GPD developing program to help children who witness violence

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – The Greenville Police Department is developing an innovative program helping children left in the aftermath of violence.

It would be the first of its kind in eastern North Carolina, and one of few in the country.

Studies show children exposed to violence are less successful and more likely to commit crime themselves. That’s exactly what GPD is trying to stop with this new program.

The idea is to hire a childhood advocate to identify kids who witness crime, and connect them with community resources for help, like mental health services or school programs, like tutoring.

Chief Holtzman says this is a crucial component in responding to crime that they’re missing right now.

“We would be coming in behind that crime the next day and identifying the individuals that might have been out, witnessed that crime, and working with them directly to sort of let them know that’s not normal, and then connecting those children with services in the community,” Chief Holtzman said.

To create the program, City Council must first authorize GPD to apply for a grant from the NC Governor’s Crime Commission. Thursday night, the Council will decide whether to allow GPD to move forward. If approved, GPD should know within the next few months if they receive the grant.

The childhood response initiative follows a similar program in Greensboro. Chief Holtzman hopes bringing the program here will serve as a model for eastern North Carolina.

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