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Press Release

Capital Region Anti-Gang Project Reaches More than 1,800 Fifth-Graders

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of New York
Representatives of 29 Federal, State, and Local Law Enforcement Agencies Taught the Classes

ALBANY, NEW YORK – United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian wrapped up the 2016 LEADership Project this afternoon at a news conference at the Giffen Memorial Elementary School, part of the Albany School District.  The LEADership Project, an anti-gang curriculum for fifth-grade students, was expanded to include the fifth-grade classrooms in the Albany, Schenectady, Troy, and Lansingburgh School Districts this year. 

“We took on the challenges associated with reaching all the fifth-grade classrooms in these four districts this year so every student could learn about good decision making, staying away from gang activity, and focusing on what they want their futures to be.  Each law enforcement officer spent time getting to know the students in their assigned classroom and encouraged them to be the best they can be,” said United States Attorney Hartunian.  “Many thanks to our law enforcement and school district partners who helped steer our young people away from gangs and violence and toward a bright and productive future.” 

To meet the challenge of getting volunteer instructors for the 79 fifth-grade classrooms in the four school districts, U.S. Attorney Hartunian reached out to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, and they answered the call.  The chart below lists all the law enforcement agencies that participated:

14 Federal Agencies

United States Attorney’s Office

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives

Drug Enforcement Administration

Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations

Transportation Security Administration

U.S. Coast Guard

U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations

U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services

U.S. Customs & Border Protection

U.S. Postal Inspection Service

U.S. Postal Service Office of the Inspector General

U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services OIG

Federal Public Defenders Office



3 State Agencies

NYS Dept. of Corrections & Community Supervision

NYS Dept. of Homeland Security & Emergency Services

New York State Police


12 Local Agencies

Albany Police Department

Schenectady Police Department

Troy Police Department

Schenectady Auxiliary Police Dept.

Albany County Family Court

Schenectady County DA’s Office

Rensselaer County DA’s Office

Schenectady County Probation Dept.

Rensselaer County Probation Dept.

Albany County Sheriff’s Office

Schenectady County Sheriff’s Office

Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Office

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

In past student questionnaires, 84% of fifth-graders stated it is 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 are in gangs.  Prevention research tells us that having friends in gangs is a risk factor for future involvement in gangs and delinquent behaviors.  When asked who can help them stay away from gangs, students notably listed their parents, teachers, police officers, and their LEADership instructors. 

The LEADership Project is a small project with big returns.  Even though it is only four sessions in each fifth-grade classroom, it reaches over 1,800 fifth-grade students in Albany, Schenectady, Troy, and Lansingburgh.  The project uses very few resources; it is driven by over 80 volunteer law enforcement instructors.  The LEADership Project is an investment in our future.  “We are committed to working with our communities to break the cycle of violence and other crime; to helping our youth see and find a better way; and to listening and learning from these young voices – who, it is our hope, will become our next community leaders,” said U.S. Attorney Hartunian.

Updated June 15, 2016

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