail,” Superintendent Weis said.