Operation Ceasefire is a very successful Project Safe Neighborhood (PSN) model built on a formal partnership between city and county law enforcement agencies, the US Attorney’s Office (ED NC), ATF Violent Crimes Task Force, District Attorney’s Office, Cumberland County Schools, Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, business leaders, University of North Carolina- Greensboro (UNCG), and the faith community.
In 2013 the Educating Kids about Gun Violence (EKG) program was developed by the Fayetteville Police Department’s PSN-Operation Ceasefire program and the above partnerships. The program is a two-hour interactive classroom presentation led by a trained EKG Team of police officers and detectives. The team uses the EKG curriculum, EKG Kit (DVD and thumb drive) photographs, case scenarios, personal stories, and small group discussions to educate students about the medical, legal, and emotional consequences of gun possession, gang related violence, and the positive alternatives available. The students also receive gun and gang prevention material in an e-booklet on a USB. By the end of the 2016-17 school year the total students taught will rise to over 18,250 students.
Based on the success of the EKG program other jurisdictions, including jurisdictions from other states, have requested copies of our curriculum. EKG is a research-based program that is continually evaluated and updated with each student completing a pre and post class survey. The EKG program shows the desired effects on participant’s attitudes, beliefs, and intended behaviors. Specifically, the program is reducing support of violence, gun carrying, and gangs, while instilling pro-social decision making skills and improving the ability to think about the consequences of actions. Based on the Year 1 data, the EKG program is making an impact on students most in need of an intervention; the high-risk students. The impact on high risk students appears to be retained longitudinally for most content areas, and in some cases even strengthened over time. Comparing the Year 1 and Year 2 data indicates that students in Year 2 had a higher increase in scores for desired attitudes and intended behaviors than those in Year 1. This may indicate that the EKG instructors have improved their instruction, increasing the positive impact of the program on the students. Another strength of the EKG program is that it has normalized discussion of a once taboo topic for students and staff within Cumberland County Schools and builds relationships between students and law enforcement officers.
It encourages young people to make the right choices in situations involving guns and gangs. EKG has been instrumental in reducing gun violence involving juveniles by 3% in Fayetteville. The Cumberland County School District is the 5th largest school district in North Carolina with 51,846 students enrolled during the 2014-2015 school year. The EKG curriculum targets middle school (7th Grade) by using DVD scenarios to initiate conversations between students and law enforcement regarding strategies for avoiding gun and gang violence.