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Billings school district considers adding gang prevention specialists to staff

Front closeup view of a yellow school bus
leekris/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Front closeup view of a yellow school bus

The Billings Public Schools District may ask voters to support prevention of gang violence in city schools this coming election.

At a city-county school meeting on Feb. 14, Billings Superintendent Erwin Garcia floated a “Gang Prevention Specialist” position to counteract the influence of organized crime in Billings schools.

“They see a market here, and they need troops. They need people,” Dr. Garcia said.

At a press conference in November, Billings Police Department Chief Rich St. John noted an increase in youth and gang-connected violence. He said law enforcement knows of seven juvenile gangs in Billings and 17 adult gangs.

Schools Superintendent Erwin Garcia said Gang Prevention Specialists would train teachers and students in a nationwide program called Gang Resistance Education and Training program, or GREAT. It involves law enforcement as part of the curriculum and has been used in schools for almost 30 years.

According to a Billings Public Schools spokesperson, the school board of trustees will vote on whether to include the position in a future levy at its meeting later this month.

Kayla writes about energy policy, the oil and gas industry and new electricity developments.