Orange County Sheriff, William Bohnyak, was recognized as “National Supporter of the Year” by Law Enforcement Against Drugs & Violence (L.E.A.D.), a nationwide nonprofit committed to protecting communities from drugs and violence. The award was presented to Sheriff Bohnyak at L.E.A.D.’s Seventh Annual 21st Century Drug and Violence Prevention Training Conference in Atlantic City, N.J.
“We’re pleased to congratulate Sheriff Bohnyak on his outstanding work promoting the L.E.A.D. program in Orange County” said Nick DeMauro, CEO of L.E.A.D. “Drugs and violence continue to be a problem for young students across the country, so we commend him on growing the program, which is protecting children from these dangers and, in turn, bridging the gap between police forces and communities.”
L.E.A.D. provides services “on the street” and “in the classroom” as it brings law enforcement and communities closer together. The “in the classroom” program is taught by 3,000 trained instructors in 41 states. L.E.A.D. has the only proven effective, law enforcement focused anti–drug, anti–violence curriculum for K-12 students in the U.S. The L.E.A.D. curriculum is taught over the course of a 10-week program to educate youth on how they can make smart decisions without the involvement of drugs or violence.
In Orange County, L.E.A.D. is taught to the fourth through the ninth grade, totaling about 190 students. Bohnyak, who has been sheriff at Orange County Sheriff’s Department in Vermont for the past 15 years, discovered the program four years ago when he received a call from DeMauro.
“Nick was passionate about having L.E.A.D. be part of the daily curriculum for students at our schools,” he said. “He came to Orange County to review the program with me, and as soon as I began sharing information about the curriculum with the schools in our area, they were eager to instill it.”
Graduation for students who have gone through the program is hosted at the gymnasium of the schools where L.E.A.D. is taught, and Sheriff Bohnyak says that he’s always amazed by the turnout of the parents.
“The students’ parents thank our deputies for the work they’ve done with their children in the classroom at graduation, which is incredibly fulfilling, given it tells us we’re accomplishing the goal of strengthening the relationship between law enforcement and communities.”
The Orange County community, Sheriff Bohnyak says, has been massively impacted by the program.
“L.E.A.D. has been extremely beneficial toward making residents in Orange County see that it’s better to be a part of the community than apart from it,” he said. “I look forward to seeing how the program continues to help us break down those barriers, as well as supporting and pushing it forward on a national level as much as I can.”
For more information on L.E.A.D., visit www.leadrugs.org/.