Durham News

Durham police to welcome Central American visitors

The Durham Police Department will partner will several other local agencies to welcome Central American community leaders and law enforcement officials to Durham this week as part of a cross-cultural exchange for the visitors to learn about anti-gang strategies involving community partnerships.

The Central American Community Impact Exchange (CACIE) is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, White House National Security Staff, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The CACIE visitors come from El Salvador, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama.

“We are very honored to be part of the team that has been selected as the 2014 United States site for the Central American Community Impact Exchange (CACIE) program. It is an opportunity to help other communities in the world while learning from them,” said Police Chief Jose Lopez said in a news release.

Durham was chosen to host the second annual CACIE program, according to Michelle Young, Director of Project BUILD, because of local partnerships between law enforcement and community agencies:

“This is a community that has many partnerships in place and can be a role model for other communities,” she said. “Durham is also implementing a wide range of evidence-based gang prevention, intervention, and suppression strategies,” she said.

The Central American officers were scheduled to spend a week at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va. before coming to Durham on Saturday. The Central American officers will learn about several Durham Police Department programs during their stay.

“Being fortunate to have attended the FBI National Academy #246, I recognize that the CACIE program is a continuation of the networking and information sharing that the FBI encourages. We look forward to helping host officers from Central America, exchanging ideas and explaining our programs that are related to the scourge that gangs cause to law enforcement and the whole community,” said Assistant Durham Police Chief Jon Peter, commander of the Investigative Services Bureau.

They will ride along with Durham police officers from the Police Department’s Violent Incident Response Team (VIRT) and High Enforcement Abatement Team (HEAT) units to see how these officers deal with gang activity and violent crime. They will also attend a 90-minute presentation on “Effective Gang Suppression Strategies: Durham Police Department’s Violent Incident Response Team (VIRT) and High Enforcement Abatement Team (HEAT).”

They will attend a Project Safe Neighborhoods juvenile call-in meeting on Thursday involving six juveniles. Project Safe Neighborhoods conducts call-ins for Durham youth with Department of Juvenile Justice Diversion Plans or Contracts. The event is modeled after PSN’s successful notification protocol for adult offenders returning to communities from incarceration. During each notification, young people and their parents hear messages of guidance and support from agency representatives and youth services providers.

In addition, they will attend a presentation where members of the Durham Police Department, Durham County Sheriff’s Office and Duke University’s Enlaces program will discuss the Gang Resistance Education Awareness Training (GREAT) program in the Durham Public Schools and the Enlaces program, which is an outreach initiative for Latino youths to help them build positive connections with teachers, parents and peers.

Other presentations will involve community partnerships and programs. Young, who directs the Project BUILD Gang Intervention Program, will discuss multidisciplinary gang intervention teams. CACIE participants will also attend presentations about Durham’s Gang Reduction Strategy Steering Committee; North Carolina’s Juvenile Crime Prevention Councils; Re-Entry Strategies for Gang-Involved Offenders; Family-Focused Gang Prevention; and Working with the Community to Prevent the Next Gang Recruit.