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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

ATF Press Release

Contact: Kimberly Nerheim
For Immediate Release
Thursday, May 16, 2024

Empowering Youth through the G.R.E.A.T. Program

CHICAGO — Special Agent in Charge Christopher Amon of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Chicago Field Division, in conjunction with Bradley Police Chief Donald Barber and Bradley Elementary West Principal Trisha Anderson, announced today the graduation of 126 participating Bradley West Elementary students who successfully completed the Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) program. The graduation celebrates the development amongst the students of essential life skills and positive relationships between law enforcement and local community youth. The students will celebrate their accomplishment with a demonstration of Bradley Police and ATF specialty teams, to include canine handlers and the National Response Team Vehicle, used to investigate bombs and fires throughout the Chicago Field Division.

The G.R.E.A.T. Youth and Community Outreach program was launched by the Pheonix Police Department in 1991, and ATF joined this effective collaboration in 1992 to proactively combat violent crime in coordination with local law enforcement. G.R.E.A.T. uses community-oriented policing tactics and outreach in a weekly classroom setting to increase positive perceptions about law enforcement, one student at a time.

In Bradley West Elementary, the G.R.E.A.T. program instructors ATF Special Agent Cindy Bernd and Bradley Police Officer Matt Baxter have focused on helping eliminate delinquency, youth violence and gang membership over a period of four months teaching weekly.

“ATF in partnership with our local law enforcement partner, the Bradley Police Department, have been serving as G.R.E.A.T. instructors throughout our communities,” said Special Agent in Charge Amon. “Our youth who participate in this program is rewarding for not only for the community, but local law enforcement as well.”

“We are very excited about welcoming back the Gang Resistance Education program (G.R.E.A.T.) to our school system. Officer Baxter along with Agent Cindy Bernd and the support of the ATF organization are a great fit. Not only does it build on our already sound foundations within the elementary school district, but we are a firm believer that the more we increase the active participation and partnerships with our youth, the more we increase the value of our community,” said Bradley Police Chief Barber.

“Special Agent Bernd and Officer Baxter have done an amazing job this year with our 4th and 5th grade students! We have seen the development of positive relationships with the local law enforcement agencies through this program. The GREAT program provided good practice for our students on how to resist peer pressure and how to be a friend! We look forward to our continued partnership with ATF and the Bradley PD,” commented Bradly West Elementary Principal Anderson.

The G.R.E.A.T. curriculum includes violence prevention, conflict resolution techniques, decision-making, goal setting and problem-solving. The elementary school curriculum is a six-week interactive session for fourth and fifth graders with an emphasis on family involvement. Students are taught how to set goals, resist peer pressure, respect differences, resolve conflicts and understand how gangs can negatively impact their quality of life. They also learn the importance of becoming responsible members of their communities.

This training is also part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make local neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department of Justice launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in local communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.

Information on the G.R.E.A.T. program, its mission and impact on communities can be found at the G.R.E.A.T. Home ( website and by reviewing the G.R.E.A.T. fact sheet.


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