Joe Piscopo, actor, comic and all-round New Jersey original, has now branched out to podcasts, highlighting officers who work to stem the drug problem in our country.
And one of his guests recently was Howell Police Officer Jayme Higgins, who spoke to Piscopo about the L.E.A.D. drug awareness and safety program.
Higgins was a guest on Episode 4 of “A Police Officer You Should Know With Joe Piscopo.” You can listen to the entire conversation here.
Each month, Piscopo’s podcast series interviews police officers across the country who teach the Law Enforcement Against Drugs & Violence (L.E.A.D.) curriculum on the dangers of drugs, alcohol and cyber-bullying and violence.
And Piscopo introduced Higgins “as doing God’s work” to bring the message of drug education and safety to students.
In Howell Township, there are more than 500 fifth-grade students in five schools that go through the L.E.A.D. program, which emphasizes the value of drug and violence prevention, according to a news release.
“It’s a great experience to see all the kids, see them grow and use all the skills they have learned” in the program, Higgins says on the podcast. He noted how the program involved not only school resource officers but other school professionals to coordinate it.
During the episode, Higgins, who said he has been an officer for 18 years including the last four as a school resource office, discusses his experience teaching the L.E.A.D. curriculum to the students.
He says the program is strengthening his relationship with children in school as well as with the Howell Township community.
Howell, he said has a “good community connection” between police officers and the public, with most officers living in town and having children in the school system. Higgins was raised in Howell and lives there.
And having compassion for families and making that connection with students to educate about the dangers of drugs is “absolutely something we need to talk about,” Higgins says.
Higgins said that he teaches a wide socio-economic range of students in the program, who all bring different experiences to school.
But one common thread Higgins talked about on the podcast about was the need for awareness and education for families. And he also spoke about having hope that families “can turn it around.”
According to the organization, L.E.A.D. provides services “on the street” and “in the classroom” as it brings communities and police forces closer together. The “in the classroom” program is taught by 3,000 trained instructors in 41 states.
In 2021, Higgins received the National L.E.A.D. Instructor of the Year Award, according to the organization’s website, noting his work with L.E.A.D.’s “Too Good for Drugs” program. The organization holds a conference every year to discuss topics such as the opioid epidemic, police and community relations and mental health, the organization says.
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.
L.E.A.D. provides the leadership, resources and management to ensure law enforcement agencies have the means to partner with educators, community leaders and families, the organization says.
For more information on L.E.A.D., please visit www.leadrugs.org