CHICAGO (STMW) – Chicago Police Supt. Jody P. Weis was joined on Sunday by Gang Enforcement Unit officials to announce a program that aims towards the reduction of gang violence.

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The Gang School Safety Team (GSST) has experienced Chicago Police Gang officers interact with teenage students and explore alternatives to the perils of gang involvement, a release from the CPD said. Weis was joined at the press conference at police headquarters by Gang Unit Commander Leo Schmitz and Sgt. Ken Boudreau.

GSST has two purposes, according to the CPD. One is the prevention of gang crime through proactive measures and the second is the suppression of gang violence through the implementation of communicative and conflict resolution strategies.

The program was successfully piloted in high schools on the South Side and has expanded to additional schools this fall. To date, 375 intervention sessions have been conducted. Members of the Gang School Safety Team have helped train 1,400 Chicago Public School Security Officers and 400 safe passage volunteers in the recognition of signs of gang membership and gang identifiers.

Ten gang officers assigned to the team voluntarily visit and meet with students who are seeking a way out of gangs or seek to express their concerns about becoming victims.

The program reiterates the fact that, as Weis said, “gang membership is a lifestyle choice that doesn’t reap great benefits for the participants — they either end up dead or in jail.”

On numerous occasions, according to CPD, members of the GSST have obtained information after gang-related violence, which has led to the successful intervention to stem retaliatory violence.

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