NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Metro Nashville Police Department has created a summer camp to keep kids out of trouble.
Police said the boredom from being out of school can be the perfect combination to ease some children into gangs.
Metro police have created GREAT camp—Gang Resistance Education and Training—hoping to keep children out of violence in the present and future.
“We try and get to them early where we can influence their minds and hearts early on before they reach other people in the street that might try to influence them as well,” Metro Officer Harold Wells told Nashville's News 2. “We try and get them to make better decisions regarding their futures gangs and drugs and that sort of thing.”
Bishop George Price of North Nashville's Bethesda Church of God is a police church Chaplin; he said when he's on call, it's not a question of if he'll get called but it's when.
“I know I'm going to get five or six calls a day, a night where some kid has been shot, something has happened I got to respond to it,” Price told Nashville's News 2.
Price agrees youth have to be mentored early, even as young as five years old in order to keep them out of gangs.
Price said camps like GREAT are too few.
“It gives them mentorship,” Price said. “It gives them a sense of activity, whereas you got them just floating from place to place, corner to corner and you got the gangs saying, ‘Nobody loves you we'll be your friends.'”
Around 100 children are taking part in the police summer camp and Metro hopes it means 100 children will turn their backs to a life of violence.
“Our overall objective is to form a positive relationship with the young people here so they can look at us in a much more positive light, so if they need something they can come to us,” Wells said.
At the camp, children also take life skills courses, perform community service, and go on a field trip.