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Press Release

Capital Region Anti-Gang Project Reaches More than 1,500 Fifth-Graders

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of New York
Nearly 100 Law Enforcement Officials Taught Classes

ALBANY, NEW YORK – United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith concluded the 2018 LEADership Project today at a news conference at the Mont Pleasant Middle School in Schenectady.  Joining him were 14 fifth-grade students who completed the project this year, and many leaders and representatives of the participating federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.

The LEADership Project, an anti-gang training for fifth-grade students, reached classrooms this year in the Albany, Schenectady, Troy and Lansingburgh School Districts.  The project began with just the Albany School District in 2011 and has grown since then.  Volunteer instructors spend four sessions in each classroom, and this year taught more than 1,500 students.

United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith stated: “The LEADership Project is about investing in our children, and thus in the future of our community.  The acronym is for Legal Education and Decision-making and the Project involves working with 5th graders to help them stay out of gangs and away from crime, focus on what they can become, and make positive decisions to get there.  We want these students to excel, and to view law enforcement as a friend and supporter in their quest for success.  We have been able to reach so many students thanks to our partnership with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies whose officers have generously donated their time.  This opportunity to encourage students to soar is very rewarding, and we hope this Project leads to long-lasting benefits for them and our community.”

Schenectady Schools Superintendent Laurence T. Spring stated: “We are proud to be part of the LEADership Project and appreciate the hard work of all of the agencies and the U.S. Attorney in order to help our students recognize and learn how to handle difficult situations and make good decisions.  The ability for our kids to interact and relate with law enforcement officers is important toward building trust and sends such a powerful message.  Our kids are engaged and are listening.  They are becoming more aware of how the many decisions and choices that they make today can shape their futures.”

Albany School Superintendent Kaweeda G. Adams stated: “The LEADership Project is an excellent example of the type of community partnership that is so important to helping our students learn to make good decisions and build strong relationships. Our students are building visions of themselves as adults, and this program is supporting them in taking positive first steps down those pathways to successful futures.”

Troy Schools Superintendent John Carmello stated: “For the past four years, fifth-grade students in the Troy City School District have had the opportunity to participate in the U.S. Attorney’s LEADership Project.  We are extremely grateful to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and all of our partners for this fantastic program.  Through this project, our students have been able to build lasting positive relationships with various members of the criminal justice system, learn critical lessons in making good decisions, and pave a pathway to success for themselves, in school and in life.  The LEADership Project is an integral part of the Troy City School District’s mission to educate students who become upstanding citizens in our community.”

To meet the challenge of getting volunteer law enforcement instructors for the 76 fifth-grade classrooms in the four school districts, United States Attorney Jaquith reached out to, and received a terrific response from, the following law enforcement agencies:

Federal Agencies

U.S. Attorney’s Office

U.S. Marshals Service

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives

Transportation Security Administration

U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services

U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, Office of the Inspector General

Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General

U.S. Postal Service, Office of the Inspector General

U.S. Postal Inspection Service

U.S. Customs & Border Protection


State Agencies

New York State Police

New York State Attorney General’s Office

Local Agencies

Albany Police Department

Schenectady Police Department

University at Albany Police Department

Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office

Rensselaer County District Attorney’s Office

Albany County Sheriff’s Office

Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Office

Schenectady County Probation Department

Rensselaer County Probation Department


Through role-playing skits centered on two fifth-grade characters who are encouraged by an older gang member to make some bad decisions, classroom discussions revolve around making good life decisions, focusing on the future, acknowledging positive personal traits, and becoming the best that students can be.  The sessions introduce the students to the concepts of responsibility and accountability through learning about Victim Impact Panels and Community Accountability Boards.

In past student questionnaires from the project, 84% of fifth graders stated it was very important to them to have help to stay away from gangs.  These sessions help students learn how to do that.  While 98% said they were not in a gang, 73% indicated they had friends who were in gangs.  When asked who can help them stay away from gangs, students notably listed their parents, teachers, police officers, and their LEADership instructors.

Updated June 20, 2018

Community Outreach