Moss Point using $200k in grants to steer kids away from crime

MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - Moss Point Police have launched a new program to help keep kids in school and off drugs. The national program is called Drug Abuse Resistance Education, and is known to many as D.A.R.E. It's just one of many programs the police department is sponsoring to empower kids.

New D.A.R.E. Officer Darius Wilson is usually patrolling the streets. But for the next 10 weeks, he's assigned to teach important life lessons to Moss Point 5th graders.

"It will be ranging from topics about making good decisions, informing them about different drugs that are out there, and one of my lessons is about becoming a good citizen," Wilson said.

Students Chloe Batiste and Jamarcus Cunningham think peer pressure and street violence are major problems in the community, so these classes will help a lot.

"I think it is amazing actually because, you know, through the streets of Moss Point you have people who are into drugs and they are not being role models," Batiste said.

"Children are involved in gangs and stuff and drugs and stuff, and I want it to stop," Cunningham said.

Youth Court Judge Sharon Sagalas couldn't agree more. She said many young people miss out on these types of empowerment sessions and end up in her courtroom.

"Our children do things like home burglaries, auto burglaries, drugs, domestic violence and things like that. We see 1,800 people a year," Sagalas said.

Moss Point's Police Chief Keith Davis said that's why for two years he's been working with the school district to bring D.A.R.E. and other youth programs to Moss Point. Recently, he received $200,000 in state grant money to sponsor the programs.

"The overall program is Moss Point's alternative to arresting youth. Some of the programs under the umbrella area are the D.A.R.E. program, the Moss Point Police Explorer Program. It is going to be a lot of interactive between adult and youth.  We are going to do camping with the chief."

Hopefully, this caring and sharing will make a big difference in these kids' lives.

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