The above photo depicts Chief Michael C. DiBella presenting a certificate during the June 2nd, 2017, L.E.A.D Graduation Ceremony held at the Mill Pond School in Lacey Township (L.E.A.D Instructor/Officer John D. Simonson in the background). Below, Chief DiBella speaks to a class of graduating students on the dangers of drugs and alcohol. In total, 134 Mill Pond School Students Graduated the L.E.A.D Pilot Program.

Mill Pond School 6th Grade Students Graduate Law Enforcement Against Drugs (L.E.A.D) Program

The Lacey Township Police Department believes that education, awareness, and community involvement are crucial in aspiring our youth to become healthy, educated, and successful members of our schools and community.

In February 2017, the Lacey Township Police Department announced that we became part of the Law Enforcement Against Drugs (L.E.A.D.) program.  We teamed up with the Lacey Township Mill Pond School Staff to facilitate a pilot L.E.A.D. program which took place during a select portion of the 6th grade Health classes, during the third and fourth marking periods of this school year.  The pilot program consisted of weekly classes approximately 40-50 minutes long. The lessons were instructed by three members of the Lacey Township Police Department, including Detective Kymberly Gudgeon and Officers John D. Simonson and Charles May. Furthermore, very instrumental to the success of this program was Lacey Township Schools Health Educator Nancy Coleman-Perez.  I am very proud to announce today that this past Friday, June 2, 2017, 134 sixth-grade students from the Mill Pond School graduated from this pilot Law Enforcement Against Drugs (L.E.A.D) program.  I had the privilege of meeting the students who graduated from the L.E.A.D. program, presenting each with a certificate from L.E.A.D.  “It was a true honor to graduate the first L.E.A.D class in Lacey Township. This is only the beginning and I am already looking forward to next year’s graduating class.”

In July 2016, I was appointed as the Chief of Police for Lacey Township. I quickly determined that my number one priority was to decrease the Heroin and Dangerous Drug Epidemic that is among us, along with strengthening the relationship between the members of the Lacey Township Police Department and our school students. My plan to decrease the Heroin and Dangerous Drug Epidemic includes a five point system: Enforcement, Education, Prevention, Treatment and Recovery.  In regard to Education and Prevention, bringing the L.E.A.D program to our students is just the beginning. We believe that the LEAD program will bridge the gap between our youth and Law Enforcement and serve as a monumental benefit to the children, the school district and the community. Additional programs now being offered to our youth include but are not limited to the Ocean County Chief’s of Police Law Enforcement Explorer Post #1 (for young adults between the ages of 14 and 21 who are interested in a career in law enforcement), the Lacey Township Junior Police Academy being held in July 2017 for incoming 8th grade students (class full) and the Gille Park Skate Park Evening Events being held on select Friday evenings in Lacey Township.  Additional programs are forthcoming. Please check our department website for more information on these listed programs at: http://www.laceypd.org/

About L.E.A.D.

Founded in 2014, L.E.A.D. is a nonprofit 501 (c) (3) organization, supported by dedicated professionals in the New Jersey Law Enforcement community.  This evidence-based program ensures we provide proven effective methods of instruction and content to serve our communities. Utilizing the Too Good for Drugs (TGFD) curriculum, our law enforcement officers, together with our educators and families, hope to reinforce a framework of skills to empower the students to lead safe and healthy lives. Too Good for Drugs focuses on the importance of setting goals, building positive relationships, effectively communicating, and resisting peer pressure. This program also provides information about the negative consequences of drug use, drug related crimes, bullying and violence and the benefits of a drug-free, nonviolent lifestyle.

Skill development is at the core of Too Good for Drugs, a universal prevention program designed to mitigate the risk factors and enhance protective factors related to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Too Good for Drugs is a school based prevention program for kindergarten through 12th grade that builds resiliency by teaching students how to be socially competent and autonomous problem solvers.  The program is designed to benefit everyone in the school by providing education in social and emotional competencies, by reducing risk factors, and building protective factors that affect students in the age groups.  Too Good for Drugs focuses on developing personal and interpersonal skills to goal setting, decision making, bonding with others, having self respect, managing emotions, effective communication, social interaction and resisting peer pressures.   The program also provides information about the negative consequences of drug use and the benefit of the nonviolent drug-free lifestyle.  Too Good for Drugs has developmentally appropriate curricula for each grade level through 8th grade, with a separate high school curriculum.  The structured curriculum and lesson plans are aligned with the New Jersey Student Learning Standards for Comprehensive Health and Physical Education. For more information on “Too Good for Drugs” visit:http://www.toogoodprograms.org/

For more information on L.E.A.D. visit: http://leadrugs.org

This year’s L.E.A.D. program would not have been a success without the support of the entire Lacey Township Governing Body and the Board of Education. I need to personally thank them, along with the officers who brought this program to reality, including Detective Gudgeon, Officer Simonson and Officer May. I also need to thank Officer Noah Schaffer for photographing the ceremonies. A very special thanks goes out to Nancy Coleman-Perez, whose passion for this program and her students does not go unnoticed. Thank you Nancy!

I will continually work with the Lacey Township Governing Body and our Board of Education to bring the most up to date and effective programs to educate our students.  During the 2017-2018 school year, the Lacey Township Police Department will instruct both the 6th grade and 8th grade students of our community in the L.E.A.D program.  If anyone has any questions in regard to this program, you may contact Detective Kymberly Gudgeon at 609-693-6636 ext. 2579.

The below photos depict (in no particular order), Chief Michael C. DiBella, Detective Kym Gudgeon and Officers John D. Simonson and Charles May during the L.E.A.D graduation ceremony.

Thank you.

-Chief Michael C. DiBella