United States Attorney’s Office Outreach Programs Reach 15,000
Addiction awareness & support, e-cigarette & vaping, anti-gang & violence programs presented to students, teachers, administrators and parents
PROVIDENCE, RI – Approximately 15,000 high school and middle school students, teachers, school administrators and parents across Rhode Island participated in outreach programs this school year presented by the United States Attorney’s Office. The programs focus on opioid and illegal narcotic addiction awareness, the increasing impact on teenagers from e-cigarettes and vaping, and the myths and realities of street gangs and violence.
The programs include 4 Legs to Stand On, a live performance drawing attention to addiction awareness and support presented by cast members of COAAST (Creating Outreach About Addiction Support Together); the powerful documentary Chasing the Dragon - an unscripted, real-life look at the devastation of opioid and heroin addiction; the emerging impact, including addiction, from the use of e-cigarettes and vaping; and Street Smarts, an interactive anti-gang and anti-violence program that delivers a powerful message to teenagers about the myths of getting involved in gangs, drug dealing and guns.
Over the past two school years, between 25,000 and 30,000 middle and high school students across Rhode Island have participated in outreach programs presented by the United States Attorney’s Office, in collaboration with Prevention Coalitions, Rhode Island Student Assistance Services, school administrators and community-based organizations.
“The problems of substance abuse and violent crime cannot be solved through arrest and prosecution alone. Prevention must be part of law enforcement’s response to these significant threats to public health and safety,” commented United States Attorney Stephen G. Dambruch. “Through our outreach programs, the United States Attorney’s Office educates and informs young people about the dangers of substance abuse and violence, providing them the information they need to make smart choices.”
In collaboration with the United States Attorney’s Office, COAAST’s 4 Legs to Stand On was presented to students at high schools in Barrington, Central Falls, Cranston, North Providence, Pawtucket, Portsmouth, Providence and Woonsocket. The play exposes the secrecy that shrouds many families while dealing with addiction or a serious illness. Through humor and realism contrasted against hypocrisy, this story invites the audience to take a seat at the dinner table while the family’s foundation is challenged as one family member struggles with cancer and another struggles with an opioid addiction. The play is followed by an open and thought provoking question and answer session with the performers and the founder of COAAST, they themselves touched in various ways by addiction.
For the second consecutive school year, the United States Attorney’s Office, in collaboration with Prevention Coalitions and school administrators, presented the powerful documentary Chasing the Dragon - an unscripted, real-life look at the devastation of opioid and heroin addiction. The video presentation was followed by the personal story of a local parent who lost her only child to opioid and heroin addiction, and an open and frank discussion with the audience about addiction, treatment and support. The program was presented in schools and in community settings in Coventry, Pawtucket and Warwick.
Additionally, United States Attorney’s Office Investigator David Neill, a retired Rhode Island State Police Major with an extensive background in investigating street level drug trafficking and the impact drug trafficking has on local communities, visited schools across Rhode Island to speak with students, teachers, administrators and parents on the inherent dangers, particularly for teenagers, from the use of e-juices, e-cigarettes and vaping. Mr. Neill provided demonstrations on marketing techniques aimed at teenagers to increase their interest in the use of these products, and the deceptive ways users carry the product, disguised as items such as thumb drives, markers and inhalers. Mr. Neill provided a total of 49 presentations in schools and community settings.
And again this school year, Assistant United States Attorney Richard W. Rose presented his Street Smarts program to high school students. Street Smarts is an interactive program which delivers a powerful message to teenagers about the myths and the realities about becoming involved in street gangs, drug dealing and the use of firearms.
School administrators, community leaders and community based organizations interested in additional information about these and other outreach programs provided by the United States Attorney’s Office, including civil rights, elder justice and crime victim support outreach programs, can contact Outreach Coordinator Jim Martin at (401) 709-5357 or investigator David Neill at (401) 709-5035.