Assistant La Crosse Police Chief Robert Abraham was appointed as the chair of the G.R.E.A.T. National Policy Board.

The Board oversees the entire Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) program, which gives officers the resources to teach elementary and middle school students why they should stay away from gangs and make good life choices.

“Not only is it a great program as far as teaching life skills, but it’s a really good community policing program for our officers to interact positively with children in our schools,” Abraham said.

There are only four regional training areas in the United States: La Crosse, Nashville Metro, Phoenix, and Portland. Abraham said La Crosse is known as the Midwest Atlantic Region, which covers 16 states in the Midwest and all the way out to the east coast.

“Personnel is assigned through federal grant to conduct training sessions throughout the 16-state region,” Abraham said.

In La Crosse, the department’s school resource officer taught about 900 elementary and middle school students last year. The department has been participating in G.R.E.A.T. since the early 90’s.

Abraham told us his first goal is to find federal funding to sustain the program.